Obedience, by Tom Harrison

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by: Cindy Ford

03/23/2021

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Send out your bread upon the waters,

    for after many days you will get it back.

Divide your means seven ways, or even eight,

    for you do not know what disaster may happen on earth.

When clouds are full,

    they empty rain on the earth;

whether a tree falls to the south or to the north,

   in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie.

Whoever observes the wind will not sow;

    and whoever regards the clouds will not reap.

Just as you do not know how the breath comes to the bones in the mother’s womb, so you do not know the work of God, who makes everything.

In the morning sow your seed, and at evening do not let your hands be idle; for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.

-- Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 (NRSV)


A Year with Dietrich Bonhoeffer: March 23

Fundamentally eliminating simple obedience introduces a principle of Scripture foreign to the gospel. According to it, in order to understand Scripture, one must first have a key to interpreting it. But that key would not be the living Christ himself in judgment and grace, and using the key would not be according to the will of the living Holy Spirit alone. Rather, the key to Scripture would be a general doctrine of grace, and we ourselves would decide its use. The problem of following Christ shows itself here to be a hermeneutical problem. But it should be clear to a gospel-oriented hermeneutic that we cannot simply identify ourselves directly with those called by Jesus. Instead, those who are called in Scripture themselves belong to the word of God and thus to the proclamation of the word. … Simple obedience would be misunderstood hermeneutically if we were to act and follow as if we were contemporaries of the biblical disciples. But the Christ proclaimed to us in Scripture is, through every word he says, the one whose gift of faith is granted only to the obedient, faith to the obedient alone. We cannot and may not go behind the word of Scripture  to the actual events. Instead, we are called to follow Christ by the entire word of Scripture, simply because we do not intend to wish to violate Scripture by legalistically applying a principle to, even that of a doctrine of faith.

-- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from Discipleship 82    


Epistle of James

But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for the look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they look like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act -- they will be blessed in their doing.

-- James 1:22-25

Send out your bread upon the waters,

    for after many days you will get it back.

Divide your means seven ways, or even eight,

    for you do not know what disaster may happen on earth.

When clouds are full,

    they empty rain on the earth;

whether a tree falls to the south or to the north,

   in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie.

Whoever observes the wind will not sow;

    and whoever regards the clouds will not reap.

Just as you do not know how the breath comes to the bones in the mother’s womb, so you do not know the work of God, who makes everything.

In the morning sow your seed, and at evening do not let your hands be idle; for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.

-- Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 (NRSV)


A Year with Dietrich Bonhoeffer: March 23

Fundamentally eliminating simple obedience introduces a principle of Scripture foreign to the gospel. According to it, in order to understand Scripture, one must first have a key to interpreting it. But that key would not be the living Christ himself in judgment and grace, and using the key would not be according to the will of the living Holy Spirit alone. Rather, the key to Scripture would be a general doctrine of grace, and we ourselves would decide its use. The problem of following Christ shows itself here to be a hermeneutical problem. But it should be clear to a gospel-oriented hermeneutic that we cannot simply identify ourselves directly with those called by Jesus. Instead, those who are called in Scripture themselves belong to the word of God and thus to the proclamation of the word. … Simple obedience would be misunderstood hermeneutically if we were to act and follow as if we were contemporaries of the biblical disciples. But the Christ proclaimed to us in Scripture is, through every word he says, the one whose gift of faith is granted only to the obedient, faith to the obedient alone. We cannot and may not go behind the word of Scripture  to the actual events. Instead, we are called to follow Christ by the entire word of Scripture, simply because we do not intend to wish to violate Scripture by legalistically applying a principle to, even that of a doctrine of faith.

-- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from Discipleship 82    


Epistle of James

But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for the look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they look like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act -- they will be blessed in their doing.

-- James 1:22-25

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