What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? – Romans 6:1-2 (ESV)
Where grace exists, there is always a chance that it will be taken advantage of or misunderstood. But if our response to grace is to abuse it, then maybe we haven’t truly understood or embraced it. And where grace has not been understood or embraced, the solution is to proclaim grace all the more. That’s counter-intuitive. Limits and caveats seem like the way to curb the misuse of grace. What we really need is to encounter grace in all of its fullness. We need to see the deep cost at which God extends his grace to us. Only then do we realize that the old self is gone, the new self has come, and with it our identity has been fundamentally transformed. How could we continue to live as we did before our encounter with this kind of radical grace?
How happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk according to the Lord’s instruction! Happy are those who keep his decrees and seek him with all their heart. – Psalm 119:1-2 (CSB)
What brings happiness? Acquiring more stuff? Getting the promotion? Having lots of friends? Having kids that obey? Those bring a type of happiness. But none of them lead to true and lasting happiness. Any one of these could be gone in an instant taking with it our happiness. David understood that real happiness – the kind that is with us regardless of our circumstances – is found elsewhere. It’s found when we surrender ourselves to God and walk in obediene to his commands. When we do that, we discover that holiness is the path to happiness.
If anyone thinks he knows anything, he does not yet know it as he ought to know it. – 1 Corinthians 8:2 (CSB)
Contextually, Paul is warning the Corinthians to not be flippant in their attitude toward idolatry and the impact it might have on fellow believers. Their presumptive attitude was not reflective of a love for God or others. His point goes beyond this example though.
Pride leads us all to believe we know more than we actually know. It’s why we pontificate on subjects we know little about even when we lack the basic facts. It’s why everyone else’s problems seem easily solved. But if we lack the humility to admit what we don’t know, if we are unwilling to learn and grow, if we assume we have the whole story without bothering to ask, everyone suffers. It impacts our parenting, our marriage, and our relationships. None of us have arrived. We have much to learn in every arena of life. Especially when it comes to God and the immeaurable depths of his grace and mercy toward sinners like us.
In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) – Acts 1:15 (ESV)
It started with a Jewish carpenter from a dusty town called Nazareth. His life, death, and resurrection proved that he was exactly who he claimed to be – God in the flesh. From 120 to over 2 billion professing believers today. It’s not logical. It’s not because of marketing. It’s not because the becoming a Christian made life easy. It’s because Jesus said, “I will build my church.” Through the Spirit, the early church withstood every opposition brought against it. The church multiplied and spread throughout the world. And now, almost 2,000 years later, here we are.
Tranquility. Peace. Perfection. Lies. Blame. Chaos. Jealousy. Murder. Wickedness. Destruction. Drunkenness. Arrogance. More lies. Homosexuality. Supernatural destruction. Incest. More lies. Sibling rivalry. Deception. More deception. Rape. More sibling rivalry. False accusations. Unjust punishment. Famine. Migration.
It’s a plot line so twisted not even Hollywood could touch it. But it’s not the product of a director or screen writer. It’s the story that unfolds in the first book of the Bible. Yet even in the midst of this depravity, hope shines through. Redemption is needed. Redemption will be offered. God will intervene. And through his gracious election of one man, salvation will be available for all who believe.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 5:16 (ESV)
We tend to get it wrong when it comes to good deeds. We assume that our upright actions garner favor and blessing from God. We barter with God, “I’m doing this for you so I expect something in return.” We may not explicitly say that but it’s there under the surface. Then we take our good deeds and use them as an opportunity to get glory from others. We post our acts for the world to see in the hopes of getting a few digital pats on the back. Again, we may not consciously think about that but it’s there. But our approach is backwards.
Our good deeds are for the glory of God and the benefit of others. They are a tangible way in which we love our neighbor. Even when no one is watching or knows what we have done, they are how we shine light. And when we approach our good deeds from this perspective, all the glory goes straight to the only one who deserves it.
Why does the trinity matter? What does it have to do with anything? Every Christian has asked questions like that at some point. And while “everything” would be an appropriate answer, here is a more specific one.
For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:3-4 (ESV)
Father, Son, and Spirit each play a distinct yet inseparable role in our salvation. The Father sent the Son to be a perfect sacrifice for our sins and raised him from the dead to give us he hope of eternal life. The Son, together with the Father, sent the Spirit to seal our salvation and to enable us to walk in newness of life. Only a God who eternally exists as three in one can save in this way.