Wednesday 24 September 2008

Bonhoeffer says it!

In between making a Revell Star Wars "Y Wing Fighter" with Ben and reviewing a booklist I'm compiling, I came across Chapter 8 of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's "Cost of Discipleship". Another suss for Jamie.

In Hadron III I describe "the Willing Christ who wants to fulfil the Law through me." Chapter 8 is called the Righteousness of Christ and says the same stuff, in more traditional language and with greater eloquence..... But if you get your Holy Spirit XRay specs out, you should find it is exactly the same spirit underneath that I am wishing to convey. As I've said many times from Song of Solomon the real Truth is something like a "Dance between two armies". It is the picture of the suspended orb (3rd 07000INTUNEpost) The problem is you get both armies after you at once! Once you are firmly established in the 3rd Level, you can like Jesus, or Stephen,or Paul, with the Pharisees and Sadducees set the two onto each other, to remove the heat from yourself!!!!
But you'll find this with virtually every Bible Truth....Predestination/freewill. Grace/Law. Word/Spirit. The Truth who is a Living Person steps out from the shadows of 2 opposing Left-brain statues.
The Righteousness of Christ - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets;

I came not to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you,

Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no

wise pass away from the law, all things be accomplished.

Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments,

and shall teach men so, shall be called least in the kingdom

of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them,

he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

For I say unto you, that except your righteousness

shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and

Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom

of heaven. (Matt. 5.17-20)

IT is not at all surprising that the disciples imagined that the law
had been abrogated, when Jesus made promises like this. For these
promises reversed all popular notions of right and wrong, and
pronounced a blessing on all that was accounted worthless. Jesus
spoke to his disciples and described them as men who now pos-
sessed all things through the sovereign grace of God, as heirs-
apparent of the kingdom of heaven. They enjoy perfect com-
munion with Christ, who had made all things new. They are the
salt, the light, the city set on the hill. The old life is dead and done
with. How tempting then to suppose that Jesus would give the
old order its coup de grace by repealing the law of the old covenant,
and pronounce his followers free to enjoy the liberty of the Son
of God! After all Jesus had said, the disciples might well have
thought like Marcion, who accused the Jews of tampering with
the text, and altered it to: 'Think ye that I am come to fulfil the
law and the prophets? I am not come to fulfil, but to destroy.'
Many others since Marcion have read and expounded this saying
of Jesus as if that were what he said. But Jesus says: 'You must not
imagine that I have come to destroy the law or the prophets....'
And so saying he vindicates the authority of the law of the old
covenant.How is this to be understood? We know that Jesus is speaking
to his own followers, to men who owe an exclusive allegiance to
himself. He had allowed no law to act as a barrier to his fellowship
with his disciples; we saw that when we were dealing with Luke
9.57 ff.Discipleship means adherence to Jesus Christ alone, and
immediately. But now comes the surprise - the disciples are bound
to the Old Testament law. This has a double significance. First, it
means that adherence to the law is something quite different from
the following of Christ, and, secondly, it means that any adherence
to his person that disregards the law is equally removed from the
following of him. It is, however, Jesus himself who points to the
law those to whom he has granted his whole promise and his
whole fellowship. Because it is their Lord who does this, they are
bound to acknowledge the law. The question inevitably arises,
Which is our final authority, Christ or the law? To which are we
bound? Christ had said that no law was to be allowed to come
between him and his disciples. Now he tells us that to abandon
the law would be to separate ourselves from him. What exactly
does he mean?
The law Jesus refers to is the law of the old covenant, not a new
law, but the same law which he quoted to the rich young man
and the lawyer when they wanted to know the revealed will of
God. It becomes a new law only because it is Christ who binds
his followers to it. For Christians, therefore, the law is not a
'better law' than that of the Pharisees, but one and the same; every
letter of it, every jot and tittle, must remain in force and be
observed until the end of the world. But there is a 'better right-
eousness' which is expected of Christians. Without it none can
enter into the kingdom of heaven, for it is the indispensable condi-
tion of discipleship. None can have this better righteousness but
those to whom Christ is speaking here, those whom he has called.
The call of Christ, in fact Christ himself, is the sine qua non of this
better righteousness.
Now we can see why up to now Jesus has said nothing about
himself in the Sermon on the Mount. Between the disciples and
the better righteousness demanded of them stands the Person of
Christ, who came to fulfil the law of the old covenant. This is the
fundamental presupposition of the whole Sermon on the Mount.
Jesus manifests his perfect union with the will of God as revealed
in the Old Testament law and prophets.
He has in fact nothing
add to the commandments of God, except this,
that he keeps them.

