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Idiot Box

6 December, 2010

So I read Charlie and the Chocolate factory the other day. Its a great little book, even for a twenty-something. I had a lot of favorite parts, including when Mr. Wonka calls Mrs. Salt an “old fish” and then commands her to boil her head, haha.

Also, the Oompa-Loompas sing a song after each of the kids does something stupid and is forced to end to the tour of the Chocolate factory.  After little Mike Teavee, the TV addict, gets digitized and shrunk, the Oompa-Loompas sing this song:

The most important thing we’ve learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set —
Or better still, just don’t install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we’ve been,
We’ve watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone’s place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they’re hypnotized by it,
Until they’re absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don’t climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink —
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
IT ROTS THE SENSE IN THE HEAD!
IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!
IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!
IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND
HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND
A FANTASY, A FAIRYLAND!
HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE!
HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE!
HE CANNOT THINK — HE ONLY SEES!
‘All right!’ you’ll cry. ‘All right!’ you’ll say,
‘But if we take the set away,
What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children? Please explain!’
We’ll answer this by asking you,
‘What used the darling ones to do?
‘How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?’
Have you forgotten? Don’t you know?
We’ll say it very loud and slow:
THEY … USED … TO … READ! They’d READ and READ,
AND READ and READ, and then proceed
To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!
The nursery shelves held books galore!
Books cluttered up the nursery floor!
And in the bedroom, by the bed,
More books were waiting to be read!
Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales
Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales
And treasure isles, and distant shores
Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,
And pirates wearing purple pants,
And sailing ships and elephants,
And cannibals crouching ’round the pot,
Stirring away at something hot.
(It smells so good, what can it be?
Good gracious, it’s Penelope.)
The younger ones had Beatrix Potter
With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,
And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,
And Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and-
Just How The Camel Got His Hump,
And How the Monkey Lost His Rump,
And Mr. Toad, and bless my soul,
There’s Mr. Rat and Mr. Mole-
Oh, books, what books they used to know,
Those children living long ago!
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books,
Ignoring all the dirty looks,
The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,
And children hitting you with sticks-
Fear not, because we promise you
That, in about a week or two
Of having nothing else to do,
They’ll now begin to feel the need
Of having something to read.
And once they start — oh boy, oh boy!
You watch the slowly growing joy
That fills their hearts. They’ll grow so keen
They’ll wonder what they’d ever seen
In that ridiculous machine,
That nauseating, foul, unclean,
Repulsive television screen!
And later, each and every kid
Will love you more for what you did.

 

I think this song is pretty awesome.  It should be on MTV and then we might be able to understand it.

Note: I am not against the TV.  I love Auburn football and I live in Africa.  I obviously have an appreciation for the Idiot Box.  And sometimes I want to be an idiot for a little while, especially for 3.5hrs on Saturdays in the Fall.  War Eagle.  SEC Champs!

I just think Roald Dahl has some very keen observations on the TV, and this book was written in 1964. Nineteen Sixty Four!!  Can you believe that was almost 50 years ago?!  How very far our society has come since then eh?  Now the computer screens have their own Idiot Box status.  Note: I am especially guilty of that accusation.  Big idiot.  Right here.

 

God Bless!  Read the Bible. Watch your life change; More entertaining than Discovery Channel.

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A Study on God’s Glory and Its Consequence, from Ezekiel 1-6

2 November, 2010

While reading the first few chapters of Ezekiel the last few days, one central them has been reoccurring throughout: the stark difference between the revealed nature of God and the nature of man.

