01 March 2013

From Sirach 5

Do not be so sure of forgiveness that you add sin to sin. And do not say, "His compassion is great, and he will forgive me my many sins"; for with him are both mercy and wrath, and his rage bears heavy on sinners. Do not delay your return to the Lord, do not put it off day after day; for suddenly the Lord's wrath will blaze out, and at the time of vengeance you will be utterly destroyed. 

What a stunning warning against what our old theologians called "carnal security." The Weedon version is shorter: "God loves to forgive; I love to sin; such a deal!" Rather, remember the terrifying nature of divine wrath, of pure holiness and absolute love, and cry out:

Lord, have mercy upon me! Set me free!

I so often think of Luther's Ad Te Levavi homily: the person who longs to be set free from sin has nothing to fear from the Last Day. It comes as the answer to his prayers. Lord, give us such hearts as long to be freed from the chains of sin and enter into the liberty of the sons of God. Amen.


Rev. Luke T. Zimmerman said...

A good pull from Sirach. Really harmonizes well with the Lent 3C Readings this coming Sunday.

Scotty said...

Great post Pastor Weedon...the Words offer a more than fair warning in an unforgiving World...

Thank you for sharing...:)

Unknown said...

This kind of writing troubles me. It troubles me because I know that I sin continually, yet I am sure of forgiveness. Does that fact separate me from God? If it does, then there is no hope for me, and for that matter, for no other Christian. What I think this section of Sirach implies (and why it is not in the canon) is that there is a certain threshold in the quality, or maybe even quantity of sins that we should not go beyond, or if we do, our repentance must be of a very special, intense kind before the Lord will forgive us. Is God simul full of rage and compassion as we are iustus et peccator? Is God ever enraged against His elect?

I think that we Lutherans should get a better focus on what Scripture says it means to be a member of the Kingdom of God. Luther, and especially Chemnitz have a much more generous view of the certainty of salvation and the significance of sin in the lives of Christians.

Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

Pastor Peters said...

So what do you think of the Jeff Kloha extended review of The Apocrypha in the recent Concordia Journal, pg. 83ff

William Weedon said...

Fr. Peters,

It strikes me that Dr. Kloha seems not aware that Lutherans (including LCMS Lutherans) read the Apocrypha in the liturgy. In those old CPH Bibles in German, there is a lectionary at the tail end. It shows "epistle" readings from the Apocrypha on the Day of St. John and the Birthday of the Mother of God. Further, if Dr. Kloha were familiar with earlier Lutheran Church orders, he would find that liturgically huge sections of the Apocrypha were read out (for example, my beloved Magdeburg Book from 1613 features readings from the maligned Tobit AND Maccabees). His critique comes across to me as one who is writing dogmatically and not considering the full use made of the said writings OUTSIDE the dogmatic tradition in the wider devotional and liturgical life of the Church. One thing I agree with him on: If it comes to establishing dogma, we don't turn to the Apocrypha (as Rome might).

I don't think he adequately dealt with how Chemnitz divvies up the Scriptures in Enchiridion either. From that chart, one would take that for Chemnitz, James and Ecclesiasticus were about on par.

William Weedon said...

Oh, also have to add: anyone who thinks the Apocrypha has no Messiah in it has NOT pondered Wisdom 2:12-20!!!