Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…
Jun 2011

Review for June 5

This morning I finished teaching on the Doctrine of Salvation. In the last several weeks I have focused on faith but today was about GRACE. The grace we see in the gospel is counter-intuitive and as one writer says it is the kind of grace that messes up your hair. God's grace offends our deepest sensibilities. We are seasoned do it yourselfers. We are desperate to do something, as Americans we live by the phrase “if if’s to be then it is up to me.” Grace scares us to death because it absolutely has nothing to do with us and our efforts. We love self glory.

Grace wrestles control out of our hands. We love formula's and strategies because again they give us a sense of control. All one has to do is look at the best selling Christian books such as: The prayer of Jabez, The purpose driven life and Your Best Life Now, 7 Steps to fulfill your potential. These books talk about strategies of “HOW” we can do it. But grace talks about “HOW” God does it!

The culture we live in is very conditional. I do certain things for you and in return I expect certain things from you. We here about the unconditional grace of God but we live very conditionally in our personal lives. So if you succeed, accomplish, become involved to the point of achievement then you will be applauded and thought well of by those around you. But God’s grace is not based on any condition in us and therefore we refer to it as unconditional. Do you see why this doesn’t make sense to us? If I have been taught that who I am is based on what I do, then I will become very performance based in my living. And part of the problem we deal with in the church today is having people more focused on what they need to do rather than learning to rest in what has been done. Can you hear people in the church saying what are you talking about? If these people just rest in the finished work of Christ then they will become theological egg heads that just sit around and do nothing. It may help to remember one of the great quotes form Martin Luther who said that we are justified by faith alone but that faith is never alone. In other words when people understand, embrace and learn what has been done by Christ via His death and resurrection that becomes the foundation that motivates them to love and good deeds. As grace falls and joy rises the natural behavior for the Christian is to be active and involved in the body of Christ. Continue reading…

Defining the Gospel

“At its core, the gospel is Jesus as the substitute for sinners. We could summarize the whole by saying that in his life Jesus lives in perfect submission to the will of God and he fulfills his righteous standard (the law). In his death on the cross he quenches God’s wrath against sin, satisfying the sovereign demand for justice. In his resurrection he is victorious over sin and death. All of this is done on behalf of sinners in need of redemption and offered to all who believe. This is therefore very ‘good news.’

Jesus’ life is good news, for his obedience to the Father and fulfillment of the law is for us. While we as sinners fail to keep the law, Jesus was perfectly faithful. Jesus’ death is good news because his death was a payment for our sin, and by it we are cleansed from our guilt and released from condemnation. Jesus’ resurrection is good news because his victory over death is ours and through it we look forward to a resurrection of our own.”

- Joe Thorn, Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself