Sunday, November 29, 2009

The absolute certainty of Grace

This scene from 'the Hammer of God' really shows how it's not about me, it's all about Him. There is nothing we can ever do to be saved or to be good- it is only what Jesus came to do that matters. A tremendous gift to remember this Christmas, is the gift of being rescued, like a worthless tin can on a trash heap that God recycles into something He can use again.

This is an excerpt from Swedish theologian Bo Giertz's novel, 'the Hammer of God'-

This scene is when a new curate (vicar, intern) first meets his rector (head pastor, supervisor). The intern is zealous about a revival going on in Europe and a bit prejudiced of the boss he's just met because he had a glass of cognac with his supper. This conversation takes place 3 nights before Christmas.

"I just want you to know from the beginning, sir, that I am a believer," he said. His voice was a bit harsh.
He saw a gleam in the old man's eyes which he could not interpret. Was approval, or did he have something up his sleeve?
The rector put the lamp back on the table, puffed at his pipe, and looked at the young man a moment before his spoke.
"So you are a believer, I'm glad to hear that. What do you believe in?"
Fridfeldt stared dumbfounded at his superior. Was he jesting with him?
"But sir, I am simply saying that I am a believer."
"Yes, I hear that, my boy. But what is it that you believe in?"
Fridfeldt was almost speechless.
"But don't you know, sir, what it means to be a believer?"
That is a word which can stand for things that differ greatly, my boy. I ask only what it is that you believe in."
"In Jesus, of course," answered Fridfeldt, raising his voice.
"I mean- I mean that I have given Him my heart."
The older man's face became suddenly solemn as the grave.
"Do you consider that something to give Him?"
By this time, Fridfeldt was almost in tears.
"But sir, if you do not give your heart to Jesus, you cannot be saved."
"You are right, my boy. And it is just as true that, if you think you are saved because you gave Jesus your heart, you will not be saved. You see, my boy," he continued reassuringly, as he continued to look at the young pastor's face, in which uncertainty and resentment were shown in a struggle for the upper hand, "it is one thing to choose Jesus as one's Lord and Savior, to give Him one's heart and commit oneself to Him, and that he now accepts one into His flock; it is a very different thing to believe in him as Redeemer of sinners, of whom one is chief. One does not choose a Redeemer for oneself, you understand, nor give one's heart to Him. The heart is a rusty old can on a junk heap. A fine birthday gift, indeed! But a wonderful Lord passes by, and has mercy on the wretched tin can, sticks His walking cane through it, and rescues it from the junk pile and takes it home with Him. That is how it is."
Fridfeldt said nothing. Though it seemed sacrilegious to speak about the Savior in connection with such an ungodly thing as a walking stick, he saw that the old man's intention was certainly not sacrilegious. He felt this by the very tone of his voice.When the old man continued, his voice was gentler still.
"And now you must understand that these two ways of believing are like two different religions, they have nothing whatever to do with each other."
"And yet," he added thoughtfully, "one might say that there is a path that leads from the lesser to the greater. First one believes in repentance, and then in grace..."

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