Saturday, July 28, 2012

Savoring the Gospel—(from the Resurgence)

(original link here)
“Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully.” 1 Timothy 1:8

It seems that every few years there is a fight over keeping the Ten Commandments in the public square (a courthouse, a public school, etc.). I’m not interested in getting into the merits of the arguement for either position here, but I do find it sadly ironic that many Christians are ready to fight for the Ten Commandments to be lifted up in the public square, but are much less motivated to see the gospel take center stage. It is as if some think that the law of God is a cure-all. That if we can just gather ourselves around the law things will change: our cities, our citizens, our culture. And, this is not only a social/political issue. Many of us are also tempted to think this way as it relates to our own growth in the grace of godliness. It is as if we think that the law of God is our cure-all. That if we can just gather ourselves around the law we will change: our thoughts, our hearts, our lives.

But law does not save you. The law cannot save you. This does not mean the law is bad. The law is holy, just, and good. It is still the gift of God, but the law cannot save you. It is a gift that shows us his way, our rebellion, and our great need for the gospel. The law deals a crushing blow to our sense of self-righteousness, but also prepares us for the good news of God’s forgiving and restoring grace. In the law we see God’s standard of righteousness, but in the gospel we see Jesus fulfilling all righteousness for us. Here are the two gifts: one that exposes our guilt, and another than unleashes God’s grace; one that crushes, and another that revives and renews. The law is good when used rightly–not to justify–but to show our need for justification that must come from outside of ourselves.

No, the law does not save, but it does help us to savor the gospel.

Originally posted on Joe Thorn's site

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Working Hard, Resting Well

A prayer by Scotty Smith that I was encouraged by and prayed earnestly:

"Heavenly Father, what a most glorious paradox and beautiful irony this portion of your Word presents. You’re calling us to work diligently, to invest great effort, to strive with all our might to rest from our works that we might enter the rest of your work. Work hard to rest well. Work hard to cease working.

Once again I’m confronted with how the gospel contradicts the fundamental way I’ve been trained to approach every sphere of life—athletics, education, finances, career, reputation. “Do it the good ole’ fashioned way—earn it.” “God helps those who help themselves.” “You’ll always get what’s coming to you.” “You can do anything you set your mind to do.” These mantras have been my motivation for much of life; but they also been my madness, because performance-based living never really brings rest, just more restlessness.

Father, because the gospel is true, fortunately, I didn’t get what’s coming to me. You gave that to Jesus at the cross. You put my sin on him. You punished him with the punishment I deserve. And in exchange, you’ve given me what I never could’ve earned: complete forgiveness, the righteousness of Jesus, and your permanent favor resting on me.