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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
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His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
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[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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Tuesday, December 11, 2007
The "Thing" About Grace...
If you had bothered to read my last post, you will note that I ended on an important and rather spiritually satisfying note: Christ has the power to get the job done, and if Christ is in us, the power to get the job done is in us.

This post is an application of that truth, and for the new Christian it is perhaps the single most important biblical application, because it is foundational. To be sure, there are Christians who have worn the name of Christ for decades but never understood what is truly one of the first truths about Christianity. In fact, it is the tangible reality that springs from this truth that separates Christianity from every other self-help moral system.

The truth I am speaking of is that we are saved by grace through faith.

Huh? Wait Daniel, (you say), that isn't exactly something I don't know. Of course I am saved by grace through faith - I am a reformed Christian! I know that!

Well sir, or miss, maybe you do, but maybe you have only understood them halfway. Don't laugh - it's an epidemic in our day.

Question - what are we saved from? What exactly is it that our faith saves us from? In Matthew 1:21 scripture tells us that Jesus came to save us from something, and that something is sin. In Romans 6:6 we read that those who are truly in union with Christ receive a tangible benefit to that union - they are no longer slaves of sin. In 1 John 3:6 we read that no one who abides in Christ keeps on sinning.

Those are some pretty straight forward verses. I am not cherry picking them out of context either - read the immediate context of each, and you will find that the message is the same in the context as it is in the verse I bring up - the Christian has a new, victorious relationship with sin.

The trouble is, that many Christians don't.

What's wrong?

What is wrong is they were given a gospel that saves them from hell instead of a gospel that saves them from sin.

Hear again the truth made precise: We are saved from sin by faith through grace.

I am going to spell it out, because I know some who are reading this are in bondage, and won't see it, unless it is truly broken down into little tiny bite-sized morsels - such is the way that our flesh works against us. I don't mind breaking it down, in fact I take great joy in the possibility that doing so may open closed eyes, and in doing so bring profound joy to the individual, and great glory to Jesus Christ my God, my King, my eternal and benevolent Master.

Question: What is grace?
Answer: It is unmerited favor!

<buzzer sound>

Okay, yeah. Now let's get past that and really answer the question. I don't deny that grace is God's favor which we in no way can merit - but that answer doesn't really summarize the fullness of grace.

Follow my reasoning here: In Ephesians 3:7 Paul says that he was made a servant according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to him by the working of God's power. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul explains that the grace of Christ is sufficient for Paul - why? because in the grace of Christ the power of Christ was resting in Paul. Understand this - no one overcomes sin without grace. The grace to overcome sin comes in and through the same power that raised Christ from the dead - the power to get the job done. Grace is not merely God's affectionate, undeserved favor - it is a channel of divine enabling that comes through faith.

Do you see that? We receive the power to overcome sin through faith. The Israelites received the power to overcome the Canaanites through going into the promised land and taking it in faith. We receive victory over sin not by struggling against it to try and please an angry God, but by agreeing in our hearts that we are miserable, spiritually bankrupt, sinners whose every effort to "get right" is tainted and therefore wicked beyond measure - that there is no good deed in us, that all of our works are utterly corrupt - and in the certainty of this knowledge we therefore turn to Christ believing that He and He alone will change us. Not a zillion years from now - but right now. We are told to pray in faith - without doubting. We are told that God gives to those who ask, to keep knocking.

The Christian who is walking worthy of the name of Christ is one who, like Christ before him, is walking in utter dependence upon God through the Holy Spirit. It is a walk of faith, because it isn't looking to itself to overcome sin, but exerting faith in Christ to overcome the sin in us.

Not that we are merely trusting Christ to overcome the penalty. Don't get derailed here and make this something beggarly and small. If you want to know why you are still sinning I will tell you right now - it is because you don't really believe that Jesus can or will save you from your sin - and therefore you have "fallen from grace" - the only power available to you to deal with sin. It isn't that you are no longer a justified believer - it is that you are acting like a spiritual babe, and perhaps it is because you truly are one.

Don't be mistaken - there are many in our seminaries, many who have memorized vast portions of scriptures, great teachers of the word who make you feel small and stupid when it comes to the bible, who are still spiritual babes because they never understood grace. They study, and study, and study, and get so smart about all kinds of other things, and they debate with others because in their study they have firmed up strong convictions - but there is nothing spiritual in having a good education, even if it is biblical.

A mature believer doesn't attempt to suppress sin in his own strength, and by no means mistakes the suppression of sin as victory over it - but rather is one who understands the meaning of being saved from sin's power by a continuing faith - a faith that causes God to give the grace to overcome the sin.

Listen: This is why John can say that if you continue in sin you are not abiding in Christ. Amen John a thousand Amens. If you continue in sin - if you keep sinning, you do so because you are -NOT- abiding in Christ, and not merely because "everybody else sins, so it is normal and okay". Do you get that?

We are saved from sin by our faith - by our faith. God grants grace when we exercise faith - faith cannot be exercised except in utter reliance upon God - we call that humility. God gives grace to the humble sinner, to the contrite one. Oh, get this little Christian - get this. You want to stop sinning? Start believing that Jesus isn't just some distant chap far away who is going to one day come back and take you to heaven - believe instead that you are united with Christ, believe that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead is in you, believe that Jesus is more than just the get-you-out-of-hell Guy - He is your present Savior, here to save you from your sin, as was told to Joseph in Matthew 1:21.

If you don't believe that Jesus is going to save you from your sin, you will never receive the grace to overcome sin. You will never attain to what Romans 1:5 refers to as the "obedience of faith". Can I add one more? You will never know joy unspeakable. Get this. Get this. Get this.

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posted by Daniel @ 6:28 AM  
11 Comments:
  • At 8:45 AM, December 11, 2007, Blogger Magnus said…

    Very good post, there are many times when I view Christ afar off, rather than inside me. We should always remember that our bodies are now a temple and we should not defile it by living in constant sin.

    While I rarely comment I would like to tell you again how much encouragement and spiritual teaching I get from your posts. May God continue to bless and keep you.

     
  • At 10:01 AM, December 11, 2007, Blogger Jim said…

    Daniel: another bang on excellent post. This is truly the heart of the Christian life.

    I see no reason why every Free Gracer could not give this post a hearty Amen!

     
  • At 12:16 PM, December 11, 2007, Blogger ThirstyDavid said…

    Very good, Daniel. Grace is so much more than "unmerited favor".

    By the way — I am cherry picking them out of context ... I'm retty sure you meant am not.

     
  • At 5:18 AM, December 12, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Thanks David, I fixed that now.

     
  • At 5:44 AM, December 12, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Jim, I am sure there are some Roman Catholics who would give a hearty amen to this post as well. I say that because when a Roman Catholic reads "grace" he or she understands it as an enablement that God gives us in order that we do the works by which we make ourselves both justified and sanctified.

    In the Catholic scheme grace is a motivator, but it is the works themselves that are meritorious, if we work we get sanctified, and justified in proportion to the work we do, and if we do not, we do not. Grace in the Catholic scheme allows us to save ourselves by our works. But they use the same kind of language to state it, they just mean something totally alien to what they are actually saying.

    In the same way I am sure that there are lots of groups who could co-opt a post like this, even the free gracers.

    But unless I am mistaken, most free grace people balk at the idea that unless God grants repentance a man cannot be saved. The grace I am describing here is really a description of the relationship between faith and repentance. It answers the question: how are faith and repentance linked? The answer is, that only genuine faith produces the grace to obey. The difference between a faith that is dead (counterfeit), and a faith that is living (real) is that counterfeit faith cannot produce obedience because it is not the sort of faith that receives grace. Counterfeit faith does not admit it is bankrupt and unable, but continues in its own strength - it doesn't humble itself to the point of admitting utter powerlessness, and as such it receives no power from God to change - that is, no grace.

    So while I don't doubt that some free gracers may agree with the post, they certainly wouldn't agree with the meaning of the post, and the meaning is that god empowered repentance is not optional in saving faith.

    They would agree with all Calvinists that man powered repentance cannot be added to faith in order to save a person, but they would reject vociferously the reality that no one is saved unless God grants them repentance unto salvation.

     
  • At 5:48 AM, December 12, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    I am not going to be commenting on blogs (even my own) during my work hours anymore.

    I find I can get involved in conversations too easily - conversations that take away from my work day.

    So bear with me all if you say something that you hope will be answered swiftly.

    I will still be checking my email regularly though. So if there is genuine concern email me.

     
  • At 9:59 AM, December 12, 2007, Blogger Jim said…

    Daniel, perhaps you should have added that caveat to your post. :)

    I personally think you are allowing yourself to be blinded by the prejudices of the Lordship camp. While I understand your differences in the matter of repentance I feel that you are throwing out the whole wagon because of a few disagreements.

    I find a somewhat double standard in that reformers will accept just about anything from fellow Calvinist's provided they agree to the five points of TULIP.

    I thought our oneness was in Christ?

    I am finding that much of the zeal in the blogosphere is not for Christ and His truth but rather for a person's own doctrinal stance and how this enables them to score points for their "team".

    p.s. I sincerely respect your decision regarding comments and postings.

     
  • At 9:25 PM, December 12, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Jim, have you ever read MacArthur's book, "the gospel according to Jesus" ?

     
  • At 9:40 AM, December 13, 2007, Blogger Jim said…

    Daniel, I have not and actually I don't know if I have ever read anything by him.

    I do have a book by MacArthur called "twelve ordinary men" which I am hoping to read soon.

     
  • At 11:33 AM, December 13, 2007, Blogger mark pierson said…

    Jim, please read "the gospel according to Jesus", and "The Gospel According to the Apostles".
    Eye openers, they are.

    Mark

     
  • At 12:08 PM, December 13, 2007, Blogger mark pierson said…

    "He is your present Savior, here to save you from your sin, as was told to Joseph in Matthew 1:21."

    Why this causes so many people to chaffe, I do not know.

     
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