The revealed glory of God:

While Ezekiel was near the Chebar canal (pretty cool that they had canals way back when) God revealed himself to Ezekiel.  It went a little something like this:

Four living creatures, each with four wings, each with four faces.  We get the impression that they had a round head with a face facing each direction.  They had a human face, probably staring at you; a lion’s face on the right side, probably keeping an eye on you too; the face of an ox on the left side with at least one eye watching you; and on the back, the face of an eagle. Scared yet?  So with these four wings, two were used for flying, and all the creatures were in a line, with their wing-tips touching.  Better than the blue angels, I’m sure.  The other two wings were covering their bodies, but you could still see their calves’ feet and human hands.  The bodies shined like bronze.  Burning bronze.
Also, basically the whole thing looked like a lightning-esque fireball.  Not friendly looking, that’s for sure.  Mostly just terrifying.
After Ezekiel sees and comprehends the creatures, he then notices some sweet rides that are moving along the ground next to each creature.  Its like a wheel, I guess.  A wheel within a wheel, that doesn’t turn when it moves and has the appearance of gleaming crystal.  And the rims are covered with eyes.  Eyeballs.  Staring at you.  Oh and the wheels could fly just like the creatures.  Scared yet?  Better question: ashamed yet?
And these creatures aren’t even the revealed glory of God.  They are just his escorts.

Above the four creatures in the cloud lightning was a huge expanse.  The whole expanse shined like crystal.  Not like the bankrupt-stained glass of the Crystal Cathedral, but like real crystal.  Godly crystal.  The creatures flew under the expanse, and it sounded like the sound of the Almighty when their wings beat.  And then He spoke.  And then they stopped.  And then Ezekiel saw what was above the expanse.

A throne-like thing that looked like sapphire.  A human-like thing that looked like gleaming metal above the waist, but with all the colors of a rainbow below the waist.  And there was brightness all around.  Sheer brightness.  We can call this a Christophany

Ezekiel fell on his face.  In awe? In wonder? In shame? Yes. Yes. And yes.

The nature of man, as described by the revealed glory of God:

A bunch of rebels.  And in the worst sense of the word.  Rebellion that goes back to their fathers, and continues to that very day.  “To the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against Me.”  That “Me” is one with the glory that we have just discussed.  Its bad-news to rebel against that.

“Not to people of foreign speech and hard language, but to the house of Israel… Surely if I sent you to [the former] they would listen to you.  But the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, because they are not willing to listen to Me.”

They have a hard forehead.  They have a stubborn heart. They are a rebellious house.

After a bit more of this, the Spirit lifts up Ezekiel and he hears a sound as loud as an earthquake.  But it says something: “Blessed be the glory of the Lord from its place!”  It was the sound of the wings of the creatures as they touched one another.  And the sound of the wheels beside them.  And lo, it was the sound of an earthquake.  The Spirit took Ezekiel to be among the exiles of Israel, where he would see the consequence of God’s glory and man’s sin.

The Consequence:

First, Ezekiel is bound and his tongue dried so that he cannot speak unless it is time for him to speak.

Then the Lord shows him how the nation of Israel will be laid siege for 390 days.  And the house of Judah, 40 years.  The way this is reveal is that Ezekiel must carve the image of Jerusalem on a brick.  Imagine carving the image of a city on a brick. Then he must put an iron grate between he and the brick, and lie there for 390 days.  One day for each year.  The same is done for the house of Judah.

During this time, Ezekiel must eat only bread made from wheat and barley, beans and lentils, and millet and a type of Jewish wheat called emmer.  Then the LORD tells Ezekiel the most dire consequence yet: He will bake this bread in the presence of the people on human dung.  At this point Ezekiel says, “Nuh uh.  No way.  LORD you of all people should know that I haven’t defiled myself by eating anything defiled.  No way I’m eating off human dung.”  And the LORD replies, “Yea, OK sure. You get to bake it on cow dung instead of human dung.”

I can just imagine Ezekiel saying, “Oh OK yea that’s better.”  False.  That is like saying you can….well I don’t think I have to make an analogy.  That’s sick.  That’s the consequence of Israel’s sin!  They will go and they will eat their bread unclean among the nations that the Lord will send them.  Because of their sin!

And after all that, Jerusalem will be destroyed.  The people (God’s chosen people) will be made a desolation and an object of reproach among all the nations around them, and among all who pass by.

