Pride, Part 67

In the last BLOG the focus was on some words of A.W. Tozer about how much Christianity had departed from a high view of God in his day. While things have changed since his day, instead of changing for the better things have gotten even worse. Our day is a day that still has a lot of religion, but it is not of a God-centered God who brings sinners to Himself and makes them truly God-centered as well. A brand of Christianity that is not God-centered is not Christianity at all. As said before, there is not one theological position that has been stated by man that cannot be held by man-centered people with their own honor or benefit in mind. The heart must be turned from its self-centered pride to centeredness on God in order to truly repent of the sin of the heart.

“In Luther, the theocentricity of primitive Christianity returns; and it is the determining factor of his whole outlook. His opposition to Catholicism is due ultimately to nothing else but this. In the Catholic conception of Christianity, it is in the last analysis man who occupies the centre of the religious stage; in Luther’s reforming conception it is God. Luther seeks to eradicate every vestige of the egocentric or anthropocentric tendency from the religious relationship. There is no place for the slightest degree of human self-assertion in the presence of God. Here, man must be content to receive undeserved the gifts God wills to bestow on him, and to obey without thought of reward the commandments God pleases to give him. In other words, he must let God really be God, the center around which his whole existence moves. This theocentric emphasis can be described as the fundamental motif of Luther’s entire thought.” (Let God Be God! An Interpretation of the Theology of Martin Luther)

Notice that the quote above speaks of what must happen in the presence of God. When a soul realizes who He is and what the human soul is in light of whom He is, the soul must turn from any self-assertion. Instead of what Roman Catholicism taught and teaches, which is that man must assert himself in order to be saved; Luther taught a Gospel of grace which man must come to the point of denying any self-assertion or ability. It is only when a person arrives at the point of not asserting self and looking to receive grace if God wills rather than willing it by self that salvation is by grace alone. Ephesians 2:1-3 speaks of how man is dead in sins and trespasses and by nature is a child of wrath. Verses 4-8 is how God raises sinners from the dead by grace alone. There is no self-assertion by a dead person. Those who are dead and who are raised by God have received what He was pleased to give and not because they asserted themselves.

It is also the case that Luther focused on the fact that man must come to the place where he is content to receive the undeserved gifts of God and that solely because it pleased God to do so. This is simply putting an explanation on what it means for a person to come to the place where s/he does not trust in self but looks to the grace of God to do it all. After all, we are told that God “predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will” (Eph 1:5). The “kind intention of His will” should be interpreted more literally which has the idea of “to the good pleasure of His will.” We then move to verse 6 which tells us that God saves “to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved” (Eph 1:6). It is hard to imagine anything more beautiful than the sheer and utter grace of God that saves sinners to the praise of the glory of His grace and according to His pleasure.

Man is also to obey God without thought of an earthly reward. Man’s reward in obedience is God Himself. So man is to obey the commands of God out of love for God. This shows, then, that in salvation and in sanctification man is moved by the grace of God. In this God is truly God in that He is the center of the whole existence of man. For Luther God was the center of it all. The opposite of that is pride. It was nothing but pride and self-centeredness that was the cause of Roman Catholicism. It was nothing but pride and self-centeredness that is the cause of the man-centeredness that is rampant in the United States today. In any local assembly where the focus is man, we can know that pride is right there. God opposes pride because it opposes the glory of His grace. Man wants to assert self in some little way in order to maintain some form of control, but that is nothing but pride in the face of the living God. Pride and God-centeredness are opposites. Pride and grace are opposites because sheer and utter grace is always opposed by man-centeredness and because pride will not receive grace. Pride wants grace to help, but pride refuses to bow in the dust and be totally at the mercy and grace of God. When men leave salvation to be by the will of man, that is self trying to assert itself at the throne of grace. Grace will save alone or not at all.

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