Saturday, May 18, 2013

Clement, Salvation of the RIch - The fount of grace

This is a continuation of my series on Clement of Alexandria and his book on the Salvation of the Rich Man. If you are unfamiliar with Clement or his book, you may want to start with the introduction to this series.
"He then who would live the true life is enjoined first to know Him 'whom no one knows, except the Son reveal (Him).' Next is to be learned the greatness of the Saviour after Him, and the newness of grace; for, according to the apostle, 'the law was given by Moses, grace and truth came by Jesus Christ;' and the gifts granted through a faithful servant are not equal to those bestowed by the true Son" (Clement of Alexandria, Salvation of the Rich Man, Chapter 8)
After obtaining a desire to know God, we next need to come to know His Son through whom the Father has chosen to reveal Himself. Jesus said of Himself, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." (John 14:6) Without coming to know Jesus we can never come to know the Father. However, it is not enough just to come to know Him but we must also recognize how and why He is different from all those who came before. While the reasons and differences are many, when compared to Moses, we realize that, while Moses came to give us the Law, Jesus came to dispense to us His grace.
"If then the law of Moses had been sufficient to confer eternal life, it were to no purpose for the Saviour Himself to come and suffer for us, accomplishing the course of human life from His birth to His cross; and to no purpose for him who had done all the commandments of the law from his youth to fall on his knees and beg from another immortality." (Clement of Alexandria, Salvation of the Rich Man, Chapter 8)
The rich young ruler had come to know Moses, he had readily heard and obeyed his command even from a youth. Clement even comments that this young ruler was "a champion admirable and distinguished, and hoary pre-eminently in mind." in as much as his obedience to Moses was not from a more mature part of his life but even from his youth. He had heard Moses, he had obtained righteousness through the law, but he was still destitute of life.
"But, nevertheless, this man being such, is perfectly persuaded that nothing is wanting to him as far as respects righteousness, but that he is entirely destitute of life. Wherefore he asks it from Him who alone is able to give it. And with reference to the law, he carries confidence; but the Son of God he addresses in supplication. He is transferred from faith to faith. As perilously tossing and occupying a dangerous anchorage in the law, he makes for the Saviour to find a haven." (Clement of Alexandria, Salvation of the Right Man, Chapter 8)
In hearing this young man, Jesus loved him and welcomed him.
"Jesus, accordingly, does not charge him with not having fulfilled all things out of the law, but loves him, and fondly welcomes his obedience in what he had learned; but says that he is not perfect as respects eternal life, inasmuch as he had not fulfilled what is perfect, and that he is a doer indeed of the law, but idle at the true life." (Clement of Alexandria, Salvation of the Rich Man, Chapter 9)
Jesus recognized that this young man gave his life in the pursuit of righteousness and honored him for his devotion. Many people have given their lives in the pursuit of being "good." Some out of the knowledge of the Law, some out of their own internal sense of what is good and evil. Regardless, all who come to Jesus are loved by Him and He is ever ready to come to their aid and to show them the way to life. Desire and devotion to righteousness is good, but it leads us only to the starting point of our journey to life.
"Those things, indeed, are good. Who denies it? For 'the commandment is holy,' as far as a sort of training with fear and preparatory discipline goes, leading as it did to the culmination of legislation and to grace. But Christ is the fulfilment 'of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth;' and not as a slave making slaves, but sons, and brethren, and fellow-heirs, who perform the Father’s will." (Clement of Alexandria, Salvation of the Rich Man, Chapter 9)
It was time for this young ruler to move from Law to Grace, from works to faith, from seeking to fulfill the law to finding the one who had already fulfilled it, from being a salve of righteousness to being a son of righteousness. This young man was now facing the time of his salvation, how would he respond?

David Robison

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