A time for everything, including outdoor sermons

If you were to tell me at the start of the year that my final sermon for 2021 would be at a beach baptism celebration for a crowd of friends, family and curious onlookers, I wouldn’t have believed you. But thanks to COVID, there’s a time for everything it seems!

Here’s a few quick observations from preaching at a special occasion:

  • Even a 13 minute sermon can still feel long when you’re at the beach on a sunny afternoon and there’s no place to sit comfortably. Cut, cut, cut. On Boxing Day, people aren’t interested in the Hebrew word play about the “sons of Adam”, they’re more likely to want to go for a swim and get ice cream!
  • Everyone needs an outdoor preaching voice from time to time, so I’ll need to keep practising mine (or get the sound system properly set up first time round!)
  • No one came to hear from you, so connect your talk to the people they came for as much as you can: illustrations from their lives, incorporating their favourite passages, etc. (Sam Chan talks more about this in his thoughts on event preaching in Evangelism in a Skeptical World)
  • We learned to craft one big idea from a passage, well it’s even more important in a context where you don’t get full attention and compete against squawking birds and other distractions. “There is a time for everything, and yet because Jesus died and rose again, His timing meant everything.”
  • Beautiful moments call for beautiful words. I found it helpful to play with “time” words throughout the talk and thread the sermon together with this theme (including the gospel offer from Rom 5:6-8: “At the right time Christ died for the ungodly…”). I still did the three point exegesis, but without a consistent metaphor, I suspect attention would have dropped even quicker.
  • Preach the gospel every time, every place. Among those present was an atheist who had attended church for a time but then dropped off the radar over lockdown, curious family members and school friends who had never been to church or abandoned it as teenagers, and even some locals who were at a picnic next to us. We sow it, He grows it. Pray for good soil that bears much fruit!

If you’re interested, here’s the recording and script of the talk (the audio quality is poor, so turn on the subtitles!). Would love to hear what you thought.


“A Time For Everything” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Some people say, time slows down when you’re at the beach. The gentle breeze, the unhurried waves. Wouldn’t we love to capture a moment like this for all eternity?

By my count, there are 5 days left of 2021. It seems like yesterday we were making plans for 2021. Then our least favourite Greek letter of the year – Delta – brought lockdowns, vaccines, traffic lights. And so if you’ve wondered this week, “Where did all that time go?” – I get it.

Turns out time is also on the mind of the Teacher in the book of Ecclesiastes, which Song just read. (This also happens to be Song’s favourite chapter of the Bible). Did you notice how the Teacher started? “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” (Ecc 3:1)

And whether you wish time could stop, or fast forward from here, that statement rings true, does it not? “There is a time for everything.” Time to weep, time to laugh. To mourn. To dance.

And because there is “a time for everything”, we’re gathered here, in our beach clothes, to celebrate a special time, our five brothers and sister getting baptised.

Let me explain baptism briefly. As Christians we believe in “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph 4:5). As PCBC, we believe the Bible teaches that baptism is an ordinance of the church, offered to believers as one of the family habits our Lord Jesus gives us. We see baptism is an outward sign of an inward reality. Baptism pictures the change of heart and life that happens in every genuine believer who, by God’s Spirit, repents from sin and puts their trust in Jesus Christ alone for their hope, peace, joy – the change we heard from each of their testimonies yesterday and today. Like a wedding ring symbolises the union of marriage, baptism symbolises a person united with Christ, living in Him.

Baptism itself has no saving power. This is water from Cockle Bay. These are sandshoes from the Warehouse. But by being baptised, Erica, Billy, Song, Chris and Kenneth are publicly declaring that, through the saving blood of Jesus Christ, they have received the gift of eternity with God, and a new way of life.

And if someone was looking for a new way of life, it was the teacher in Ecclesiastes. Because his reflections on time in chapter 3 come after two chapters of complaining. Listen to some of his earlier words:

“I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces.” (Ecc 2:8)

“I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure.” (Ecc 2:10)

Sounds like the Kiwi dream. And yet, when the Preacher looks carefully at everything he’d accomplished with his own hands, he says:

“Everything was meaningless… a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” (Ecc 2:11)

And if 2021 has felt looking for a breeze that won’t come… if your life feels like a mist or vapour, if it seems as pointless as blowing bubbles and watching them pop, then you are not alone. We remember from the book of James – “Is not your life like a vapour? …like a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:14)

And after reflecting on time, the Teacher in Ecclesiastes 3:10 says:

“I have seen the burden God has laid on people” (Ecc 3:10). And then he makes a profound observation:

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecc 3:11).