“Yet I will leave some of you alive.  When you have among the nations some who escape the sward, and when you are scattered through the countries, then those of you who escape will remember me among the nations where they are carried captive, how I have been broken over their whoring heart that has departed from me and over their eyes that go whoring after their idols  And they will be loathsome in their own sight for the evils that they have committed, for all their abominations.  And they shall know that I am the LORD.  I have not said in vain that I would do this evil to them.”

 

What does it amount to?

This is as far as I have made it in Exodus, but praise the Lord I have read the New Testament!  If this was the end of the prophesy of Ezekiel I’m sure the people would have no hope.  I do know the story of the redemption of the dry bones later in Ezekiel, and that gives hope to this destroyed people.

What I also realize is that these people are just like us.  Except they may even be better off.  We are (for the most part) not God’s chosen race.  If you are 1/2 Jewish, that’s still not good enough.  And if you’re Jewish and don’t believe in the resurrected Messiah, that’s just rebellious (and we’ve seen what happens to those people).  So we the people are hopeless if the story ends here.  We are to be (rightly, justly) destroyed by the fury and wrath of the Lord, because He is so glorious.  If our glory falls short of His own glory, we have no place in His presence.  If you don’t have four creatures with four wings and four faces each escorting you, then your glory falls short of God’s glory, and you have no right to be in His presence.

BUT we know the good news.  We know that from this remnant that the LORD spared on his day of wrath prophesied in Ezekiel, a Savior was born.  This Savior was fully God, yet born of a woman.  His name is Immanuel, “God-With-Us”.  He was not rebellious.  His father is not rebellious, but he is just as glorious as God, because His father is God the Father.  This Savior was killed for our transgressions, and took the punishment that we deserved that is described here in Ezekiel.  He took the punishment of being under siege for 390 years, of eating things cooked on dung, of being destroyed by all manner of plagues and famine.  And that is just the physical punishment that he took in our place.  He also took the death (eternal death) that is our just end because of our sin.  AND THEN He conquered it! He conquered all of that punishment, physical and spiritual.

He has promised us that by faith in His justifying us on judgment day, that we will no longer be faced with punishment from God.  The only things that can touch us now, can’t hurt us.  We can be persecuted, struck down, homeless, penniless, physically freedom-less, or any other myriad of things that the world thinks is punishment.  But we know that none of those things are truly punishment compared to the punishment that has been conquered by our Savior.  They are actually joy, because they help us relate to the suffering our Lord endured to give us eternal freedom, and eternal life with Him.

 

So these lessons on God’s glory and its consequence from Ezekiel seem bleak, but they should leave us feeling two things: Joy that there is good news beyond the wrath; Fear of the all-glorious, ever-worthy, all-wise Lord.  We are still capable of sinning.  That sin is just as rebellious as Israel’s sin in Ezekiel.  Embrace freedom, not sin.

Why Me?

20 September, 2010

Job asked that once, at the end of a long, long line of bad days.  Terrible days.  Days worse than you and I could imagine probably.

Then, God answered Job out of the whirlwind and said,

“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?

Gird up your loins like a man; I will question you and you will make it known to me.

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the Earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.

Who determined its measurements–surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?

On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no father, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?

Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the skirts of the Earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it? It is changed like clay under the seal, and its features stand out like a garment.  From the wicked their light is withheld and their uplifted arm is broken.

Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep?
Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
Have you comprehended the expanse of the Earth?

Declare, if you know all this.

Where is the way to the dwelling of light, and where is the place of darkness, that you may take it to its territory and that you may discern the paths to its home? You know, for you were born then, and the number of your days is great!

Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war?

What is the way to the place where the light is distributed, or where the east wing is scattered upon the Earth?

Who has cleft a channel for the torrent of rain and a way for the thunderbolt, to bring rain on a land where no man is, on the desert in which there is no man, to satisfy the waste and desolate land, and to make the ground sprout with grass?

Has the rain a father, who who has begotten the drops of dew?

