“When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus.” – Acts 4:13 (CSB)
Spending time with a man who was dead and then resurrected has a way of changing you. It gives you confidence in a way that transcends your training or qualifications. We may not have walked face-to-face with Jesus but we have the same opportunity to spend time with the living Savior. We have been united with him in his death, burial, and resurrection. The question is, would the people around us know that we have been with Jesus?
“For consider him who endured such hostility from sinners against himself, so that you won’t grow weary and give up. In struggling against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” – Hebrews 12:3-4 (CSB)
It’s tempting to think that Jesus’ struggle against sin was somehow different than ours. That misses the fact that he was fully God and fully man. He was equally and 100 percent both at the same time without any confusion or superseding of one nature over the other. From the time of the incarnation, Jesus became the ultimate picture of what it means to be fully and truly human. So when we think we can’t resist sin’s pull any longer, we are just getting started. We have not shed blood unwillingly yet alone willingly. Our struggle has not come close to his – a struggle that he won because of the Spirit’s power at work within him. That same power is in us who believe. The Spirit guides us, enables us, and empowers us. How can we not keep fighting?
But Pharaoh responded, “Who is the Lord that I should obey him by letting Israel go? I don’t know the Lord, and besides, I will not let Israel go.” – Exodus 5:2 (CSB)
Pharaoh’s inquiry is not sincere. He is not genuinely asking, “who is this Yahweh and why should I listen to him?” He could care less. He considers himself to be God. He will do whatever he pleases. It’s a frightening attitude to have toward the all-powerful God of the universe. Yet Pharoah is not alone. We too take this approach.
Every time we ignore God’s commands, every time we take matters into our own hands, every time we think we know better, we effectively say, “Who is the Lord?” We act as if we are God and that we are the ones who know best. Thankfully God deals differently with us than he did with Pharaoh. He gives inexhaustible grace because of what Jesus did on our behalf.
“Many have undertaken to compile a narrative about the events that have been fulfilled among us…” Luke 1:1 (CSB)
No one, even a hardened atheist, denies that Jesus of Nazareth was a real person who lived 2,000 years ago. His influence on the course of history is undeniable. The question is not “was Jesus important?” but rather “in what way was Jesus important?” Was he crazy? Was he just a man? Or was he something more?
Luke was a doctor. He was no intellectual slouch. And after doing a thorough investigation, he concluded that what happened in the life of Jesus was not just a series of remarkable events. It was the fulfillment of events prophetically foretold long ago. Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ, the Messiah, the anointed one whom God had sent to rescue his people. His coming was no coincidence. It was part of God’s eternal plan.
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.