Issues, Etc.

Articles and book excerpts used in and referred to on Issues, Etc.

Advancing in the Path of Righteousness:
A Journey in the Cross of Christ
By Steven A. Hein


It is the purpose of this midweek Lenten series to prepare the hearts and minds of God’s people for the gifts and blessings that our Lord bestows during that festival season which directs the Church’s attention to the events and promises of the passion and resurrection of Christ. Advancing in the Path of Righteousness intends to nurture a salutary preparation through a series of meditations based on key Theses taken from the historic Heidelberg Disputation of 1518 by Martin Luther. Each selected thesis will be explored and applied through the use of paradox, a central element used also by Luther in the expression of his thought. It was at the Heidelberg Disputation that Luther first systematically presented the fundamental elements of his theology of the cross which served as the framework for all his later writings and labors to recover a clear proclamation of the Gospel in the Church.

Ash Wednesday: "The Cross is our Theology." Martin Luther

Scriptural Reading:

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in much fear and trembling; and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. I Corinthians 2:2-5

Paradox: The Cross of Christ is not simply the destination on the Path of Righteousness, it is also the character of the journey. You arrive by already having been there.

Meditation One: The law of God, the most salutary doctrine of life, cannot advance humans on their way to righteousness, but rather hinders them. Thesis 1

Scriptural Reading:

Yet if it had not been for the law, I should not have known sin. I should not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, "you shall not covet." But sin, finding opportunity in the commandment, wrought in me all kinds of covetousness. Apart from the law sin lies dead...the very commandment which promised life proved to be death to me. Romans 7: 7b-8, 10.

Paradox: If you pursue the Law of Life — which, of course, you simply must — you end up dying to live. If you do not pursue the Law of Life you end up living to die.

Meditation Two: Although the works of humans always seem attractive and good, they are nevertheless likely to be mortal sins.

Although the works of God are always unattractive and appear evil, they are nevertheless really eternal merits. Theses 3 and 4

Scriptural Reading:

For Christ is the end of the law, that everyone who has faith may be justified. Romans 10:4

Paradox: Our works which seem to be our best are probably damnable, and God’s work which seems as damnable as the Cross of Christ is in reality righteousness
before God.

Meditation Three: It is certain that man must utterly despair of his own ability before he is prepared to receive the grace of Christ. Thesis 18

Scriptural Reading:

If any other man thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law a Pharisee, as to zeal a persecutor of the church, as to righteousness under the law blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith. Philippians 3:4b-9

Paradox: As Christians, we already possess total and complete righteousness through faith...but we are always in need of more.

Meditation Four: He is not righteous who works much, but he who, without works, believes much in Christ. Thesis 25

Scriptural Reading:

[We] know that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified. Galatians 2:16

Paradox: Everything you know about righteousness comes from the Law, but by this Law you will not become righteous.

Meditation Five: The law says, "do this," and it is never done. Grace says, "believe in this," and everything is done already. Thesis 26

Scriptural Reading:

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

Paradox: When all is said and done, there is always more to do. Yet, when all is believed, all is already done and there is nothing left to do.

Steven A. Hein is currently Headmaster of Shepherd of the Springs Lutheran High School and the Director of Shepherd of the Springs Christian Institute in Colorado Springs, CO. He was formerly Professor of Theology (24 years) at Concordia University-River Forest, IL.

Management Techniques Incorporated has provided this article archive expressly for Issues, Etc. The articles in this archive have been formatted converted for internet use, by Management Techniques, Inc.
Contact MTI webmaster