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What the Law Requires From Us is Freedom From the Law — Put Your Dancin’ Shoes On!!!

Author: Category: Uncategorized

How on earth I'm going to encapsulate in a few short paragraphs the depth of the riches and wisdom and grace and mercy of God as distilled by Luther/Forde on pages 107-110, I don't know. When practically the entire passage has been underlined (more than once) and I've got my personal notes scribbled in margins and exclamation points everywhere…how can I distil this for you?  I feel what Forde must have felt as he wrestled and finally gave up and said,

“The language has to break out into preaching. Never mind that when we look to ourselves we find no sign of good works. Never mind our fears and anxieties. We are looking in the wrong place. Look to Christ! He has done it all. Nothing will be gained by trying to shore up the OId Adam. Christ leaves nothing for the Old Adam and Eve to do. The old can only be killed by the law, not given artificial respiration by recourse to it. That is the point of the language here and its exuberance. To the theologian of the cross the language of grace and faith must be pushed absolutely to this length — until it kills the old and raises the new. We will only fall back into law where the demand continues endlessly and nothing is ever finally done. So we can only let the language of grace sound forth. Grace says, “believe it” and everything — EVERYTHING! — is already done. It is the creative Word of God. If that doesn't work then nothing will.” (110)

I'm having to control myself now. I want to dance! I'm remembering that lovely scene from the movie Babe when the staid old farmer is alone with his pig and the music starts and he dances with abandon for joy. That's what I'm feeling right now. I'm getting a feeling that that's what I'll feel like for eternity in heaven. EVERYTHING! has already been done! Yippee! I'm in love! I'm filled with joy! I'm at peace! I am coming to “know and believe the love that God has for me.” This is a Dancing-Shoe-Mandatory Zone. Don't be afraid that this kind of talk will make you apathetic, lazy, cavalier. Just the opposite will happen.  Don't be afraid of being loved like this.

I don't know how to proceed. I'm stuck trying to decide how to summarize what Lewis called “the language of heaven” (joy). I'll just write out the thesis and a few of my favorite quotes and let them work on you till your feet start twitching and you've got to jump up and burst forth with hallelujahs and thank you's:

Thesis 26: The law says, “do this,” and it is NEVER done. Grace says, “believe in this,” and EVERYTHING IS ALREADY DONE.

“In commanding love law can only point helplessly to that which it cannot produce…What the Law requires is freedom from the law.” (108)

“…grace, instead of demanding love, simply gives it unconditionally. It is simply the “I love you.”

“Faith justifies. Faith is the righteousness God wants and aims to get…Faith obtains what the law commands. Through faith Christ is in us. We fulfill everything through him since he was made ours through faith.”

“The insistence that only those works are truly good that are done spontaneously and joyously out of faith, hope, and love belongs to the very heart of Luther's Reformation. That is why he can make the claim that faith doesn't have to be prompted to do good works because the Christ who fulfilled all things dwells within the person of faith, EVERYTHING! has already been done! There is simply nothing to do!…The Christ of the cross takes away the possibility of doing something.”

And now to the truth that this entire discussion has been heading: The point is precisely that the power to do good comes only out of this wild claim that EVERYTHING! has already been done. (110) 

Oh, my sister, my brother: be done with the law! Embrace this faith, this wild, illogical, incomprehensible reality. EVERYTHING! has already been done! Wholly lean on Jesus' Name! I'm singing now…On Christ the solid Rock I stand…All other ground (my own works, abilities, goodnesses) is SINKING SAND! ALL OTHER GROUND IS SINKING SAND.  Flee the sinking sand. Get up now. Lift up your hands. Dance and believe. Really. Now.


Posted on May 10, 2014