With a one hour commute to Edinburgh, twice a week, I have a great opportunity to read — that is, when I’m not napping!
The last couple of weeks I’ve been travelling to Edinburgh with Luther — well, Carl Trueman actually — okay, Trueman and Luther.
These past few autumn mornings, I’ve enjoyed the sun breaking above the horizon. This morning, I enjoyed the Son breaking upon my spiritual horizon — once again my breath was taken away by the grace of God as it revealed in Christ Jesus.
But true Christian theology, as I often warn you, does not present God to us in His majesty, as Moses and other teachings do, but Christ born of the Virgin as our Mediator and High Priest. Therefore when we are embattled against the Law, sin, and death in the presence of God, nothing is more dangerous than to stray into heaven with our idle speculations, there to investigate God in His incomprehensible power, wisdom, and majesty, to ask how He created the world and how He governs it. If you attempt to comprehend God this way and want to make atonement to Him apart from Christ the Mediator, making your works, fasts, cowl, and tonsure the mediation between Him and yourself, you will inevitably fall, as Lucifer did (Is. 14:12), and in horrible despair lose God and everything. For as in His own nature God is immense, incomprehensible, and infinite, so to man’s nature He is intolerable. Therefore if you want to be safe and out of danger to your conscience and your salvation, put a check on this speculative spirit. Take hold of God as Scripture instructs you (1 Cor. 1:21, [23–]24): “Since, in wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” Therefore begin where Christ began—in the Virgin’s womb, in the manger, and at His mother’s breasts. For this purpose He came down, was born, lived among men, suffered, was crucified, and died, so that in every possible way He might present Himself to our sight. He wanted us to fix the gaze of our hearts upon Himself and thus to prevent us from clambering into heaven and speculating about the Divine Majesty.
And Trueman on Luther says,
God in his majesty, apart from the flesh of Christ, is a terrifying, unknowable, powerful God before whom no fallen human can stand. The terror of coming before this God is the terror induced by trying to build a relationship with him on the basis of law and thus to make God’s perfect righteousness and naked power the context for approaching him. The idea of the incarnation is utter foolishness, for it contradicts all expectation of what a powerful, terrifying God would do. Yet it is there—in the weakness of human flesh, and especially in the supreme moment of that flesh’s weakness, the agonizing death on the cross—that God has come to his people as a God of grace and tender mercy.