I’m so glad that you’re on this journey of grace with me. Grace is the most wonderful subject we could ever hope to consider or explore! We’re on this road of faith together, and we need each other in order to delight in Christ’s grace with all our heart. That’s because each of us has blind spots when it comes to really experiencing grace, but collectively we can help each other see the goodness of God toward us just as clearly as possible.
If you haven’t been keeping up with the blog, you might want to read the last couple of postings so that you can get the most out of this. What we’re doing is looking at twelve diagnostic statements which are flawed views of grace – and using each as a springboard toward a fuller view of the best news the world has ever heard. Today we’ll take up three more.
The reason Jesus came to earth was to show us how to live. Friends, it is a profound insult to the Son of God, to God the Son in fact, to consider Jesus as nothing but a moral example. Many around us say that Christ was “a great man” or “a prophet” or “a teacher of profound truth,” but you and I must be convinced that none of those is a sufficient view of Christ. I would go as far as saying that such thoughts are actually rooted in intense pride, because the assumption behind those statements is: “All I need is a moral example.” Truth is: WE NEED A SAVIOR! I’ll repeat the words of C.S. Lewis: “You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
If everybody lived by my rules, the world would be a better place. Here’s the problem with that one. Rules made by people may be made with the best of intentions, but only God’s rules are made from the perspective of absolute truth. No matter what rule I make, it is flawed on some level. And the “problem” with the world is not that the world has violated my standards, but that “we all like sheep have gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6) and trampled over God’s rules. The problem is even deeper. I’ll try to illustrate. When we sit down to play a new game, we ask: “What are the rules?” And rightly so. If we don’t know the rules, we can’t play. But to think of Christianity as primarily “learning the rules” is to miss the whole point. Christianity is a life-giving relationship with Jesus Christ, who followed the rules for us and earned our righteousness. The gospel is God’s declaration that the rules have been met IN CHRIST. See the difference? My faithfulness now is the fruit of my love for Christ – not an attempt to earn His approval. I don’t have to attempt what He has already done! Furthermore, a spirit of rule-keeping in the church actually promotes the sin of duplicity, because we have to hide who we really are in order to keep up the appearance of “holiness.” Rule-keeping evokes only a bare minimum standard of behavior, instead of a passion for God which includes everything I am. Rule-keeping pits us against each other, because our pride pushes us toward competition (we start refereeing each other). And, when full-blown, a spirit of rule-keeping produces a smug attitude of entitlement among those who are deceived enough to believe that they’re actually keeping the rules.
If and when I sin, I hope that God will forgive me. First of all, I hope that “if I sin” is an obvious error at face value. But, more than that, what do we know to be true? The death of Jesus in our place, as our substitute, canceled ALL our sins. Past, present, and future. Done! Will any of them ever be counted against us? No. No way. They are fully covered by the blood of Christ. Period. Is it right for us to pray for forgiveness? Yes. But not from the perspective of anything less than the truth: that forgiveness has already been granted. “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Do we confess? That same verse says we do. But this is a far cry from “hoping” that God will look favorably toward us. That He has already proven on the cross. Oh, how marvelous is the matchless grace of Christ!
Thanks for hanging in there with me. The road, though rocky at times, is indeed beautiful.
Yours by grace,