alien righteousness

Taken From Machen: Selected Shorter Writings in chapter 3 titled “Witness of the Gospels” (edited by D.G. Hart)

“I might point out, too, with regard to all of the gospels, that there is a certain self-evidencing quality in their narrative.  Personal testimony is a very subtle thing; and when you face a witness on the witness stand, the credence which you will give to this testimony is dependent very often upon the subtle impression that you obtain of the person testifying.  That sort of evidence, which often attain a high degree of value, has a larger place in the production of Christian conviction than often is supposed.  If you are troubled with doubts about the truth of this extraordinary narrative which you have in the four gospels, I should commend  to you the exercise of reading one of the gospel through from the beginning to end with something like the rapidity which you apply every morning to the morning newspaper or to any book of the day.  At other times study the gospels, but for once just read the gospels.  I sometimes think that perhaps that is the reason why God has given us one gospel which is so short as the gospel according to Mark–that at one sitting we might easily read the whole book through.  In the gospel according to Mark you are not asked to sit quietly at the feet of Jesus and listen in an extended way to his teaching.  You are not taken into the intimacy of his circle as is the case in the gospel according to John.  BUt you are asked to look at him with something of the wonder which was in the minds of those first observers in the synagogue at Capernaum.  It is a gospel that makes a first impression of it be made upon your mind, there will come to you an overpowering impression that that witness is telling the truth” (46-47).

“Jesus proclaimed not only a gospel, but a gospel which had his own person in the center of it.  When you read the gospels a little closer, you will find everywhere Jesus presented himself as Savior, not merely as a teacher or an example.  If he did not present himself as Savior, than his teaching is the most gloomy teaching that there ever was in this world.  You may talk about the thunderings of Sinai.  But what are they compared with the terrifying law of the Sermon on the Mount?  How much higher, how much more terrible that is than the law that is set forth in the Old Testament!  How shall we stand if only such persons as those whom Jesus there describes can come into the kingdom of God?  When you read the  Sermon on the Mount, you are led straight to the foot of the cross; if such is the law of God, you need Christ not merely as a teacher but as a Savior” (55-56).

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