Blown Away by Law

old-library.jpegI was blown away this morning by Law. Henry Law was a pastor in the Church of England. He lived from 1797 to 1884. I’ve had his book, The Gospel in Genesis, sitting on my very own bookshelves for more years than I can count; but I’ve never read it. Until this morning.

What first blew me away was this quote on the back cover:

That page [of Scripture] is the brightest page, in which most of Christ is found. That sermon is the brightest sermon, in which most of Christ is heard. That life is the brightest life, in which most of Christ is seen. . . . Without Christ, religion is a sunless firmament; life is a dreary passage to a dreadful end; the home is no abode of peace; and prosperity is an adverse flood. Without Christ, birth is no boon, life is no gain, and death is a downfall into an unfathomable abyss . . . . Can I know this and not beseech men to make Christ their all?

Yeah! Here’s a quote from inside the book:

oldbook.jpegBecause though no shade of sin was within Him, still mountains of sins were upon Him. Although infinitely far from personal offense, He stood before God laden with all the countless transgressions of a countless multitude. Here is the godlike grace of God. He consents to remove guilt from the guilty, and to place it on the guiltless. He transfers the sins of the sinful to his sinless Son. . . So Jesus is our sin-bearing surety. He is verily accounted, and verily treated, as the perpetrator of every evil deed–as the speaker of every evil word–as the harbourer of every evil thought, which had stained or should stain, each child in the redeemed family. . . .

O my soul, have you by faith an interest [share or stake] in Christ? THEN KNOW YOUR FULL RELIEF. HE SNAPS THE CHAIN WHICH WOULD HAVE DRAGGED YOU DOWN TO HELL.

I’m having a very hard time knowing where to stop! Here’s the next paragraph, and then have a nice weekend.

calvary3cross.jpgThe Bible is a sealed book–the story of the Cross is a beclouded page–peace is a delight untasted–hope is an idle fiction, until Jesus is prized as a substitute and surety. How great the change, when He is so revealed! Then Justice shines in all its glory–Grace in all its brightness–Mercy in all its triumphs–Salvation in all its riches. Then the Gospel-trumpet sounds with power, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.”

When you get this stuff deep down in your bones–when it makes your heart skip a beat and when it makes tears well up in your eyes–only then you are ready to be his devoted and self-sacrificing disciple. Not before. That is why Jesus washed his disciples’ feet: to etch indelibly on their consciousness that He would serve them immeasurably more than they would ever serve Him. And until you get that, as Jesus told Peter who resisted Jesus washing his feet: “You have no part” in him.

jesuswashfeet.jpgHe must minister to us deeply before we can minister for him effectively.

When was the last time you heard anything even close to Henry Law’s message from today’s emerging theologians? It’s so sorely needed and so sadly missing in today’s church. I’m so glad I threw this book into my briefcase as I left my office yesterday! Thank you God!

Okay, so I still can’t stop. If you’d like to read more–something refreshing and uplifting from centuries ago written by Henry Law, about your riches in Christ, then click here. Now have a great weekend!

Dad Update: My dad, Roy, is healing gradually from extensive oral surgery. He is scheduled to be released this weekend from the hospital. The rehab facility he was scheduled to enter seems to be changing his mind about receiving him; his medical needs are too extensive. PLEASE PRAY for an opening in an excellent rehab facility that is nearby our family in the Venice, FL area. As before, I’ll foward to him any notes of encouragement you’d like to leave as a comment. Thank you so much.

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18 thoughts on “Blown Away by Law

  1. When was the last time you heard anything even close to Henry Law’s message from today’s emerging theologians?

    I’d love to hear more…

    …what is your understanding of the faith of the next generation of Christians? How do you come by that understanding? Do you see what younger Christians are doing, saying, thinking as an improvement, or a devolution of what your generation has handed us?

  2. Steve,
    I think that what “my generation” (yikes! am I that old?) handed the younger generation was a mess. A behavior-oriented, practical to the point of ridiculousness, mystery depleted, seeker-sensitive, positive thinking, Spirit-optional, Bible-light, theology-disdained, Christ-minimized legalism.

    So very, very sorry.

    The emerging church has melted it down into simple, old-fashioned, theological liberalism, as exemplified by white-bearded, grandfatherly, Scottish types named Brian.

    You have to go back two or three generations to get the kind of meaty, masculine, gutsy, world-changing stuff I’m talking about. Back to the era of guys like William R Newell, Harry Ironside, Arno C Gabelein, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, etc. Guys like Ray Stedman are gone.

    Actually Martyn Lloyd-Jones said you had to go back to the 1700’s, and except for Spurgeon and the revival of 1858, I’d be included to agree. The Puritans were giants. We, by comparison, are little people… to paraphrase J.I. Packer in A Quest for Godliness.

    Steve, seriously, when have you heard preaching or read anything even close to what Henry Law is saying? In fact, here’s the opening preface of the book (The Gospel in Genesis)… it gives his philosophy of ministry. Compare it to what you read and hear these days….

    PREFACE

    “The object of these pages is simple, clear, holy. It is to arouse attention to the blessed truth, that Christ pervades all Scripture, as salt all waters of the sea, as light the brightest day, as fragrance the garden of choice flowers.

    “To see this is my prime delight. To testify it is my happiest duty. Devoted loyalty to Him who is the first and last, the sum and substance of all Scripture, impels me. Earnest zeal for the undying souls of men constrains me. I know, and am intensely persuaded, that all peace, all joy, all salvation, are in Jesus. My eyes are widely open to the fact that men are blessed, and are blessings, just in proportion as they live, ever gazing on Christ, ever listening to His voice.

    “Shame, then, and guilt and woe would be my portion, if I should leave any effort untried to unfold His glorious image. Let me rather use every power of life and pen to magnify and exalt Him—to beseech men to ponder Him—to search for Him—to receive Him—to love Him—to follow Him—to serve Him—to commend Him—to live in Him, and through Him, and for Him. I would thus strive, the Spirit helping, to assail and melt and conquer hearts, that Christ may there be enthroned, in all His rightful majesty, a beloved and adored Lord.

    “There can be no excess in the faith and love and adoration and obedience of the only Savior, the King of kings and Lord of lords!”

    Bill

  3. Dear Mr. Giovannetti: We are praying the Lord God will go before you and guide the way to the best place to recover. He knows!!

    Keep looking “up” and expecting God to do what He does the best! If you can, let someone read to you the excerpts from Henry Law included in the blog entry above. How encouraging they are! Enjoy!

    Lots of love,
    J

  4. Hey Bill,

    I am not really all that familiar with those guys…

    …as for the preaching, I guess I don’t know exactly to what you were refering to when you asked, “when have you heard preaching or read anything even close to what Henry Law is saying?”

    I certainly don’t see any real difference in content between that quote and what I heard every Sunday. In fact I don’t really think the Scottish ‘Brian’ would dispute, or even differ, with anything said there…

    …perhaps I am missing exactly what it was that you thought distinguished this quote from what other Christian thinkers and leaders are saying…

    As for the ’emerging Church’ it seems to me that the ‘mess’ you described is the very thing that has created the emerging Church. It has emerged from the Church of it’s predecessors as a response to, flight from, and attempt to correct, what are clearly gross errors in living and understanding…

    Of course, there are those who, at times, have had a hard time keeping the baby while changing out the bath water; but you have to admit, it sure is hard to see with all that muck in the tub!

  5. mr law, at least in what was quoted, and i can’t say for certain because it’s only an excerpt……is dwelling on the sacrifice and salvific act of christ……isn’t that just a starting point? what about the 90% of the time remaining in how we live our lives….the living out of christs teachings? i know i harp on this in this blog but it seems that the life we are to live out beyond this base point of salvation, is obscured by the dwelling upon this one aspect of god’s infusion. much of what i’m having in focus is the sermon on the mount and it’s implications for our life…..that seems to be missing….i contend that these teachings are much of what is referred to as ‘meat’.

  6. Great stuff Bill.

    Come to Santa Cruz, 10:30am, San Lorenzo Park. You’ll here all about Jesus; it may not be that pretty sounding, but…every scripture qouted finds it’s end in Jesus’ life, death, rising, & exaltation; the life he empowered & expects us to live; & the people he desires us to love in both word & deed.

    When you say, “This (or these) old dead guy is good vs. these bad living young guys” I’m not sure who you’re talking about. Are you generalizing? Not everything young is emergent; & not everything emergetn is bad, interesting as it may be to us both.

    Yes, you’re old; but, evidently this guy is older, so…

  7. If Dr. Giovannetti is an OLD guy, then I’m fossilized! However, I must say if he has seen a pendulum shift in his lifetime from Christ as God incarnate to Christ as God Man, imagine what has transpired since Christ was here on earth. I agree so heartily to his conclusion we are NOT emphasizing His Diety as much today. Jesus is our Friend (very true), He is our Savior (extremely grateful for this), Jesus loves us (Amen, brother!), Jesus wants us happy (full of joy, yes, but I’m not sure just how to define “happy.”) However, I’ve seen the shift away from Jesus Christ is God Almighty to be revered and worshipped! The passion for Him as our all sufficiency and Sovereign Lord has slipped to where He is expected to supply all our desires while we “rest” in peace and happiness. The passion is missing. Henry Law expresses what I see as the lost passion we all need to rekindle. Is that the “meat” we need? Once that happens we can’t help but share our joy with others. We will “share” it in our words, actions, and very being.

    I truly understand how Dr. G can be “blown away by Law”! So am I! (Catchy title, Dr. G!!)

