Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Hammer of God Section 1-The Hammer of God "The Call"--Bo Giertz

In Bo Giertz's book The Hammer of God, the first part of the section called "The Hammer of God" has the young pastor, Savonius visiting a dying man who sees only his sin, and feels he will not be saved. Savonius is overwhelmed when he feels incapable of bringing comfort to the man. A neighbor Katrina comes to the dying man, Johannes, and speaks to him. Here are parts of the dialogue:

"Katrina, it was good of you to come. You are kind, Katrina. God will reward you. And me, He will punish. So will He be exalted and declared righteous in all His judgments. But it will go badly for me. Katrina, why is it not as it used to be? Do you remember when we sang the old songs from The Songs of Moses and the Lamb? Then my heart was glad in the Lord. But it never became clean. Katrina, I am a sinner, a great sinner."

"Yes, that you are, Johannes. But Jesus is a still greater Savior."

The sick man breathed heavily before answering. He seemed to be going over something in his mind.

"Yes, He is a great Savior for those who let themselves be saved. But my heart is not clean, my mind is evil; I do not have the new spirit."

"They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. He came not to call the righteous, but sinners."

"Yes, Katrina, but it reads 'to repentance.' It is repentance that I lack."

"You do not lack repentance, Johannes, but faith....Your danger is not that you lack repentance, but that you have been drifting away from faith."

"What, then, shall I believe, Katrina?"

"You must believe this living Word of God: 'But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.' Up to this day you have believed in works and looked at your own heart. You saw only sin and wretchedness, because God anointed your eyes with the salve of the Spirit to see the truth. Do you have sin in your heart, Johannes?"

"Yes," answered the sick man timidly, "much sin, altogether too much."

"Just that should make clear to you that God has not forsaken you," said the woman firmly. "Only he can see his sin who has the Holy Spirit."

..."But why, then, have I not received a clean heart?"

"That you might learn to love Jesus," said the woman as calmly as before.

..."What do you mean, Katrina?"

"I mean, Johannes, that if you had received a clean heart and for that reason had been able to earn salvation--to what end would you then need the Saviour? If the law could save a single one of us, Jesus would surely not have needed to die on the cross. 'Because the law worketh wrath,' and God stops every mouth by his holy commandments, that 'all the world may become guilty before God.'"

..."have you anything more to say, Katrina?"

"Yes, one more thing, Johannes. 'Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.'"

He lay quiet a moment.

"Do you mean...? Do you really mean that He takes away the sin that dwells in my unclean heart?"

"Yes, He atoned for all that sin, when He died in your place."

"But I still have it with me, don't I?"

"Yes, as surely as Paul also still had it with him. Have you never read, 'I know that in me (that is in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.'"

"Yes, that's how it is," whispered Johannes.

"That is the way it has always been for us, and for all others. 'With his stripes we are healed.' 'He is the propitiation for our sins: and...also for the sins of the whole world.'"

The sick man lay breathlessly quiet. Then he whispered, "One word more, Katrina, a sure world, and I will believe it."

The woman got up quietly, took the Bible that lay on the table, and sat down again. Opening the Bible, she read: "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus."

"Amen, I believe!" said Johannes, in a voice that could barely be heard.

Katrina rose and replaced the Bible on the table.

"Now God's work has taken place. Now you must ask the pastor to give you the holy sacrament."

I love this! It's all about the proper distinction between the Law and Gospel. Sometimes people are crushed by their sin to the point of despair. They need to hear the Gospel "for you." All of us can say we are great sinners. Yet praise be to God, we know Jesus is a still greater Savior!!

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