It’s a glorious word. It’s a precious word. It’s a misunderstood word. We often think of grace as our allowance, a token that God gives us in and of itself. Grace, however, is not a substance to be passed around, but a person, the Lord Jesus Christ. In 2 Timothy 2.1 Paul encourages Timothy to be strengthened by God’s grace, which is not ‘from’ him, but rather is ‘in’ Christ Jesus. The christian life is not about getting things from Jesus, but it is about getting Jesus, and all things in him.
Archive for February, 2010
Unlike many today, the writers of the New Testament did not think the book of Leviticus out of date or irrelevant. Paul uses Lev 18.5 as a crux of some of his arguments on justification by faith (Rom 10 and Gal 3). Also, in Peter’s first epistle he refers to Lev 19.2 in regards to how christians should live. Both here in Leviticus and in Peter the command assumes a relationship, it is not the basis of the relationship. That’s to say, our relationship to God doesn’t come about by our being holy, but our being holy comes about because of our relationship to God.
We can take a few things from this. First, a good self-examination is in order. Are we holy as God is holy? Is this our pursuit and desire? As we pursue this, and fail and struggle at it, we need to turn our eyes again and again to Christ, who is our holiness. Second, when we think about those who do not yet know Christ and God’s forgiveness, their greatest need is not to act better, to be more holy; that’s the cart before the horse. Their greatest need is Christ, and then they can worry about being holy, not to gain acceptance with God, but to seek the please God (2 Cor 5.9).
Are there things I can do to help me find a church to be pastor of? Well, in some sense, that is the wrong question. Here is a great quote from Whitefield on what my concerns should be.
With unspeakable pleasure have I heard that there seems to be a general concern amongst you about the Things of God. . . . What great things may we now expect to see in New England, since it has pleased God to work so remarkably among the Sons of the Prophets? Now we may expect a reformation indeed, since it is beginning at the house of God. A dead Ministry will always make a dead People. Whereas if ministers are warmed with the love of God themselves, they cannot but be instruments of diffusing that love amongst others. This, this is the best preparation for the work whereunto you are to be called. Learning without piety will only render you more capable of promoting the kingdom of the devil. Henceforward therefore I hope you will enter into your studies, not to get a parish, not to be a polite preacher, but to be a great saint. . . . The more holy you are, the more will God delight to honor you. He loves to make use of instruments like himself. . . .”
George Whitefield, writing to students at Harvard and Yale preparing for the ministry, 25 July 1741, quoted in Richard L. Bushman, editor, The Great Awakening: Documents on the Revival of Religion, 1740-1745 (New York, 1970), page 38.
HT: Ray Ortlund
Luke 6.12ff is the account of Christ praying all night before he chooses the 12 apostles. I have often thought about it in that Christ wanted to be sure to pick the right men for these roles. What I haven’t really thought of before is that 1 of those 12 was Judas. Perhaps part of the prayer had to do with having strength to choose the man who would betray him. If Christ was dependant on God through prayer, relying on the power of the Spirit, surely we must be as well. I thought I had it electronically, but for now, all I can point you to is the beginning of chapter 3 in Hugh Martin’s The Shadow of Calvary where he speaks about Christ being a man of prayer. Good stuff.
on McLaren. At the end of the day McLaren’s focus is on works and not faith, which destroys the gospel and grace. That is why it is so dangerous and destructive. Seeking liberty, in reality it brings people into the bondage of a works salvation and we are measure by what we do, and not what Christ has done. That is a perilous place to be.
We sang these familiar words in church yesterday, “Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were an offering far too small. Love so amazing so divine, demands my life, my soul, my all.” Saturday night we watched the first (of three) episode of the BBC’s Great Rift, a documentary on the African Rift Valley. Having those images fresh in my mind it made the line of Watts hymn that much more meaningful.
No surprises here. This is just one example, of many. Folks seem upset that people are critical of McLaren. Of course none of those responding really understand him and they are drawing unfair conclusions because this is only the 6th time McLaren denies something. Sometimes you wonder if ignoring it completely would be better. Apparently it is unkind to disagree, to hold convictions, to contend for the faith once delivered, and to believe certain things. I leave you with the words of Paul, “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.” If this doesn’t mirror contemporary evangelicalism I don’t know what does. Rant over.
rather than biblical theology. This review by Kevin DeYoung on Brian McLaren’s A New Kind of Christianity is worth taking the time to read. Of course, if you disagree with McLaren, you are thinking through a time-trapped greco-roman mindset, whereas he is free and sees clearly, unclouded by his own cultural context. Much more could be said, but DeYoung says it better. All I ask is that we get a CO2 count from McLaren to know he practices what he preaches.