  8. the meat as i see it is what is talked about in the sermon on the mount and then elsewhere…….meekness, loving of one’s enemies, turning the other cheek, forgiveness of the unforgiveable (in our human sense), the implications of taking a stance for peace and non violence……..the meat of going against our very human nature of not loving those who don’t love us back, that do evil against us, that want to do us and those we love harm. the meat of going the extra mile, without our coat, the meat of swallowing hard and trying to find out if we have offended. the meat of obedience to these christ-like precepts as primary and for instance, not going against this ethos ‘when the government says its’ ok’….i.e. armed conflict, or even more basic, not taking on the idea that such and such a person or ideology or religion or economic system is in fact my enemy, but treating them equally with christs love, even if that means your life.

    it seems that many of those calling themselves christian today are vegetarian.

  9. Rick & Steve,

    Let me clarify my point and raise a question:

    My point is that a generation of Christian teaching has emphasized the ETHICAL and PRACTICAL dimensions of Christianity to the virtual (effective) exclusion of the mystical dimensions of Christ in you and faith.

    This is because of a disdain for theology and a pragmatic emphasis on the practical. What I’m lamenting is the loss of preaching that exalts Christ… in his person, his redemptive work, his coming glory. These things pertain immensely to our lives, but church has become all about US instead of all about HIM.

    Of course I’m generalizing… it goes with communicating, right?

    My question is, Rick, by what power do we accomplish the things you are talking about?

    Bill

  10. christs power…….

    i dare say that even in those churches that preach about ‘us’, you will not hear what i mentioned. as i understand, the very early church would not take up the sword, slowly, over time they did, with a culmination in constantines time. and it was not only because of caesar’s equating himself with god but because of christs teaching on the matter of how we are to live, treat others etc. i think that luther and zwingli/calvin carried on the tradition that the roman catholic church had, in the combining of the church and state and therefore the sword, hatred of enemies etc, with likely only small remnants pre reformation and then only a small percentage afterwards that actually take into their lives those tough teachings of christ. the denial (or postponement into the millenium) of these teachings of love and way of being, is pretty pervasive in our time.

    i have found in my own life, adhering ever so inconsistently to these, that i have been put categorically at odds with the mainstream…….you get blank stares, you get told that it’s not important, that sometimes i’m told that christ as savior is ‘enough’…..it seems it’s too tough to be even taken seriously. erroneous correlations with other ‘pacifists’ are given, patriotism is brought up, being ‘practical’, theological explaining away i.e. only for jews in the millenium etc………that is, if any one will even address the issues. mostly the feedback is avoidance, or something that makes me think that christ was just wasting his breath.

    what are your thoughts on these, the non violent, love for enemies, passages and their supporting verses?

  11. “My point is that a generation of Christian teaching has emphasized the ETHICAL and PRACTICAL dimensions of Christianity to the virtual (effective) exclusion of the mystical dimensions of Christ in you and faith.”

    Are you talking about generic liberal theology here? Yes to generalize is a part of communication, but the medium of typing makes it difficult. When you generalize I am forced to fill in the blanks, etc…

    I do agree with you. The gospel produces fruit in the believer, therefore our preaching needs to focus on God’s initial inward work first, then his outward works in our lives; & all this initiated through God’s work in Christ. I would also agree that the general status of “what is preached” in America is often a) foreign to biblical Christianity, b) focused upon “me,” (you’ve seen the Me Church video!?), & c) in need of revival. I often forget that a huge swath of American Christianity consists of mainline denominations who need history lessons on their founder’s passionate biblical faith! I’m sure your experience in Chicago allowed you more interaction with these groups. I’ve been blessed to be a part of the Vineyard from the start, so, for a California boy, it’s pretty good; theologically & socially.

    I’ve never heard of Law, but what you’ve posted is good stuff.

  12. Hey Bill,

    I guess I think you are lumping everyone who doesn’t think like you into the same camp and labeling it ‘liberal.’ I don’t know if that is what you are intending to do, or if I am understanding you correctly…

    …but I sure would make some HUGE distinctions between liberal and emergent. Some of the other conversations I am in have painted guys like McLaren and NT Wright as conservatives. They certainly wouldn’t be accepted by mainline liberal Christianity. The simple fact that they believe the Bible to be a source of authority for living and thinking, or that they would affirm the theology of John 1 (for example), removes them from the ranks of liberalism by most standards I know…

    I understand that they don’t exactly fit the conservative label either; which is something most emergent Christians are rather excited about!

    I think much of your critique above can be accurately leveled at liberal Christianity (but of course I don’t think they really care, my neighbor was involved in a spiritual conversation I happened to overhear, he was asked, “Are you an atheist?” He responded, “Almost, but not quite, I am an Episcopalian!”)