From whose womb did the ice come forth, and who has given birth to the frost of heaven? The waters become hard like stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.

Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion?
Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season, or can you guide the Bear with its children?
Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on the earth?

Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that a flood of waters may cover you?

Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go and say to you, ‘Here we are’?

Who has put wisdom in the ibis or given understanding to the mind?

Who can number the clouds by wisdom? Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens, when the dust runs into a mass and the clods stick fast together?

Can you hunt the prey for the lion, or satisfy the appetite of the young lions, when they crouch in their dens or lie in wait in their thicket?

Do you give the horse his might? Do you clothe his neck with a mane? Do you make him leap like a locust? His majestic snorting is terrifying. He paws in the valley and exults in his strength; he goes out to meet the weapons.  He laughs at fear and is not dismayed; he does not turn back from the sword.  Upon him rattle the quiver, the flashing spear and the javelin.  With fierceness and rage he swallows the ground; he cannot stand still at the sound of the trumpet.  When the trumpet sounds, he says, ‘Aha!’ He smells the battle from afar, the thundering of the captains, and shouting.

Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars and spreads his wings toward the south?
Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up and makes his nest on high?
On the rocks he dwells and makes his home, on the rocky crag and stronghold. From there he spies out his prey; his eyes behold it afar off.  His young one suck up blood, and where the slain are, there is he.”

And the LORD said to Job, “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.”

Then Job answered the LORD and said:

“Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.”

Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:

Gird up your loins like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me.

Will you even put Me in the wrong? Will you condemn me so that you may be in the right?  Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?

Adorn yourself with majesty and dignity; clothe yourself with glory and splendor.  Pour out the overflowings of your anger, and look on everyone who is proud and abase him.

Look on everyone who is proud and bring him low and tread down the wicked where they stand.  Hide them all in the dust together; bind their faces in the hidden place.

Then I will acknowledge to you that your own right hand can save you.

Then Job answered the LORD and said:
“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’  Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you will make it known to me.’
I had heard of you by the hearing of the hear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

If I ask “Why me?” I am asking about things which I do not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.  All I know is that I had heard of Job’s God by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees him; therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.

Why do ____ Things Happen to ____ People?

18 September, 2010

The classic question after a tragic thing happens to a Christian is “Why do bad things happen to good people?”  I have been blown away by this question over the past few days of contemplating in my hospital bed.  Absolutely blown away.

I think that its a pretty good question.  I also know that it is answered in the Bible.

First of all, we need to address the question, and the circumstances surrounding it for me.

What is a “bad” thing?  Who is a “good” person?

In my case, this question should be switched.  We should be asking, “Why do good things happen to bad people?”

The Lord and I know that there are hundreds of things in my history that deserved that disk to fly straight through my skull, and that blood would have been justice served.  Most other people don’t know about those things, but Jesus said, “Whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments…will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.”  There are thousands and thousands of times I have done that.  So the “good” person isn’t really so “good”.  More like “bad”.

As far as the accident goes, it was rough.  There’s no hiding that.  But the joy, peace, and amazement at the work of the Lord in and through all of it has strengthened my faith, and others’ faith, more than I could ever imagine.  The fact that I still have two functioning eyes, a nose bone, no brain damage, and can talk and eat is absolutely nothing but a miracle.  If the pieces of the disk had hit almost anywhere else on my face… within millimeters, there would be much more serious long-term consequences. So the “bad” really wasn’t all that “bad”.  It was mostly “good”.

So all of that brings us to the question: Why do things happen to people?

And I think the only answer that suffices is that God loves people.  And we all know that is a mystery.

Good things happen to ‘good’ people because God is righteous, and rejoices in righteousness.  But we have to be careful with that, because, “All our righteousness is as filthy rags”.  So there is no real “good” people.  Only people that God does good things through.  People who don’t allow their sin nature (or their self-righteous nature) to act, but allow the will of God to work through them.

Good things happen to bad people because God is a righteous, but gracious God. “For you have been saved by grace, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”  Also, “the Lord makes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust”

Bad things happen to good people because God is righteous.  Therefore there are no “good” people.  All of our goodness come from God. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17)

Bad things happen to bad people because God is righteous, and He is just.  He is not a liar.  He told us He would punish people for their sins, and that is what He does.

So what makes the difference.  Why did this “good” thing happen to me, a “bad” person.  Or if you insist, how could this “bad” thing happen to a “good” person? It is really the same question.

“To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD is God; there is no other besides Him.  Out of heaven He let you hear His voice, that He might discipline you.  And on Earth He let you see His great fire, and you heard His words out of the midst of the fire.” Deuteronomy 4.35-6

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face to shine upon us, that Your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.  Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!  Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon the Earth.  Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.” Psalm 67.1-5

Things happen to people because God receives glory! When my blood was spilled out the other day, it would have been a just sentence for my sin.  But I was thinking that.  I was thinking of this image:  The resurrected Christ, receiving His glory through the suffering of a saint.  He knew.  He knew that disc was going to shatter.  He also knew it would be His Bride’s resources that would go to fix me up.  But He knew that it was all worth it because of the glory He would receive from it.  I no longer have to look at the bloodied cross of my saviour, when I am near to death.  I look to the resurrected Christ sitting at the right hand of God.  His blood has paid for my sin.  And He was resurrected to give me life.  That is what I look forward to.  And I also look forward to meeting others who have given Christ glory because of what happened to me.  He is worthy.  So worthy.

Stress and Failure and Peace and Victory in Kinshasa

11 June, 2010

Do not fret because of evil men
or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.

For evil men will be cut off,
but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.

A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.

But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy great peace.

The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;

but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.

Psalm 37.1-13

Oh how I desperately fail to uphold the characteristics this passage exhorts the children of God to maintain.  When the “authorities” of this country devise their wicked schemes, my first and sometimes only reaction is anger. Wrath. Evil.

Pray for me, that when the police hold me in their chains of corruption, that the meekness of Christ will break my sinful heart of stone, and turn it in to the godly heart of flesh, flowing with the blood of Christ.

Pray for me, that I would be so confident in the Lord’s vengeance being His own that I would not even begin to try to take that vengeance for myself, as “it only leads to evil.”

Pray for me, as this certainly means many more stressful hours in the corrupt pits of Kinshasan government (they call them bureaus).

Pray for God’s name to be glorified through the most stressful situations.  That I would have strength of mind, strength of faith, to maintain a meek, peaceful heart when all kinds of evils are schemed for the soul purpose of making me give in to corruption.

God will be exalted among the nations; God will be exalted in the earth. (Ps 64)

Pray for me to be still when all I want to do is tremble in wrath and anger.  Pray for me to know that He is God.

The victory over a corrupt social system has been won.  The victory over racism has been won.

Most importantly the victory over my evil nature has been won.

Lord forgive me for my sin.  Help me to love when the only natural thing to do is hate.

Grace and Discipleship

31 May, 2010

At the recommendation of a good friend whose opinion I very much respect, in addition to an author’s repeated footnote reference, I have started reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Cost of Discipleship” book.  So far, highly recommended.  Here are the opening lines:

“Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church.  We are fighting today for costly grace.
Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjack’s wares.  The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices.  Grace is represented as the Church’s inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits.  Grace without price; grace without cost!  The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing.  Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending it are infinite.  What would grace be if it were not cheap?
Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine, a principle, a system.  It means forgiveness of sins proclaimed as a general truth, the love of God taught as the Christian “conception” of God.  An intellectual assent to that idea is held to be of itself sufficient to secure remission of sins.  The Church which holds the correct doctrine of grace has, it is supposed, ipso facto a part in that grace.  In such a Church the world finds a covering for its sins; no contrition is required, still less any real desire to be delivered from sin.   Cheap grace therefore amounts to a denial of the living Word of God, in fact, a denial of the Incarnation of the Word of God.
Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner.  Grace alone does everything, they say, and so everything can remain as it was before.  “All for sin could not atone.”  The world goes on in the same old way, and we are still sinners “even in the best of life” as Luther said.  Well, then, let the Christian live like the rest of the world, let him model himself on the world’s standards in every sphere of life, and not presumptuously aspire to live a different life under grace from his old life under sin.  That was the heresy of the enthusiasts, the Anabaptists and their kind.  Let the Christian beware of rebelling against the free and boundless grace of God and desecrating it.  Let him not attempt to erect a new religion of the letter by endeavoring to live a life of obedience to the commandments of Jesus Christ!   The world has been justified by grace.  The Christian knows that, and takes it seriously.  He knows he must not strive against this indispensable grace.  Therefore–let him live like the rest of the world! Of course he would like to go and do something extraordinary, and it does demand a good deal of self-restraint to refrain from the attempt and content himself with living as the world lives.  Yet it is imperative for the Christian to achieve renunciation, to practice self-effacement, to distinguish his life from the life of the world.  He must let grace be grace indeed, otherwise he will destroy the world’s faith in the free gift of grace.  Let the Christian rest content with his worldliness and with this renunciation of any higher standard than the world.  He is doing it for the sake of the world rather than for the sake of grace.  Let him be comforted and rest assured in his possession of this grace–for grace alone does everything.  Instead of following Christ, let the Christian enjoy the consolations of his grace!  That is what we mean by cheap grace, the grace which amounts to the justification of sin without the justification of the repentant sinner who departs from sin and from whom sin departs.  Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves.
Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.
Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has.  It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods.  It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.
Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.  Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ.  It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.  It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner.  Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.  Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us.  Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.
Costly grace is the sanctuary of God; it has to be protected from the world, and not thrown to the dogs.  It is therefore the living word, the Word of God, which he speaks as it pleases him.  Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart.  Grace is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light.'”

And now, with that fresh on your mind, read what Bro Yun says in one of his books, concerning global discipleship.  If you haven’t read The Heavenly Man (story of Yun), you should (almost ‘you must’):

“True disciples are usually people that few understand.  they are viewed as potentially unstable fanatics.  often the same governments that tolerate the existence of mere believers will stop at no ends to completely eradicate disciples from their borders.”

Let us be disciples, saved by costly grace.

If you’re looking for more on this subject, check out D. Platt’s “Faith Works” series from last fall (‘Brook Hills: audio’ podcast)

The Law is a Tutor That Leads Us to Christ

27 May, 2010

Deuteronomy chapter 6, verse 20:

“When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the LORD our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt.  And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.  And the LORD showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes.  And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers.  And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day.  And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.’” (emphasis added)

This passage clearly shows that the purpose of the Law was to reflect back on redemption.  What is law without redemption?  It is vain, powerless rules that mean nothing.  What is law that follows redemption?  It is full of grace, hopeful, and the direction to please the one who loves you most completely.

There is no reason the Old Testament saints should have striven to follow the Law, if they had not seen the power of redemption (even temporal as it were) displayed by the One who wrote the Law.  In the same way, we have no reason to follow the ways of Christ (who happens to be the fulfillment of the same Law) if we have not experienced the redeeming power of His death.

The great news for those who have faith in Christ’s punishment, death, and resurrection is that we do know His redeeming power.  We know His redemption and therefore, in His grace alone we strive to please Him, our only Redeemer.  We look back to that redemption when we feel the urge to sin.  Sin is the very thing He redeemed us from, how could we want to run back to it, knowing its chains and slavery?

The impossible Law thus was made possible.  The despair of sin’s death has been turned into the hope of righteousness’ life.  To put your faith in the perfect redemption is to put your faith in the victory of the fulfillment of the Law.  To follow the Law is no longer a impossible yoke, but an “easy yoke.”  Note, however, that an easy yoke is still a yoke.  The Law is not banished.  It is fulfilled.

Grace is necessary for our fulfilling the Law, and that grace has been given only through faith in the perfect sacrifice of Christ.  Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.