Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Desiring a better country

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
- Hebrew 11:13-16 (ESV)

I am seeking a homeland. Not an earthly one. But a heavenly one. A much better country.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

All is gift

‘I know what he is thinking,’ said the King, looking upon the Queen. ‘He is thinking that you suffered and strove and I have a world for my reward.’ Then he turned to Ransom and continued. ‘You are right,’ he said, ‘I know now what they say in your world about justice. And perhaps they say well, for in that world things always fall below justice. But Maledil always goes above it. All is gift. I am Oyarsa not by His gift alone but by our foster mother’s, not by hers alone but by yours, not by yours alone but by my wife’s - nay, in some sort, by gift of the very beasts and birds. Through many hands, enriched with many different kinds of love and labour, the gift comes to me. It is the Law. The best fruits are plucked for each by some hand that is not his own.’

- p. 266, Perelandra by C. S. Lewis

We always think we must work in order to get something. Even when we are given a gift from a friend, we often feel obliged to pay her back by giving her a gift when it’s her birthday. Or we feel that we deserved to receive that gift since we had been very nice to her as a friend. So when you see somebody who received things without working for it, or you think he received it undeservedly, you feel it is unfair, or unjust even.
We are all like that. The world has taught us well. You receive what you deserve, and you are suspicious of free gifts.
So the meaning of grace escapes us. The notion of “free gift”, which is a tautology already, is alien to us. There is no free lunch, the world tells us, and we say amen to that.

But the forgiveness of sins and in fact, all the good things we enjoy in this world are gifts from God. All is gift, indeed. We have never deserved it, and will never deserve it. Who of us can claim that we toiled to make ourselves be born into this world? Who of us can claim that we earned our ways into the Kingdom of God? We are given the wonderfully bright mornings by God’s sheer grace, and we are given the seasonal rains by His grace. We are forgiven by His grace and we are accepted and taken into the relationship with Him by His grace. Was there any price involved? Any hidden costs? Cost indeed incurred. God has sent His Son into the world of sinners, and He died at the cross to pay for our sins. It cost God. But since He paid for it, we receive it freely. All is gift. It cost God to give us this gift, but for us it is free as we receive it. And what a gift it is. To know and to live with the rightful King of all ages, to love and to be loved by the Creator of the universe. There is no better gift that we could have ever imagined.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Faith in God who is gracious

Therefore, when the Lord heard, he was full of wrath;
a fire was kindled against Jacob;
his anger rose against Israel,
because they did not believe in God
and did not trust his saving power.
Yet he commanded the skies above
and opened the doors of heaven,
and he rained down on them manna to eat
and gave them the grain of heaven.
- Psalm 78:21-24 (ESV)

Without faith, no one can please God.
God's grace abounds even though He is angry against sins and unbelief.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Conclusion from Five Leading Reformers (Final)

As church membership becomes or remains respectable, we must always be challenged to our core as to our true faith before God. It is on our relationship with him, directly and individually, that we stand or fall, whatever position or rank in a church that we may or may not hold. Sola fidei was the great turning point and rallying call of the Reformation and of the five subjects of this book. If we are to be true to them we must be true to the biblical faith which they proclaimed. They - and their Saviour - would expect no less.

-p. 188 - 189 Five Leading Reformer

Monday, 1 November 2010

Watch out! God is out to get you!

One way or another, He will get you, no matter who you are.
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 earth.
- Psalm 67:1-4

Conclusion from Five Leading Reformers

Finally, as Billy Graham once said, 'You may be a deacon in your church and not be born again.' The Reformation doctrine of sola fidei, justification by faith alone, is a lynchpin of the Protestant understanding of Christian faith, and thus, for the Protestant, of Christianity itself. It is thus the ultimate guard against complacency. If we are not saved by works but by faith, as a gift of the grace of God, then none of us has any cause to regard ourselves as a Christian by virtue of our parentage, our country of birth, our contributions to church funds, or any other outward marker. It is by grace we are saved through faith, and by faith alone. Our social standing, our heritage, our denomination: all make no difference whatsoever to our standing before God.

-p. 188 Five Leading Reformers