Only Jesus Can Do That For You. Jesus didn’t come, as C.S. Lewis pointed out, to tell the world that everything was quite alright! Obviously, the world needed a savior—that’s why Jesus came. People need a savior because sin holds people captive. ...

 

Full Of Grace And Truth

Only Jesus Can Do That For You

Jesus didn’t come, as C.S. Lewis pointed out, to tell the world that everything was quite alright! Obviously, the world needed a savior—that’s why Jesus came. People need a savior because sin holds people captive. To keep the bad news about sin and the good news about a Savior from them would be the most hateful thing we could ever do. The most loving thing would be to show them what Grace and Truth can do for even the worst of sinners.

Enduring Truth // John 1:14

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

A few years ago our next door neighbor’s live-in girlfriend asked me, “what do you do?” I told her that I was a pastor. So she said, “Oh, I’m looking for a church…one that doesn’t get all weird and condemning about sin. What about yours?”

I said, “My church—hey, we accept everybody just the way they are—unless you’re shacking up with someone!”

No—I didn’t say that! But it was an awkward moment for me as I scrambled for a way to minimize the offense of the Gospel to a person who was far from God and build a bridge that might lead us at some point into a spiritual conversation. I didn’t need to offer condemnation by my words, in the tone of my voice or with my body language. I didn’t need to convince her of her sins, she was already dealing with that herself. Besides, it is not my job—it is the work of the Holy Spirit to do that. (John 16:8). Nor would Jesus have done that. Remember, in this very same book, right after the most famous verse in the entire Bible, John 3:16, Jesus goes on to say,

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:17)

But let’s keep in mind that Jesus didn’t come, as C.S. Lewis pointed out, to tell the world that everything was quite alright! Obviously, the world needed a savior—that’s why Jesus came. People need a savior because sin holds people captive. To keep the bad news about sin and the good news about a Savior from them would be the most hateful thing we could ever do.

So how do we bridge that gap between a loving God and the repulsiveness of the sinners sin? Grace and truth, that is how. That is what Jesus perfectly modeled. Take, for instance, his interaction with the adulterous woman in John 8. Picture the scene: This sinful woman is standing in the center of a circle, surrounded by self-righteous religious leaders who want her stoned. Imagine her humiliation, caught in the very act of adultery—a private act now a very public sin. Nothing can hide her shame—and make no mistake, sexual sin is shameful, degrading to the people involved, destructive to innocent families it affects and odious to God.

This woman is standing before Jesus, exposed, humiliated, tears dripping to the sand. She has been used by men all of her life, and now she will pay for it with her life. She sees the stones; she knows her guilt. Now, all eyes are on Jesus—what will he do?

After some time, Jesus speaks and says to those who want her executed, “Ok, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”And with that bombshell, one-by-one, from oldest to youngest, they walked away, leaving only Jesus and this sinful woman face-to-face. What now? Would Jesus give her a good moral tongue lashing. No, he just gently asks, “Where are your accusers? Has no one judged you guilty?”

She replied, “No one, Sir.”

At that, Jesus offered these grace-truth words that would utterly right this sinner’s upside-down life: “Then I don’t either. Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Behind this amazing display of grace and truth, as Walter Trobisch said, what we find is that Jesus “accepts us as we are but when he accepts us, we cannot remain as we are.” When Jesus brings our sin to the surface, and when we acknowledge it by confession and repentance, he totally, graciously and forever forgives it. The adulteress went away forgiven, with a new clean heart and a brand new chance at life. Only grace and truth can do that for sinners.

Perhaps that is why prostitutes, publicans, and other sinners responded to Jesus so readily. At some level, they recognized their sin. That was why forgiveness was so appealing to them…and still is!

What does the world need more than anything right now? What does your sinful next door neighbor so desperately need? The same thing you need: A whole lot of truth and a big dose of grace!

Thrive: Take some time today to memorize and meditate on these two very important verses from John 1: “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (v.12) “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (v.14)

Prostitutes are in no danger of finding their present life so satisfactory that they cannot turn to God; the proud, the avaricious, the self-righteous, are in that danger.

—C.S. LEWIS

  

Related Stories

    


God, Give Me A Greater Capacity To Love

52 Simple Prayers for 2018

When troubles comes your way, do you pray, “God change this!” or “God use this!”? The latter prayer is a higher way to pray. It is a prayer for discipleship, not deliverance. And it is a great way to partner with the God who will use all things for his glory and for your good, namely, to conform you to the image of Christ. And the greatest attribute of discipleship you could ever attain—which by the way, is to look like Jesus—is to love like Jesus.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

—PHILIPPIANS 1:9-11

A Simple Prayer for Greater Love:

God, may your love abound in me more and more in knowledge and depth of insight. Enable me to discern what is best, so that I may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ. Between now and then, fill me with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, so that my life will redound to your glory and praise.
  

Related Stories

    


Too Much Stuff

Calling Out Greed and Covetousness

One day, sooner than you think, you will stand before God. None of the things you have collected during your earthly journey are going with you. The only thing that will go with you into the next life that will do you any good is what you have done for God. Jesus said of the rich man in the parable, “You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?” As the poet said, “Tis one life, will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Enduring Truth // Luke 12:15

Then Jesus said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”

We don’t use words like covetousness or greed a whole lot these days, but we should. We Americans are a pretty greedy lot—me included. Our whole economic system is predicated on the hopes that you and I will grow dissatisfied with what we’ve got and go buy something newer, better, and bigger.

For instance, since Jesus told the story in Luke 12:16-20 about a man who thought his property was too small, let’s just take a look at our insatiable thirst for bigger homes. Did you know that the average home size in the United States was 1,000 square feet in the 1950’s, and while the average number of household residents has shrunk since the 1960’s, home size has grown to 2,422 square feet today.

