When we walk into a church, what do we think? Do we think we deserve to be here? Do we deserve what's about to come at us? Do we comprehend what the Church is all about? Or are we humbled by the reality that we don't deserve to be here?
Suffering and sin are realities of life. By rightly understanding these realities in light of God’s word, we can come to hear the most joyous and comforting good news. The good news that our sure and certain hope, our salvation from suffering and sin, is Jesus and His work for us.
Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation astounded its hearers in 1518 and has not ceased shaking the world’s foundations since. By rights, this should have been one more in a series of dull theological lectures among other routine business at the Augustinian Order’s General Chapter meeting. The one notable thing going in was that Luther was expected to take the opportunity in his lecture to recant some of his wilder of the 95 Theses and come to heel like an obedient friar.
Someone once called patience “the beggar’s virtue.” A beggar waits. He waits and waits until some kind soul comes along. Sure, he can try to look pathetic and come up with creative lines to win compassion, but, ultimately, his fate lies with the philanthropist, the kind soul who takes note of his need.
In Berry’s estimation, individuals are interesting, important, and even worthy of recording in story; but it is only when individuals are bound together in community that they become fully human. The man who belongs to others and to a world bigger than himself is a rich man - a man truly alive in the midst of a people truly alive.
Since they grumble about Him healing a man on the Sabbath, Jesus asks the religious leaders, "Is it easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?" (Matt. 9:5) He asks these men who find it easier to physically walk than walk in forgiveness, whether it's easier to walk in forgiveness or to walk physically.
One of the great questions occupying the minds of theologians and pastors alike is how the Church can respond to an increasingly pluralistic, diverse, global world where the Church is no longer in control of the dominant narrative.
The tax collector entered the temple a sinner in the eyes of all but went home justified (Luke 18:14). Zacchaeus the outcast was called to climb down from a tree and host the most Holy God in his ill-gotten home (Luke 19:5).
We’ve all heard the standard account by now, or at least some variation of it: overemphasize God’s justification of sinners through the Gospel, apart from the Law, and then the Law has no positive use in the lives of Christians.
We are all familiar with Paul’s thematic declaration in Romans that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). The Gospel is that power because it does everything that needs to be done to save sinners. It bestows the saving gifts and works faith.
“My mom’s never gonna forgive me!” She was right. Her mom never forgave her. I was translating for the 15-year-old minor the words of the defense attorney. He wanted to convince her that if she behaved well in the foster home, she could go back home.