My soul has often been deeply troubled by the discrepancy betweeen the mercy, grace, and justice I find in the scriptures and what I hear shared as gospel. I was elated to read these words this morning and then to finally summarize my complete thoughts on human frailty and supernatural freedom—and how they can, in fact, co-exist. We can live as new creatures while we wait for ALL things (including our mortal flesh) to be renewed/made new.
“I will put my law within them and I will write it upon their hearts and I will be their God and they shall be my people.”
~ Jeremiah 31
Below are Heschel’s thoughts on this passage, then my own…
“Man is unable to redeem himself, to cure the sickness of the heart. What hurts the soul, the soul adores. Can man be remade? A prophet can give man a new word but not a new heart. It is God who must give man a heart to know that He is God. Prophecy is not God’s only instrument. What prophecy fails to bring about, the new covenant will accomplish: the complete transformation of every individual.”
“The climax of Jeremiah’s prophecy is the promise of a covenant which will mean not only complete forgiveness of sin but also a complete transformation of Israel.“
~Abraham J. Heschel
The gospel we share must be complete if it is to have a complete effect in the life of the one who receives it. If we swing too far one way or another and do not provide an accurate version of God’s promises the broken among us (including, perhaps, ourselves) will never be healed.
Human suffering, weakness, and our desperate need for God’s grace will follow us—just as goodness and mercy does—all of the days of our lives. Jesus has not yet made ALL things new. But the promise of a new way of living—the transformation of our hearts and our minds by the power of the Holy Spirit, these are true and precious promises that we must continue to share because they not only provide hope to those living under the power of darkness but liberty from that darkness.
We can be human and needy and still live in freedom. This is gospel. This is good news. This is what we must share, whether we’ve experienced it in fullness ourselves or not… we’re being changed from image to image and glory to glory… moment by moment… the old man dying, the new man learning to LIVE in Christ.