Another work that I will look forward to reading once my Latin skills are up to snuff is Augustine’s De Spiritu et Littera (On the Spirit and the Letter). I found a copy here and here. There is a whole site with works of Augustine in Latin here. Augustine’s argument is that the difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant is that the Old Covenant makes demands, but we cannot fulfill them because of our sinfulness; on the other hand, the New Covenant is more glorious because it gives us the ability to do that which is demanded by the power of the Holy Spirit. Sounds to me like what Paul was talking about in 2 Corinthians 3.
In other news, I have been re-reading Ted Tripp’s Shepherding a Child’s Heart. One thing that I think he is right on the money about is the necessity of investing time in our parenting. I think he is right to point out that there is nothing that we can substitute for time spent with our children.
My wife and I were just joking that one of the things that makes me feel stress is her humming or playing soothing music. I realized this when trying to get her and the kids out the door for school this morning. I find it stressful because she mostly hums or plays soothing music when she feels stressed. That is one of her ways of calming herself (and the kids), but it is an indicator to me of her stress level, so ironically it does not calm me! 🙂
On another note, our church celebrated the Lord’s Supper yesterday. One of the things I love about my church is that when we celebrate the supper, we emphasize that the supper is not for those who have lived especially holy and obedient lives the past week. As our pastor said yesterday, one gets the impression from the way churches sometimes celebrate the supper that if you have been obedient to Christ the past week, you can take the supper, but if not, maybe you had best abstain. But the supper is a celebration of the forgiveness that Christ purchased for us by his death and resurrection! Therefore the supper is not for the obedient, but for those who are repenting of their sins and placing their trust in what Christ has done for them.
I sometimes struggle with what to do when I am not aware of any sins that I am presently committing. I had a formative experience of this a couple years ago when I was in the service and listening to the gospel preached and I thought to myself, “I really can’t think of any ways in which I am sinning right now. What should I do with this?” Well I believe that God took note of that because I had one of the worst weeks ever in terms of sin. To be honest with you, it’s not that I even really remember the particular sins that I committed that week; rather, what stuck with me is the impression that I ought to be careful when I think I am doing well at obeying God.
So now here is what I do now when I can’t think of any particular sins that I have committed recently. I remember (1) the sins I have committed in the past are wretched enough and terrible enough that I deserve God’s everlasting judgment. God has graciously covered those sins through the atonement of Christ, but if he were to “uncover” them, I confess that I would stand under his just condemnation. So even if I am not aware of any sins that I am presently committing, I presently need God’s forgiveness of my past sins to continue. Put another way, I depend on Christ today for the fact that my sins remain forgiven.
(2) Though I am a new creature in Christ and have his abiding Spirit bearing good fruit in my life, I continue to have a sinful nature that remains. I depend on the cleaning of Christ today even when I am not conscious of presently sinning because there is still a part of me that opposes God and all the good things he wants to do in the world. That also is wicked, and I need to depend upon Christ to graciously forgive my sinful state and continue to uphold me in doing good by the Spirit he has put in me.
Finally, (3) even when I am not aware of presently sinning in any way, it is possible that in reality I actually am sinning and just don’t know it. I should be skeptical of the spiritual “bill of clean health” that I give myself in light of the above. Our own hearts are deep murky waters that we can’t know with clarity, and though I want to be careful about becoming overly introspective about my internal motives and thoughts which are, as Calvin would say, like a labyrinth that one can get lost in, I need to always be on the lookout for sin that might be hiding in my heart. While sometimes I am not aware of presently sinning against God because I am just not presently sinning (in which case, I should pay attention to 1 and 2 above), many (most?) times I probably have just not looked hard enough.
Anyway, those are some of my thoughts about celebrating the Lord’s Supper (or the gospel for that matter) when I am not aware of any sins that I am presently committing.
I found Augustine’s De doctrina christiana in Latin. I can’t wait to be able to read it!