Posts Tagged ‘faith’

Thus far we have learned the first three commandments, which relate to God. First that with our whole heart we trust in Him, and fear and love Him throughout all our life. Secondly, that we do not misuse His holy name in the support of falsehood or any bad work, but employ it to the praise of God and the profit and salvation of our neighbor and ourselves. Thirdly, that on holidays and when at rest we diligently treat and urge God’s Word, so that all our actions and our entire life be ordered according to it. Now follow the other seven, which relate to our neighbor among which the first and greatest is:

Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother.

To this estate of fatherhood and motherhood God has given the special distinction above all estates that are beneath it that He not simply commands us to love our parents, but to honor them. For with respect to brothers, sisters, and our neighbors in general He commands nothing higher than that we love them, so that He separates and distinguishes father and mother above all other persons upon earth, and places them at His side. For it is a far higher thing to honor than to love one, inasmuch as it comprehends not only love, but also modesty, humility, and deference as to a majesty there hidden, and requires not only that they be addressed kindly and with reverence, but, most of all that both in heart and with the body we so act as to show that we esteem them very highly, and that, next to God, we regard them as the very highest. For one whom we are to honor from the heart we must truly regard as high and great.

We must, therefore impress it upon the young that they should regard their parents as in God’s stead, and remember that however lowly, poor, frail, and queer they may be, nevertheless they are father and mother given them by God. They are not to be deprived of their honor because of their conduct or their failings. Therefore we are not to regard their persons, how they may be, but the will of God who has thus created and ordained. In other respects we are, indeed, all alike in the eyes of God; but among us there must necessarily be such inequality and ordered difference, and therefore God commands it to be observed, that you obey me as your father, and that I have the supremacy.

Learn, therefore, first, what is the honor towards parents required by this commandment to wit, that they be held in distinction and esteem above all things, as the most precious treasure on earth. Furthermore, that also in our words we observe modesty toward them, do not accost them roughly, haughtily, and defiantly, but yield to them and be silent even though they go too far. Thirdly, that we show them such honor also by works, that is, with our body and possessions, that we serve them, help them, and provide for them when they are old, sick, infirm, or poor, and all that not only gladly, but with humility and reverence, as doing it before God. For he who knows how to regard them in his heart will not allow them to suffer want or hunger, but will place them above him and at his side, and will share with them whatever he has and possesses.

Secondly, notice how great, good, and holy a work is here assigned children, which is alas! utterly neglected and disregarded, and no one perceives that God has commanded it or that it is a holy, divine Word and doctrine. -Luther’s Large Catechism


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“Our transference from the point of view of religion to the point of view of Jesus involves the transference from a well-established attitude towards the relation between God and man to a wholly different method of reckoning. All religions either reckon that human achievements in this world–some concrete human behavior or disposition–constitute a claim to the favor of God and must be rewarded by Him (ii.6); or else they reckon that human achievements are themselves the reward of God, since they are the tangible and recognizable products of a transformation of human behavior that has been wrought by God. So all religions assume either that God will act or that He has acted; making the assumption quite apart from any consideration of the ‘Moment’ when men stand naked before God and are clothed upon by Him. They do not consider before and after to be before and after the ‘Moment’ when men are moved by God; or they suppose either that the ‘Moment’ depends upon some previous behavior or that it carries with it some subsequent behavior: that is to say, they conceive of the ‘Moment’ as in some way comparable and commensurable with human behavior. Consequently, all religions admit the possibility of boasting of what men are and do and have, as though they were divine. In all religions it is therefore possible to disregard or to escape from the paradox of faith. From the point of view of Jesus, however, we must reckon otherwise: fundamentally there are no human works sufficiently significant to excite the favor of God; nor are there works so well-pleasing to Him that they become significant in the world. In Jesus everything that occurs in the world is bent under the judgment of God and awaits His affirmation. The words apart from cover everything both before and after the ‘Moment’ when men stand before God and are moved by Him; for no comparison between the ‘Moment’ and works which are done either before of after it is possible. The Being and Action of God are and remain wholly different from the being and action of men. The line which separates here from there cannot be crossed: it is the line of death, which is, nevertheless, the line of life; it is the end, which is, nevertheless, the beginning; it is the ‘No’, which is, nevertheless, the ‘Yes’. It is God who pronounces and speaks and renders, who selects and values according to His pleasure. And the word which He utters is verily creative, for it brings reality into being. To God belongs what He renders: it belongs no longer to men. What God treats as valuable is valuable indeed–but, for this reason, it is not valuable in this world…The cross stands, and must always stand, between us and God. The cross is the bridge which creates a chasm and the promise which sounds a warning. We can never escape the paradox of faith, nor can it ever be removed. By faith only–sola fide–does mankind stand before God and is moved by Him. The faithfulness of God can be believed in only, because it is the faithfulness of God. Were it more, it would be less. This is the new reckoning.” p. 111-112 The Epistle to the Romans

