undeserved

What is grace?

Grace is not unconditional acceptance, but it is undeserved. That is a very difficult balance to strike! God’s grace comes to us without prerequisites, finding us as we are. God;s grace does not come to the “deserving” (there is no such person), and it does not discriminate. Rather, initially it comes to us freely. But once it enters into our lives, God’s grace demands changes; it holds us accountable. Why? Grace demands our holiness and growth for our sake as well as for God’s glory. Grace intercepts destructive behavior, protects us from the ravages of sin, sanctifies us so we can be “holy and happy,” two inseparable qualities.

In summary, grace is undeserved caring that intercepts destructive behavior. It is not unconditional acceptance, nor is it a legalism that says, “Shape up or I will stop loving you.” Rather, it says, “Your sin cannot separate you from me,” and then, in addition, says, “I won’t let your sin destroy you.” Grace comes to the unlovely person, but refuses to let him remain ugly.

Timothy Keller, Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road. P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, NJ. 1997. 226-227.

thumb lick thursday [3.10.11]

What is Spiritual Warfare?

Spiritual warfare is not about naming territorial spirits, claiming the ground or binding demons. It is all about the gospel. It is to live a gospel life, to preserve gospel unity and to proclaim gospel truth. It is to do this in the face of a hostile world, a deceptive enemy and our own sinful natures. And it is to pray to a sovereign God for gospel opportunities. Advance comes through godliness, unity, proclamation and prayer. – Timothy Chester, The Message of Prayer. IVP, Downers Grove, IL. 2003. 231.

Westminster Confession Revisited

Have you ever read the Westminster Shorter Catechism? Really read it, closely? Matt Kirkland just started, and man – it’s beautiful. This project is both a study aid, as well as a small way for an creative artist to interact with the text.

The Prodigal God

In Timothy Keller’s sermon on the Prodigal God, he share from Luke 15 how both the rebellious younger brother and religious older brother are both lost, and the father’s character is exceptional abnormal,

“The hearts of the two brothers were the same. Both sons resented their father’s authority and sought ways of getting out from under it. They each wanted to get into a position in which they could tell the father what to do. Each one, in other words, rebelled–but one did so by being very bad and the other by being extremely good. Both were alienated from the father’s heart; both were lost sons. Do you realize, then, what Jesus is teaching? Neither sons loved the father for himself.” – Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God. Dutton, New York, NY. 2008. 36

Religion operates on the principle of “I obey–therefore I am accepted by God.” The basic operating principle of the gospel is “I am accepted by God through the work of Jesus Christ–therefore I obey.” [114]

Volkswagen Commercial: The Force
The spot features a pint-sized Darth Vader who uses the Force when he discovers the all-new 2012 Passat in the driveway. It leverages humor and the unforgettable Star Wars™ score to create an emotional commercial.

marks of the messenger

This week I read through the book Marks of the Messenger by J. Mack Stiles. It is a concise book that’s not easy to put down. I highly recommend this book to any teacher, youth leader, missionary, church leader, or follower of Christ desiring to live a gospel-centered life. I am seriously considering the possibility of having our children’s ministry leadership read the book this coming year as we share the gospel with our community and core families.

A messenger is marked by his character–the character of Christ. Jesus asks His followers to be so concerned about what I am doing, but more about who I am becoming. people of faith [18]. Jesus is not. The greatest obstacle to healthy evangelism is pragmatism: “doing evangelism” before we ever think who we are meant to be as evangelists [19].

Living a gospel-centered life is God’s expectation for His followers. “The gospel,” in modern language, means, “Breaking News!” And the news is good news, because there was bad news before [27]. As Timothy Keller often says, “The gospel is not the ABC’s of the Christian faith, it is the A-Z’s.” The cross of Christ and the gospel message that streams from the cross is the river that rage my entire life. People need to see their sin in all its horror, not so they are motivated to “clean up their act,” but so they fall at the feet of Jesus knowing that He is their only hope [31].

Have you heard people say that Christianity is a crutch? They’re far too optimistic. We don’t need a crutch; we need spiritual defibrillators [27].

One of the greatest dangers is to assume those passing in the church hall, sitting in the pew next to you, or your small group companion understands the gospel. We must ask the hard questions, probe deeper, and see if the gospel is really taking root in peoples lives. Stiles, in his book, mentions Kevin Roose, a Brown University student going undercover at Liberty University all the while other students assuming he is a follower never asking him about his faith. A follower to many Christian is–one who goes to church, prays and says they believe in God–nothing more than moralism and cultural adaption. The gospel goes deeper than that. It changes the core of a man. At least that is what God intends for the gospel to do.

The challenge for healthy evangelism is to stop trying to clean people up through rules rather than bring them to the cross [44].

The imperative of the church and its followers is to display the glory of Christ as it shares the gospel. The church does not exist to make me happy; it demonstrates the truth of Christ to a watching world [103]. The church is the gospel made visible [Mark Dever, The Church, 767].

What is the gospel? Check out these posts about the gospel:

gospel gumbo

lies we believe about following Christ

5 terrifying truths about Christianity

plan G

what’s IT?