Tag Archives: gift

Comfortable Grace

Manflu, a powerful disease.

I have heard very many, if not most, women that moan about how their significant other is a giant ball of baby when he gets sick. It’s true, when I have flu I’m completely useless. There’s that advert for some flu remedy with the background voice going “paaaaiiin, heeeaaaadache” and then the ad reveals it is actually some male ball of sick death in the bedroom crying out his symptoms to his wife. It’s a very funny ad, I think. The men scoff and deny the picture, while the women all nod their heads knowingly. I believe they secretly think it’s worse than the advert depicts. Anyway, so I think men do behave as if they are on the verge of death if they even consider any work. It’s like something came to enforce the ‘keeping the Sabbath holy’ on pain of death. But, here’s the thing. We behave like we are about to die because we are about to die. Men are stronger than women, and our immune systems are just that much stronger again, so for a bug to defeat us, it must be one heck of a super bug. It’s so powerful it doesn’t bother with the weaker adversary that is women, it just goes for the worthy foe, man. So while women get lady flu, and it is by all means bad and what not. Men get MAN flu and that is just so much worse, we behave like we are sicker because we are. The tricky thing about this is that you have to be a man to experience it. It’s about experience, not about argument. It’s not a chauvinist thing either, even though it’s really well disguised as one. It’s a matter of fact, like the fact that men are just uglier than women. Below is the proof, 2 pictures: Normal Lady Flu.

Lady virus

Lady virus bug

 Man Flu death

Please note the tactical nukes

Please note the tactical nukes

Why mention all this deep truth and biological wisdom? Man (-kind, humans, people, us) encounters a tiny, tiny bug, and there are visible signs. Verbosity of discomfort increases exponentially, noses run, stumbling about due to dizziness and tiredness occurs, throats are sore, ears ache, and there’s the coughing up of all manner of unspeakable things.

Slimer (you remember the ghost busters?) is not actually a ghost, he is the product of manflu, just so you know

So, this most long and windiest of points is that you have visible symptoms of this encounter with something tiny. Influenza brings about symptoms, I cannot claim to have it and twinkle about as if all is well and I can actually smell the roses… or anything. If I did, you would call me a liar (or possibly accuse me of only having lady flu). In the same way, Christianity is not some kind of intellectual assent to a series of questions. I don’t believe that salvation is man looking ‘up’, seeing the creator, the God of the universe, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and all that, and going “yah, ok, I’ll believe in you” and then just going about his daily life as if nothing was different. Or even doing all of the above and behaving as if nothing was different except for the expectation that blessing should now fall abundantly on said persons head. “But, now I believe in Father Christmas, I should get stuff!”

The previous blog post was about our unwarranted, and ‘unworkable for’, salvation. That it is only by grace, there is nothing we did, or can do to merit Gods love, or somehow increase it. However, in a similar fashion I don’t think it’s possible to have any kind of revelation along these lines and to remain the same. There are going to be symptoms of this salvation. It only makes sense that there will be. Many will be intangible, or complicatedly quantifiable by third parties. In other words other people don’t have any right to point at you and proclaim salvation or no salvation because they don’t see the things they expect. No one has the power or the authority to proclaim a man saved except God. However, scripture blatantly says to us that we should examine ourselves, test to see whether we have any kind of assurance of the proclamation of salvation. In many places scripture then gives us a mirror with which to introspect. Are these things true in your life, can you say that these things are happening and growing? If the answer is yes, then your assurance is great, if the answer is no then I would say that you should be seeking the answer as to why it is not the case.

When many preachers talk about these ‘evidences of salvation’ many people start to cry legalism. But it isn’t about doing those things to get salvation, it is about seeing those things happening in greater and greater measure and getting greater and greater assurance of being under Grace. This implies that there is no effort required, but I don’t think that is the case either. Often, the greatest evidence for me is a change of desire, you desire your sinful act, after being given the revelation of Jesus your desire changes. You no longer love the sin, you hate it. You genuinely do not want to commit the sin that once you might have secretly wanted to commit, while outwardly claiming not to want it. Then as we grow, we are sanctified in greater and greater measure and more and more things are revealed to us. I dislike the rather common preaching which essentially says that it doesn’t matter what you do in your life, if you said that magic mantra at any point in your life, you have been saved. Scripture does not teach this, it teaches self-examination, it teaches that those who hold firm to the end will be saved. It teaches that Grace is a free unwarranted gift, but this Gift brings about a new nature. A new creation, God has begun a work. This work has tangible effects! You cannot be the recipient of this free gift and not experience a fundamental change. The person that claims he is saved but is comfortable in his sins, that is not driven, encouraged and disciplined by the Holy Spirit needs to start to wonder why this is the case. Scripture would not teach that the Lord disciplines the ones he loves if this were not the case. If there is no discipline in a child’s life when they do things wrong, then you can say that they have derelict parents. God is not a derelict parent, you will fall under his loving discipline.

You will note the lack of specific scriptural reference, in this post, that is intentional. You must go and do the work, find the things in scripture that I claimed were there.

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Comfortable work

Take 2 young men, this is a list of their most in your face assets.

