10 January 2009

The Omnipotence of Grace

I've just discovered the most fascinating book, called The Waiting Father, by twentieth century German theologian Helmut Thielicke. Another one left to me by my grandfather. It's a series of sermons preached in Hamburg on Jesus' parables. Up to three thousand came to hear him at a point of extreme spiritual poverty in the city. I want to put up some of the best bits in the days ahead.

For now, here's a statement from the last of over 400 written works by Adolf Schlatter, a series of biblical-theologically rich devotionals called Do We Know Jesus?, written in the 1930s in part to deconstruct Nazi sympathies among his fellow Germans (though he was raised in Switzerland). It's on Jesus' statement in Matt 19 that it is impossible for the rich to enter the kingdom.

Jesus could not get through to people, not only because a caesar who demanded divine worship for himself got in the way, and the Pharisees blocked people's way to God, and the teachers of the Law by their scholarship choked out life. [note to self: scholarship plus my fallen heart minus fierce clinging to the gospel equals choking out life] No, his word also appears unbelievable and his offer without value if nature comes to man's aid and his natural cravings take their proper course, so that he calls a large piece of property his own and accumulates worldly goods and takes full control of his life.

But the final note is:

Above the impossibilities of our own making stands the omnipotence of grace, and there is no "impossible" that precludes its saving work.

--Do We Know Jesus? pp. 192, 193

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