“Luther wrote, “It is by living, no — more — by dying and being damned to hell that one becomes a theologian, not by knowing, reading, or speculating.” We learn on the road, as pilgrims making our way to the City of God through the trails, burdens, questions, and fears of our own hearts as well as the world around us. We learn truly of God’s providence as we suffer, of God’s forgiveness in our sins, of the resurrection of the dead as we lie dying. Luther’s poignant but hyperbolic statement does not mean that we do not read or study, but that even as we do this, it is more like looking for urgently needed rescue than contemplating eternal truths. We do theology on our knees, calling on the name of our Redeemer.”
And right up to old age I, [Yahweh], am the same
And right up to grey hair I will myself shoulder the weight.
It is I who made,
and it is I who will carry,
and it is I who will shoulder the weight –
(Isaiah 46:4, translation by Alec Motyer)
I don’t know about you, but I need to hear over and over again that it is God that shoulders the weights, it is he who carries the burdens. And this is all of his rich and glorious grace, and because this is of God’s grace, it will last forever. “Our position on his burden-bearing shoulders is totally down to him.” (Motyer)
It is this that becomes the source of the kind of singing we belt out in How Firm A Foundation, by Richard Keen:
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
He will not, he cannot desert to its foes.
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
He’ll never, no never, no never forsake!
Accepting, and reveling, in this is Growing in Grace.
“To [Jesus] who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
“Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”
From the late William Placher’s review of David Ford’s Christian Wisdom: Desiring God and Learning in Love:
“Theology should operate in all five moods: indicative (affirming what we believe), imperative (calling to obedience), interrogative (struggling with hard questions), subjunctive (exploring possibilities, as Jesus’ parables do so well) and optative (desiring in hope). Theologians have too long limited themselves to the indicative and the imperative.”
All of humanity, thanks to our forefather Adam, are sin-sick. We are riddled with a disease that leads to death. And there is no saving ourselves.
The good news of the Gospel is that we don’t have to. God has the prescription, and the Divine remedy for my sin is accomplished and applied by him alone.
“I, I am the one who wipes clean your rebellions, for my own sake, and your sins I do not remember…
I wipe away, like a cloud, your rebellions, and like a fog, your sins. Turn back to me, for I have redeemed you.” (Isaiah 43:25; 44:22)
And Jesus, in a prayer over you, confirms your confidence in this redemption provided by God’s plan, rooted his love:
“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:3, 25-26)
…the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children.
~ Psalm 103.17, English Standard Version