Thursday, August 30, 2007

Pleasing God.

Jonah 2: 8 Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.9 But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay.Salvation belongs to the LORD! ESV

This was prayed by one of God's servants inside a large fish. The man praying this was a firm believer in the one true and living God. God said do this but he did that. To interrupt his plans God did a miracle which does not sound all that enjoyable. He was cast into the sea in a raging storm and swallowed by the fish. While inside this fish God brought him true repentance after resurrection. God possesses the quality of steadfast love. For this reason and this reason only He had mercy on Jonah instead of tossing him in hell as was deserved for his rebellion. This has a well known word to describe it; Grace.

Eph. 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. ESV
With grace which God possesses He regards those who are saved as precious and righteous children of God in Jesus. And as children of God’s family we will do good deeds. What parent while a child is growing up is not impressed by the effort he or she expends learning to talk or walk? If tragically the child was unable to do these things due to infirmity does the baby cease to be the parent’s child? Would loving parents love the child less? No, of course they would not abandon the child or love him or her less. Whatever the child will be able to do will be looked at with fondness by his or her parents. So if earthly and sinful parents can regard a child, falling short of expectations in gracious love, how much more would our heavenly Father regard us in love in spite of our falling short? In our everyday lives when we do the things God has given us to do He sees good work. This may not always be apparent to the Christian. We have no way to measure how much we do because of self motivation or motivated by love for God.

Some groups describe grace rather as a power source or as a sort of spiritual steroids. Steroid is a substance which is injected and makes muscle growth easier by making weight training more efficient. Using this analogy one can see that these Christians will look at the Christian life as more and more gaining ground in the Christian walk by their effort. By practicing resisting temptation which is our duty one assumes more spiritual muscle is being built for the next go round. With this view one will thank God he or she is not like former days and therefore look down on others they perceive as not advanced. Perhaps he or she will fall to temptation, large or small, which was seen as something over which victory had been gained. Doubt instead of pride will set in.

The medieval church at the time of the reformation taught that and still teaches grace in that way to this day. Most people would agree and not be astonished by that statement. What is remarkable is much of what passes as Christian preaching and bible study in evangelical circles would say the same thing. These are churches that either look upon their heritage as the protestant reformation others stubbornly affirm they are of a different heritage. Whereas the papist would show that a person would have to go to purgatory for more sanctification the evangelical would be told he or she can do better and perhaps be motivated by hope for more reward. This is of course caused by a sinner gazing at his or her life looking for confirmation of being saved. We are rather to look outside ourselves for the object of faith in this way stay out of the ditch of self righteousness or despair. We should be crushed and broken hearted over our failings. This is the true reaction of the faithful child of God familiar with and being fed God's word. However, we are given a Brother who is our kinsman Redeemer therefore we need not despair.

Hebrews 12: 1Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. ESV

Father grant us true repentance for trusting in ourselves for confirmation of faith. Fix our eyes on Jesus and aid us in giving Him all the glory and our trust. In the Name of Jesus. Amen

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