In this sentence I want us to notice three timely thoughts.

First, He has made everything beautiful in its time.

Our country has seen its fair share of division, hurt and heartbreak this past year. But we’ve also seen kindness and generosity. Sacrifice for the common good. Amidst the burdens, He has made everything beautiful in its time.

And spiritually, this is something each of our five brothers and sisters know first hand:

As we heard from Billy, it took 7 years of depression, hurt and loss before God made everything beautiful through the love of Jesus, who “loved him first.” (1 John 4:19)

For Erica, her earlier feelings of insecurity and failure eventually showed her a beautiful God who is “in control, and will never forsake me.”

And Song put it this way: “COVID allowed me time to pause and conclude there was more to life than tangible possessions, job status or even the next step in life. All these items are about filling a need for more which can only be filled by God’s love and grace.”

Amidst the burdens of life (v10), God does bring beauty from brokenness, in His timing.

Secondly,

He has also set eternity in our hearts.

This verse from the Teacher alludes to a much earlier time – to our first parents. Notice the echoes from Eden: a yearning for eternity, to live forever. And verse 10 speaks of the burden (lit: the task) God gives to – literally — the children of Adam (Ecc 3:10).

To want something that lasts forever, and be left frustrated, is an age-old, timeless problem. But it’s our problem too.

Because what is behind our obsession with work, or grades, if not a wish to live forever?

Or our mission for likes and subscribes, are we not just chasing eternity in our hearts?

Sometimes it takes standing at a beach, surrounded by God’s beauty, for those deep questions to surface from our hearts. “Who am I? Why am I here? What is the purpose of my life?” Perhaps now is the time to search (v6) for the true answer for something that lasts forever.

And finally, in this timely sentence the Teacher says:

“yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

And here we realise the Teacher speaks from too early a time, before the cross. By the end of Ecclesiastes, the call is to rejoice rightly, to fear God and keep His commands (12:13). But that’s all.

You see, when these words were penned thousands of years ago, God’s saving plan from beginning to end was still unfolding, like deep water, unfathomable.The tide had not yet turned.

But pay attention to Paul, an eyewitness of Jesus, because in Romans 5:6-8 he says: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” [REPEAT]

Do you see? Timing is everything. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

As we heard from Kenneth, even when his life was a meaningless cycle of partying and drinking, Christ died for him.

Even when Chris was stuck in his downward spiral, Christ died for him… he died for you, and me, for all who believe in Him.

There is a time for everything, what makes Jesus such good news is that His timing meant everything. At just the right time, he enters our world. Takes on our flesh. At just the right time he announces the Kingdom of God with signs and wonders, teaching and healing like no other. At just the right time, he hands [show] himself over to demonstrate God’s own love for us – while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. His timing meant everything.

What the Teacher in Ecclesiastes couldn’t fathom, you and I are about to see in the waters of baptism. What God has done from beginning to end. There’s a time for everything, yet because Jesus died and rose again, His timing changes everything.

For these five, today marks a new chapter. What about you? What will you do with your time?

If you’re not a Christian, is it time to seriously consider who Jesus is, perhaps by picking up a Bible with a friend?

If you’ve never publicly owned your faith in Jesus, is it time to be baptised and added to the church?

If you long for others find eternity in Christ, is it time to give up something good, for something better, and follow God’s call for you into deeper waters? Jesus once said: “The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” (John 12:23) As we spend time celebrate these baptisms, as we see his death and resurrection before us, may Jesus, the Son of Man, be glorified. Let’s pray.

“A Time for Everything”, 26.12.21, Baptism Celebration @ Cockle Bay Reserve

A tale of two brothers (my oral submission to the Justice Select Committee)

This was my oral submission to the Justice Select Committee yesterday – not sure how deeply they read the written version, but I’m grateful for the 5-minute opportunity. You can watch the whole thing on their livestream here (my submission starts at 47:23). Thanks for all of you who prayed!

