Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Today was a red letter day for me: I realized that the systematic theology that I thought was the key to scripture is gone. The joy and freedom that I feel is indescribable. To be stripped of idols is a heart wrenching process that results in the greatest joy of Jesus alone!
To know the Holy Trinity's overflowing love for me is uncontainable, none one can stop it; it flows to all of humanity. We see it in Jesus when on the cross he asks for forgiveness for "them". That forgiveness has been purchased; receive it and praise Him.
Cling closely to scripture. It reveals the Lord that purchased you and me, dear Reader.
But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.
~ Psalm 5
Friday, September 11, 2009
The term "grace" is used often by Christians. When asked to define grace, the hemming and hawing often begins. Let's look at the different definitions that are given to the biblical idea of grace.
A Roman Catholic will say grace is infused through the sacraments ex opere operato, which means "from the work done." The work that was done was Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. Roman Catholics believe the efficacy of God's grace is to be found in the sacraments. The sacraments are infused with God's grace, so upon receiving of the sacraments one has received God's Grace. Grace becomes an enabling force to live a more holy life.
A Wesleyan, or Arminian, believes grace is an innate object, a mysterious operating mechanism that provides power to choose salvation. This power is given without the preached Gospel, and without the sacraments. This infused grace is given by God to all people. Grace allows one to overcome sin.
A Calvinist believes grace is received upon the preached Word, without the Sacraments. This definition allows one to choose God. It is the I in the acronym TULIP. This is a secret working of the Holy Spirit. Grace gives power to have victory over sin.
All three of these views make man the one who chooses faith. All three of these see sin as a problem to be overcome by infusion of grace. In other words, to overcome sin, we need God's grace. Then faith becomes predominantly about our own moral improvement; and forgiveness of sin is tangential. Inward gazing becomes the focus of faith, and the rule by which to judge one another.
Grace is God's attitude toward us: God loving us while we were his enemy; dying for us on the cross.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
As I was watching the film, The Gospel of John, I began to consider the lives of the apostles and how sanctification worked with them. I do not see in the gospel accounts where they were striving toward perfection; rather I see them striving toward faith or belief. They do not talk about becoming more holy, rather they are focused on Jesus. We can rest in the sanctification God will accomplish in us; and need not fret over our successes and failures.
Often from my own mind and mouth come thoughts and words of unfaith, or unbelief. Also from the mouths of believers around me. Dear Reader, beware of words of others that preach unbelief.
Examples of unbelief:
Gifts of the Spirit have ceased for today. Read 1 Corinthian 12; ponder your own salvation (which is a gift of the Spirit).
God does not love His creation. Read John 3:16-21 and remind yourself who God loves.
Christ's atonement for sin is only for some people; not all. Read John 1:28-30.
That we do, at times, speak unfaith to one another. Read Matthew 16:23.
We have many baptisms. Read Ephesians 4:4-6.
If you can think of other examples of unbelief within the Church, please list them in comments. I am sure there are many other examples that you have encountered in your own life.
Dear Reader, you must wrestle with what Scripture says and your own unbelief. We do have help, cry out for that help.