Sunday, March 14, 2010

Grace that is greater than all of me....

Spiritual dehydration seems to have eeked its way into our home.  Sure, I'm consistent in daily devotions, we pray and read Scripture together in the evenings, and there is usually at least one spiritually-related lecture ringing through the computer speakers during the day.  But the desire to do these things is just so not there.  I feel like a raisin, unable to truly delight in my absorption of the Word of God.  A panicked raisin.
 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him."
I know that God's grace is sufficient for my justification and I rest in that.  Why isn't it the same for my sanctification?  Why do I think that my zeal or lack of it will determine being made holy as he is holy?  Even when I preach to myself the truth that "he who began a good work in me will bring it to completion," it's easy to think that he's going to squeeze it all in at the last minute.  Phew, she made it. 
For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
I found a copy of Bryan Chappell's Holiness by Grace on our new little living room bookshelf.  We received it when we visited Covenant Seminary a few months ago, but it has never been read.  A glance at the introduction revealed that this is the book that I need to read right now.  Chappell points out that believers cherish the truth that God sees Christ's righteousness instead of our sinfulness when we are saved.  But what robs believers of joy after that point is the "misunderstanding of how God continues to view us after we have received the grace that justifies us." 
What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?  Who shall bring any charge against God's elect?  It is God who justifies.  Who is to condemn?  Christ Jesus is the one who died - more than that, who was raised - who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
There is nothing but Christ: he is everything in justification and everything in sanctification.  None of my enthusiasm, efforts in ministry, or diligence in spiritual disciplines makes any difference whatsoever.  There is nothing but Christ alone.  Oh, that my heart and mind would grasp this.  But what about holiness and obedience?  Those fruits of grace are commanded just as often as the grace of God is extolled.  How do I pursue a desire for holiness without falling into achieving it through my own efforts?  Chappell says: "Resting on God's grace does not relieve us of our holy obligations; rather it should enable us to fulfill them.  As the assurance of God's love allows us to cease striving to please him for our own benefit, our good works will begin reflecting more of the selfless righteousness that is truly holy."
...that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
God's grace is greater than my sin.  And it is far greater than me and my ideas of what a good Christian girl acts and thinks like.  May he continue to impress this on my heart in his lovingly persistent way.


Sara said...

This ministers to my soul, Amelia. Thank you for posting it! :)

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