[This is a follow up to the post on July 3rd 2010]
Now we see some of Barth’s opinion regarding the uniqueness of Christianity compared to other world religions in terms of dealing with works and faith. Again, I have trouble dealing with what exactly the ‘Moment’ is he refers to. He claims that in all religions it is possible to escape from the paradox of faith. But, Jesus closes our escape routes in Christianity. Nothing we can do can “excite the favor of God”. The Action and Being of God is wholly different from the action and being of man; the line of death becomes the line of life; the end becomes the beginning; ‘No’ turns to ‘Yes’. What God treats as valuable is indeed such, but not in this world. We can only stand before God in the paradox of faith.

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“In fact, our experience is that which we have not experienced; our religion consists in the dissolution of religion; our law is the complete disestablishment of all human experience and knowledge and action and possession. Nothing human which desires to be more than a void and a deprivation, a possibility and a sign-post, more than the most trivial thing in the midst of the phenomena of this world, survives; nothing which is not, like everything else in this world, dust and ashes–before God. Only faith survives: faith which is not a work, not even a negative work; not an achievement, not even the achievement of humility; not a thing which exists before God and man in its own right. Faith is the ground, the new order, the light, where boasting ends and the true righteousness of God begins. Faith is not a foundation upon which men can emplace themselves; not an atmosphere in which they can breathe; not a system under which they can arrange their lives. Regarded from our human point of view, what was once religion and law and a method of life becomes anarchy and a void and an abyss. But the law of the faithfulness of God, or, what is the same thing, the law of faith, is the place where we are established by God. There there is nothing but God Himself, God only; and there the place is no place; for it is the ‘Moment’ when men are moved by God, by the true God, the Creator and Redeemer of men and of all human things; the ‘Moment’ when men surrender themselves and all that they are to God. The ‘Moment’ of the movement of men by God is beyond men, it cannot be enclosed in a system or a method or a ‘way’. It rests in the good pleasure of God and its occasion is to be sought and found only in Him. The law of the spirit of life (viii. 2) is the point of view–which is no point of view!–by which all human boasting is excluded.” p. 110 The Epistle to the Romans

I will work backwards. This is a foreshadow of an upcoming post I will do about me and how I came to my beliefs. Perhaps that is the wrong wording…