He fulfils the law, and he tells us so himself, therefore it must be
true. He fulfils the law down to the last iota. But that means that
he must die, he alone understands the true nature of the law as
God's law: the law is not itself God, nor is God the law. It was
the error of Israel to put the law in God's place, to make the law
their God and their God a law. The disciples were confronted
with the opposite danger of denying the law its divinity altogether
and divorcing God from his law. Both errors lead to the same
result. By confounding God and the law, the Jews were trying to
use the law to exploit the Law-giver: He was swallowed up in the
law, and therefore no longer its Lord. By imagining that God
and the law could be divorced from one another, the disciples
were trying to exploit God by their possession of salvation. In
both cases, the gift was confounded with the Giver: God was
denied equally, whether it was with the help of the law, or with
the promise of salvation.
Confronted with these twin errors, Jesus vindicates the divine
authority of the law. God is its giver and its Lord, and only in
personal communion with God is the law fulfilled. There is no
fulfilment of the law apart from communion with God,
and no
communion with God apart from fulfilment of
the law.
To forget
the first condition was the mistake
of the Jews,
and to forget the
second the temptation of the disciples.

Jesus, the Son of God, who alone lives in perfect communion
with him, vindicates the law of the old covenant by coming to
fulfil it. He was the only Man who ever fulfilled the law, and
therefore he alone can teach the law and its fulfilment
. Thedisciples would naturally grasp that as soon as he
told them, forthey knew who he was.
But the Jews could not grasp it as long
as they refused to believe in him. It was thus only to be expected
that they would reject his teaching on the law: to them it was
blasphemy against God, because it was blasphemy against his law.
Jesus, the champion of the true law, must suffer at the hands of
the champions of the false law. He dies on the cross as a blasphemer,
a transgressor of the law, because he has vindicated the true against
the false.
The only way for him to fulfil the law is by dying a sinner's
death on the cross. There he embodies in his person the perfect
fulfilment of the law.
That is to say, Jesus Christ and he alone fulfils the law, because
he alone lives in perfect communion with God. It is Jesus himself
who comes between the disciples and the law, not the law which
comes between Jesus and the disciples. They find their way to the
law through the cross of Christ, Thus by pointing his disciples to
the law which he alone fulfils, he forges a further bond between
himself and them. He must needs reject the notion that men can
cleave to him and be free from the law, for that spells enthusiasm,
and so far from leading to adherence to Jesus, means libertarianism.
But this allays the disciples' anxiety that adherence to the law
would sever them from Jesus. Such an anxiety could only spring
from that self-same error which cut off the Jews from God. Instead
the disciples now learn that genuine adherence to Christ also
means adherence to the law of God.
But if Jesus comes between the disciples and the law, he does so
not to release them from the duties it imposes, but to validate his
demand that they should fulfil it. Just because they are bound to
him, they must obey the law as he does. The fact that Jesus has
fulfilled the law down to the very last letter does not release them
from the same obedience. The law is fulfilled, that is all. But it is
precisely this which makes it properly valid for the first time.

