So, here I am, jumping right back into The Spirituality Of The Cross and I must say that the first chapter had me excited to read on and the second didn’t disappoint. I’m eager to move forward and I’m already finding myself wanting to re-read this book, possibly on a semi-regular basis. I’m not the best reader, but I recognize when I have something good in front of me and I already feel a sad sense of finality to know the book will eventually come to an end. Can anyone else relate?
Umm is anyone reading this?
This chapter is a summary of the Means of Grace in relation to the Lutheran faith. The author(Veith) states that God resides in His Word and the Sacraments (Baptism and Holy Communion). Before the author goes into those “means”, he gives us, as in the previous chapter, a clear explanation of the Gospel.
I can almost imagine Veith’s heartfelt concern that whoever may be reading this book needs to desperately hear the Gospel. A reality I have come to agree with. Whether outside of the faith or in need of encouragement and strengthening, does anyone ever grow past the need to hear the Gospel? Do we gain a Savior and then ask, “what else you got?” I should certainly hope not.
The author’s explanation that because we are clothed in Christ’s righteousness God does not turn away from us in judgement, is always a relieving and encouraging message to hear. The fact that God sees us through the lens of Christ, as if He sees Christ when He sees us, gave me something else to consider when it comes to God’s chastening, but I’ll remain silent on that until I speak to someone with better knowledge and understanding than I.
I love the focus of the author to put salvation squarely in God’s hand. There is no way I could ever honestly make a “decision” for Christ unless God had first placed something in me that would even desire to seek Him out. The question is how does that ability get placed in us? That’s where the Means of Grace come in.
THE WORD OF GOD
Lutherans believe that God speaks directly and effectively to us in His Word. What other Christian denomination would deny that? They might claim there are other ways to hear from God. Whether through people, circumstances, small voices and/or other promptings, but I can’t imagine anyone denying God speaking by His inspired Word, whether directly from the Bible itself or having those truths relayed to you by a pastor, elder or friend.
Frankly, this has always been a difficult thing for me. My nearly entire Christian experience (including my current situation) has been one from the perspective of a non-denominational (soft) charismatic church. I know God actively works in and through the lives of His people, but I’ve never experienced feelings, promptings or small still voices as others have. All I’ve ever had is God’s Word. Even in that there’s an expectation to “feel” some sense of the Spirit moving as your reading. Whether intentional or not, it brings you to a place of feeling like a second class Christian. For the Lutheran faith to affirm that God simply speaks through His Word is a freeing doctrine for me.(I’ve got a feeling I’m going to end up sounding like a broken record when I’m done)
I want to stop and clarify that my personal experiences are what they are and this is not a rebuke or an attack on another church but simple an acknowledgement of my experiences and feelings as I search out my understanding of the Lutheran faith. I reluctantly write these things because of my own failure sometimes to communicate ideas either correctly or with a proper attitude of kindness. But write them I do, because I am also learning that I am not the only one with these experiences and struggles. So, for as much grace that has been poured out for you and I through Christ Jesus, I ask for you to read these words with a small measure of that same grace.
Finishing up this aspect of the Means of Grace is a direct quote from the book, “the words of the Bible do not merely convey information, they convey the Holy Spirit. “The Word of God is living and active” The words of Scripture actually connect us to what they are describing. As we read those words on the page, God is literally and objectively present and working, inscribing in our hearts the gift of faith.” This direct quote has made me consider how I read through the Word of God. Not to be keenly aware of “when” God is speaking or “what” God is trying to say, but simply that when I read it, God IS speaking, IN ALL OF IT!
I fear I may be a little long-winded so I’ll stop there for now and finish up my thoughts on this chapter with the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion in a day or so.
You can read my thoughts on the first chapter HERE