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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Grace. – F. Pieper (Part 4 – Bible teaching)

Continued from Part 3, a translation of Franz Pieper's essay "Grace" from Lehre und Wehre in 1904 (Table of Contents in Part 1).  This installment proceeds from the story of Herman Boerhaave to present the pure Bible teaching on "Grace".  But Pieper uses the example of Boerhaave as an example to believing Jews in the New Testament portion.
Pieper's essay below is indented with some of my comments interspersed between paragraphs.  Underlining is in the original, highlighting is mine.
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by Franz Pieper
(continued from Part 3)
     In this narrative, the Scriptural concept of 'grace' is expressed.  The Scriptural concept of grace holds just this within itself, that in a comparison of those saved with those lost, the former are no better before God, or what is the same, they are not in a lesser debt before God than the latter.  Whoever says: "I am saved by grace", but then in a comparison of himself with the lost finds in his "behavior" etc., the explanation why he is converted and saved in contrast to others, he has not yet recognized the Scriptural concept of grace and understands basically nothing of the revealed religion in the Holy Scriptures.  Therefore, the Old and New Testament Scriptures urge over and over again the right notion of grace.
Pieper gives a Bible lesson for all Christians, not just future pastors and teachers – from the Old Testament:
     So it is with Israel's election as the Covenant people.  God instructed Israel on the one hand, that for the sake of the heathen's godlessness will he banish  and destroy them; on the other hand he warns Israel with many words against the thought that it takes in the land because it is better and has behaved better than the heathens.  We read, for example, Deuteronomy 9:4-7: "Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the LORD thy God hath cast them out from before thee, (page 434) saying, For my righteousness the LORD hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD doth drive them out from before thee.  Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Understand therefore, that the LORD thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiffnecked people.  Remember, and forget not, how thou provokedst the LORD thy God to wrath in the wilderness: from the day that thou didst depart out of the land of Egypt, until ye came unto this place, ye have been rebellious against the LORD."  After Moses demonstrated to the people how even badly it behaved at various events, he concludes in verse 24 with the words: "Ye have been rebellious against the LORD from the day that I knew you."  With so many words and so earnestly God enjoined Israel that in comparison with the Gentiles no causa discriminis [differentiating cause] was in the people themselves, that no "behavior" of Israel declared his election of the people.  Yes, Moses advances to the people that God refrained the election of Israel on account of the "behavior" of Israel and had to think of the grace which he had promised to the patriarchs.  Deuteronomy 9:25-27: "The LORD had said he would destroy you.  I prayed therefore unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, destroy not thy people and thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed through thy greatness, which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand.  Remember thy servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; look not unto the stubbornness of this people, nor to their wickedness, nor to their sin."
 Then to bring this teaching "up-to-date", Pieper shows the New Testament teaching of grace:
     The New Testament teaches likewise regarding the introduction into the Christian church and staying in the same.  The great majority of Jewish people rejected the Savior sent in the fullness of time to them and were deprived of salvation through their own fault.  But that there were a number of the Jewish people also at that time who believed in the Messiah and were saved, the Apostle Paul knows only one reason: the grace of God.  The believers of the Jews were "a remnant according to the election of grace", λεῖμμα κατ' ἐκλογὴν χάριτος, Romans 11:5.  And so thoroughly to weed out the thoughts, as if in the believing Jews themselves, in their better behavior, the causa discriminis [cause of discrimination] lies, the Apostle adds yet: "If by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace." Romans 11:6.  So the apostle Paul combats the illusion in the believing Jews that anything other than grace explains their coming to faith, while the great majority of their people remained excluded from salvation through their own fault.  Every Jew who stood in faith in (page 435) the Messiah at the time of the apostle, if he compared himself with unbelieving fellow Jews, must speak as Boerhaave: "Except for the grace of God, I know of no reason why I am not among the mass of my unbelieving fellow countrymen."  But even with believers from among the Gentiles the apostle Paul fought yet expressly against the delusion that something other than grace explains their coming to faith.  He puts in the same chapter the Gentile believers alongside the unbelieving Jews, Romans 11:17-24, and calls to the believing Gentiles: "Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity" (the unbelieving Jews), "but toward thee, goodness" (which of you are standing in faith). [Romans 11:22]
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Now that Pieper has brought out the pure teaching of the Bible, he doesn't let it go without further testimony because this teaching is a "here and now" teaching, a teaching for all times and for all people.  The next installment Part 5 goes forward in time – to Augustine and the Lutheran Confessions – on "Grace".

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