That is why he who obeys and teaches the law will be great in the
kingdom of heaven. 'Do and teach': we are reminded that it is
possible to teach the law without fulfilling it, to teach it in such
a way that it cannot be fulfilled. That sort of teaching has no
warrant from Jesus. The law will be obeyed as certainly as he
obeyed it himself. If men cleave to him who fulfilled the law and
follow him, they will find themselves both teaching and fulfilling
the law. Only the doer of the law can remain in communion
with Jesus.
It is not the law which distinguishes the disciples from the Jews,
but the 'better righteousness'. The righteousness of the disciples,
we are told, exceeds that of the scribes. That is because it is some-
thing extraordinary and unusual. This is the first rime we meet
the word Trepiaaeveiv, which is so important in verse 47. We
must ask, how exactly does the righteousness of the Pharisees differ
from that of the disciples? Certainly the Pharisees never imagined
that the law must be taught but not obeyed: they knew their
Bibles better than that! No, it was rather their ambition to be
doers of the law. Their idea of righteousness was a direct, literal
and practical fulfilment of the commandment, their ideal was to
model their behaviour exactly on the demands of the law. Of
course they knew that they could never realize that ideal, there
was bound to be an excess which needed forgiveness of sins to
cover it. Their obedience was never more than imperfect. With
the disciple also righteousness could only take the form of obedi-
ence to the law. No one who failed to do the law could be
accounted righteous. But the disciple had the advantage over the
Pharisee in that his doing of the law is in fact perfect. How is such
a thing possible? Because between the disciples and the law stands
one who has perfectly fulfilled it, one with whom they live in
communion. They are faced not with a law which has never yet
been fulfilled, but with one whose demands have already been
satisfied. The righteousness it demands is already there, the right-
eousness of Jesus which submits to the cross because that is. what
the law demands. This righteousness is therefore not a duty owed,
but a perfect and truly personal communion with God, and Jesus
not only possesses this righteousness, but is himself the personal
embodiment of it. He is the righteousness of the disciples. By
calling them he has admitted them to partnership with himself,
and made them partakers of his righteousness in its fulness. That is
what Jesus means when he prefaces his teaching on the 'better
righteousness' with reference to his own fulfilment of the law.
Of course the righteousness of the disciples can never be a
achievement;it is always a gift, which they
received when theywere called to follow him.
In fact their righteousness consists
precisely in their following him, and in the beatitudes the reward
of the kingdom of heaven has been promised to it. It is a righteous-
ness under the cross, it belongs only to the poor, the tempted, the
hungry, the meek, the peacemakers, the persecuted - who endure
their lot for the sake of Jesus; it is the visible righteousness of
those who for the sake of Jesus are the light of the world and the
city set on the hill. This is where the righteousness of the disciple
exceeds that of the Pharisees; it is grounded solely upon the call
to fellowship with him who alone fulfils the law. Their righteous-
ness is righteousness indeed, for from henceforth they do the will
of God and fulfil the law themselves. Again, it is not enough to
teach the law of Christ, it must be done, otherwise it is no better
than the old law. In what follows the disciples are told how to
practise this righteousness of Christ. In a word, it means following
him. It is the real and active faith in the righteousness of Christ.
It is the new law, the law of Christ.

from Memoir at the beginning of the book:" We know that Dietrich Bonhoeffer,who was never tried (by the Nazis) went steadfastly on his way to be hanged, and died with admirable calmness and dignity


jul said...

So it seems he is saying both yes and no?

I found that difficult to follow, not understanding exactly what he was trying to say...if I'm understanding correctly, there is much truth along with some error, according to my understanding of Scripture. That is to say, maybe D.B. disagrees with much of Romans?

here's an example of what I have the problem with: "Only the doer of the law can remain in communion
with Jesus."

It remains unclear to me whether he means doer of the law because of our union with Jesus who fulfills law, or if he is really talking about us really trying to obey the law with Jesus standing as a sort of filter to purify our works?

Jamie said...

It was somewhat convoluted, but I thought the writer always brought the issue back to the Life of Christ in us that accomplished all that was required at the cross.

He did it because we couldn't. He will because we can't. Reconciled: us in Christ. Sanctified: Christ in us. It is not I who lives, but Christ in me. The Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus is the Law that directs my members, now. Therefore, it has become my nature in Christ to righteous, not just be righteous. Yes???

Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...

If it's like that in English...imagine what the German is like!
I've just read the bit on your blog about family prayer too
this 'ere Christian life does seem to go in phases.
In 1975 Gerald Coates, and Maurice Smith,and other English guys sounded just like all of you...and as I've said it was so confusing coming back from Germany and the Sisters of Mary. I didn't really get clarity for another 13 years.But kind of gave up mentally and practiced walking around balancing both glasses of water on my tummy...or in my spirit.
And I think this is what James was trying to hammer home in his epistle too.
We can have such great times with Jesus in meetings, or our personal walk...especially after His release of the Spirit in us after Spirit baptism....that we can forget to actually do what Jesus has revealed in these precious times. This is by no means all the story...cos as Rob preaches, as you and Alan share...sometimes the first time we actually start obeying Christ in truth , is only after being blitzed with the grace message,and being welcomed in as a son by the Father and as Mark Stibbe and Peter Stott are sharing about the returned Prodigal receiving the Robe and the Ring. Mark Stibbe's book "Orphans and Heirs" is a must-read.

So there I was for 13 years, watching this table tennis game in my brain, grace...obedience/works...grace....obedience/works.

