John Kleinig



John Kleinig is Lutheran Pastor and Theologian. He is author of the classic Lutheran book Grace Upon Grace: Spirituality for Today.


“Our whole life as the children of God is a life of reception. We have been justified by the grace of God the Father, so we now live by faith in His grace. Because we believe in Him we now receive every spiritual gift from Him. We receive grace upon grace from the fullness of the incarnate Christ.” – John Kleinig (Grace Upon Grace)

“We are not called to become more spiritual by disengaging from our earthly life, but simply to rely on Jesus as we do what is given for us to do, experience what is given for us to experience, and enjoy what is given for us to enjoy.” – John Kleinig (Grace Upon Grace)

“We do not, as we follow Jesus, become increasingly self-sufficient. Rather, we learn, bit by bit, the art of begging from God the Father, until at our death we can do nothing but say, ‘Lord Jesus, have mercy on me!'”  – John Kleinig (Grace Upon Grace)

“Because our spiritual life depends on our receiving from God, Christ teaches us to become beggars together with Him. Like Him, we receive everything from God the Father. This makes it hard, yet at the same time easy, for us to live as His disciples. It is hard because we take such great pride in our own achievements and self-sufficiency. We do not like to ask God, or anyone, for anything. Far better to do without than to become dependent on others! Yet it is also easy because our spirituality does not depend on our performance but on our receiving from God. No one is more or less spiritually advantaged. To change the picture, we must all become as little children, helpless infants that are totally dependent on their mothers.” – John Kleinig (Grace Upon Grace)

“The more we become beggars before God and live by His grace, the more reason we have to perform the song of praise together with angels, the song that they sing about God’s glory in heaven and His peace on earth. Our trouble is that we would like to have the glory without the begging.” – John Kleinig (Grace Upon Grace)

“Glory in insignificance, life in death, strength in weakness, riches in poverty – all these mark our life in Christ. Nothing is possessed; everything is borrowed from Him.” – John Kleinig (Grace Upon Grace)

“At Baptism we were marked with the cross to indicate that we belong to Christ. We have His brand on us. Through His death He has redeemed us from death and given us eternal life with Him in the presence of the Father. Together with Him, we pass through death to life. Our whole life, then, is marked by the cross and lived under the cross.” – John Kleinig (Grace Upon Grace)

“In our human lives, growing up involves the gradual shift from dependence to independence. But the reverse it true for us as we grow spiritually. On our journey we become more and more dependent on Christ for everything in every situation.” – John Kleinig (Grace Upon Grace)

“God deals with us in a strange way as we travel on our course here on earth. Little by little He strips us down until we are left with nothing except our bare, fragile human soul, a soul that relies on Him utterly for its existence. Then He strips us of our soul in death. He takes away everything that we have in order to give us everything that He has in store for us…He brings us through the darkness of dying and death with Jesus to usher us completely into the light of His radiant face.” – John Kleinig (Grace Upon Grace)

“Our ardor for godliness, our passion for spiritual growth in holiness, can prove to be dangerous for us. There is, of course, nothing wrong with a passion for righteousness and holiness…The danger does not lie in our passion but in what we do with it. The words of Jesus hint at this. With the imagery of hunger and thirst, Jesus quite deliberately steers us away from imagining that we can become righteous by acting righteously, and He turns us toward the reception of righteousness through faith in Him.” – John Kleinig (Grace Upon Grace)

“Our justification does not depend on our piety and our spiritual performance, but on Christ and His performance. We can therefore face up to our recurring failure to live as His holy people and people of prayer. In fact, our failure is meant to teach us to ask for what we lack and receive everything from Christ. With that request for help comes an end to our playacting before the imagined audience of God and the people around us. We also receive relief from the intolerable pressure to demonstrate how much spiritual progress we have made and to show how spiritually mature we have become.” – John Kleinig (Grace Upon Grace)

“Our conscience…is only partly enlightened by the Law that diagnoses our spiritual impurity; it is fully enlightened by the Gospel that cleanses us from that impurity, the Good News that we are justified by the grace of God the Father through faith in His beloved Son, Jesus. He offered Himself as a sacrifice for us and our sins. Jesus’ blood now cleanses us from the stain of sin; it alone gives us a clear conscience before God the Father. Through Baptism, we receive the great and precious gift of a good conscience before God.” – John Kleinig (Grace Upon Grace)


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