Fleming Rutledge on Justification

Fleming Rutledge. Her book on the crucifixion won Christianity Today’s Book of the Year of 2017 and Catholic Bishop Robert Barron called it the best work on the subject he has read in a decade.

“God is using you in spite of yourself. We aren’t responsible for making progress. Whatever progress is made will be the gift of God. Jesus said, “Fear not, little flock. For it is the Father’s pleasure to give you the Kingdom.” [Luke 12:32] Who will ascend into heaven to bring Christ down? Who will descend into the abyss to bring Christ up? The Word is near you on your lips and in your heart: The Word of faith which we Apostles preach. The Christian life is not a staircase or progress spiritual or otherwise. . . .

It would be a great benefit us and the church if we hold on to this great biblical insight of the Reformation. The Christian life is not one of spiritual and moral progress. The grace of God is new for us every morning, because we are just as incapable today as we were yesterday. . . There is great comfort in knowing that we are just as incapable yesterday as we are today especially, let me tell you, when you get really old. There is great, great comfort in knowing God knows our incapacity and it is His good pleasure to work through us just the same.

Gnosis, spiritual knowledge, is a treacherous concept leading to a lot of problems for the church and for individual Christians. I’ve seen it over and over Christians worry that they simply aren’t good enough, or spiritual enough, or persevering enough or gifted enough to be even remotely like St. Francis or Mother Theresa or that person in the prayer group who seems to be so far ahead of somebody else. Concerning this problem, Paul writes to the Corinthians about his own ministry. Such is the confidence we have through Christ toward God not that we are competent within ourselves to claim anything– our competence is from God who has made us component. Such is the competence that we have. [2 Corinthians 3]”

Fleming Rutledge, November 3rd, 2015

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