Saturday, August 17, 2013

Set Out the Word That Frees

“If you begin with the assumption of freedom, the preoccupation is always how to keep freedom in check, how to bind; But if you begin with the assumption of bondage, the preoccupation is always how to set out the word that frees.”

Gerhard Forde.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Target Of Sideways Glances

And he said to her,
Your sins are forgiven.
Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves,
Who is this, who even forgives sins?
And he said to the woman,
Your faith has saved you; go in peace. 
Luke 7:48-50

This "woman of the city, who was a sinner" had nothing to bring that would justify herself to the Pharisees or to Jesus. In our day, she would be the outcast. You know, the one who is the target of sideways glances and curious double-takes.

and Jesus says...

repent, then, and turn to God,
so that your sins may be wiped out, 
that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. 
Acts 3:19

She did not come with a resume, with a strong reputation or with good grades. She was not a leader in her church or a Sunday school teacher.

and Jesus says...

Come now, let us reason together,
though your sins are like scarlet, 
they shall be as white as snow; 
though they are red as crimson, 
they shall be like wool. 
Isaiah 1:18

She was not known in her community for her philanthropic nature nor could she be commended for her outstanding contribution to her local public school.

and Jesus says...

This is my blood of the covenant,
which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Matthew 26:28

She had one thing to bring, one ticket that could gain her admission to a front row seat with Jesus.


Scandalous sin.

and Jesus says...

I am merciful and forgiving,
even though you have rebelled against me. 
In me you have redemption through my blood, 
the forgiveness of sins, 
in accordance with the riches of my grace.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

For The Doubting and Ashamed, the Weary and Unbelieving

Jesus is the only friend you will ever have who can stand the full revelation of what you are. 

You need not ever hide from Him, nor wear a mask. 

He fully knows you, and you may walk with Him unashamed, though naked, in the full assurance that no revelation of yourself will ever dissipate His love and acceptance. 

If you are like Mephibosheth of old, and your feet are lame, you may uncover them in His presence and will only draw from His great heart the deepest kind of compassion and understanding. 

If you are at times as the bruised reed, He will never seek to break you. If the feeble flame of love and devotion becomes but a smoking lamp, He will never quench you. He will never ridicule, taunt, revile or humiliate you. 

He can only love you and assure you that it is you He loves, not your performance or dutiful works. 

Though for a season you may have been in the far country wasting your substance in riotous living, He will patiently wait until you have spent all, are in deep want, come to yourself and flee to His arms. He will show you nothing but His compassion, fall upon your neck and kiss your fears away. He will clothe you once more with Himself and rejoice in the reality of your renewed fellowship.

Like the Emmaus disciples, you may be going the wrong direction in life at this very moment, gloomy and sad, heart filled with unbelief and the future as black as midnight. 

He will overtake you as you walk, and patiently draw from your confused heart the details of your pent up feelings. 

He will abide with you when your day is far spent, break bread with your hungry heart, reveal Himself to you afresh and set your heart aflame with His undying love. Truly here is a Friend Who can tell you all things that ever you did, and Who knew you before you ever knew Him. 

Here is a friendship where communication will never break down; even when you get sullen and withdrawn, He will search you out and force you once more to the dialogue of love. He will pursue you, talk to you, make you listen and encourage you to pour out the contents of your heart in the assurance that He will fully understand. You need never explain to Jesus. The details are fully known to Him before you try. 

He will let you talk freely to Him if you wish; and when you do, your thoughts and feelings will take on a strange new perspective when you realize you are voicing them in the presence of One Who fully loves you.

excerpt taken from Jesus Loves Me by H.L. Roush, Sr. (emphases added)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Sanctification - God Does His Part, We Do Ours (?)

Gerhard Forde on Sanctification: (excerpt taken from Christian Spirituality: Five Views Of Sanctification)

Talk about sanctification is dangerous. It is too seductive for the old being. What seems to have happened in the tradition is that sanctification has been sharply distinguished from justification, and thus separated out as the part of the “salvationing” we are to do. God alone does the justifying simply by declaring the ungodly to be so, for Jesus’ sake. Most everyone is willing to concede that, at least in some fashion. But, of course, then comes the question: what happens next? Must not the justified live properly? Must not justification be safeguarded so it will not be abused? So sanctification enters the picture supposedly to rescue the good ship Salvation from shipwreck on the rocks of Grace Alone. Sanctification, it seems, is our part of the bargain. But, of course, once it is looked on that way, we must be careful not to undo God’s justifying act in Christ. So sanctification must be absolutely separated from justification. God, it seems, does his part, and then we do ours. (pp. 15)

The result of this kind of thinking is generally disastrous. We are driven to make an entirely false distinction between justification and sanctification in order to save the investment the old being has in the moral system. Justification is a kind of obligatory religious preliminary which is rendered largely ineffective while we talk about getting on with the truly “serious” business of becoming “sanctified” according to some moral scheme or other. We become the actors in sanctification. This is entirely false. According to Scripture, God is always the acting subject, even in sanctification. (pp. 15)

But if we are saved and sanctified only by the unconditional grace of God, we ought to be able to become more truthful and lucid about the way things really are with us. Am I making progress? If I am really honest, it seems to me that the question is odd, even a little ridiculous. As I get older and death draws nearer, it doesn't seem to get any easier. I get a little more impatient, a little more anxious about having perhaps missed what this life has to offer, a little slower, harder to move, a little more sedentary and set in my ways. It seems more and more unjust to me that now that I have spent a good part of my life 'getting to the top,' and I seem just about to have made it, I am already slowing down, already on the way out. (pp. 31-32)

A skiing injury from when I was sixteen years old acts up if I overexert myself. I am too heavy, the doctors tell me, but it is so hard to lose weight! Am I making progress? Well, maybe it seems as though I sin less, but that may only be because I'm getting tired! It's just too hard to keep indulging the lusts of youth. Is that sanctification? I wouldn't think so! One should not, I expect, mistake encroaching senility for sanctification! "But can it be, perhaps, that it is precisely the unconditional gift of grace that helps me to see and admit all that? I hope so. The grace of God should lead us to see the truth about ourselves, and to gain a certain lucidity, a certain humor, a certain down-to-earthness. (pp. 31-32)