The Hammer of God, part two

11 Dec

A few days ago, I posted an excerpt from the excellent book The Hammer of God. In that scene a dying man wrestles with his own depravity and a pastor stands by unable to help him or offer true and lasting comfort. Here’s the resolution where an older woman comes and offers counsel that the pastor could not:

“The woman was already at the beside. Peter’s wife bent down and shouted in the sick man’s ear.

‘Johannes, wake up! Katrina is here. It is Katrina, do you hear?’

The sick man was in his right mind again.

‘Katrina, it was good of you to come. You are kind, Katrina. God will reward you. And me, he will punish. So will He be exalted and declared righteous in His judgments. But it will go badly for me. Katrina, why is it not as it used to be? Do you remember when we sang the old songs from The Songs of Moses and the Lamb? Then my heart was glad in the Lord. But it never became clean. Katrina, I am a sinner, a great sinner.’

‘Yes, that you are Johannes. But Jesus is still a greater Savior.’

The sick man breathed heavily before answering. He seemed to be going over something in his mind.

‘Yes, he is a great Savior for those who let themselves be saved. But my heart is not clean, my mind is evil. I do not have a new spirit.’

‘They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. He came not to call the righteous, but sinners.’

‘Yes, Katrina, but it reads ‘to repentance.’ It is repentance that I lack.’

‘You do not lack repentance, Johannes, but faith. You have walked the way of repentance for thirty years.’

‘And still not attained to it!’

‘Johannes,’ the woman said, almost sternly, ‘answer me this question: Do you really want your heart to be clean?’

‘Yes, Katrina. God knows that I want that.’

‘Then your repentance is also as true as it can be in a corrupt child of Adam in this world. Your danger is not that you lack repentance, but that you have been drifting away from faith.’

‘What then, shall I believe, Katrina?’

‘You must believe this living Word of God, ‘But to him that worketh not but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.’ Up to this day you have believed in works and looked at your own heart. You saw only sin and wretchedness because God anointed your eyes with the salve of the Spirit to see the truth. Do you have sin in your heart Johannes?’

‘Yes,’ answered the sick man timidly, ‘much sin, altogether too much.’

‘Just that should make clear to you that God has not forsaken you,’ said the woman firmly. ‘Only he can see his sin who has the Holy Spirit.’

‘Do you mean to say Katrina that it could be a work of God that my heart is so unclean?’

‘Not that you rheart is unclean – that is the work of sin – but that you now see it, that is the work of God.’

‘But why then have I not received a clean heart?’

‘That you might learn to love Jesus,’ said the woman as calmly as before.

Back in his corner Savonius had raised his aching head. He followed with fixed attention the conversation at the bedside. Peter now stood at the foot of the bed, his wife reclined on a chair. Katrina sat on the edge of the bed. The curate was amazed to see that the sick man’s hands were at rest. They lay broad and clumsy on the quilt and were perfectly still. His eyes were glued to the woman’s lips.

‘What do you mean, Katrina?’

‘I mean, Johannes, that if you had received a clean heart and for that reason had been able to earn salvation – to what end would you then need the Savior. If the law could save a single one of us, Jesus would surely not have needed to die on the cross. ‘Because the law worketh wrath,’ and God stops every mouth by his holy commandments, that ‘all the world may become guilty before God.’

The sick man had become perfectly still. His sister fanned the flies from his face. Except for that, no one moved.

‘Have you anything more to say Katrina?’

‘Yes, one thing more, Johannes. ‘Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.’

He lay quiet a moment.

‘Do you mean . . .? Do you really mean that he takes away also the sin that dwells in my unclean heart.’

‘Yes, he atoned for all that sin, when he died in your place.’

‘But I still have it with me, don’t I?’

‘Yes, as surely as Paul also still had it with him. Have you never read, ‘I know that in me (that is in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not.’

‘Yes, that’s how it is,’ whispered Johannes.

‘That is the way it has always been for us and for all others. ‘With his stripes we are healed.’ ‘He is the propitation for our sins; and also for the sins of the whole world…’

The sick man lay breathlessly quiet. Then he whispered, ‘One word more, Katrina, a sure word, and I will believe it.’

The woman got up quietly, took the Bible that lay on the table, and sat down again. Opening the Bible, she read:

‘For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.’

‘Amen. I believe!’ said Johannes, in a voice that could barely be heard…”

The Hammer of God, Bo Giertz

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2 Responses to “The Hammer of God, part two”

  1. Lisa December 11, 2011 at 8:43 pm #

    Thank you so much for this part two, Josh. I read the previous one last week and was a bit discouraged, as I can relate so much to Johannes. This post is a real encouragement!

  2. Joe Lima December 12, 2011 at 7:28 am #

    Finally, Christ and Him crucified. The answer to man’s sin and wretchedness. Glory be to God!!!

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