If Not Completely in this Life, Then Surely in the Life to Come

As he faces up to the reality of his besetting sins, Paul does not conclude, “I’ll just have to read my Bible more and try hard,” even though as a Pharisee he had earlier exhibited far more willpower than any of us possess.  Instead he casts himself on the mercy of God and looks to his rescuer to deliver  him from his own sinful flesh – if not completely in this life, then surely in the life to come.

Duguid, Barbara; Extravagant Grace: God’s Glory Displayed in our Weakness; P&R Publishing; Philipsburg, NJ; copyright 2013; Page 97

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When You Are at the End of Your Rope…

When you are at the end of your rope, when you no longer have hope within yourself, that is when you run to God for mercy. It is admittedly difficult to accept the claim that God is  somehow hidden amid all of the wreckage of our lives.  But those who are willing to struggle and despair may in actuality be the best at understanding the realities of the Christian life.

– Tchividjian, Tullian; Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free; David C Cook Publishers, Copyright 2013, Kindle Edition, page 29

The Gospel Is Not About Us or Even Our Changed Lives

The gospel changes lives precisely because it is not about us – even our changed lives – but about Christ.  The life of every Christian is filled with enough inconsistencies to disprove the Christian faith every day if it were based on our changed lives.  The history of the church is littered not only with heresies and schisms but with crusades, inquisitions and the justification of atrocities in the name of Christ.  Yet in all of this we can point away from ourselves, individually and collectively, to the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).  In fact, it is only by repenting of our spiritual pride and casting ourselves ever anew on God’s mercy in his Son that we can become servants rather than masters of our neighbors.

Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 126-127

There is No Virtue in Faith Itself that Justifies

Faith is therefore not a generic optimism: a positive outlook on life.  It is not even a general trust in God and his promises to care for us.  Saving faith is not merely “believing God for the big things.”  Saving faith is very specific: clinging to God’s saving mercy in Jesus Christ as he is given to us in the gospel.  Faith produces the fruit of love and good works, but in the act of justification it simply hears and receives.  There is no virtue in faith itself that justifies.  Even the weakest faith clings to a strong Savior.

Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 122

Is the Sinner’s Prayer the Gospel?

When people are given the impression that they are saved by praying, we can easily forget that it is the Spirit who gives us the faith to desire , much less to pray for, God’s mercy.  The focus shifts from the gospel itself, through which the Spirit gives us faith, to the act of faith itself.

The most important criticism of this definition of the gospel is that it is not found in Scripture.  No one is called in the New Testament to pray “the sinner’s prayer,” by asking Jesus to come into his or her heart.  God’s judgment is announced all people; the gospel is proclaimed as Christ’s fulfillment of the Scriptures and many, convicted of their sins and the Good News of salvation in Christ, believe, are baptized and are thereby added to the church.

Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 92

Who is Like Unto Thee, O LORD?

That God is great in wisdom, wondrous in power, yet full of mercy, is assumed by many to be almost common knowledge; but to entertain anything approaching an adequate conception of His being, His nature and His attributes, as these are revealed in Holy Scripture, is something in which very few people  in these degenerate times have attained unto.  God is solitary in His excellency.  “Who is like unto Thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like Thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11)

– Pink, Arthur W.; The Attributes of God; Kindle Edition; page 6

If We Truly Desire to Live by Grace…

We also need to keep in mind that the imperative in Romans 12:2 to be transformed immediately follows the imperative of verse 1, to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to Him.  The second exhortation, like the first, is based on the mercy of God.  The discipline of developing Bible based convictions, then, should be a response to the mercy and grace of God to us through Christ.  If we truly desire to live by grace, then we will want to respond to that grace by seeking to live lives that are pleasing to God.  And we simply cannot do that if we do not practice the disciplines necessary to develop Bible-based convictions.

– Bridges, Jerry; The Disciplined of Grace:God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness; NavPress; Colorado Springs; copyright 1994; p. 180