It was a whole different picture when I was growing up. My mom, dad, three other siblings and a couple of family pets all lived comfortably in a home that was 1,200 square feet, if that. We shared bedrooms, bathrooms, clothes, didn’t have a garage to park our car in, and only one TV—with no remote control! We actually had to get up and walk across the room to change the channel, if you can imagine that.

And we didn’t think any thing of it. We didn’t feel poor or cheated or even realize what we didn’t have. We were content! We spent a whole lot more time together as a family. We ate together. We all drove together in the same car, even when we were teenagers—a family of six crammed into an AMC Gremlin! or was it a Hornet? Whatever—it was a really ugly car that should have never been made. My point is, we were as happy as a lark—we didn’t know what we didn’t know.

We were content—and emotionally healthy. We had discovered what G.K Chesterton said, “True contentment is a real, even active virtue—not only affirmative but creative. It is the power of getting out of any situation all there is in it.”

As a society, we Americans would do well to read Luke 12. It is a tough one, but what Jesus had to say about the deceitfulness of wealth, the debilitating worry over stuff, and our ultimate accountability before God for the stewardship of what we possess is much needed medicine for the greed that ails our society these days.

One day, sooner than you think, you will stand before God. None of the things you have collected during your earthly journey are going with you. The only thing that will go with you into the next life that will do you any good is what you have done for God. Jesus said of the rich man in the parable, “You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?”

As the poet said, “Tis one life, will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Thrive: Here is a novel idea: Give away some of your stuff this week to someone who really needs it—and don’t replace it!

If you cannot get what you like, why not try to like what you get?

—UNKNOWN

Tweet Quote

  

Related Stories

    


Everything Goes Back To Normal

Don’t Get Stuck on Spiritual Highs

Don’t get me wrong: I am not down on “spiritual highs.” They are wonderful, and necessary. Just don’t fixate on them. Resist the urge to erect a shelter and live in their warm afterglow. Don’t rate the rest of your Christian experience against them. Don’t build the entire meaning of your existence upon them. Simply see them for what they are: Fuel for the assignment ahead.

Enduring Truth // Mark 9:9

As they went back down the mountain…

In Mark 9:2-13 we come across one of the most fascinating and mysterious stories about Jesus in the Gospels. Jesus takes Peter, James and John to the top of a mountain, and there before their very eyes, for a few moments at least, his humanity morphs into the dazzling brilliance of his divine being. And if that weren’t enough to knock their sandals off, Moses and Elijah, Israel’s two greatest historical and theological figures, suddenly show up and begin to encourage Jesus about his upcoming death.

As you would expect of Peter, the unpredictable disciple offers to set up shop for this impromptu triumvirate. At that, a cloud covers the Jesus and his heavenly guests, the Voice speaks a word of Divine authentication from the heavens, Jesus is suddenly left standing with Peter, James and John, and everything goes back to normal.

EVERYTHING GOES BACK TO NORMAL!

That’s when Jesus leads them “back down the mountain” to the real world.

Here’s the deal: God never intends for us to fixate on “spiritual highs”; we are not to build tabernacles around them. They are simply means to an end, the fuel to empower us for another spiritual assignment. Jesus didn’t have this encounter with Moses and Elijah just so he could feel special. The same account of the transfiguration in Luke 9:31 (NLT) tells us that these two Old Testament prophets came to encourage Jesus about his upcoming departure—literally, in the original text, his “exodus.” He was about to face the greatest assignment of all—the cross. This mountaintop experience was meant as fuel—encouragement, strength, a reminder of his life’s purpose—for his impending death for the sins of the world.

Don’t get me wrong: I am not down on “spiritual highs.” They are wonderful, and necessary. Just don’t fixate on them. Resist the urge to erect a shelter and live in their warm afterglow. Don’t rate the rest of your Christian experience against them. Don’t build the entire meaning of your existence upon them. Simply see them for what they are: Fuel for the assignment ahead.

Then get back to normal. Climb down off your mountaintop experience and get back in the game. Lost people are still lost down there in the real world and the proclamation of God’s kingdom from your lips and the demonstration of it through your life is still the only way they will be found.

Thrive: Is there a “spiritual high” from your past (an ecstatic experience, a fruitful time of ministry, a wonderful season in an amazing church family, a dramatic period of spiritual growth under a gifted spiritual leader) against which you tend to measure current experience? Stop doing that! Repent of worshiping experience and instead ask God to show you how he intends for “high” to fuel you for the kingdom assignment ahead.

Serve God by doing common actions in a heavenly spirit, and then, if your daily calling only leaves you cracks and crevices of time, fill them up with holy service.

—CHARLES SPURGEON

  

Related Stories

    

God, Collect My Tears In Your Bottle

52 Simple Prayers for 2018

What is it that is making you cry today? A heart shattered by a fractured relationship? A dashed hope or the death of a dream? A failed family? A personal sin? The consequences of a past mistake that continue to haunt you? What is it that causes you to feel such deep sadness? While no other human being may know how deeply you feel, or if they know, they may not have the capacity to enter into the depth of your pain, just remember, there is One who is collecting those tears as you lift your brokenness to himand he cares!

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.

—PSALM 56:8

Tweet Quote

A Simple Prayer for God’s Comfort:

God, I entrust my tears to you—my sorrow, my pain, my loss. While no one else may really know or truly understand my sadness, you do. Let the very next tear that fills my eyes and spills down my cheek remind me that you see, you understand, and you care. Father of compassion and God of all comfort, let my tears never really just dry up and fade into a painful memory. Rather, let them be the cleansing, healing agent of your restoring touch that brings beauty from my brokenness.
  

Related Stories

    

You Might Like

Safely Unsubscribe ArchivesPreferencesContactSubscribePrivacy