Sunday, June 15, 2008

Superceding Grace

There is a principle at work in the concept of Grace that I don't think I have heard anywhere but is true- when you decide to evict something out of your life and replace it with God's love that something stays gone. Jesus said this about the man with demons Mat. 12:44, that when he filled the man the demons would be gone forever.

Something interesting happens when you couple this with what John the Baptist said: He must increase and I must decrease. Our longing is that God grow us closer to Him by removing our old sinful nature. When you do you see that the more you give over to God the more he gives you his nature. The more you hand over to Him the more joy, peace, patience, the more you experience freedom and real living like you were meant for. After you have given it up you look back and find that what you were holding onto was nothing at all. You made a free trade upward, Gods Grace for nothing.

Look at how justification works. A man walks the earth believing that he can save himself, that he is good enough to go to heaven. Of course he is just fooling himself, he doesn't really have the power to disarm God and claim heaven for himself anymore than he has the power to fly through space, but his "house", his inner soul is so cluttered with this thought that God has no room to pour his grace in. What happens when he stops being stubborn and irrational, and accepts that he is powerless and wicked? God pours into him grace and understanding of who Jesus is. And what exactly did the man give up in the interchange? Nothing! Control was an illusion, he gave up his state of mind, all he did was give up thinking something foolish. Once he gives it up being irrational that man finds that God has replaced it with something incomparably better, forever, and that there is no going back to the old way.

What else can we give up to God to have replaced with Grace? Try works based living (santification). To admit that we are again good enough to keep the law, to do a good enough job that God will be pleased with us is an illusion, just as silly as believing we can save ourselves. But admit this to God and what happens? When you make room you see that his grace superceded the old way of living and thinking That space that was your pride becomes humility, Grace rushes into the void of your soul. Admit you are powerless to not only save yourself but keep yourself saved and you will find God right by your side, his spirit indwelling you to peace and comfort. Again what have you given up in this transaction? Exactly nothing at all in retrospect. And what have you gained? Something beyond all comfort, the faith and trust and knowledge that He who saved you will be making sure that you are saved until the end.

What next? Justification, sanctification belong to the Lord is there anything left? What else can we hand over to God and trade in for Grace? Our wills. And once we give them up we see that they too will be replaced by Grace. Yes I do mean our free wills. Give up the power to save yourself and accept justification. Give up the power to do a good job with your life and get sanctification. Give up the power to guarentee your own salvation and get eternal security. Give up all of your power altogther and be totally filled with his Grace.

Uh oh. Wait a minute, it looks like we just accidently backed into predestination- that aweful doctrine that says that God knows you, loves you, and has always planned to save you. It looks that way because we did. You might be thinking that we went too far with this principle, but did we? Can you ever have too much Grace in your life? Didn't think so.

Carefully consider why are you saved and someone else isn't? Is it because you are more intelligent than someone else? That you are more rational? That you have a quality that makes you better than other people? Well maybe, but then again maybe that's just silly because it's your pride asserting control. Maybe there is nothing in yourself at all that made you choose God that someone else who hates God doesn't have. Let go of the fact that you are not better than someone else and you will be filled with the matchless grace, the grace that saved you even though you were not worthy, did not desire it, and did not love God once upon a time. Then you will see that you are not saved by who you are but by who God is.

There are other ways to arrive at this theology of course, but the point here is that once you empty yourself completely you give up the idea of your control and you get back joy. Predestination is the theology that gives us the deepest insight into the Love God has for us, it shows us clearer than any other how much love the Father has lavished on us. The more you give up, the more you are filled up, even all the way, even unto predestination.

No comments: