Monday, October 4, 2010

When we stand before Him - Part 2

Over the weekend I found myself with some unexpected free time without any of the books I had brought along to read. I stopped at a bookstore and picked up one of the few C.S. Lewis books I hadn't previously read, a collection of essays called The Weight of Glory. As I read the first essay I was surprised to see that Lewis was dealing with many of the same issues I wrote about in my last blog post. I think some of what Lewis wrote might serve as a bit of a corrective to the attitude I wrote with in that last post. I don't disagree with anything I wrote, at least not at the moment, but I think Lewis makes a good point about the glory that the Christian can hope for in heaven. Lewis writes:
. . . And that is enough to raise our thoughts to what may happen when the redeemed soul, beyond all hope and nearly beyond belief, learns at last that she has pleased Him whom she was created to please. There will be no room for vanity then. She will be free from the miserable illusion that it is her doing. With no taint of what we should now call self-approval she will most innocently rejoice in the thing that God has made her to be, and the moment which heals her old inferiority complex forever will also drown her pride deeper than Prospero's book. Perfect humility dispenses with modesty. If God is satisfied with the work, the work may be satisfied with itself; "it is not for her to bandy compliments with her Sovereign.". . .
. . . It is written that we shall "stand before" Him, shall appear, shall be inspected. The promise of glory is the promise, almost incredible and only possible by the work of Christ, that some of us, that any of us who really chooses, shall actually survive that examination, shall find approval, shall please God.
Lewis' Arminianism perhaps comes out in his line about anyone who "really chooses," and that is a whole other debate I don't mean to touch on here. But when it comes to a redeemed person pleasing God, "only possible by the work of Christ," I think Lewis' thoughts in light of the rest of his essay are well argued from Scripture. It's been a blessing to read Lewis', as usual, amazing thoughts in this essay and it's helped me to think more about how I should understand good works.


Ed said...

I am definitely a fan of Lewis. As a late teenager and through my early twenties I read over 20 of his books. His thought and manner have impacted me heavily.

His manner of expression is singularly beautiful.

Anonymous said...

What a great excerpt by Lewis, it reminds me of the song by Toby Mac, Made to Love...give it a listen, it's really good! Thanks for bringing it back to the basics once again Matt...that what truly matters is the relationship we have with God, and when that is right, everything else falls into place.
Take care, A.J.

Anonymous said...

Hi Matt,

I've been turning your good works posts over in my head for a few days; certainly, much has been said, written, and done regarding this very subject. And I'm glad to hear you don't disagree with anything you wrote;)
Certainly, there can be selfish and unselfish reasons to serve others. Thankfully, those in need are helped even when we offer half-hearted assistance.

However, your first post caused me to think about the Parable of the Talents, in Matthew and Luke. It is openly acknowledged by all parties that the talents came from the master, the servants have nothing that wasn't initially given to them. Yet, it was the duty of the servants to reap as much as possible from what was given them. The servant--or slave--depending on which translation we're reading--who claims to fear the master the most and did no good at all (all faith and no works) is an evil and lazy servant.

Well, I admit, brother, I don't want to be told that at the bar of God. Does this mean I can earn my way into heaven? Of course not. All I have has come from God. But I am expected to do all the good I can, and share what I am able, of whatever gifts God has entrusted me with. I think the most important part of this parable is that never does the master say, even to the good servants, you have EARNED entrance into the Lord's Joy. They are merely invited in because of the master's goodwill.

What do you think about this?

I hope you have a good week,


Matt Perkins said...

Hey Ed,
I was happy to reminded of what a genius of writer Lewis was when I picked up this book.

Hey A.J.,
I've probably heard that song but don't recall it at the moment. I think everything in the Christian life must flow from the basics which is the gospel... I don't think we can ever hear or think about the gospel too much, we can never get beyond the gospel. Thanks for the comment.

Hey SP,
Good to hear from you. In my posts I don't think my point was whether our reasons for doing things is selfish or unselfish. Jesus said, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments," so I think the only thing that will ultimately result in holiness in the life of the Christian is love for God and trust in Him. When it comes to your analysis of the Parable of the Talents I disagree with your statement that the wicked servant was "all faith and no works." In the parable the servants who made a profit for their Master are call "faithful" - full of faith. Now I know you might accuse me of playing with words here and that is not what I want to do. But I really think the servant who made no profit really had no faith or a "dead faith," as in, "faith apart from works is dead."

I don't deny that in a myriad of places in Scripture we are called to make a decision to obey God, to be faithful with what He was given us. But I think the question I was writing about is that when you look at two people, one who decides to be faithful with what God has given and the other who does not, who ultimately gets the credit for the good servant's faithfulness? My point is that it is only by God's grace that a person can be brought to the point of being faithful or obedient with anything. As with our salvation, we are also utterly dependent on the grace of God in Jesus Christ for any good works we might ever do in this life or any way we might be faithful. I think that was my point. Thanks for challenging me though as usual.