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Isaiah 4:2-6
In that day the branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and honor of the survivors of Israel. And he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem, when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning. Then the LORD will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory there will be a canopy. There will be a booth for shade by day from the heat, and for a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain. (ESV)

Speculation or Revelation?


24 May 2016

"If I could only get into God's head and figure out what He is thinking about me, then I could have peace and be certain of my salvation." Humans want to bypass the divine revelation. There is no other way to know the mind of God than to see Christ. For in Him all the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily. We need not speculate our way into the hidden mind of God. God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son (Jn 3:16). What doubt could there be about God's will that I should have to climb up into the divine mind? What God wants us to know is fully revealed in Scripture. To know more is to know the unknowable. To grasp more is to grasp a consuming fire.
If we cannot get into God's head then we humans are tempted to find the reasons for God's will within humans. We speculate that there must be some difference between Peter and Judas; Peter was more noble or holier or better than poor reprobate Judas, who despaired. Then we are left striving to be Peter-like, whatever that may mean, rather than despairing Judas-like. And so we are left speculating again. "Will I be a Peter or a Judas? Both knew and loved Jesus, both believed in Him, both betrayed Him and both knew the anguish of the guilt for that. One lived on and spent his life proclaiming Christ. The other took his own life in despair. What was the difference?"
God's gracious will is not to be found in the differences among human beings, otherwise God's grace becomes subject to the whims of the perverse human will. To know what God wants for me I have recourse only to the Man born of Mary, who meekly carried my sins and bore my sorrows. The only way to God's will is through Christ. The only way to the mind of God is through the Word of His Son, "Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." "I come not to be served, but to serve and to give my life as a ransom for many." "It is finished."
I don't know what the difference between Judas and Peter is. I do know that Christ my Lord died for me. What else is there to know? What speculation about the meaning of my own sin or my likeness to Judas (or Peter) could trump what God has actually done for me and said to me in His Son? He has said, "Be of good cheer, child. Your sins are forgiven you."


Martin Luther

"I have often advised and still advise younger theologians today that they must so study the Holy Scriptures that they refrain from investigating the divine Majesty and His terrible works. God does not want us to learn to know Him in this way. You cannot nakedly associate with His naked Godhead. But Christ is our way to God. Those who speculate about the majesty are crushed and led to despair by Satan. The reason for this is that they are looking for answers of a kind that they cannot know, such as for the question: Why did God condemn Judas but spare Peter? And such a speculator argues with God as if with some potter.
"To keep us from striving to observe God in Himself in this matter, He came into the flesh, presenting the flesh to us, in which we might behold God dwelling bodily, as He answered Philip when the latter gazed at Him: 'He who has seen Me has seen the Father' (Jn 14:9). From this, then, you see the madness of those who say that the flesh avails them nothing (cf. Jn 6:63), because on the contrary God is of no avail without the flesh. Indeed, no God will avail for you except the God of Him who sucked the virgin's breasts. On Him fix your eyes. For you cannot grasp God in Himself, unless perchance you want a consuming fire. But in Christ you see nothing but all sweetness, humanity, gentleness, clemency-in short, the forgiveness of sins and every mercy, etc. When you have Him, then good for you; you are a tower of defense with God the Father. Cling to Christ, otherwise you will hear the Father Himself speaking against you when He says (Mt 17:5): 'Listen to Him.' The Jews could not listen to Him, etc. And Paul says that the deity dwells bodily in Christ (Col 2:9).
"The incarnation of Christ powerfully calls us away from speculating about the divinity. I learned from Staupitz (Luther's superior in the Augustinian Friars) that I had been carried away to the devil by my speculations, for human weakness could not bear these if it did not gain access to God somewhere. This they know by the mercy of God, etc.: The flesh of Christ, like ours, does not strike him down who beholds it. And the man in temptation either will not know God, who created heaven and earth and did other wonderful works, or his knowledge will not give him hope and deliverance from temptation. But Christ (as this text shows in a marvelous way) is useful to us for all things and in all things, and through this very Man we are to come to God. To Him, Paul and other disciples of Christ come down; they do not climb up to an observation of the majesty, or Paul was not learned because he was not a sophist. When man looks at Christ, Satan is put to flight, and the conscience of a man in temptation is made happy and free from care. God clearly demands honest and pure righteousness of us, and since no one produces it, He permits no one to approach Him by his own strength. Christ has fulfilled this for us, therefore through Christ alone we have access to the Father.
It is certainly true that one who has never felt his sin can contemplate God, or better, weave his phantasies about God; he can for a while reach out for the godhead he has invented for himself. But one who feels his sin and becomes fainthearted from fear of God will soon withdraw his foot from his speculations and turn to Christ, and he will be better off. He will have coolness in the shade, protection in the pavilion, banishment of Satan and of evil thoughts, also strength against all the gates of hell (Mt 16:18), etc." 

Martin Luther, Lectures on Isaiah, 4.6
Lord Christ, You have won my salvation fully and completely by dying for my sins on the cross of Calvary. Keep me from speculating so that I might know more than that. Give me the wise ignorance that knows nothing but You, You crucified for me. Amen.
For Leslie Roch as she continues to undergo testing that she might be strengthened every day in body and soul
For President Thomas Winger and the faculty of Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, St. Catharines, that they would continue to faithfully proclaim the work of Christ
For all the military personnel who are posted in hostile places, that they might be kept safe and faithful in their mission
Art: Dürer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 

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