Then I "saw" it.
Romans 3-5 on grace is talking about a different me from the one that emerges as we believe on the Word "I have died with Christ", "reckoning ourselves as dead". Faih only works properly when we take it out of the tin, dust it down and actually read the instructions which are....
Believe the Word in our heart
Confess with our mouth
then God works the next bit..He saves us.
This is the same for salvation
this is the same when our conscience condemns us and we stand on the truth of His All the Time Righteousness
and it 's the same for bringing this "working, fully functional" Christ out of us into our Romans 8 particular calling.

But by now, something else has happened which Ryan Rufus is screaming from the house tops.
In the early part of Romans, we are doing the John the Baptist thing of "Less of me ,more of Him".

But by now, Christ has eaten us for lunch, and He's now saying ," Come round my Place, for tea".

Julie doesn't actually exist any more. Christ Julie, more than exists...she's positively bouncing back into life and taking everyone by storm..."Hey isn't that the shy girl we knew once!!! She's got really proud and full of herself!"
"No she hasn't." I reply" That's Christ in her you're talking about. And He is not full of Himself...He's just FULL...He is the meaning of the word FULL"
Now, in this stage as Ryan shares
it's ALL OF HIM IN ALL OF ME!!!! And that in a nutshell is where the Church is now going. The world will not know what has hit it!

So the above article...which is chapter 8 of the book after not about doing works to get is about this Jesus who lives in us...necessarily does things. He is always active...always doing some operation through us in His mission to bring others to Himself.
The book of James, the above script, even "meeting regularly as we see the day approaching" or "family prayers "even Christ's words to the people " who is it who does the will of my Father...the one that says they're gonna do it and doesn't...or the one who says they're not going to , then does it. All these "doing type things are vehicles for grace but not for Julie cos she died and now doesn't look very nice at all festering in her vehicles of grace are just Christ-Julie opportunities for Him to work.

For example if Lydia Joy had not bothered to make all the necessary arrangements to be at the Heidi Baker meetings...which involved work and effort....God would not have been able to bless her with some seed that will turn out for Eternal benefit. But none of us are saying Lydia Joy is if she's attained something through her efforts.

Does that make anything clearer?

jul said...

A bit clearer... I think my point was that none of those things were an avenue of grace but those things should be a fruit of grace. Grace comes through Jesus, Jesus is in me, through Jesus good fruit grows out of me.

It's very counterproductive to believe that by doing anything God pours out more grace in my life.

Also, I'm still tripped up on the law. Yes, Jesus is in me, we are in union, but no, this is not producing obedience to the law, but to the Spirit. The mosiac law is a composite whole, if I were in obedience to it I would be following all of it. So the law of Christ is something else.

Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...

"it's very counterproductive to believe that by doing anything God pours out more grace in my life."
If you think about it what can we do?
If we go to a meeting...the reality is we are emptying ourselves and focussing on Him time.
If we fast....we're not doing anything...literally not eating....
If we give time to seek the usually means stopping what we would normally do...

And those are spiritual type things.

Whenever we obey the inner voice of the Spirit....and do something we're told the end the only thing we can say is "I'm an unprofitable servant. My Master bid me do this and I did it." In a way the whole process cannot be owned at all..because as servants in the matter we have limited rights....Jesus told me to do it ,so I did it.

Also related to this...while you are still thinking of yourself as "alive" in your own are going to have problems. If you see yourself as just a branch in the Vine - and Jesus is both trunk and branch of that Vine - then you can nolonger see yourself as separated when you do something.The more you get JOHN 15 in your spirit...the more things will in fact happen even when you're doing mundane things like walking. I bet Peter never thought in a million years that he'd be walking along the street one day, and just as his shadow passed by, people would get healed.

So as I said previously as long as you are clear in your spirit about who you now is not at all counterproductive to believe that as you do things grace will pour in you and through you. Won't change a thing regarding your standing at the Cross...but if I had a pimple on my left buttock and you, venturing into my part of the city by faith one day, meant that your shadow crossed me and I could now sit down...I'd be impressed!!!
We can argue about these things all day. But the truth is we all know how to operate in meetings under the anointing. And we know what it feels like to be led by the Lord to pray for someone or give a word to someone...or just bless someone. And when we do these things in obedience, we often get this warm glow on the action that we have done has released grace and favour into our life. All God wants to do now for His Body is shift these sort of prophetic actions a few meters sideways down into the streets and into our daily lives, so we know how to walk in Him full-time.