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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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Thursday, January 07, 2010
Meditations on the Throne of Grace
In our prayer meeting last night, as I was praying I was convicted that unless I was actually talking to God, my prayer was just an empty, religious oration. That thought played itself out in my prayer in this way: I began to remind myself (and those who were praying with me) that my hope was not in myself, in my request, or even in my ability to articulate exactly what I was expecting from God in the most lucid language, but that my certainty was that God was hearing me, and that my personal piety was not the reason God was hearing me, but that I was heard on high because I have a mediator, Christ Jesus my Lord.

I may not have used those words exactly, but the intent was there.

As is sometimes the case, when my turn to pray passed, I remained introspective, and concerned for my brothers and sisters because I knew my own heart, and how superficial I can be during prayer meetings. It is a sad admission, but sometimes, when other people are praying, I am not praying with them - I just have my head bowed and am lost in my own walk with God. I am thinking about whether or not my prayers matter if my heart isn't in it, and I am thinking that I am not where I ought to be spiritually, even if I am where I ought to be physically - and I am using this time with my head bowed, not to "get right" with God, but rather to try and articulate why it is that I feel "wrong" with God.

Don't misunderstand me, I wasn't in some black hole of despair trying to claw my way out in order to fit in with all the spiritual people who were praying together around me. That isn't the picture I am trying to paint. I mean that I was introspective first for myself, and then for those in my congregation who are habitually silent during prayer time. Perhaps everyone who is silent during a prayer meeting is just deep in prayer, but because I know my own heart, I know that silence during corporate prayer time can point to a struggle in the faith - or more pointedly, a struggle to believe that God will listen to our prayers when we have been sinful during the day.

I cannot have a thought like this without applying it immediately to the church, like a father who groans within himself when he sees his little ones suffer under something, and wishes that he could take it away, so I feel for my brothers and sisters when I imagine them struggling under the weight of guilt over their sin. It is a battle of faith to hold fast in prayer to the truth that we are able to come to God not because we are sinless and perfectly obedient, but because we are in Christ, and only because we are in Christ. To believe in the same way we believed when we received Christ, that unworthy as we are we are nevertheless accepted, not because of any merit in us, but entirely by grace through faith.

It was in this momentary meditation, and it lasted only a few moments, that I remembered that we who are in Christ must come to a throne of grace each and every time. It dawned on me that the only way we could merit coming to God in our own righteousness would be if we had lived and continue to live without sin, and in perfect obedience. Since we all have sin in our lives already, even if we lived the last week in perfect obedience we wouldn't qualify as acceptable to God on that account - we couldn't come before God's throne on such merit, for our past sins would be plain and open before God, and our momentary obedience would by no means erase them. In a word, we cannot come to God except as sinners.

Words often fail to capture the full savor of a thought, and I feel this is especially so as I reread what I have written and have to accept that it simply fails to capture the gist of what I mean.

I realized again that no matter how perfect we might be, we will never be perfect enough to warrant the "right" to even pray. I realized that the notion of "getting right" with God is quite deceiving, since we can never be "right" with God exept by faith in Christ - that is, I realized again that Jesus removed what separates us from God, sin. Not that my personal sin is no longer sin, nor that I can live like the devil because God is all right with my sin - nothing nonsensical or abominable like that - I mean only that it isn't perfect obedience that keeps the ear of God open to my prayers, but the perfect obedience of Christ that clothes me that makes my acceptable -in- the beloved.

How I wanted to stop the prayer meeting right there and shake us all up with that encouraging word that came into my heart, and yet the opportunity didn't come. I wanted to grab people by the ears and look into their faces with the joy that sprang up in me again to recall that I come to God by the blood that is not my own - that the guilt that weighs us down so that our prayers are beggarly and halting - that guilt is about as stupid a thing as can be. Of course you sinned this week. Of course you are not worthy to stand before God and pray. No one on earth is.

That's why it is a throne of grace.

It is good that you are full of remorse over your sin. It is good that you moan inwardly at your failure - it shows you're alive. Yes, you should continue to struggle, and push on to the coming victory, and the next, and the next. Yes it all uphill - but you are never, ever separated from God because of your failure; that is just a lie straight from hell's kitchen to your heart. It is a lie that is intended to hold your heart at arms length from God; you are lied to in order to keep you from the one who can help you.

I don't know how many times I learn this same lesson, but each time I am built up by it - reminded that I have to sit down and count the cost; realize that I cannot go to war with the army of my effort and hope to defeat the world, the flesh, and the devil; and having counted the cost, become convinced of the truth - that I cannot do it, nor will I ever be able to muster the ability to do it. Only then when I have counted the cost, and found myself in poverty, will I stop trying to do for myself what God has already done for me.

I hope you see that and are encouraged by it.
posted by Daniel @ 8:51 AM  
5 Comments:
  • At 3:42 PM, January 07, 2010, Blogger donsands said…

    Very encouraging indeed.

    God the Holy Spirit helps us to pray, and takes our mixed up words and heartfelt requests to the Father through the Son. God loves His children that much. And it is 100% pure unadulterated grace, as you have encouraged us to see.

    My 5 year old grandson sometimes doesn't make any sense, until I discpher the words he has put together, but I enjoy listening to his heart.

    I believe God loves to listen to our hearts.

    "O you who hear prayer,
    to you shall all flesh come.
    When iniquities prevail against me,
    you atone for our transgressions.
    Blessed is the one you choose and bring near,
    to dwell in your courts!
    We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
    the holiness of your temple!" -King David Psalm 65;2-4

    PS You have a pastor's heart my brother.

     
  • At 8:42 PM, January 08, 2010, Blogger Gary said…

    Great post. May the truth of it bring us overflowing joy. As Luther said, "We are all beggars", and let us rejoice that, in Christ, we are rich!

     
  • At 5:15 AM, January 11, 2010, Blogger The Pilgrim said…

    I know it's off topic, but what is a change agent? And why do some Calvinist ministers ask them to enter their church ministries. Check it out at www.thewatchmanwakes.com

     
  • At 8:14 AM, January 11, 2010, Blogger Daniel said…

    Pilgrim, The fellow behind that website, and a bunch of other websites just like it, is Bob Johnson - a fellow who has made it his personal life's ambition to defame Grace Community Church where John MacArthur pastors.

    I don't know if you know Fred Butler, but he both blogs and attends Grace Community Church, and has written a peice that might help answer your question (see here.

    I wouldn't waste too much time on a site like Mr. Johnson has put up, other than to shake my head at his wrong-headed fervor.

     
  • At 10:25 PM, January 22, 2010, Blogger JIBBS said…

    Pilgrim

    A change agent could be someone who trolls on discussion boards with the intention of posting articles that defame good servants of the Lord.

    Just a thought....

     
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