2008-05-10 - Beata Culpa
John 21:15, "So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?' He said to Him, 'Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, 'Tend My lambs.'"
The above Latin phrase is from Augustine, and he used the expression in reference to the fall into sin of Adam, and the subsequent wonder of grace that came from his fall into sin. He said that it was a beata culpa, a happy fault. The fall into sin has given opportunities for the grace of God to be displayed in Christ. How would we ever really know the love of God, if we did not know His forgiveness in Christ? How could we know God's mercy, if we were never in need of it? How could we understand, as well as we do, the compassion, tenderness, longsuffering, kindness, and all such enduring characteristics that reveal God's benevolent love usward, if there had not been that beata culpa in the Garden of Eden?
Surely we would have know of God's love, had sin never entered into the world, but since it did we know it in a manner that we could not have were not our position so desperate. We know His love most fully in that Christ has died for sinners. We also know this in our experience of God's love to us in manifold ways on a daily basis in our lives. It is our sin that reveals the amazing love of God toward us because we are so unlovable in our sin. We see God's love witnessed over and over again in Scripture when someone falls into sin, and receives mercy instead of wrath.
This can be seen in Peter's denying Christ three times and then Christ asking him three times if he loved Him - in the book of John (18:25-27; 21:15-17). Peter must have been in a depressed condition before, and while Jesus asked him, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?" Jesus then proceeded to ask him two more times if he loved Him. We know the story, but look at the results in the life of Peter, following his experience of God's grace and mercy in Christ's questions to him. Look at Acts 2, and the boldness and power with which Peter spoke as one having authority and commission from above. The sin of denying Christ was still sin, but beata culpa, happy fault, when forgiveness is experienced, known, and turned into service for the Master. It is a lesson to us.
We all have sins and afflictions that make us miserable. We also all have forgiveness, for the seeking and receiving, in Christ. Knowing forgiveness from our errant ways is a great motivation to boldness in Christ's cause and for His name, in our lives and actions. That sin is a happy fault when it becomes a motivation and impetus to our greater service unto Christ. Jesus Christ is not only worthy of our faithfulness (I don't wish to suggest that we should sin, that we might have a motivation to be bold for Jesus - that would be foolish), but Jesus Christ is also worthy of our learning from our sins, and turning our experience of His forgiveness into inspiration towards our greater, bolder, service of Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria,