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Posts Tagged ‘salvation’

People often wonder at Christianity for the claim that Jesus is the only way. However, this is the claim Jesus and his disciples made themselves. “Why should we believe that other religions don’t help us be good enough to get to heaven,” some ask. Because the God revealed in the Bible, the one whom Jesus claimed to be, says he is the only God who really exists (Isaiah 45:21-22). All other gods or views of God are false ones by process of elimination. Following God then would be to discover Jesus, and following Jesus would be to obey his command to reject all that was contrary to him (Matt 10:38). The exclusivity is merely to that of what is true, rather than one of favoritism.

Now, hypothetically, one may have partial knowledge of the real God and call on him for salvation, but Jesus states that the condition of our souls is far more grave than we would like to imagine. Jesus said that if one truly loved God then they would also love him (John 8:42). He taught that unless one believes that he is who he claimed to be, that we would all die in our sins, that is, unsaved (John 8:24). These sins lead us away from God and cause us to prefer our own ways or our own safer versions of God over the real God (2 Tim 4:3-5). Knowing God exists and trying to be a good person does not solve the problem because past guilt is never erased by unrelated future actions. Humanity, led by its sin, will inevitably find false gods of greed or sex, worship Creation in place of Creator, or find another way to replace God, even if it means deciding that the individual determines destiny as if a god unto themselves (Rom 1:18-23).

Jesus was not making arrogant, baseless claims about being the hinge on whom all people’s eternity hung. He was revealing the way of salvation to those who would hear him. And if, as his resurrection strongly suggests, he is the Son of God, the only God, then turning to him is to turn away from all other god-substitutes. If the solution is trusting in him and hearing about what Jesus has done to do away with the guilt of sin, then shouldn’t we? As evangelist Ravi Zacharias has said, “If God had given us 1,000 ways to get to heaven, we would have wanted 1,001.” Should we complain that the good news is the only news?

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Many people still believe that some kind of hell after death is reserved for the most cruel among us, but almost nobody thinks that they will end up there themselves. Consequently, any talk of a hero who saves sinners from hellish punishments falls on deaf ears. Many people don’t believe that they need forgiveness. “I’m not perfect, but I’m no murderer” is the common self-examination. Their assumed expectation is that God should have the same easy-going standard as they have. They depend on the kindness of God to let them into heaven (Rom 2:4-5), but they never truly seek him. The trouble is, their standard isn’t God’s standard.

We all need the sort of big forgiveness which only Jesus offered through the cross, because by God’s standard the ugliness of the cross displays the ugliness of our sins. By Jesus’ standard, simply hating someone is not unlike the thought of murdering them. The thought of having sex with someone to whom you’re not married, nearly as bad as having actually done it. It is fantasizing about and admiring what God calls evil.

If we only looked to God’s pure standard of good and evil, we’d see our own disgraceful condition much clearer. This is not a pessimistic self-loathing, but simply acknowledging an objective standard which exposes the gravity of our true condition. God’s idea of good is that we love him with all our body and soul, and by extention that we love our neighbors. But none of us have loved him that much for a single day of our lives. Our God-hatred, sometimes expressed by neglect, coupled with pride of assessing ourselves by our own standards in place of God’s, is great sin in need of great forgiveness. The good news is, there is a savior who offers just that to just such a person as you or I.

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Yes and No. Not the answer you expected? Jesus frequently surprised his hearers by his view of reality, but it was always a better view than what his hearers had in mind. Jesus knew that the world did not originate as a place of suffering and death and meant to fix it. Some spoke to Jesus about a tragic news event, that the Roman governor had brutally murdered a group of people. The popular view among the crowd was that perhaps the victims had been judged by God for hidden sins. Jesus defended the victims with the same words which condemned the hidden sins of those speaking to him.

And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:2-5 ESV)

Jesus knew that all humanity had fallen into sin. He alone was without sin because he was God incarnate, and he was warning them that the only reasonable way to deal with their sins was to ask him for forgiveness. However, Jesus did not only use suffering as a warning. He said suffering can be good for us and glorifies God. When speaking about the suffering of a man born blind he gave suffering objective meaning. “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3)

Christians can actually rejoice in sufferings (Rom 5:3) because we know that it is only temporary and not as meaningless as it seems. God promises that suffering is somehow shaping us to be more like Jesus (Rom 8:28-29).

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

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Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,
and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him.
(Isaiah 30:18, ESV)

There’s SO much wonderful theology packed densely into these words. Forgive me for talking over some heads because it takes some background knowledge of the Bible to get through this, but I pray that I’ll make accurate sense, doing justice to God’s Word and that the Spirit would help you make sense of it, giving you discernment as to where I might miss something. I hope I’ll get more time to expand this a bit later. This verse serves as a proof of prophesy and the wonderful coherence of the whole Bible.

Here are some of the big topics I see mentioned in passing in this verse (yet not mentioned insignificantly).
-God of mercy and grace
-God of Justice punishing sin (see the context and the “therefores”)
-God waits to have mercy and exalts himself because he is also just.
-God who is jealous for his glory in order to show mercy.
-Wait for God and trust in his ultimate salvation.

The ultimate way this was fulfilled was when Jesus came
(The Messiah and the Teacher mentioned in verse 20)
after Israel’s long wait (about 700 years later than Isaiah)
to exalt himself in glory on the cross (John 3:14; 8:28; 12:32; 17:1)
to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice who does not let injustice be,
but punishes all sin, either on the cross or in hell, our choice.
Repent. Wait for him. He is coming again soon.

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Scriptural glimpses of “Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”

And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:31-38 and Matt 16:22)

Now the chief priests and the whole Council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying, “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” Yet even about this their testimony did not agree. And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death.
[For the prophet Daniel wrote of the future victorious coming of the Messiah,]
“Behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days (God)
and was presented before him.
And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages 
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one 
that shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14)

[And Peter wrote much later about the rebuilding of the temple. “Believers such as] yourselves, like living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:
[God said,] ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’
So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, . . .” (1 Peter 2:5-8)

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone, this is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.’ Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.” (Matt 21:42-43) This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by [his own people], the builders. (Acts 4:11) [They just couldn’t believe the prophecies about how the messiah must first suffer and had set in mind only the things of man.]

The Cross: The Messiah must suffer many things . . .
God [presented Jesus as a sacrifice of atonement to satisfy His just wrath against our rebellion] to be received by faith in his blood. (Romans 3:25)

[The Hebrew prophets declared these things long before Jesus’ time.]
“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd,
against the man who stands next to me,”
declares the Lord of hosts.
“Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” (Zechariah 13:7)

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.” (Zechariah 12:10)

He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. . .
We esteemed him stricken,
[killed] by God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.

By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?

And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
The righteous one, my servant,
[will] make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.

Because he poured out his soul to death
and was [considered one of the sinners];
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the [sinners]. (excerpts from Isaiah 53)

[We saw that he cried out “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?” These are the first words of Psalm 22, a description of suffering quite remarkably matching Jesus’ crucifixion but written hundreds of years before the first crucifixion had even been dreamed up.]
I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.
For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
I can count all my bones—they stare and gloat over me;
they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots. (Psalm 22:14-18)

[Jesus] himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live for righteousness. (1 Peter 2:24) [Thanks be to God!] For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

The Lord is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.
I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation. (Psalm 118:14, 21)

But that was not the end.
Two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. . . .” (Luke 24:13-27)

“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them [previously, having arranged for a meeting of all his “brothers”]. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:6-11)

Now [God] commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead. (Acts 17:30-31)

God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. . . . [since] the wrath of God remains on him. (1 John 5:11-12, John 3:36)

[John said of his vision of the end time,] I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Rev 21:1-5) Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!

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Jesus washing feet

[Jesus] sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:5)

Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Mark 10:15)

And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45) [Ransom as in the money paid to free a slave or convicted criminal]

And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. (Mark 10:17-18)

And he asked [the disciples], “Who do the crowds say that I am?”And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.”Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” And [since everyone expected the Christ to overthrow their foreign rulers] he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying [by way of explanation], “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” (Luke 9:18-24)

“No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

“And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” [So] . . . Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (John 3:13-21, 36)

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” (Luke 10:25-28)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

“Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” [Because they expected him to make independent the kingdom of Israel. see John 6:14-15, Luke 24:18-21] Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.” (John 14:21-24)

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ (John 15:18-25)

“I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.” (John 16:1-4)

Paul wrote: Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God—  (Romans 3:19-23)

And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all

things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:26-27)

—[You] are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. (Romans 3:24-27a)

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,

and whose sins are covered;

blessed is the man against whom the Lord

will not count his sin.” (Romans 4:7-8)

Peter pleads: Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” (John 15:16)

“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.” (John 17:3-10)

“I do not [pray] for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:20-21)

“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11)

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Amen!


*Emphasis added. Bracketed comments mine.


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Hypocrite

We sometimes (OK often) get stumped trying to hold onto hard to understand teachings in Scripture. For example, the teachings about grace and faith and works can sometimes get confusing, and we wonder how it can possibly all fit. Once again we face a struggle that is rooted in a misunderstanding of ourselves or God or how we relate. This time it would be an unnecessary difficulty if we know God as being real, living, and active in our life. Paul and James talk in detail about faith and works as a tension. One cannot be without the other. We know we are not saved by our works (because no one can be good enough to become God’s roommate) but by his grace, and this is a good thing because then salvation is a gift and not something we can brag about.

When we come at this as mere teaching and forget our relationship with God then of course it becomes tough to chew on and requires some deep meditative thought. I don’t know anyone (myself included) who has never had a difficult time coming to terms with this and it leads into many other wonderfully heavy discussion topics. However, if we think about it in terms of our relationship to God, it becomes clearer—even chucklingly simple! We actually function in this reality with these tensions everyday without thinking twice about it. If we don’t hold the tension of the rubber band at both ends, we get smacked.

My wife and I are married. Nothing she does or doesn’t do (aside from divorce obviously) changes that. Nothing can make her any more or less married to me anymore than a woman can be any more or less pregnant with child. She is or she isn’t. We’re married. However, because we’re married, she will do (and not do) certain things. She may serve me out of love, though that isn’t what makes or keeps her married to me. This is much the same with the salvation relationship we can have with God.

God chose me and so gave me faith. I’m saved. Because I’m saved, I want to do works of service for him. Because I’m saved (in a covenant relationship) I don’t want to sin so that “grace may abound”. The works don’t make me any more or less saved (I can’t brag about it) because it is from the free gift of God’s grace. This is why it would be terrible to be a blank-check Christian (in fact that’s not Christian at all), nor is it smart to be self-righteous (also hypocritical behavior for a Christian). To use Mark Driscoll’s example, living like we had a blank check of grace for sin would be infinitely worse than if I asked my wife, “Honey, would you forgive me even if I had sex with another woman?” She’s said, “Yes, I would.” If I replied by saying, “OK, thanks, just checking. I’ll be back in the morning…” then how could that be described as any less than spitting in my wife’s face? The same could be said of the self-righteous hypocrite. If I was given a great job and a car by my father’s lifelong hard work (and everybody knew it), and I constantly bragged about how much I’d done to get that job and how awesome my car was instead of giving thanks and credit to my dad where it belonged… I’d have zero friends. At least, not respected ones.

Usually, the struggle with this tension isn’t that I try to go to one extreme or another but just trying to understand how it all fits in. I hope that by putting it in the proper context—one of a relationship of love, proper fear, and respect for God—then we can understand how it fits together and better try to avoid the sinful extremes. The most important bit of wisdom that I gather from this is to be humble in the grace of God and lovingly obediently to tell other people about the blood, sweat, and tears that he’s shed for me so that perhaps they might repent, reach out for him, and find him. The Hound of Heaven is not far from any one of us. He “opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

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