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Tēnā koutou katoa, thank you for the opportunity to present my submission in person. I come as a Christian, and as a pastor of a church, and a member of an ethnic minority in New Zealand. I hope you’ll see that I haven’t “come to make war” as Shaneel just mentioned [32:46 on the video]. I trust you’ve been able to read my written submission, so today I just wanted to share the story of two of my brothers.

First is A, my brother from birth. I’ve loved him since we were kids, and still remember the day he shared with me that he was gay. Since then our paths and passions in life have diverged, but through the years it has been a joy to love him. He and his partner both know they are welcome to our place for dinner anytime. As a Christian, my deepest belief is that his biggest barrier isn’t his same-sex attraction, or his lifestyle as a gay man, but his unbelief in Jesus the true King. So on the one hand (as I submitted) as a follower of Jesus I’m also rightly concerned with the use of “reparative therapies” that are hurtful and, so welcome the broad aims of this Bill in deterring unwanted, coercive therapies. Hearing Andrew Miller’s sorry was so heartbreaking – as a pastor I would never wish to do that. Because my brother’s biggest need is not to be straight, it’s to find his true self in Christ.

But let me also share a bit about B, who is also my brother, but in Christ. We both walk the Jesus road imperfectly, and for several years now since he shared his struggles with same-sex attraction, it’s been a joy and privilege to pray for and with him, and to support his desire to NOT pursue a life as a gay man, but as a Christian called to chastity in singleness. And while I’ve been called (for now) to faithfulness in marriage, we are both in pursuit of holy sexuality. Yet if this bill is passed as it is, my biggest concern is it would put the kinds of conversations we have, and that I have with others with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria as a Christian pastor, into the category of criminal offence.

So my request would be that as a Select Committee you’d carefully consider the three recommendations I’ve laid out in my written submission: to change the unclear and unhelpful term “Conversion practices”; to add a clause to exclude respectful and open discussions about sexuality and gender from prosecution; and, if you’re brave enough! – to remove Section 10 (Consent not defence) to honour people like B and others who would like pastoral care and counsel.

Thank you for listening.


“Nachfolge” im Lockdown (Tag 70)

I’m so grateful for these reflections through discipleship over three months of lockdown. Bonhoeffer concludes the chapter.


So ist ihm seine erste Position abgewonnen. Es folgt, abermals wie beim Jüngling, die Flucht in den ethischen Konflikt: Wer ist denn mein Nächster? Unzählige Male ist seither dem versucherischen Schriftgelehrten diese Frage gutgläubig und unwissend nachgesprochen worden, sie erfreut sich des Ansehens einer ernsten und vernünftigen Frage eines suchenden Menschen. Aber man hat den Zusammenhang nicht recht gelesen.

Thus his first position is extracted from him. What follows is, as with the young man, the flight into ethical conflict: who then is my neighbour? Countless times since then, this question from the scribe who tempts has been repeated is good faith and ignorance; it itself enjoys the prestige of a serious and reasonable question from a seeking person. But one has not rightly read the context.

Die ganze Geschichte vom barmherzigen Samariter ist eine einzige Abwehr und Zerstörung dieser Frage als einer satanischen durch Jesus. Sie ist eine Frage ohne Ende, ohne Antwort. Sie entspringt den „zerrütteten Sinnen derer, die der Wahrheit beraubt sind“, „die die Seuche der Fragen und Wortkriege haben“. Aus ihr „entspringt Neid, Hader, Lästerung, böser Argwohn, Schulgezänk“ (1. Tim. 6,4f.). Es ist die Frage der Aufgeblasenen, die „immerdar lernen und können doch nimmer zur Erkenntnis der Wahrheit kommen“, „die den Schein eines gottseligen Wesens haben, aber seine Kraft verleugnen sie“ (2. Tim. 3,5ff.). Sie sind untüchtig zum Glauben, sie fragen so, weil sie „ein Brandmal im Gewissen haben“ (1. Tim. 4,2), weil sie nicht gehorsam sein wollen dem Worte Gottes.

The whole story of the good Samaritan is a unique defence and destruction of this question as satanic by Jesus. It is a question without an end, without an answer. It rises from the “depraved mind of those, who are deprived of the truth” (1 Tim 6:5), “those who have the plague of controversies and quarrels [lit: questions and word wars].” (1 Tim 6:4). From them “spring envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions.” (1 Tim 6:4f). It is the question of the puffed up who “are always learning and yet can never arrive at the knowledge of the truth”, “who have the appearance of godly character, but deny its power.” (2 Tim 3:5ff). They are unfit for faith, they ask thus, because they “have a seared conscience” (1 Tim 4:2), because they do not wish to be obedient to the Word of God.

Wer ist mein Nächster? Gibt es eine Antwort darauf, ob es mein leiblicher Bruder, mein Volksgenosse, mein Bruder in der Gemeinde oder mein Feind sei? Läßt sich nicht eins wie das andere mit gleichem Recht behaupten und verneinen? Ist nicht das Ende dieser Frage Zwiespalt und Ungehorsam? Ja, diese Frage ist der Aufruhr gegen Gottes Gebot selbst. Ich will ja gehorsam sein, aber Gott sagt mir nicht, wie ich es kann. Gottes Gebot ist zweideutig, es läßt mich im ewigen Konflikt. Die Frage: was soll ich tun?, war der erste Betrug. Die Antwort ist: Tue das Gebot, das du weißt. Nicht fragen sollst du, sondern tun.

Who is my neighbour? It there an answer to it, whether it is my brother in the flesh, my comrade in the people, my brother in the church, or my enemy?  Should one note be asserted and denied with equal right as the other? Is not the end of this question discord and disobedience? Yes, this question is the rebellion against God’s commandment itself. I want indeed be obedience, but God doesn’t say to me, how I can. The commandment of God is ambiguous, it leaves me in eternal conflict.

Die Frage: Wer ist denn mein Nächster? ist die letzte Frage der Verzweiflung oder der Selbstsicherheit, in der der Ungehorsam sich rechtfertigt. Die Antwort ist: Du selbst bist der Nächste. Gehe hin und sei gehorsam in der Tat der Liebe. Nächster zu sein, ist nicht eine Qualifikation des Anderen, sondern ist sein Anspruch an mich, sonst nichts.

The question: “What should I do?” was the first deception. The answer is: Do the commandments, that you know. You should not ask, but do. The question: “Who then in my neighbour?” is the final question of despair or self-assurance, in which disobedience justifies itself. The answer is: You yourself ar the neighbour. Go and be obedient in the act of love. To be a neighbour, is not a qualification of another, but his demand on me, nothing else.

In jedem Augenblick, in jeder Situation bin ich der zum Handeln, zum Gehorsam Geforderte. Es ist buchstäblich keine Zeit dafür übrig, nach einer Qualifikation des Anderen zu fragen. Ich muß handeln und muß gehorchen, ich muß dem Anderen der Nächste sein. Fragst du abermals erschreckt, ob ich denn nicht vorher wissen und bedenken müsse, wie ich zu handeln habe, – so gibt es darauf nur die Auskunft, daß ich das nicht anders wissen und bedenken kann, als indem ich eben immer schon handle, indem ich mich selbst immer schon als den Geforderten weiß.

I learn what obedience is by obeying alone, not by asking questions. Only in obedience do I recognise the truth. From the dichotomy of conscience and sin, the call of Jesus to the simplicity of obedience meets us. But the rich young ruler was called by Jesus into the grace of discipleship; the scribe who tempts is pushed back into the commandment.

Was Gehorsam ist, lerne ich allein im Gehorchen, nicht durch Fragen. Erst im Gehorsam erkenne ich die Wahrheit. Aus dem Zwiespalt des Gewissens und der Sünde trifft uns der Ruf Jesu zur Einfalt des Gehorsams. Aber der reiche Jüngling wurde von Jesus in die Gnade der Nachfolge gerufen, der versucherische Schriftgelehrte wird zurückgestoßen ins Gebot.


“Nachfolge” im Lockdown (Tag 69)

Nearly at the end of this chapter! Just one more section to go after this.


Der Jüngling suchte eine Antwort auf seine Frage. Die Antwort heißt: Jesus Christus. Der Jüngling wollte das Wort des guten Meisters hören, nun erkennt er, daß dieses Wort – der Mann, den er fragte, selbst ist. Der Jüngling steht vor Jesus, dem Sohne Gottes, die volle Begegnung ist da. Es gibt nur noch Ja oder Nein, Gehorsam oder Ungehorsam. Die Antwort des Jünglings ist Nein.

The young man sought an answer to his question. The answer is: Jesus Christ. The young man wanted to hear the word of the good Master, now he recognises that this Word – the man, whom he asked, is himself it. The young stands before Jesus, the Son of God, the full encounter is here. It is only ever yes or no, obedience or disobedience. The answer of the young man is no.

Traurig ging der Jüngling davon, er sah sich enttäuscht, betrogen um seine Hoffnung, und er kann doch von seiner Vergangenheit nicht lassen. Er hatte viele Güter. Der Ruf in die Nachfolge bekommt auch hier keinen anderen Inhalt als Jesus Christus selbst, die Bindung an ihn, die Gemeinschaft mit ihm. Aber nicht schwärmerische Verehrung eines guten Meisters, sondern Gehorsam gegen den Sohn Gottes ist die Existenz des Nachfolgenden.

Sadly the young man goes from there, he saw himself disappointed, cheated of his hope, and yet he cannot let go of his past. He has much good. The call of discipleship, here too, is given no other content than Jesus Christ himself, attachment to him, fellowship with him. But the existence of the follower is not rapturous veneration of a good master, but obedience to the Son of God

Diese Geschichte vom reichen Jüngling hat ihre genaue Entsprechung in der Rahmenerzählung zum Gleichnis vom barmherzigen Samariter. „Und siehe, da stand ein Schriftgelehrter auf, versuchte ihn und sprach: Meister, was muß ich tun, daß ich das ewige Leben ererbe? Er aber sprach zu ihm: Wie stehet im Gesetz geschrieben? Wie liesest du? Er antwortete und sprach: „Du sollst Gott, deinen Herrn, lieben von ganzem Herzen, von ganzer Seele, von allen Kräften und von ganzem Gemüte und deinen Nächsten als dich selbst.“ Er aber sprach zu ihm: Du hast recht geantwortet. Tue das, so wirst du leben. Er aber wollte sich selbst rechtfertigen und sprach zu Jesu: Wer ist denn mein Nächster?“ (Lk. 10,25-29).

This story of the rich young man has its exact counterpart in the frame-narrative of the parable of the Good Samaritan. “And behold, a certain scribe stood up and tested him and said: Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life? But he said to him: How is it written in the law? How do you read it? He answered and said: “You shall love God your Lord with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength and all your mind: and your neighbour as yourself.” But he said to him: You have answered rightly. Do this and you will live. But he wished to justify himself and said to Jesus: “Who then is my neighbour?” (Luke 10:25–29)

Die Frage des Schriftgelehrten ist dieselbe wie die des Jünglings. Nur ist hier von vornherein festgestellt, daß es eine versucherische Frage ist. Die Lösung steht für den Versucher schon fest. Sie soll in der Aporie des ethischen Konflikts auslaufen. Jesu Antwort gleicht der an den reichen Jüngling vollkommen. Der Fragende weiß im Grunde die Antwort auf seine Frage, aber indem er noch fragt, obwohl er schon weiß, will er sich dem Gehorsam gegen Gottes Gebot entziehen. Es bleibt für ihn nur noch die Auskunft: Tue was du weißt, so wirst du leben.

The question of the scribe is the same as that of the young man. Only here it is established from the outset, that it is a test question. The solution is already fixed for the tempter. It is to end the “aporia”(?) of ethical conflict. Jesus’s answer is completely similar to that given to the young man. The questioner knows in principle the answer to his question, but by still asking, although he already knows, he wants to evade obedience to God’s command. All that remains for him is the information: “Do what you know, and you shall live.”

“Nachfolge” im Lockdown (Tag 68)

Donnerstag.


Das zweite ist dies: Auch dieser Ruf in die Nachfolge bedarf noch einer Klärung, um unmißverständlich zu sein. Es muß dem Jüngling unmöglich gemacht werden, die Nachfolge selbst wiederum als ethisches Abenteuer, als absonderlichen interessanten, aber gegebenenfalls doch noch revozierbaren Weg und Lebensstil mißzuverstehen.

The second [thing to note about Mk 10:22] is this: even this call to discipleship also needs clarification, in order to be unmistakable. It must be made impossible for the young man, to misunderstand discipleship itself as an ethical adventure, as a peculiar interesting but possibly even still a reversible way and lifestyle.

Die Nachfolge wäre auch dann noch mißverstanden, wenn der Jüngling sie als einen letzten Abschluß seines bisherigen Tuns und Fragens ansehen könnte, als eine Addition des Vorangegangenen, als Ergänzung, Vervollständigung, Vervollkommnung des Bisherigem. Es muß darum zur unmißverständlichen Klärung eine Situation geschaffen werden, die es nicht zuläßt, daß man hinter sie wieder zurück kann, eine unrevozierbare Situation, und zugleich muß in ihr deutlich werden, daß sie keineswegs nur eine Ergänzung des Bisherigen ist.

Discipleship would still be misunderstood, if the young man could perceive it as a final conclusion to his previous actions and questions, as an addition to what has gone before, as a supplement, completion, perfection of what has previously happened. Therefore, for the unmistakable clarification, a situation must be created which does not allow that one goes back behind, an irreversible situation, and at the same time must become clear that it is by no means only only an addition to what has gone before.

Diese erforderte Situation wird geschaffen durch die Aufforderung Jesu zur freiwilligen Armut. Sie ist die existentielle, die seelsorgerliche Seite der Sache. Sie will dem Jüngling helfen, endlich recht zu verstehen und recht gehorsam zu sein. Sie entspringt der Liebe Jesu zu dem Jüngling. Sie ist nur das Zwischenglied zwischen dem bisherigen Weg des Jünglings und der Nachfolge. Aber sie ist – wohlgemerkt – nicht identisch mit der Nachfolge selbst, sie ist nicht einmal der erste Schritt in der Nachfolge, sondern der Gehorsam, in dem Nachfolge erst wirklich werden kann. Erst soll der Jüngling hingehen, alles verkaufen und den Armen geben, und dann kommen und nachfolgen. Das Ziel ist die Nachfolge, der Weg in diesem Falle die freiwillige Armut.

This required situation is created by Jesus’s call to voluntary poverty. It is the existential, the pastoral side of the matter. It will help the young man, finally to understand rightly and to be rightly obedient. It springs out from the love of Jesus for the young man. It is only the connecting link between the previous way of the yonug man and discipleship. But it is – mind you – not identical with discipleship itself, it is not even the first step in discipleship but rather the obedience in which discipleship can only become real. First the young man is to go, sell everything and give to the poor, and then to come and to follow. The goal is discipleship, the way in this case voluntary poverty.

Und das dritte: Jesus nimmt die Frage des Jünglings, was ihm noch fehle, auf. „Willst du vollkommen sein,…“ das könnte den Anschein erwecken, als werde hier tatsächlich von einer Hinzufügung zum Bisherigen geredet. Es ist auch eine Hinzufügung, in deren Inhalt aber bereits die Aufhebung alles Bisherigen beschlossen ist. Der Jüngling ist eben bisher nicht vollkommen; denn er hat das Gebot falsch verstanden und falsch getan. Er kann es jetzt nur recht verstehen und recht tun in der Nachfolge, aber eben auch hier nur, weil Jesus Christus ihn dazu beruft. Indem er die Frage des Jünglings aufnimmt, entwindet er sie ihm. Der Jüngling fragte nach seinem Weg zum ewigen Leben, Jesus antwortet: Ich rufe dich, das ist alles.

And the third: Jesus takes the question of the young man, what do I still lack? “You wish to be complete” This could give the impression that we are actually talking about an addition to what has gone before. It is also an addition, but in its content, already the abolition of all that has gone before has been decided. The young man is not yet perfect, for he has falsely understood and falsely acted. He can now only understand it rightly, and do it rightly in discipleship, but here too only because Jesus Christ calls him to it. By taking up the question of the young man, he takes it from him. The young man asked about his path to eternal life, Jesus answered: “I call you, that is all.”