Archive for the ‘grace’ Category

If our self-identity is rooted in anything we possess, whether it be our racial or cultural heritage, educational ability, theological scholarship, wealth, social prestige, religious devotion, ‘meritorious works’, political power, moral achievments, or whatever, that identity will always divide us from others who lack that particular possession

October 13, 2009

If our self-identity is rooted in anything we possess, whether it be our racial or cultural heritage, educational ability, theological scholarship, wealth, social prestige, religious devotion, ‘meritorious works’, political power, moral achievments, or whatever, that identity will always divide us from others who lack that particular possession. Language, Culture, Religion, Education, Science…all these, while either neutral or good in themselves, become causes of human division whenever they are sources of human identity. And they become sources of human identity when we reject the identity God confers on us. The attempt to ‘make ourselves’ through what we do, in whatever area of human action, stands in contradiction to divine grace.

Vinoth Ramachandra, The Recovery of Mission pp.266-7

the ground of election is God’s grace, whereas the ground of reprobation is God’s justice

October 7, 2009

…the ground of election is God’s grace, whereas the ground of reprobation is God’s justice.

Wayne Grudem, Sytematic Theology, p.686

I’m not what I ought to be, I’m not what I wish to be, I’m not what I hope to be, but by the grace of God, I’m not what I used to be!

October 4, 2009

I’m not what I ought to be, I’m not what I wish to be, I’m not what I hope to be, but by the grace of God, I’m not what I used to be!

John Newton

And this vileness that at present does so much swallow up our youth…

October 4, 2009

I have often marvelled at our youth, and said in my heart, What should be the reason that they should be so generally debauched as they are at this day? For they are now amazingly profane; and sometimes I have thought one thing and sometimes another; that is, why God should suffer it so to be. At last I have thought this: How if the God whose ways are past finding out should suffer it so to be now that he might make of some of them the more glorious saints hereafter? I know sin is of the devil, but it cannot work in the world without permission… it would not be the first time God has caught Satan in his own design. For my part, I believe that the time is at hand that we shall see better saints… than we have seen in many a day. And this vileness that at present does so much swallow up our youth is one cause of my thinking so; for out of them… when God puts forth his hand, as of old, you shall see what penitent ones, what trembling ones, and what admirers of grace, will be found to profess the gospel, to the glory of God by Christ.

John Bunyan, writing in the 17th century.

I could only adore the sovereign grace of God, which distinguished me from him, though every thing was alike in us. We have been intimate from our infancy ; and have had the same plans and pursuits, and nearly the same condition : but the one is taken and the other is left

September 28, 2009

Just prior to leaving England forever, Henry Martyn urged his acquaintances to turn to Christ. He spoke of one, named M.

M_____ rode with me part of the way, but kept the conversation on general subjects. If I brought him by force to religion, he spoke with the most astonishing apathy on the subject. His cold, deliberate superiority to every thing but argument, convinced me not merely that he was not only fully convinced, as he said, but that he was rooted in infidelity. Nothing remained for me but to pray for him. Though he parted from me probably to see me no more, he said nothing that could betray the existence of any passions in him. O cursed infidelity, that freezes the heart’s blood here, as well as destroys the soul hereafter ! I could only adore the sovereign grace of God, which distinguished me from him, though every thing was alike in us. We have been intimate from our infancy ; and have had the same plans and pursuits, and nearly the same condition : but the one is taken and the other is left. I, through mercy, find my only joy and delight in the knowledge of Christ ; and he in denying the truth of religion altogether.

Henry Martyn, missionary, translator of the Bible into Hindi and New Testament into Persian. His memoir is highly recommended to inspire spiritual devotion

From, John Sargent, The Life and Letters of Henry Martin, Banner of Truth, 1985, p.65-66

Can God forgive the vilest of crimes?

August 25, 2009

(Hamlet, having killed his brother and married his wife…)

O, my offence is rank it smells to heaven;
It hath the primal eldest curse upon’t,
A brother’s murder. Pray can I not,
Though inclination be as sharp as will:
My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent;
And, like a man to double business bound,
I stand in pause where I shall first begin,
And both neglect. What if this cursed hand
Were thicker than itself with brother’s blood,
Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens
To wash it white as snow? Whereto serves mercy
But to confront the visage of offence?
And what’s in prayer but this two-fold force,
To be forestalled ere we come to fall,
Or pardon’d being down? Then I’ll look up;
My fault is past. But, O, what form of prayer
Can serve my turn? ‘Forgive me my foul murder’?
That cannot be; since I am still possess’d
Of those effects for which I did the murder,
My crown, mine own ambition and my queen.
May one be pardon’d and retain the offence?

Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 3

Forgiveness can only come without neglecting justice. Christ suffers that the demands of justice be met for the crime committed and yet mercy be extended to the repentant.

Gracelessness

August 25, 2009

His devout parents — Hemingway’s grandparents had attended evangelical Wheaton College — detested Hemingway’s libertine life, and after a time his mother refused to allow him in her presence. One year for his birthday she mailed him a birthday cake and the shotgun his father had used to kill himself. Another year she wrote to explain that a Mother’s life is like a bank. “Every child that is born to her enters the world with a large and prosperous bank account, seemingly inexhaustible.” The child initially makes withdrawals but no deposits during all the early years. When the child is an adult, he must replenish the account that he has drawn down. She then listed all the ways that he should do this: birthday cards, flowers on mother’s day, and above all not “neglecting your duties to God and your Savior, Jesus Christ.” Not unnaturally, Hemingway hated his mother, and he completely rejected the Christian faith. And later he used his father’s shotgun to take his own life.

Philip Yancey (adapted), What’s So Amazing about Grace?, p.38

Grace: What the Church can offer

August 25, 2009

The world can do almost anything as well or better than the church. There is only one thing the world can not do. It can not offer grace.

Gordon MacDonald, in Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing About Grace?, p.15

…as long as she remains true to her calling to proclaim and live out the gospel of grace instead of one of the many works-based alternatives around.

Grace in Action

August 25, 2009

Dirk Willems was an Anabaptist. This was dangerous in 1569, especially in the little town of Asperen, Holland. Many of his friends there had given their lives for their faith. Dirk himself was imprisoned in a castle for the same reason.

The castle was gated and surrounded by a moat. As winter set in, however, the moat froze over. Dirk tied some rags into a rope, slid out the window, and dropped onto the ice. Quickly he crossed the moat and raced across a meadow.

Not quickly enough. A guard saw him fleeing and went after him.

As they raced across the dutch landscape, Dirk cut across a dangerous section of ice. Though he made it across, his pursuer did not. He crashed through the ice, crying out for help.

Dirk was faced with a difficult choice. Helping his pursuer could result in torture and death. Many of his fellow Anabaptists had ended their lives in just that sort of glorious martyrdom for Christ.

Dirk proved himself a disciple. “For me to live is Christ; and to die is gain.” He rescued his pursuer, pulling him from the frigid waters.

The obvious question is: did the guard let him go?

The story is that the guard was willing, but the Roman Catholic burgermeister (mayor) told the guard to mind his oath, and Dirk was returned to the castle. This time they were more careful, and soon after Dirk was sent to his heavenly reward by the fires of his persecutors.

http://www.christian-history.org/