Part One (Continued)



The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. Consequently, he preaches to us in our hearts--especially in reminding us of what Jesus said, renewing this in our minds and making it ever dearer to us. And so the believing disciple carries, or ought to carry, this master teacher within himself.

Thus, it is not particularly necessary for him time and again to bear some human preacher who tells him every detail and splits hairs in explaining things. It ought not to be the case that a person is without further instruction just because no bodily teacher is present. No, the instruction continues--and just that much more powerfully because it comes not simply to the outward ears but from within, awakening the mind and spirit. Everything becomes much dearer than when one is instructed primarily through external words and still has to consider at length, "What do these words mean?"

But the Spirit, as master teacher, grants us inward revelation; we "see" what otherwise is only heard and thought. We under-stand profoundly, even when, now and then, words fail. Thus should the Holy Spirit be our teacher.


Our basic Prayer always should be for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Of course, this is a tremendous request in itself; and it will cost us pains to put into a few words all that this petition signifies. As a very minimum, I would say, there lies in this prayer a desire to stand inwardly right before God and to come into true community with him. This is something which is mediated and accomplished by God through the Spirit....

Further, our basic prayer must be that we learn to understand what is revealed to us. No one can even call Jesus Lord except through the Holy Spirit; so, to a certain extent, this idea also is expressed in our basic prayer, that God might give us an understanding of spiritual things, might let us understand his ways, his ideas about us, his plans for us....

All we have said thus far represents only the preliminary stages of our prayer, for in the phrase, "Pray for the Holy Spirit," much more is being asked. At the time Jesus commanded this prayer, the disciples had not yet had the experience of Pentecost; and in that coming of the Spirit lay the salvation of all.

The one thing with which the disciples were to concern themselves was prayer for the coming of that Spirit--for themselves, for the world, for all flesh. After the Lord departed from them, that was to be their one task. We know that they did pray. Daily they were united together, praying for the promised Spirit. Together with their praying, they worked until the time was fulfilled. And on the feast of Pentecost the glorious gift and grace and power came; and they were all wonderfully filled. From that moment they truly became new men. The heavens opened, and the Lord brought the disciples into a unity with the things of heaven. Powers from above descended and covered everything upon earth. And through these powers, everything shall henceforth be overcome, and the powers of darkness shall be trampled underfoot.


How is it that everything came to life wherever the apostles preached? They were not great men; they had no earthly wisdom and cleverness, no special way of speaking or gift of oratory. No, it was simply the glory of God, which, in Greece and Rome, in Macedonia and Asia Minor, in Palestine and everywhere, was bearing fruit to his honor.

[As with Paul in 2 Cor. 12], it is quite natural that the extraordinary should come forth in a person who is truly freed and born again as a new creature, standing, therefore, in a new, totally different relationship to God from that of most people. If something striking did not show itself, we would have to doubt whether a new creature actually was present.

Now we must generalize this thought and say that, if in a Christian community nothing of the extraordinary is experienced--that is, nothing extraordinary in a recognition and experience of God, as also in a recognition and experience of the opposite, of sin and its power--then that community is in fact incapacitated.



It is an extraordinary thing and characteristic of the Lord Jesus that he gives us to understand that what he is doing on earth is only a beginning. Nothing is finished yet. Nothing is so complete, nothing so perfect, that it is to remain unchanged from what it was in his time. What he has given us is a root and not yet a tree. The seed still must grow, the branches spread out; the blossoms will come later. In the end the fruit will come....

No other man ever thought, or even thinks today, that his work goes on after him in such a way that he himself is the one who continues to do it. Only Jesus has been raised above death and thus made a beginning in overcoming the death of mankind, in that he says, "As I have been, so I remain; and I am coming."

In this lies the nature of the cause he founded and which he represents; he represents the redemption of the race--and how can that be completed in a day? How can that be finished even in one earthly lifetime? If he had wanted only to found a party or bring to people a new variety of religion in which they could be prouder and more fanatical than in earlier ones, then he could have completed it, as Mohammed and Confucius did in their lifetimes. But, my friends, redemption--that requires time. It is not just for a couple of people or for a few hundred or for a party; it is for all mankind.


The Lord Jesus is the beginning and the end regarding the kingdom of God. Therefore, among us, it firmly and with certainty is said, "The Savior is coming again!" He must complete the work; and we have only to be his servants until he comes again. As servants, we must serve him, the Coming One.

At the same time, we should be a prefiguring of the future of Jesus Christ on earth. We should not be so much concerned with ourselves; nor should we struggle so hard, as though we were the ones to bring the good to its perfection on earth. We cannot do that. That can be done only by the Lord Jesus, who has come the first time and is coming again a second time.

He will complete the work; we will not. We must lock this knowledge in our hearts; it must be true and firm whenever we preach the gospel. Our way must always be lighted by this star, "He is coming again!" And if our minds are directed toward the coming of the Savior, this puts the entire gospel into its true perspective. The gospel will become something personal and living when we firmly and faithfully focus upon the words, "He is indeed coming again!" When we fail to do that, then we are separating the gospel from his person. Then, no matter how much we talk or what great speeches we make about it, we are nevertheless separating him from the gospel. Without his personal presence, not a word of the gospel has real or profound value.

And so we must be directed toward that future coming of Jesus Christ which is not only something of the future but also of the present, in that he right now is awaited in our hearts....

