Hebrews begins with telling us that in the past God spoke to us back then many times and in many ways. In the last these days however, as with the now, he has spoken to us in the Son. We hear the voice of Jesus speaking through the written Word of God. I say it this way because of course God speaks through his Spirit guiding and aiding. But the Spirit always brings us back to the man Jesus. Sadly Facebook continually shows me how people view God. God is someone who makes us feels good. He affirms our behavior and approves of our lifestyles, which can be good-when they are actually good, but this more often seems to do this in complete opposition to what he said when he walked the earth with his disciples.
I fear that our ideas of God and Jesus and theology have more to do with our current working set of ideologies rather than what God has himself revealed. The Bible is not a living document that changes and adapts to our shifting world, to our shifting ideas of “good.”
If you want to know what God thinks on a given subject go and read his book where he wrote down what he expects. He does expect us to understand things. Our ideas, our hopes, our desires are always going to shift and change and evolve especially as the culture does the same. Some have adopted their relationship with God as an evolution of ideas rather than a sum of what is actually written.
Engage or not to engage is always my question? Life would be a lot easier to let people just continue in their misunderstandings. People seem to view it as arrogance to claim that the Word of actually has meaning in itself. As a pastor I do not get the luxury of ignoring people when they miss what God is trying to tell them.
People need to read the Word of God to know who God is and what he wants for us. Sadly it is just easier to learn a few concepts and decide for ourselves what we really want to believe.
Pastors are disciple makers and part of making disciples is teaching and establishing correct patterns worth repeating that result in a closer relationship with and faith in God. For this to happen certain things need to be corrected and certain paths need to be trodden while others are best left scarce. This means turning away from wrong thinking about God. Wrong thinking about God leads to wrong ways of relating to God, and wrong-headed Facebook posts, which ends with false testimonies given about God himself.
This starts for us today with grace and love. We loves these concepts of God, so do I, but it seems that for a lot of us we love these concepts because we think they mean what we have decided them to mean. This is that emphasis thing I mentioned last week.
We are fallen, but we are fallen because God tells us so, he further tells us that that is not OK for us to remain that way if we want a relationship with him. He sent his Son so that the way was made for us to have relationship with him, but part of following that way is coming out of the lifestyles of darkness. We do not get to say yeah, we are all fallen, act like we understand our true natures, but then use that as some get out of jail free card. We are told our natures intending that we would depart from them not use it as an excuse.
Honestly I wished that grace and love worked this way. I wished that I could just say yeah I sin and sin all the time, but it is fine I am forgiven, besides we are all fallen. God knows we are screwed, don’t fret there is grace. I wished that was the application, but Biblically speaking, grace is God’s to distribute not for me to presume on. The Biblical pattern is we are broken over our sin and in humility we come seeking forgiveness that he freely grants. The joy comes from being once again forgiving, it is ongoing. 1 John 1 teaches this come and receive forgiveness.
Grace does not take away our need for taking serious our sin, it is his response to it. If we are believing some form of Christianity that causes us to rejoice because we think God is simply looking the other way, then I fear we misunderstand grace.
I know that God describes our sins cast into the sea of forgetfulness and this is true but the response it is supposed to generate in us is humility that recognizes I will have sins tomorrow that will need a drowning. I say this because a feature that seems to always be absent from this way of thinking is actual brokenness over our sins, I see instead presumption. The joy comes about because we know God welcomes us every time we approach, but the point is we keep approaching and not developing an it’s all good mentality.
This is why John the Baptist urged for bearing fruits in keeping with repentance. This is why Peter urges us in 1 Peter 5 to be sober minded because the enemy is on the prowl seeking who he may devour. It is easier to devour people who don’t know the Word of God.
Regular confession is the point, if my relationship is rife with sin then I fear we simply are in love with a God who we think welcomes us in our filthy garments forgetting he wants us to cast off such things. In other words if your definition of grace does not generate a desire towards holiness, as if that somehow undermines your working definition of grace, then something is wrong and the growling lion behind you grows.
Those made righteous by God desire more of it, they do not rejoice that they can continue in their fallen state and God is totes cool with it. Being a disciple means becoming like the master. Sin is still crouching and I fear many Christians have used grace as a means of not casting off the works of darkness. I am not talking about earning heaven through good works, but we must understand that we are saved unto good works, (Eph 2:10) not saved therefore our deeds of darkness may continue.
The only way to do this is to read your Bible. See how Paul viewed his sin. He strongly desired to be delivered from his body of sin and that is why he rejoiced in the God’s grace. (Rom 8) If there is not a tension in your faith and brokenness then perhaps your sin is not a big deal. I think there comes a point when not being broken over our sin means we just might be still letting sin win. I am not talking about law here but obedience. Relationships means owing our stuff.
What does one have to do with the other? God continually offers forgiveness and the offer still stands. It is effectual because of the cross, but what does that have to do with being obedient? Does God not say obey my commands, and yet somehow we take the fact that we are forgiven as a means to disobey?
God’s forgiveness does one thing. It replaces the need to sacrifice to be made right with God. It opens the doors to closeness with God. It means we no longer need to operate in terms of clean and unclean. We are cleansed, but do we now not need to draw near? God says you can be made right with me by my own sacrifice, but how does that mean now live in disobedience? The freedom accompanying salvation is one that does not need to be ashamed because we need not approach God with our sacrifices to make amends. But whenever we approach we should be reminded of how great a sacrifice he made. The cross should not be far from our minds. Not earning it but demonstrate that we are in relationship with the one who paid our trespass.
This is why Jesus teaches that it is by their fruit you will know them.
The purpose of forgiveness is to enter into relationship with God, the means of relationship with God is faithfulness the function of faithfulness is obedience. Jesus says this is the context of bearing good fruit and the beatitudes.
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? (Luke 6:46)
James reminds us to not only be a hearer of the word but a doer of it. It is one thing to hear that you are forgiven and get excited about it and start going to church but it quite another to also do what the new forgiveness empowers us to us do. It empowers us to serve unashamedly.
What does God say at the end of the age? “Depart from me you who practice iniquity for I do not know you?” (Matt 7:23) His sacrifice means you are forgiven, but your fruit displays the knowledge of that relationship. So is there any? Go read your Bible to find out.