Beggars in the Spirit

Reading Ephesians 2

4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

The word of the justifying grace of God never departs from its position as the final word; it never yields itself simply as a result that has been achieved. . . . The word remains irreversibly the last; for otherwise it would be reduced to the quality of what is calculable, a merchandise, and would thereby be robbed of its divine character. Grace would be venal and cheap. It would not be a gift.

Ethics

We stand before Good Friday and Easter, the days of the mighty deeds of God in history, the deeds in which the judgment and grace of God became visible to all the world: judgment in those hours in which Jesus Christ the Lord hung on the cross, grace in that hour in which death was swallowed up in victory. Human beings did nothing here; God did it all alone. He travelled the path to human beings in unending love. He has judged what is human and has given grace beyond all merit (Rom 11:6).

When the old Luther died, they found on his writing table a slip of paper on which in his last hours he had written these words: We are beggars in the Spirit. And that’s the way it will remain, as long as there are human beings. But he who is King in the Spirit, the Lord of all life and all grace, lets us know that our hope and our life stand or fall with the grace of God. His is the deed; his is the way. His is the grace; his is the Spirit. And his is our service and our life. His is the honour above all creation.