    The following list:

    “behavior-oriented,
    practical to the point of ridiculousness,
    mystery depleted,
    seeker-sensitive,
    positive thinking,
    Spirit-optional,
    Bible-light,
    theology-disdained,
    Christ-minimized legalism.
    exclusion of the mystical dimension
    all about US”

    may be true of liberal Christianity, but I think it is the opposite impulse that drives the emergent Church (and I would say that anyone who thinks conservative Christianity doesn’t also match some of the descriptions above, and add some problems of it’s own, hasn’t looked hard enough into the mirror…)

    If you think McLaren is a liberal, I don’t think you understand him (you certainly are disagreeing with his own self-identification). I would be interested to see you quote him and show how he deserves that label…

  13. Hi Rick…

    Comments on your comments…

    As a post grows older, fewer people read the post, and even fewer read all the comments, so sometimes the thread just dies out. That’s the normal lifecyle of a blog like this.

    Your comments open the huge discussion of pacifism. That is way more than I have the time or inclination to delve into at this point.

    I will respectfully disagree with you in your emphasis on the sermon on the mount. Don’t think I’m writing it off; I’m not. It is a way of life for believers. But the apostolic emphasis is the Cross: “we proclaim Christ and him crucfied.”

    You cannot adopt the Christian ethical system apart from its foundation on the Christian redemptive message.

    Bill

  14. I can’t take it anymore, you’re killing me. I’ve been watching this commentary for the last week and it has been lying heavy on my heart. Here are some thoughts from a guy who doesn’t even understand what “liberal” verses “conservative” Christian even means.

    “My point is that a generation of Christian teaching has emphasized the ETHICAL and PRACTICAL dimensions of Christianity to the virtual (effective) exclusion of the mystical dimensions of Christ in you and faith.”

    To answer this question I had to break out the old Merriam-Webster Dictionary and look up a few words.

    Deity: 1. Divinity 2.GOD. 3. A god or goddess

    Divinity: 1. THEOLOGY 2.the quality or state of being divine 3. a divine being;esp:GOD

    Theology: 1. the study of religious faith, practice, and experience; esp: the study of God and of God’s relationship to the world.

    So my Theologian and Masters of Divinity friends are trying to teach me about God and how he relates to this world, and eventually to me. So, if we remove the “God” component of Christ, take the “Deity” out and keep his teachings– the Bible, what do we have? Isn’t that what you are asking Bill? I think it is a great question if that is what you are asking… It made me look up another word.

    Philosophy: 1. sciences and liberal arts exclusive of medicine, law, and theology. 2. A critical study of fundamental beliefs and the grounds for them 3. A system of philosophical concepts. 4. A basic theory concerning a particular subject sphere of activity 5. The sum of the ideas and convictions of an individual or group 6. Calmness of temper and judgment

    Why is “theology” included in the list of exclusions for “philosophy”? The answer is one word “Deity”. Without Christ being God, “the mystical dimensions of Christ” as Bill put it, he is reduced to just a philosopher, just a man. Once we limit him down to this, he is open to comparison, ridicule, and inclusion into lists of other philosophers. Now the world can compare “Mr. Christ” with Gandhi, Doctor Phil, Opra, Martha Stewart, and any other person who feels they have an answer to how man relates to this world, with or without a god. It caused me to think of this scripture and is my answer to your second question.

    “…by what power do we accomplish the things you are talking about?”

    Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Phil 2:12-13

    Four words that mean all the difference “for it is God”, or you could say in this case “for it is Deity.

    Just a simple fisherman trying to understand…

  15. Wow, David! I think you’ve got it!!! For just “a simple fisherman,” you do a great job explaining the heart (and Cross) of Christianity! Thank you! (Do you “fish” for men or fish??)

    I especially liked the comparison of “Mr. Christ” with Gandhi, Dr Phil, Opra, and Martha Stewart. What a ridiculous picture, which is what is so true in our humanistic world!

  16. bill, i am not adopting the ethical system apart from the redemptive message, at least i hope i’m not…………what i am trying to work out, to understand, is how we can take the redemptive message as ‘it’… only ‘it’. i see the people of this world look at a church that only dwells on the redemption and not the living out, and it rightfully turns them off and away. the apostolic emphasis of the cross is the power by which we enact these truly tough and contrary to our human nature acts that christ talks about…..these are also, by their nature, acts that would transform the world, not that that is our emphasis (ours should be in being obedient and whatever the ends are, are).

    pacifism is not what i am talking about!!, though you may be talking about Pacifism………i am talking about biblical non violence….among many other implications.

    david, it can be very apropos to talk about philosophy in the context of christ’s teachings…….that is why there are a number of definitions, such as numbers 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. also if you have a phD that stands for doctor of philosophy of….., usually not associated with a law degree (though you can get a doctorate in law), or in medicine.

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