We are living in a time of death; and we don't want to hide that from ourselves. Our powers become weak; our ideas lose their strength, and our feelings do also. Even though they be alive for the moment, with time they are lost. The law of death surrounds everything, all we do and think and feel. But now a law of life comes into this world of death. It is actually the Lord Jesus himself, the one who is eternal life, who is arisen from the dead, who links us to the other world, who brings us the Spirit of God that, in the midst of our dying life, again and again we might receive something fresh and living through his gift, through his presence, through his coming.

We are not to think of his coming only as an appearance at the end of days. Rather, we must at all times have an awareness of the coming Savior. Each of us should continually have that in mind, even in times of darkness, in times of depression, in times of poverty, in times of sickness, in times of trouble, and in times of work with the things of earth.


We want the life of Jesus Christ to be seen completely pure and clean, to be seen alone ruling upon earth. We don't want it to be mixed with earthly arts and the things of earth; we want it to be pure Christ.

Yet this is why Christ is so hidden. He will not be on earth as a human power. Christ will not be mixed in among men as a great man among the great. What we call great is not great to God. Those things which outwardly make such an impression, which seem so heroic, which so impress us in an earthly sense--those don't impress God at all. And that is why we must take care that we do not become mixed.

As Christ shows himself completely pure, as he alone stands before us as the Spirit of Life, so should we Christians also remain pure and clean, not mixing ourselves with the things of our time. Every age brings forward earthly interests, and each century has its particular character. One can become part of that and also lead a satisfactory life in it; but such is not the life of God which Christ is building upon earth. That is something entirely new, which will finally conquer all that is earthly and lead to the coming of a new heaven and a new earth.

And so the life we have today must still be one of fighting and struggling for the divine. But it is a life which has great promise in it. What is hidden at present, hidden with Christ in God, finally shall be revealed. Christ, the life-bearer, the truth-bearer, who has been hidden in God for thousands of years, finally shall become dear to all eyes.



"Behold, I am coming soon!" (Rev. 22:7). This word concerns the coming of our Lord and King, Jesus Christ. The word itself permeates the whole of his earthly and super-earthly life, and it may seem too high for our understanding to reach. There are few who can grasp it in its spiritual meaning so that it can play a natural part in their self-understanding and in their living for God. Yet we must recognize that the significance of the life of Jesus and his disciples depends upon the fulfillment of these words. Those people built upon them as a firm ground by which the results of their activity would be guaranteed. But also, all the later disciples of Jesus who carry in their hearts the kingdom of God on earth as the goal of the Christian community are directed by these words to hope for the future return of their Lord. Without that, it is useless to hope that the community of God, his justice and truth, will come upon earth.

"Behold, I am coming soon!" This saying divides the history of the Christian community into two periods: first, the foretime, and then, the time of the actual kingdom of God. The Savior himself is the beginning, the Alpha, and the end, the Omega. With the coming of the Savior in the flesh, the foretime has begun; all people should know this, for they are living in it. In this time we have the gospel, "the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith" (Rom. 1:16). With this, the kingdom of God is announced; and through its prophets it is founded upon earth.

However, the reign of God in Christ has not yet fully penetrated our world. It has made only a quiet beginning in those who believe, and is yet unknown to the world. The faithful are but few. All the rest of mankind, the masses, even though they hear the gospel are still under the reign of sin and death, because they are not yet able and willing to break loose from it.

Yet the light of hope does shine among these masses through the gospel, which reveals the love of God to the world. This hope is itself a world-shaking power of God which we experience in Christianity in a general way; even the unbelievers take part in that hope although they are not aware of it. It is by this power of hope coming through the gospel that the triumph of darkness is prevented; it no longer makes any headway. Wherever the gospel comes, death is pierced through by the hope of life. Yet the hearts of men are not free for God nor have they power for the victory over sin; thus, things in the world seem to go just as they always have gone.

The new (a new creation) is found only in secret, among the believers. These we can call the forerunners of the kingdom of God, in whom God's righteousness already has a beginning. It is their calling to be faithful unto death, to fight for the earth as being the property of God until the Son of Man comes in the glory of his Father. It is only then that the power of God in Jesus Christ will come to the peoples and to all the masses of mankind. Then will become possible that of which Christianity and the gospel are incapable in these times, namely, a judgment.

"Judgment" means that, through the rigorous Spirit of God, a person comes to know himself for who he is, making a division between what is good and what is evil in God's sight, and giving the evil over to be judged. Without such judgment, no one, even in New Testament times, was great or blessed. In the same way. it is not possible for the masses of mankind to be saved in the end without the judgment which the Son of Man brings with him when he comes. It is only in this final judgment that many things will collapse which we take as good and proper today but which in fact have been only temporarily tolerated by God.

So, regarding the world and the victory over it, all the apostles hoped for the time of Jesus' coming. Before this time, they expected no true renewal of the world as a whole. Likewise, we ought not lose faith when, for the present, the world remains untouched and our faith can fight only in secret. The world is not by that token lost forever. It awaits the final revelation of Jesus Christ in which he will show himself as King of Kings.

Of course, a lazy waiting certainly is not appropriate, for the life of the faithful is itself the beginning of the end, and upon the faithfulness of these forerunners everything depends. The Savior himself, as well as the apostles, made note of this. To those servants "who wait for the Lord" (Lk. 12:36), "the elect who cry to him day and night" (Lk. 18:7-8), presently there is given, as answer to their longing, the words, "Behold, I am coming soon!" Their faithfulness is a power that can bear witness to people today. Without that, the gospel does not in itself have the piercing light that makes people right and enlists them as comrades in arms in the company of Jesus Christ.

So it is a joyful thing for us to carry in ourselves the power of the gospel: it brings light into the darkness of our world and is a help toward the end-time coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, when all flesh will see the glory of God.


Time itself is our enemy. Time is the enemy of eternity. Time crinkles us up like an old towel and throws us out into the darkness of death to be forgotten, as we ourselves suffer the shame of death. Yes, time is ourselves suffer the shame of death. Yes, time is our enemy; it brings us nothing. Christ is the one who brings something; only that which, through Christ, shall be born in the people of Christ, that is what brings the true fruit which mankind has owed to God for many, many centuries.


All the "prophecies" and booklets about the return of Christ are misleading when they suggest that the day comes according to some calculation of time. No, the day comes in response to the people of God; and changes for the good will come in response to that good which is fought for by God's people. If that does not prove a possibility, then there will come God's terrible ban against the earth (Mal. 4:1). Then a catastrophe could happen such as happened once before, with the earth as desolate and empty as it was before creation.

Yet, in the meantime, we must hold fast to the fact that necessary changes are not only possible but that their actuality is our one concern. The Savior has himself joined with our earth; and the Savior cannot simply be put off.... We can do something and should do something. We should not rest day or night. "Things must be different!"--that should be the continuous cry of our hearts.

And what can we do? We can take the guilt upon ourselves.


There are parties in Christendom who are already rejoicing that they will be transfigured and float up to heaven and then will laugh at the poor people left behind. But that is not the way it is. Now is the time to take upon ourselves a work in which we are the first to be given into judgment, not the first to have a sofa in heaven. For only those who are truly first, first to stand before the Savior in judgment, can become tools to further his work among the rest of mankind.


"And this is the name by which he will be called: 'The LORD is our righteousness'" (Jer. 23:6). Such texts are very important to me, because they are concerned with the last times, the times which we usually think of in terms of the dark king, the desolation, Antichrist. Admittedly, it is written that there are enemies and opposition, as also an Antichrist. Yet scripture does not speak of any all-powerful Antichrist.

On the other hand, over and over again scripture does tell of a King who will bring peace over all the earth, thus making the end a culmination of the good. Oh, yes, people speak of the culmination of evil. Now, indeed, that is our experience. But scripture speaks of the end as the culmination of good; it is not the good but evil that shall be overthrown. Even before he comes, the Lord will be master of the earth. For, when he comes, we must then be able to say, "The Lord is our righteousness."



It is not the case that we are little manikins and there is the great, tremendous, powerful God of whom it is difficult for us to think, let alone understand. Rather, the reign of God operates through an endless number of powers, through an endless number of the heavenly host, through an endless number of personalities that stand about his throne and stand near to us as well. Yes, I know quite well that modern man wants to see only people and, beyond them, nothing else in the whole, wide world. I know very well that we want to be the only ones who have the Spirit, thus glorifying ourselves.... But, my friends, everything which lives in the heavenly world--that world into which our material eyes cannot see, which fills all earth and heaven--those beings nevertheless surround us from the side of the Father in heaven. There exists a regime under which we repeatedly feel ourselves served by invisible powers; and time and again our spirit feels awakened by the Spirit which fills the whole creation and which is God.


I don't want to have a single day go by without recalling that God's heavenly host is around us, going out into all the world. I couldn't live a single day without the thought that there is never a time nor a place that we are alone.


God sends us all sorts of powers, all sons of helpers, both corporeal and spiritual; and all these messengers of God are personal in nature. Under God's command, there are an endless number of powers which can surround us and accompany us; and they are most various.


For a long time we have fought against darkness. The devil, death, and hell would have us in terror. We have been in many difficulties, and many times have not seen a way through. But God has reached out his right hand to us in Jesus Christ; and for many years he has protected us and given us victory. But today there appears another fight for us, namely, the fight against people who do not want to accept the truth. Yet more dangerous than the invisible powers of darkness is the visible power of men, those who falsely administer the power of God, who misuse the Spirit in their flesh and so put God's honor to shame through their cunning. More dangerous than the deceptions of the world are deceptions in the name of Christianity.


We experience many things which are not at all meant to be shared with others. Regarding experiences connected with the kingdom of God, it is not the main thing that others know about them except, perhaps, that others might live on the fruit of an individual's experience of the kingdom. But the private experiences of Jesus and the apostles, as those of the prophets of the Old Testament, are for the most part untold.

We are convinced and could adduce much scripture showing that an unfathomable knowledge of the invisible world--the human-demonic-satanic as well as the divine-formed the background for the theory of the apostles and prophets, if I may put it so. Yet they do not favor us with glimpses of their experiences in this realm. Their thought runs, "If a person is called to participate in the battle, it is hardly necessary for us to tell him how it is. He will see for himself just how things are there where the earthly eyes of men do not penetrate....

It is not the devil to whom we want to give importance but our beloved God; and it is people, not demons, who should now put in an appearance....

Even the fighters themselves keep their distance from associations within this battle in which they are engaged.... It is not their task to give visible people a story of the invisible world.... Their call, indeed, is to prove themselves God's true fighters to whom nothing counts except the kingdom of God in this world.


There are not two worlds, one in God’s hand and the other not. There are not two varieties of humans, one within God’s rule and the other outside. No, even where it is utterly dark, God alone is Lord. There is no devil who can do whatever he wills, no evil angel who can create anything; the fact that these are in the darkness is itself "of God." Unfortunately, there is in the darkness a certain form of life which spreads and brings death to those who allow themselves to be drawn into it. Yet, despite the sway of sinful and death-dealing powers, that whole realm belongs to God and remains firmly in his hand. This is the witness we can have in our hearts. To every satan I would like to say. "You are God's, you satan. You can do nothing; you can't lift a finger, for you are God's."


We have never yet believed in the devil. That is why, fifty-five years ago, we said, "Jesus is victor." He alone is victor; there is no lord, even in the darkness, who does not have to bow to our Lord. There is but one Lord, just as there is but one God; and nothing else is lord. Nothing else has any power. Nothing else has any rights or can claim anything as its own; no hell or death or devil can claim as much as a nail; everything belongs to our God—yes, everything.--If we would take such a position, then the darkness would have to go.... Fear no thing; fear God alone.



It is fanaticism when a person regularly thinks only in natural terms, believing that he receives help only through the natural order.

That is irrational. Yet even to the present day a person is called irrational and heretical if he has hope in the Holy Spirit and the power of God.

One thing is certain. Biblically, that which is only "of the world" is irrational; and it is fanaticism when one abandons oneself to such stuff as, in the world, regularly is offered as aid and comfort. If I did not have to be discrete, I could gather a bouquet composed of letters from those who believe themselves to be rational in comparison to others. Yet we could see into what colossal irrationalism worldly people enter--and little wonder, with their wanting nothing from God, or at least nothing directly from him. Nevertheless, those whom they call fanatic and treat as irrational, those are the ones who stay rationally resting their hope upon the testimonies of God.



    It has always been my experience that whoever is an enemy of men is also an enemy of God. Whoever will not recognize the good that is in man, God will not recognize either. Whoever judges men, whoever damns men, whoever wants nothing to do with the people he sees as being "the least"--that person is himself separated from God. May things happen to him as they will.

    We would become Men. Men, not "Christians"--Men! Not Catholics, not Protestants--Men! Not Conservatives, not Liberals, not Socialists--Men! Not French, not Gerraaan, not Chinese--"Men"! It was as a as a man Jesus became the light of the world; and it is men he would have.

    At this point, Ragaz used an excerpt from a sermon that appears in its entirety in Lejeune's Christoph Blumhardt and His Message, 157-168. I have chosen to replace Ragaz's selection with a somewhat broader one of my own, using the Plough Publishing House translation, although taking the liberty to change the order of some of Blumhardt's sentences in the interest of a smoother reading. -- V.E.

    True man is missing.... False men with a false spirit, with false desires and false aims, think that they are real men.... The false man is the world's undoing.... True man is still missing and will be missing until Jesus comes and does away with the false man....

    Yet now we do have the fortune to know that there is one in whom the world is God's again, in whom all that is created is again placed into the light of the first creation. This one is Jesus, the Son of Man, is more real than any other man, more childlike than all other children. Hee lives among men, and he is the kingdom of God. He does does make it; he is the kingdom! Why? Because he is God and man.

    When God created the world he founded his kingdom on earth. The earth was his kingdom. And who was to reign, to rule, and to watch over it as his representative? Man. God's kingdom was in paradise through man. God's kingdom is on earth through one upright man, no matter what men are like otherwise.... One true man--and God's kingdom is here! ... An Adam, and there it was, God himself in paradise. Even if here and there something wrong was still lurking in comers, that didn't matter. A man was there, and God was with this man. Nothing else was of any importance....

    The loss of man was the world's catastrophe. Man was gone. This is still the world's undoing today....

    Now Jesus seeks a living church, and he seeks it on earth. Could not the one who rose from the dead have come quickly, in heavenly glory, to conquer and overcome all things? He would have done it long ago, without hesitating, if this would have made God's kingdom possible. He could have come with hosts of angels. But no! He doesn't want only angels. Man, not super-worldly powers, must serve God on earth. True man must do it; and God must do it in him. This Is Jesus' loyalty toward us false men.

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    Now earth has not only its life but also its consciousness--and this last is Man. The earth's faculty of consciousness is man. In spite of all the sunshine and moonlight, the splendor of the stars, and the greenness of grass and forest--in spite of all--it is a dark matter if earth, in its conscious mind, does not know the truth, which is to say, if the Son of God is not recognized. Man must recognize him in order that, by him, the consciousness of the earth might reach fulfillment.

    Because everything we ask for [in the opening petitions of the Lord’s Prayer] ultimately involves our own benefit, God does not make it his business to see that his name is kept hallowed, that his kingdom come, that his will be done--unless these things are, at the same time, the request of man. God will not make it his business if we do not find it important enough to hold his name in honor throughout the world; to oppose all that is willed contrary to the will of God; to help gather all creatures into the kingdom in order that his mastery of the earth might be attained. Consequently, God lets things happen as they will and as men want them to.


    Even so, there are countless people who do not ask after the name of God nor trouble themselves at all concerning him. Again, some people would prefer anything other than being gathered into a kingdom of God. And how many there are who know absolutely only their own wills or who let themselves be led only by the will of darkness. But God will not use force and compel his creatures into their salvation. They shall, then, have that which they bring upon themselves, shall have all that great misery which people fall into who are without God, separated from God, or opposed to God.


    The work of the kingdom of God must stand under two laws. First, you dare never again be angry at anyone, for the kingdom of God is love for all men. Therefore, you may not belittle anyone, even the least. Indeed, you are a miserable fool if you vex or annoy one of these little ones, demean him, or treat him as nothing. Thus, we must always look with God's evaluation upon what I like to call "the pennies of God's capital investment." They belong to God, of course, although the value lies in the persons themselves. As man, you are of value to God; yet, your value is not a hair greater than that of some little guy of no status, e.g., a day laborer. We always must bear in mind the worth God attributes to a small, low-ranked, despised human being; such people we must guard and protect.

    The second law is that we remain slaves. Slaves we want to be; lords we want never to become. We would be slaves under God's hand--yet, that I not be misunderstood: slaves of men we will never be! ... If I serve God, then God will stand by me and men must give way to me. I shall not yield as much as a fingernail to any man. And if empires and kingdoms of men multiply until the very heavens and earth itself fall, yet shall I stand like a rock in the sea. I hold fast to God, I am his slave; and all must break itself to pieces upon me, because I serve God.


    We should be priests, i.e., we who have become firm in grace should stand firm for others, praying for them and the world so that the whole might be filled with the glory and power and grace of God. If we are steadfast in this priestly sense, then we bear a kinglypower. We can cooperate in overcoming the dark powers of this world.... You are not to be priests for yourselves but for the world in which you live. That world should move your heart; and if you see something of its misery and death, then you should protest against it, saying, "That cannot be; indeed, it must cease, because Jesus lives."

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    Whoever is demeanedand troubled has the sympathy of God. I might even say that our dear God can't see our sins for the sheer suffering that is present, his heart welling up in love for the lowly ones in this world upon whom people wrongly pass judgment.... All sufferers, through their very suffering, should become bound to God.... The sufferer should be so positioned that he comes to experience great friendship, while the suffering itself comes to be identified as the enemy of both God and man, interposing itself between them. The suffering, then, becomes a third party, the one that is to be evicted from the house.


    The Savior has two sides which make him great. The one side is that he recognizes people as his own, seeing in them his own property. Also, he can communicate with them, instantly establishing a relationship with whomever he will.

    But he also has a second side by which people understand him and can easily develop a relationship from themselves to him. One thing cannot be denied: there is no individual so outwardly and so inwardly degenerate that, when he encounters the Savior, does not feel, "He truly wants me!" Immediately that person comes alive and, at the same time, discovers Jesus in his heart. Then there comes a sense of community--and after that, no questions are asked.... Jesus never demands character references. Such is the human way: scoundrels here, scoundrels there! But the force of the good in Jesus brings out the goodness in people, entirely overlooking the evil, which is spoken of no more.... Let us, also, not so much look upon the old man as help the new one come forth.


    The worst is when we Christians want to make people different. Where has our dear God said that we should convert people? Nowhere is that said.... People cannot make themselves better simply because we wish it. Conversion does not happen according to our will, but according to God's.


    My friends, you must never look upon people as being weeks, or tares. The tares which are harvested as the sheaves (Mt. 13:24-30)--those are not people themselves. We would make a great error if we were to say, "These men are tares, and those are wheat." No, oh, no! Consider that what we see as evil, as criminal, as sinful in people--of all these things we also bear the trace, even though we already venture to call ourselves children of God, body and soul. Who presumes to look into the depths of human nature? There, we are all alike. Yet, on the surface, in the outer sphere of life, the lawbreaking that shows up often is directed against human laws, not divine ones. There, pushing up, is the vile, criminal nature which is the outgrowth of the tares, crowding out the wheat kernels and stalks so that even a truly noble person becomes an evildoer.

    I venture to assert, indeed, I dare say it before God: we must guard ourselves from making this malicious distinction. Strike out against evil we must--but, for God's sake, don't damn people! These old tares that have been scattered throughout Christendom--for God's sake, don't see them as being people! We poor people, we are all tangled up in them.

    Have you ever seen the wind in a grainfield? There is little one can do to stop it; it tears up the delicate plants and destroys them. And so it goes with many people. Somehow a seed has come into their neighborhood and now is growing in an inhuman and unnatural way. It grows all through people, pushing into their feelings, influencing their wills. Often we label them as fools because of their behavior; and, consequently, they are put down and considered by us as "sinners." Yet, if we were to think about it, the trace of those scattered seeds could be found even in our own lives.

    Therefore, in all we are called to do in the way of holding human society together, the greatest blessing is this: although humanly we have to distinguish between righteousness and unrighteousness, these distinctions go no further than our own opinion. Would you go so far as to damn people for eternity? Do you want to take over the work of God? Is it then, O man, that you would make eternal decrees?

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    We must have a sense of community. Individual development, indeed, is also useful, particularly as a grounding for Christianity; yet, we still need this sense of community. And it should be built upon the truth that belongs to it, namely, the law of God....

