Our Favorite Metaphors
Dear Fellow Pilgrim on the Crossroad,
In this 500th anniversary of the Reformation in the Western Church, this writer has been pondering more deeply about the practicality and usefulness of meditating on some of the metaphors of Christendom. They come from Scripture and are very good little bullet point pegs upon which we can hang our thoughtful contemplations. We ought to always approach these with Holy Scriptures open and a prayer to the Holy Spirit to shed His light on our contemplations, of course.
Take for example the "robe of righteousness”. We should understand that this does not mean that this robe is like a white linen table cloth draped over a garbage can to hide the filth within. Instead it means the absolute necessity of putting off the old man of sin and darkness (and all his byproducts) and the complete replacing of this First Adam with the Second Adam, Christ Jesus Himself! It is nothing short of a spiritual regime change implied in putting on this robe!
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, inwardly, we literally put off the old rags of sin and self effort, in order to put on the new robe of righteousness!!! We are being made new by the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus Himself.
A metaphor is a word picture, a meme of sorts, containing the seed of powerful metaphysical truth, connecting unseen spiritual reality with the seen dimension of our senses, reason, and comprehension (as well as the “scene” of everyday life!) in other words. To meditate on (“meditatio") the metaphor (or Scripture passage, parable, and so forth) is the fertilizer that makes that seed of truth - comprehended & apprehended by faith - to sprout and to mature in the ground of being in the inner man. That is how we live by faith. (See Psalm 1)
We cannot “live by faith” without a “vision” of what our redemption in Christ Jesus implies. Proverbs 29:18,19 - “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law. A slave will not be instructed by words alone; For though he understands, there will be no response.”) Faith is the vision received and perceived inwardly in the heart and mind. It is placed within us by the Holy Spirit. Then to trust in, to rely on, and surrender to - without compromise under duress from the Adversary (tentatio) - what we perceive, in the power of the Holy Spirit, is how we “change robes”.
Once the Holy Spirit reveals the Gospel truth to our inner perception, then we "see" it and can say “I believe”. Thus "the righteous shall live by his faith." We live by what He shows us is real, as already existent in our Lord Jesus Christ!
Per Hebrews 10:38,39 - “But My righteous one will live by faith and if he shrinks back, I will take no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.”
And that is the Living Word sent forth that will not return without accomplishing that for which the Father sent it... See Isaiah 55:11.
I am convinced that this three fold approach was used and recommended by Martin Luther as the means of making worthy, insightful, Holy Spirit filled “theologians” (“oratio, meditatio, tentatio"). That idea - in my humble opinion - broadly ought to not only apply to clergy, but to every God lover within the entire priesthood of believers, intent upon donning that Robe of Righteousness!
Only A Messenger At The Crossroad
(PS: Clarification - I am neither the author of article at the link below nor affiliated with him. Added for your perusal and further insight. Thank you.)
For many more insights about Luther’s three-fold approach, please access the link below:
Oratio, Meditatio, Tentatio
What Makes A Theologian?
Link from Concordia Theological Quarterly 66/3 (2002): 255-67
John W Kleinig