Archives For Barth quotes

neonbrand-463099-unsplashGrace shows humanity God’s commitment to humanity. This commitment isn’t the result of our empty attempts to placate a bored King who has everything. God’s commitment to us has nothing to do with any human sycophantic transaction. It is a totally aware, pure, turning towards creation by its Creator.

God’s commitment picks humanity up from its failure to fulfill its own commitment towards Himself. Even when rejected, God’s commitment remains unchanged. It cannot be undone. The follow through of grace means that human commitment is fulfilled. God has done it. What is left is the human response to the completed work.

That human commitment fulfilled by God necessitates a turning of the creature back towards the Creator. Hearts and minds are directed back to the memory of His act on our behalf. Humanity is graciously shown the way and firmly commanded to follow.

For Karl Barth, ‘all that [then] remains for me to do is to let my eyes rest on Him, which really means to let my eyes follow Him. This following is my faith. But the great[er] work of faith has already been done by the One whom I follow […] To abide in; to trust in God (Ps.91:1) to believe is to stand in in the communion of saints; who has received, receives and will receive the forgiveness of sins, who hastens towards the resurrection of the flesh and eternal life […] His faith is the victory which has overcome the world.  But that it is this victory does not rest with [the believer], but solely with Him in whom he [may] believe.’ [i]

Human commitment is empowered by God’s grace to be lived out. That humanity is empowered  towards commitment means that whilst God’s act of grace is immutably superimposed, it is not forcefully imposed. We are simply shown the creation and opening of a door where there was none before. God has an exit plan. He spells it out with the letters e.n.l.i.s.t. This is the response to the call of grace: ‘grateful obedience’ (Barth, 2/1 p.229). The commitment of the ‘free man to the free God.’ (Barth, 2/2 p.561) is empowered by God’s revolution; a revolution no man or woman can lie about to control or trump.

This is confronted by God’s act and claim on humanity, to humanity, for humanity vs. humanity’s self-justification and rejection in its counter-claims about God.

“This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men and women by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:11-12, ESV)

No other can lay claim to being this truth; fact; Christ event: God’s revealing of Himself in Jesus Christ. No other can lay claim to being the source of goodness; ethics, right and wrong. No other can claim to be the sole hope and promise of our future. Come Nero, hashtag riot, Hillary, Trump, unjust law, illness, closet-oppressive utopian idea, rainbow ideology or Hitler,

“The subject of theological ethics is not the Word of God as it is claimed by humanity, but the Word of God as it claims humanity. It is not man as he is going to make something of the Word of God, but the Word of God as it is going to make something of man* […]The grace of God is always this: Jesus Christ. It is from what God has done for us that we must learn to read what God wants with us and of us. We must seek the command of God only where it has itself torn off the veil of all human opinions and theories about the will of God**” [ii]

This is the chief reason for why we Christians call the Gospel, Good News. God lives and He speaks!

‘A Christian is one who knows that God has accepted him in Jesus Christ, that a decision has been made concerning him in Jesus Christ as the eternal Word of God, and that he has been called into covenant with Him by Jesus Christ as the Word of God spoken in time.’ [iii]

Summed up by Barth, in true Barth fashion:

‘We hear the Gospel as we obey it. For Jesus Christ is the basis in which we may believe in God, the Word in which dwell the light and force to move us to this event. He Himself is the Gospel. He himself is the resolve and the execution of the essential will in which God willed to give Himself to us. The grace of God, of the God in whom we may believe, is this. In Jesus Christ the eternal Word became flesh. Without ceasing to be who He is in Himself, God became as one of us.’ [iv]

As Karl Barth repeatedly remarks, God wills to be with us & wills that we should not be without Him:

‘Death could not hold Him [Jesus Christ], & therefore it cannot hold us. In the midst of death we have in Him no future but that of resurrection and eternal life. The grace of God decides and has already decided concerning our human existence. What then does it mean to be human now that this decision has been reached by the grace of God? It means to be one who stands and walks and lives and dies within the fact that God is gracious to us, that He has made us His own.(Gal. 2:19)’ [v]

The human response to the question of God’s grace, is ‘our answer to this Word. It is a free action bound by commitment’ (Barth, 2/2:546 paraphrased).

In other words, life with God, begins with, God with us.

Jesus Christ is the Gospel (Barth). He is the author, recipient and standard of both the Shema Yisrael and Lord’s Prayer:

“Hear O, Israel: The Lord our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.” (Deuteronomy, 6:4-5, ESV)



[i] Barth, K. 1942 The Basis of the Divine Claim, CD 2/2 Hendrickson Publishers (p.559)

[ii] Ibid, p.546* & pp.560 & 559**

[iii] Ibid, p.547

[iv] Ibid, pp.557 & 558

[v] Ibid, pp. 558-559

[the words wrapped in parenthesis are my own]

Originally published 7th November 2016.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2018

imprint-cross-lightOne of our homeschooling friends is currently running a series on their blog about the names of God. Each post covers a specific reference to God as mentioned in the Bible. At the close of that article, readers were asked to respond by answering the question: “Is there a name of God which has particular meaning for you?”

