Grace in the 21st Century part 5

The reformation is an example of a time in Christian History when people were transformed by the essence of grace. Martin Luther was prominent in the process of reforming a corrupt movement into a radically transformative movement. Luther wrestled through several core question’s, how could the gospel of Christ be called good news if God is a righteous judge who rewards good and punishes evil? Did Jesus really come to reveal that terrifying message?  How could the revelation of God in Christ Jesus accurately be called new since the Old Testament promoted that same message?

Luther broke into the insight of the theological phrase ‘justification by grace through faith’.[1] G K Chesterton once called justification by grace through faith,  ‘the furious love of God’.[2] God is not moody or precocious. God knows no seasons of change. God has a single relentless stance towards us; He loves us. He is the only true God that loves sinners. Many times these truth are too hard for the church to communicate or practice through communities or for Christians to understand as individuals but also to dispense in the wider community.[3] Luther highligted the wonderful truth that God is righteous and how His righteousness is inputted onto people so that believers are considered righteous and blameless in Gods sight. It was this wonderful insight in Martin Luthers commentary on Romans that led him to discover both true and active grace.[4]

Robert Capon wrote of the wonderful impact of the Reformation when he recorded,

“The Reformation was a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered, in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellarful of fifteen-hundred-year old, two-hundred-proof grace of bottle after bottle of pure distillate of Scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saved us single handily… Grace has to be drunk straight: no water, no ice, and certainly no ginger ale; neither goodness, nor badness”[5]

It is important to discern here the impact of grace on the whole Christian landscape. Martin Luther rediscovered a truth that would impact his life immeasurably more than he could ever imagine and how that would impact the heart of our faith today. Atkinson in his work on the, ‘Martin Luther the Prophet’ describes as ‘an instrument of God sent to reform and renew the church.’[6] Luther and the reformation started impacting the understanding of grace and how God justifies sin and a Christian’s role in the process of God’s grace.

In the gospel of Matthew an important part of Jesus’ passion for sinners can be viewed/observed. Matthew records, ‘As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him’ (Matthew 9:9). Here a glimpse of God grace through his Son. When Jesus chose his closest twelve men to follow him, he did not choose the Pharisees and Sadducees (the people who were viewed as the religious authorities) but he chose the tax collectors, the street people, the prostitutes and the failures. Even though His reputation was at risk from the bureaucrats who would judge His choice to offer grace and love to the lower class and His belief that these were the people who would shape His message and who His Father called him to save. He reacted vehemently against the bureaucracy and religious zealots of the day. This image of Jesus’ all-inclusive grace is given lip service in church but if taken to the heart of the Christian walk then will have a radical effect on the discipleship, ecclesiology and missiology. It is this that will re-write the vision for church but also the churches passion for prodigals. [7]

[1] A McGrath, Iustita Dei: Justification Through Faith By Grace (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986) p.100-109

[2] http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/diabolist.html 26/2/09

[3] S McVey, Grace Walk: What You’ve Always Wanted in the Christian Life (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 1995) p.56-65 an overview of his work, his book takes on this concept idea further and at a more personal level.

[4] A McGrath, Christian Theology: An Introduction, 3rd Edition (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2001) 454-455

[5] R Farrar-Capon, Between Noon and Three (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1982) p.114-115

[6] J Atkinson, Martin Luther: Prophet to the Church Catholic (Exter: Paternoster Press, 1983) p.216

[7] H Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son: The Story Homecoming (New York: Image Books, 1992) In this book Henri Nouwen mediates on the story of prodigal son and it allows us to see the importance of this group of people in the missio dei. This book places the prodigals at the heart of the Christian message and impacts the very heart of our Christian understanding.


0 Responses to “Grace in the 21st Century part 5”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: