Yesterday, I was reading Walt Henrichsen and his thoughts on the concept of “unconditional love” – it’s not a biblical doctrine. As a believer in and follower of Christ, I’d love to see millions come to repentance and embrace Christ as their god without rival. But, I cannot err on the side of preaching the gospel as unconditional love. It’s not that easy – God’s love for us is conditional: it is under the condition of grace.
This week, Pastor Marvin Jinks walked a class of about 75 of us through part of Chad Craig’s “Divine Design for Discipleship” as part of a continuing education course Cristine and I are enrolled in. One of the simplest truths we see people stumble over in the Christian walk is the line between faith and works. “Good works are fruit. But, they are rooted in the righteousness of Christ.” Sometimes, it’s hard for us to wrap our heads around the fact that we don’t have to do good things to be “in” with God. As a result of the one condition – salvation by grace through faith in Christ – we’re already “in” with God.
The term “in Christ” shows up in one translation ninety times. If you’re in Christ – you’re IN.
My friend, Ron painted the picture – If you had me over to your house for dinner, the meal was served, and we all ate, how insulting would it be for me to ask you, my host, “How much do I owe you?” You don’t owe me – it’s a gift. And, yet, so many of us get all tied up in trying to do good works to pay back God after He’s given us a gift. Our works are not for that – they’re for two things – showing God how much we love Him and for storing up rewards (treasure) in heaven. Titus 2:14 paints a picture of us rabid for doing good because of what Christ has done for us, but never for the purpose of paying God back.
Today, Ron sent me this comment from Walt –
“Salvation is by grace; rewards are by works. You, not God, determine your standard of living in heaven. In an act of grace He eliminates the possibility of your determining it on earth so that you can focus on the eternal.”
– Walt Henrichsen
With all the work I’ve been doing on our production of “That Day”, my eyes are growing more and more fixed on the day when we all come before Christ to receive our rewards for what we’ve done here on earth. After the most recent performance, Steve Knoblock stood up and said “How amazing is it that God gives us the resources to do stuff, grants us the grace to empower do the stuff, and yet He’s promised to reward us for stuff He did through us with the stuff He gave us?” If you’ve seen the play, you know that after all of the judgments happen, the saints who received crowns lay them at the feet of Jesus in the ultimate act of worship. It’s not to say “I’m not worthy of this crown.” That would be offensive. Rather, it’s to say – “I love You, Lord, and this is my gift of love back to you!”
When that day finally comes, He will say in return – “Here is your promised reward for what You did out of love for me.” Of course, we beg the question “am I doing good works for selfish reason – i.e., I know I’ll be rewarded for it?” Recall that He will regard every selfish motive as a zero reward – see Galatians 5.19-21.
This week, as we disciple, I’m praying that God helps me first to crucify my flesh – to win the battle against self-comfort, to “put to death the misdeeds of the body”. Then, we pray that God will continue the work in those we disciple: to live lives free from the law of sin and death… lives lived according to the Spirit. (see also, Romans 8.2-4)
I’m staying out of the bloglight this week again by posting something that someone else has already said better than I can. I hope some of the men out there will join us as we think out loud at ONETH1NG this Friday morning. Bring your kids to school late or just keep them home so they can talk all day about what you heard on Friday and think about what’s coming up on Sunday.
Without further ado, I pass the blog to Jesse Whitfield:
The Ultimate Act
Have you ever heard someone describe something as the “ultimate”? I remember years ago there was an often-used catchphrase that got added to everything that was at the peak of it’s popularity. “It’s the ultimate!” I can hear it now reverberating through the commercials. Slowly but surely the word ultimate just didn’t have the same impact when we heard it. Marketing and culture had once again cheapened a word that previously held significance in our day to day language. Kind of sad for a word that means the best, the most extreme, the utmost or the final point.
In our current age I have somewhat of a difficult time thinking of anything we could purchase that we might refer to as ultimate. There’s always a more advanced this, an updated version of that or a faster model of something else, right? What you thought was the ultimate turned out to be the best for just that moment in time. So is there anything that lives up to the “ultimate” description? Fortunately for us there is something that truly ascribes itself to being ultimate. It was the ultimate act that has yet to be surpassed.
This week we find ourselves meeting together on what we refer to as Good Friday. While we may refer to it as good there were many in Jerusalem during that time that saw it as anything but good. Here was their friend, their rabbi, their Messiah…hanging from a cross as His earthly life slowly faded from His body. Not nearly a week ago He had arrived in what was deemed the triumphal entry. I’m sure they thought that finally the day had come where the Messiah had come to rule. Yet here they were, watching in disbelief and wondering what was next. Trust was replaced with fear & happiness replaced with sorrow. How soon they had forgotten His words only days before. Right before their eyes they witnessed the ultimate act. The ultimate sacrifice.
Despite the horrific nature of what Jesus Christ endured the truth is that He voluntarily gave up His life. In John 10:17-18 He says this:
“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
The Bible tells us He gave up (or dismissed) His spirit. In other words He voluntarily yielded it to the Father. He remained sovereign over the affairs of men right up until the very end. It was the ultimate sacrifice. The final sacrifice. It laid the foundation for His resurrection on the third day. This subsequent event would become the lynchpin of the Christian faith.
So, right next to ultimate is another word we have watered down – sacrifice. Could any of us even imagine this level of commitment? How does sacrifice look in your life as a man? At what level is your sacrifice in light of His sacrifice?
I don’t know where you are in your walk with God or even if you
celebrate the Easter holiday. What I do know is that you have probably experienced sacrifice at some level in your life. Do you remember the feeling?
Whatever you did give up it either became a positive or negative memory for you. What was the immediate effect? How did that affect your current outlook today?
Please join us Friday morning [at the Cabernet Restaurant from 6:30AM to 7:30AM] as we explore sacrifice both in what it has meant to us and what it can mean to us in light of this special day. Please invite a friend, a neighbor or a co-worker. I look forward to our time together.
Well spoken, Jesse. – AP
Interesting thought – “all a blind man needs 2 do 2 beat u up is turn out the lights”. Where r u in the dark right now?
Wow. PRAISE GOD 4 an amazing performance by the Holy Spirit (and Rolin Williamson) @ That Day. #THATDAY Twitter.com/Seasons_of_Life
Getting all prayed up backstage for “That Day”. Crowd rolling in. Glory 2 God. #THATDAY