October 20, 2017

Don’t Give Up On Grace

Lots of times, there’s something I want to write about, but it’s just too close to the real world where I live and work, so I have to find a way to not put something out here that’s going to get me in more trouble than I’ve already been in over this blog.

But seriously, I need to say this: You have to trust the Gospel to do what it says it promises to do.

I Thessalonians 1:2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, 3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. 6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. 9 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

You have to preach the gospel and trust it to the work it should do.

Two mistakes to avoid:

1) Making your own agenda the “to do” list for the Holy Spirit. That’s a big leap: I want it to happen to God wants it to happen.

2) Turning to other motivations- like guilt, condemnation, guilt, manipulation and guilt- to get the work done.

Really. This is so important and so true.

If the Holy Spirit isn’t going to produce it by constant, earnest presentation of the Gospel to the people of God, then does it need to happen?

And if the Holy Spirit isn’t the primary motivator, how can other motivations- like guilt and condemnation- actually do anything worthwhile?

I love Paul’s advice in Ephesians 6. Take up the whole armor of God…and having done all, just stand there.

That’s so good. Put on God’s resources, God’s vision, God’s heart. Do all that the Gospel commands and demands.

Then do nothing. Stand.

We take this and do something like this:

We use some of God’s resources, and things don’t go the way we want. So we start doing things our way, and finding what does work. Or we just get frustrated and start beating ourselves and other people up with guilt and condemnation for what’s not happening. They we are upset at people, ourselves and God because nothing’s working.

Scripture has a better way. Stay with the Gospel. Speak the truth in love. Design a path of radical loyalty to Christ, specific repentance and clear obedience. Does those things and do them God’s way.

Then stand.

I believe that part of the method of Paul in I Thessalonians was to do his ministry God’s way and to then look for the resulting work of the Holy Spirit and to ENCOURAGE GOD’S PEOPLE with what he saw the Spirit doing.

Even when Paul is strongly correcting the church, he does so from the standpoint of the grace of God in the Gospel, never by resorting to guilt.

That’s very different from setting the agenda, living in frustration that things aren’t working, then resorting to beating up yourself and other Christians in hopes something will change.

Life is too short, folks. Grace is the good stuff. Stay with it. Don’t quit and take the road back to legalism as so many do. Preach yourself happy in God, then encourage, persuade and exhort God’s people in the grace of Jesus.

Comments

  1. Great advice at the beginning of another week. Problems arise when it’s our way rather than God’s way. The Gospel does impact people, but not always in the ways that we handle it. Bowling people over with Bible verses that mean nothing to them and expecting them to pray the so-called “sinner’s prayer” within 3-5 minutes just doesn’t cut it any longer. Trusting the leadership of the Holy Spirit is always a good idea, to state the obvious. As you say, “Grace is the good stuff.”

  2. See, this is why I love reading posts over here. Christ is at the center. Amen!

    I posted a related topic today:

    http://spadinofamily.wordpress.com/2008/08/25/the-lust-for-divinty-and-the-movie-beowulf/

  3. Could you do the egg, bacon, guilt and sausage without the guilt then?

    Guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt. Lovely guilt! Wonderful guilt!

    (Guilt-a-Lot! It was a hit on Broadway. Now experience it at a church near you!)

    Ironically, our relativistic society is more guilt-driven than ever. No is ever rich enough or pretty enough or fashionable enough or popular enough to satisfy Madison Avenue or Hollywood. I think people would respond to the message of grace if they could hear it, but evangelicalism has become just another bi-product of that same culture. There’s no rest for the weak and heavy-laden.