Young Man 1 (referred to from here on as YM1)

  1. 2009 Nissan GT-R
  2. R1 700 000 apartment in the most affluent suburb in Johannesburg
  3. Hugo boss suits
  4. Tag Heuer watches

 Young Man 2 (referred to from here on as YM2)

  1. 2009 Audi RS-4
  2. R1 200 000 apartment in a trendy up and coming suburb in Johannesburg
  3. Hugo Boss suits
  4. Guess Watches 

On the face of it, YM1 is in the lead and first impressions of YM1 will be greater than of YM2, Fancier cars and apparel. YM2 is nothing to snort at as he seems to be doing well, he’s just not as impressive. Now imagine you find out that YM1 was the son of a rich man, and all that he possesses is as a result of his father’s generosity. While YM2 has worked his way from a standard to lower middle class lifestyle, study loans and all, to get where he is. Immediately the impressions switch. YM2 becomes far more impressive than YM1. YM2 will command more respect from many people because of the hard work that he had to put in to get where he is. Even if YM2 had a VW beetle and lived in a 1 bedroom flat in poorsville, but came up from nothing. Therefore it seems respect is directly proportional to effort. 

As a species we are impressed by work, the one that had to work to get where he is, is regarded far more highly than the one that got there by the generosity of others. This is proven and highlighted rather sharply by the fact that we will avoid asking for financial help from others without the agreement being that we will pay that money back. Picture the kid from the movie ‘the grudge’ or ‘the ring’ now add cold sores… and a wart, we avoid bringing nothing in our hands and asking for a handout as violently as one would avoid that terrifying creation. We tend to avoid it because we have the impression that this is deserving of some contempt. In quite a few conversations I have been in, this principle is evident in the phrases “yes but that was given to him by his daddy” or “yes but he is a giant mommy’s boy, where do you think he got the money for that house?” You might think I am building up to some great climax in which work is what is deserving of contempt and free gifts are where the secret lies. You are right, I am… more shall be revealed later.

Because the above tends to generally be the natural reaction of most people, we strive to earn anything that we have. Which is not a negative thing, I do not mean to imply that, in the material, work is bad, or that working to earn money is a bad thing. That would be a silly position to take. What I am working towards is that man tends to do the same thing with salvation, to a greater or lesser degree depending on personal preference I guess… This is evident in any religion you pick, pretty much every religion indicates that your entry into the afterlife depends on your performance here. Generally if your good outweighs your bad, then the scales tip in your favour and you’re in. “oh no! That’s where Christianity is different” I hear you cry! Well, yes and no. That is where Christianity is supposed to be different, but as it is practiced by a great majority, it isn’t. So many people point to an event in the past where there was a prayer that was repeated. The scriptural proof and evidence that this was sufficient and guaranteed salvation is that if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

If a crisis of belief arises, a question is put forward to the poor individual going through said crises, of the magnitude of the sincerity of the prayer. If you really, really believed what you said, then it’s just doubt creeping in rebuke Satan, and get on with your life. The problem with the prayer of salvation methodology still gives the impression that because you did something that God owes you. You will get to heaven, present your salvation chit and now he owes you entrance. The idea that God did it all, that you could not even choose to follow him without his Grace allowing you to choose to follow him, is pretty uncomfortable to us. We want to have earned it in some way. Even if a person acknowledges that it was all Grace. Grace that called, Grace that allowed a response and Grace that saved, there develops a natural tendency to want to now earn that Grace. I don’t believe that is scriptural at all. We are told that it is Grace that calls us, that Grace allows us to respond positively and Grace that saves us. It also says that Grace calls us not because any redeemable quality is found in the called person, but only because of God’s good pleasure. The magnitude of your sincerity while praying your prayer is irrelevant. Or put another way, because you said a prayer with great sincerity does not give any assurance of salvation.

Ephesians 1: 5Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (KJV)

This means that the reason God chose any of his children was for his own Glory. Not because you are somehow special. This should always ring in the heads of truly regenerate Christians so that there is no boasting and no arrogance. I have an atheist friend or two, and one of the principle irritants found in many Christians for them is smugness. A communication that somehow there is a superior morality or something in them now that they are Christians, or because they are Christians. The communication extends to “if you become a Christian, you will become special, like me”. This is not always a direct verbal thing, but often tends to be impression given. Where scripture says that God found no inherent worth in you at all, there wasn’t something special in you that warranted or earned his favour. The regenerate Christian is YM1, his salvation is a free, unwarranted gift from the Father. There is nothing he did to earn it in any way at all, and there is nothing he can continue to do to work back any debt he might perceive himself to have.

Romans 12: 1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (KJV)

In light of everything Christ did for us (for a full run down read the rest of Romans) we are told that offering our bodies as living sacrifices is the only reasonable thing to do. And it is, if you truly believe the real gospel, and have been regenerated by God, then there is no other response that would make sense. It’s senseless for a man that ignores his children, and goes out with his friends every day, to claim to love his children. It is equally senseless for a man to claim to love God, and all that this then implies, and not offer his life as a living sacrifice.

Giant climax hinted at earlier

Works, with respect to earning salvation, are a thing worthy of contempt and the secret lies not in anything you can bring to the table; it is in a free gift that the secret lies. Nothing in our hands we bring, simply to the cross we cling.

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