    You should keep the law of God. You should learn what you are to do by listening to the person of Christ; and you will need no other teacher. Only in this way is community possible. If a person exists only for himself he will have a very hard time of it and scarcely succeed....

    Don't believe it--that a person can become blessed and happy by himself. You, on earth, have been called into the community of Jesus Christ; we depend upon each other--and when one member suffers, the others suffer also. We must perceive one another in the Holy Spirit so that we can serve one another even as we let ourselves be served. Just as, out of this sense of community, God asks you to serve others as often as you have opportunity, just so, at another point, he asks you to let yourself be served--even by a person you rnay consider beneath you--that thereby you might know that you are nothing and God is everything and might learn to regard the other person as higher than yourself....

    Above all, the fruit of this community with God and with one another must be that all sin is covered.... Indeed, this quality of community exists precisely that sin might be overcome.

    Consequently, our sin must there be hidden; and we must always be ready to testify as to where that sin has been placed.

    Many times a person can push through to faith by himself.... But in difficult cases, a person cannot do this on his own. Consider, my friends, I am nothing in myself; I am what I am only through this sort of community. If there are no brothers and sisters who understand me, I am nothing.... In the kingdom of God, no one exists for himself. We exist through God's grace--and to do that is to exist for others and with others and to have ever more of the sense of community so that we can become a single instrument of power.


    All the bonds of secular society, whether among heathen or Christians, represent imprisonment insofar as men are bound to men. In this way, a person becomes entangled with other people, finally achieving a human sort of union in which one individual pulls at another at his pleasure. And sad to say, that which generally is called "the church" has not kept free or been spared from this danger.

    What comes under the generic term "church" and constitutes so-called "Christendom" has become simply a collection of sects and parties. And in that setup, one always has a bad conscience before others or is embarrassed before them; one goes "the way of men" along with the others to whom he has bound himself. Consequently, anxiety is created; there is a strong group spirit which must be respected. And so a person has to bow and scrape himself off the street and into the church. All In all, it is a very unpleasant story. And thus, frequently, it is seen that this sort of curse does not hold the person for long before he returns to entirely secular society.

    But, dear friends, you are created after the image of God and not according to human images. There is no human image to which you must conform. There is only God the Father, whose likeness you can adopt. It is something impossible that you, in the long run, can endure by means of the human and transient or by making yourself dependent upon the endurance of the human. Rather, you should take note that you then do irreparable damage to your soul; and who is going to fix that for you?

    Yet, my friends, it is the case that we have a new covenant, a covenant in which we all take on the image of God. It. is not a bond in which we make this or that law and try to differentiate ourselves from other people. There is no looking down on others. Other people have no authority over you, and you have no authority over others. There is only one bond--one true covenant in Christ. There is no law putting people over people. In Christ, there is only the law of God, from the Father in heaven. And when this law stands fast in every heart, there is a loving, free, blessed sense of community among us.

    Then the manipulating, hurting, repulsing judgment will entirely cease in our midst. Then, in this love toward God, we shall, one with another, be impassioned toward one object and do our loving one with another. And we shall do this even though one person or another has different opinions, a different creed, or understands things differently (perhaps even better) than we do. Then there will be no more of the human bonding from which comes war and bloodshed. Then there will be the bonding of God which, in all our hearts, the Holy spirit will be able to certify as nothing but love, nothing but the sense of true community.

    The question today, as at the time Jesus appeared, is whether we can arrive at such a relationship and such a covenant.


    What we usually call "love" is something that makes us weak. Therefore, among people in general, it is at the urging of their nature that they hate their enemies. Only a person who is born of God can do what Jesus says. Of course, if we are motivated from below, if we are mastered by our passions--sympathies and antipathies--then we cannot truly love. One must, therefore, be a child of God. And how does one become that? ... We are such by nature.... We are from God. Consequently, something of his Spirit should live in us, should pluck us out of the ordinary to lift and carry us.

    The love which friends or lovers have toward one another does not accomplish anything toward loving the enemy! The person who offends me, who does not understand me, who regularly humiliates and scolds me--he's the one to hold fast for God: "You belong to me because you have hurt me." If we always cut ourselves off and separate ourselves from those who do not please us, is the goal then reached? For that matter, what is our goal? ...Is it not that God's love should once master the whole world and that all the brutal acts and the suffering caused by those acts forever disappear? Then, if we take part in this by being patient and loving, isn't that worthwhile? ... We are drawing into the world the power which yet shall win the victory.

    I know of no greater light coming from Jesus than this: "Love your enemies." That is the word which should get its turn today.


    The individual heart is very like a police headquarters; there people's deeds are arranged as in a file drawer. One has only to ask, "What do you have on that person? What have you on this one? The person can open the file and give out information on anyone. Very often, with real grace, we leave the drawer closed and do not talk about the cases; yet, when necessary, the key is still there so that the cases can be brought to light. And that hinders; it does harm.

    As long as we have a police register in our hearts, it is impossible for us to do anything with others. With this file drawer in my heart, even if I say something of great significance to someone, it still won't do. The dear speaking of the will of God becomes possible only after the file drawer has been destroyed. We must be as firm as a rock in this matter: I will not be a police headquarters; the cases shall no longer be entered in me! Once take that stand and you will see how the illumination of your heart increases and how light its troubles become. Even the evil world loses its heaviness and everything goes well because the light of the Savior's life now can illumine us.

    Jesus will bear the guilt; but he will not be present in a heart in which there is a police station. He does not go in; he does nothing there. He has bornethe guilt of the world; and if you are one who lays on guilt, he may not have anything to do with you. That being so, take thought!


    Give a person this consciousness: "I am God’s"-—and immediately he will climb out of all his misery. The first thing that happens when a person is lost is that he sinks under. Thus our love should be such that we communicate this consciousness both to ourselves and to others. We should not put down either ourselves or others, should not consider anyone as evil.

    Our love should be like the sunshine, as Jesus himself said. It should shine upon everyone and itself remain light and clean. In this way, our power would remain powerful. The enemy would be able to sense that we are not out to correct him but to accept him as God's child Then he would no longer be an enemy. But when the world becomes insulting about this or that and we join in, then we have lost the consciousness that we are God's.


    Jesus sees every person as abnormal but gives up no one as lost If people were not as they are, they would have no need of Salvation. So, In the next place, Jesus allows all to come to him as they are: sinners and righteous, poor and rich, healthy and sick. Jesus gives himself to each person as he is; and people ought not play up their own piety and put down that of others.

    Jesus wishes only that his disciples serve, as he himself served in the very shedding of his blood. His disciples, in his spirit, should make others free, giving up on nobody but, in great forbearance, looking for the good that God has created in each one. Once a person is thus freed, he can readily correct himself. This is how it is: always directed by a spirit of serving, saving, and freeing, we can fight against the greatest powers, certain of victory even in the most difficult relationships.

  9. cfb

    If we observe the life of the Savior and ask, "Which way did he go regarding people?" we find that he always sought out the childlike, the simple, the unsophisticated. But whatever was nailed into place, whatever attempted to be "religious" in a legalistic sense--from all of that he kept his distance.

    Therefore, today I say: The ways which consist so much in "outwardness," with their outward laws and outward activities ... the ways upon which there is to be seen only the earthly life fenced in on religious grounds and the people weighed down with burdens ... these are broad ways upon which anyone can go. And yet--and always on the grounds of "the religious life"--a person will increasingly be seen frequenting these ways as his "inwardness" becomes stunted, as the true power of his spirit dies away and, with it, the power of the eternal God as well.

    It is not good that Christendom has been established solely by law. Indeed, if into this purely legal Christendom there also had not regularly come childlike individuals, often directly out of the masses, out of uneducated circles, out of the circles of the scorned and lowly ... if such childlike individuals bad not found a way of saying, "I'm getting away from all this; I'm a child of God; and if I am being despised, then all people are being despised ... if it had not been for these people, the Christian community would not have done as well as it has.

    But this is terrible, my friends; everywhere among men you find wisdom, learning, might, rule, influence, every possible disposition. But only at great cost can you find childlikeness, the childlike heart. Under all the confusion of teaching and learning, under all the cultured manners, very often true man lies dead. What society most often makes of us is slaves! Many are not capable of thinking through what "the people" are saying; and so they look around and wind up going the way that all "the people" are going.

    Have you not noticed that childlike individuals most often are looked upon by others as evil? I can think of many who were looked at cross-eyed their entire lives, simply because of their childlike demeanor, even though there was truth and the power of living in them. Many such people never get recognized, because childlikeness is of no use to our society. It needs clever and ruthless people who can exercise power over others; but the childlike must always seem to be on its way out. As the Lord Jesus, in his childlikeness and humility, had to stand against the religious laws of his day and thus get himself murdered, so it still goes today.


    A person must be converted twice; once from the natural man to the spiritual, and then again from the spiritual man to the natural.



I am truly pleased by the question, "Does what once was said long ago to the people of that time apply also to us?" Indeed, this was also the question of my life, the answer coming to me only with difficulty. The question was solved not only theoretically but practically, being set forth through an act of God so that then we could say, "Now it applies to us; and even if it did not fully happen with the biblical people, it can now happen with me." Thus something is happening for us today which did not take place for Abraham or Moses or even one of the apostles.

The advance of the kingdom of God brings to light old and new demands, as these may be required, and also old and new promises. There is nothing rigid, nothing mechanical about the rule of our God. Everything is always new, alive, relevant, and timely. And our problem, then, is always to understand what it is that is going on today.

Meanwhile, I believe, we have to seek--on the basis of the conscientious belief that Jesus is the truth of God--to seek that which today is true to life and to the living promises of God. I can understand that you--and many people--find this doubtful. Yet the old gives way; and new necessities bring forward new graces. And until this last is firmly understood, we will continue to stagger about. In this you can trust: whoever seeks will find, because God is never lost. However, he will be found only where he is, not letting himself be found where he does not wish to be. In this way, then, we must seek him.


Apart from life-experiences it does not happen. We dare boldly to say that "revelation" is also needed today;it did not terminate with the Bible. I am well aware that many people get angry over the word "revelation" and consequently, out of their very piety, have quarreled over all of God's direct actions and his many miraculous deeds. But I do not see why, out of small-mindedness, we should allow the Highest to be robbed of what is his.

Christ lives; and if he lives, then there also is revelation; and revelation is essential for the hearts of those who would be enlightened by God.