My answer was “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15)

It would have been just as valid to answer with Jesus Christ. Nothing goes deeper or attains the same forms of gratitude that this name rightly summons.

It’s through His name and everything He did, that everyone who calls on that name, will be saved. That those He now represents can come to God. Primarily because it’s through and in the person of Jesus Christ, that God choose to come to us, by becoming one of us.

Two years after being baptized, I found myself stumbling, crashing and colliding with life. Looking back twenty-two years, I can see that my downward spiral didn’t stop with being baptized, it started there.

I entered on a new path towards new life. I had entered on an inevitable confrontation with God. At that time in my life I would have never foreseen this as being a true catalyst; a reckoning and with it a tearing away of my old life in order for the new.

I had surrendered my life to God and with a firm grasp, God responded. There was no buzz. No hype. No euphoric feelings to mistakenly ground my theology on. It was a quiet revolution from practical atheism to Christian life.

Over two years, God never let go. The things that hindered me; things I couldn’t see that were toxic in my life were driven out. I was slowly being separated from the chains [sin and sinner alike] that had my pinned down. I grew closer to a more complete understanding of what needed to change and why.

Answering that question in this way was deliberate.  It was, as I read, receive, and remember it: a cry that stems from the immediate awareness of how hopeless I was.

In the words of metal musician Lacey Sturm, it involved a scream, a letting in of light and letting out of darkness; in a sense the cry releases us from a world of continual ”emotional vomit”. It comes from a place of deep pain to deep healing. From the darkness of despair into the hopefulness that comes from the freedom and permission to call God, father, and not just that, but to call upon Him as a father.

Karl Barth understood this. He understood its motivation and its motivating. Some days after replying to that question, I came across his thoughts on Romans 8:15:

‘That the Spirit cries – or that we ourselves cry in the Spirit; Abba Father! (Gal. 4:6, Rom. 8:15) – is the absolutely basic and primal form of the service for which, according to Romans 7:6 we are freed. Obviously, it is the basic and primal form of the command of God. This is what God’s command wants of us – the crying of the child, of the children who have at last found their father again, have at least been found by him, have at last been freed from the tutors and governors, at last been freed from the school-master, at last been freed – self-evidently – from the real power of disobedience, as last been freed from the nerve or lever of sin […] [i]

Barth then adds that God’s call to follow. This command to come, to call, to cry out, is grounded in the freedom to follow. We are set free from sin to be free for God. Our obedience is no longer motivated by a “we must’ or else’, but on, “we may because of”, therefore we can!

‘That God is for us, and therefore no one and nothing is against us, is the reason why it is quite impossible for us to remain in sin, and so necessary for us to transfer from its service to the obedience of righteousness. And if no one and nothing is against us in consequence of the fact that God is for us, this means simply that we are not condemned; that the Law of sin and death is repealed; that the lordship of the world-elements is broken. It is not a case of “must”, but “may.” Our “may” is our “must”. [ii]

After my baptism. I could not remain in sin. It was no longer my identity. It was no longer a debt owed, but one paid for in the liberating life and work of Jesus Christ. Though sin and the potentiality to sin remains, I am not owned by that sin. I am not owned by the past or the people who rather than confront it, choose to ignore it, and instead pretend it never happened.

For the Christian this is impossible because God does not ignore sin. If we can call Christianity  a religion, it’s not a religion of convenience. Relationship with God does not revolve around what is convenient to us.Rather then bury sin, God confronts it. He brings order into chaos (1.Cor.14:33). Jesus is God in revolt against the disorder of the world.

“A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”  (Psalm 51:17, ESV)

God will peel the layers back until we are free to be, where we can be free to truly follow Him. The only denial that has permission to walk hand in hand with grace is self-denial. God doesn’t ignore our needs and leave us hanging around like a bewildered ape. He will not let go of the one who calls out His name and then puts their hand in His.

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
-(Galatians 4:6, ESV)
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
-(Romans 8:15, ESV)


[i] Barth, K. 1942 The Command of God as Claim of God: The Form of the Divine Claim C.D. II/II Hendrickson Publishers (p.592)

[ii] ibid, pp.592 & 593

Updated, 11th April 2017:

Karl Barth also makes mention of this in CD 3/3 on page 39:

‘In the N.T this title, ‘Father’ is not really a sentimental expression for the human experience of the goodness to man of the supreme being who rules in and over the world. It is as Jesus is the Son of God that God is His father and He calls Him by His name […] He invites us too to know and address God as our father. It is as we know this Father that we know the Creator, and not vice versa’