The point of view which is no point of view… is the law of the spirit of life. Kind of weird already. What is a point of view which is no point of view? The moment when men are moved by God cannot be enclosed in a system or method or ‘way’. Our destiny and salvation, our life and our truth, are not things that fit into an order that we can create and follow. Many disagree on this, but I will proceed. Men are moved by God, and surrender themselves and all that they are to Him in this Moment where, in the place that is no place, where there is nothing but God Himself, Creator and Redeemer, the law of faith is established. Where is God, and God alone, establishing the law of faith in man? The place that is no place. We do not create the law of faith, or have faith in God. He first moves us to Him. He first creates faith and gives it to us. What do we do? We surrender all that we are to Him. Can we do otherwise? Our human law, our human religion, our human methods and ‘ways’ are naught. They are anarchy, void and abyss. Faith is not a foundation upon which we can stand, or a sustaining air we can breath, or a system that we can adhere to. Faith is where the righteousness of God begins, and the boasting of man ends. It is the ground, the new order, the light…it is not an achievement of humility by man, but of God. It is not a work! In the world, nothing human that is not but dust and ashes survives before God. What survives is deprivation, void, possibility…a sign-post pointing beyond ourselves and to God. What survives is Faith! What we experience is what we have not experienced. Our religion is not religion, but the dissolution of it. Our law throws away all human experience, knowledge, action and possession. What do we have but faith…

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“The water in a vessel is sparkling; the water in the sea is dark. The small truth has words which are clear; the great truth has great silence.” -Rabindranath Tagore

Throughout our day-to-day lives we encounter many small truths — to explain them is simple. But we also encounter the Truth. We turn away because it is so great that we cannot explain it. There are no words to fully explain it, nor any intellect to fully comprehend it. All we need to do is be still, and wait.

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“Through what they are not, men participate in what God is…Faith is a vacuum and a limitation encompassed by miracle and by paradoxical impossibility. But because it is void of human content, it is guaranteed by God as His righteousness.” p. 121 The Epistle to the Romans

Barth on faith…as vacuum and limitation…encompassed by miracle and paradoxical impossibility…so what is he saying here? What does this mean exactly? It is also void of human content…another thing to think about today…

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I’m going to point to two main things as the causes of unbelief. The first, in this post (more to come), is “false teaching”. Biblical passages to consider:
Matthew 7:15,16
2 Timothy 4:3,4
Acts 20:29-31
Matthew 15:9
2 Peter 2:1
2 Peter 3:16,17
Colossians 2:8
Hebrews 13:9

When I say unbelief, I’m not just talking about being an atheist or agnostic, but any number of the sects such as Jehovah’s Witnesses that either deny main-stream Christian doctrines or pervert them. Obviously this post isn’t about what sect is not “Christian”. In my opinion I’ve named an obvious one, but I’ll leave it to God to sort that out.

One of the worst kinds of false teaching going on out there is that of creating a false god and claiming him to be the real God. I consider a false god to be that of “cultural Christianity”, that of “Cheap Grace”. The true God is impossible to know, to stand before, to accept, to love…until you ‘choose God and step aside for the man He chose’, meaning letting Him work in and through you to bring out your true self, the self He created you to be.

Why would this create so much unbelief?

Because when people are faced with the world, with reality, and therefore with the true God, light from light uncreated, they fall apart. It doesn’t fit the idol that their pastor or family, or friends have set up in their minds. The idol is smashed in God’s dust. And so is their ‘faith’, which because it was born out of darkness was nothing but unbelief to begin with.

Some who have had faith are shocked when they encounter real pain or horrific evil in the world.
Did they not know God?
Some who have had faith were ashamed of their bodies, thinking that bodily pleasures are unholy.
Did they not know God?
Some who have had faith would secretly sin as if no one would know, but carried that guilt within them.
Did they not know God?

God in Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross! There is evil in the world…
God took on Human form; He laid hold of man and conquered the flesh on the cross! Your body is holy…
God knows all; God forgave you already. The battle is won, the victor is Christ on the cross!

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“The Gospel is not a truth among other truths. Rather, it sets a question-mark against all truths. The Gospel is not the door but the hinge.” I will edit this and come back with the page number. This is from The Epistle to the Romans

Here is the start of my findings about what Barth says about the Gospel in The Epistle to the Romans. What do we all think of when we think of the Gospel? The good news, Jesus the savior…and so on. But take a moment to think about the strangeness of it. It places a question-mark against ALL truths. Our truths are worldly truths, while the Gospel brings Divine Truth. Its wisdom is foolish from the perspective of the world. Its truth, heresy.

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