On this basis [i.e., a new development of the kingdom of God penetrating the world] it is now permitted us to think of all things as being new. And if, for example, the apostles earlier have said, "Whoever believes is blessed, but whoever does not believe is damned; blessedness to those who believe, woe to those who do not"--that, in the course of the centuries, has changed a bit. Today it means: "Be blessed! Be blessed also for your enemies, for your opponents--be blessed even for the unbelievers!" We must be a people of blessing for the whole world; then the kingdom of God will come in blessedness.



If we are awaiting a new Zion [i.e., a new Jerusalem, which is the new church community of the redeemed people of God], then, in our hearts we must prepare for that Zion and disregard the position presently defined by anyone's church confession. In our hearts we must make ready to serve God alone. And if we become fellow workers with God toward that end, then we will again be biblical. It certainly is no fine or helpful word to call a person "biblical" simply because he follows and is zealous for the confessions.

The "biblical" keeps itself free. Thus, as it has always been, so today it also is difficult to seek and to give expression to that which is of God. Rather, so much of the human has found expression that the "biblical" now appears as some sort of defense for our civil and social life. Thus it can happen that finally someone with a biblical truth must be willing to be seen as a corrupter of the state and of the church.

Yet even so, Christ the Cornerstone stands eternal; and from this stone ever and again will come "the new"--until heaven and earth are themselves made new and the old has gone down before the new, in-streaming kingdom of God.


People speak much these days about "the inspiration of scripture"; and this is good. However, I prefer to speak of "inspired people." God be thanked that we have scriptures that came from those through whom God's Spirit spoke the truth. Yet it is the prophet who is inspired, not the letter of scripture. And if the letter is to lead to the truth, so must you also be led by the Spirit of God as you read.

Conversely, today's natural man knows nothing of the Spirit of God and so gets himself quite confused regarding the words of the inspired prophets. But thus, also, a man like Luther could, for his time, personally witness to the God-intended truth of that for which other writers of his time could find no meaning nor make any sense. He was ruled by God and the Spirit, not by biblical texts. But if we all attend only upon the revealed life of God, and if each person is zealous only for his own gifts regarding God's truth and steadfastness, then we do not need to be in conflict over the inspiration of scripture. We then can find ourselves in reciprocal agreement.


Even in ancient times there was a distinction: God in Yahweh and God in the totality of the world. Thus the heathen stood under God, but Israel under God in Yahweh--and Yahweh is the colleague who lives with man. Originally the name Yahweh was a cry, "He is here!" When something happens as one of the gracious acts of God, that signifies, "He is here!" As Jacob lay with a stone for his pillow and saw the ladder to heaven, he said, "He is here!" And thus there was built up a concept of God's entirely loving actions signifying Yahweh. Indeed, in this regard there is nothing more grand than the old Testament. Veritably, Go lived with man; and man knew him through his deep and wonderful acts.

Consider once how poor we would be if we did not know of these gracious acts of God. If we always had to think of God in philosophic modes, how could we ever truly speak of him or to him? Yet every child can know this: God is like a father who does good to his children, who will be humane toward mankind. And because of these gracious acts of God, we are now, in particular, to be reconciled in Christ. It is there, indeed, that God has come in the flesh, has revealed himself as flesh.... Jesus would be truly human man, on that account calling himself the Son of Man; and in him, God himself draws near to man.


One must have norms, even for the Bible. And in this case it is Christ, as he is presented by the apostles. Wherever in scripture I cannot make that norm fit, then that passage is not for me until I can make it fit. Many times, then, I must wait until the teaching comes, until finally it is given to me.

cfb Thy will sit at thy feet and learn of thy words (Deut 33:3, according to Blumhardt’s German translation). When you place yourself before that which our beloved God has spoken, then you are at the feet of God. Yet this happens only when one believes that it does. Many people do not take this personally enough, and God withdraws; then the word remains hidden and no longer has power. Consequently, many no longer take it as the word of God and want nothing more to do with it. A person must watch himself that he does not take the word of God too humanly, too superficially.

That which God has spoken represents his Person. I would almost like to say, "Don't give me the word as though it were something--not the Bible but God in the Bible." ... One can use the Bible in a fearful, superstitious way if one looks only on the outward aspect of what it says, sticking to the letter rather than simply accepting that God is present in it. Now, if I read the Law, I am also speaking with God. This way a person can understand the Bible quite simply, because he hears God speak to him. There comes to him an understanding quite different from what otherwise would be the case. But when the person fails to do this sort of reading, he is being unbiblical. He is not understanding the Bible, because he is not taking it as something God says. If we translate everything coming to us from God into human terms, then we have a system; and that means that the "biblical" and, indeed, the essential Bible itself are utterly lost....

So it goes continually with everything one should say and hear: if he does it as seated at the feet of God, it will have a totally different effect from what it would if he simply read a book. Doing that has no real value.... It is not the book that has value; It is persons that have value--in this case, the Person of God. Therefore, I will sit at the feet of God; there I will learn--today so, tomorrow so, come what may!


One must, in his Bible reading, also notice how earthly things around us are going. There one inevitably discovers that things are not as they stand in the Bible; and it is easy, then, to say, "Because we do not have it so, apparently such things are not to be." But that is a false conclusion. We should be honest enough to say, "if we do not have these things, then they should and must come to be."


It is true that, in the Bible, we now have certain decrees of God by which we can judge whether someone is remaining faithful to the decree of God. But for the advance of the kingdom we need--pardon my expression--more than the Bible; we need direct instruction.

Copyright (c) 1968