In 1517 Martin Luther posted his 95 thesis declaring salvation by grace through faith. Today the church desperately needs a second reformation of sanctification by grace. Christians are chained to a treadmill of trying to please God by their behavior, of trying harder and sinning less. If they can just discipline themselves enough and be determined enough, they are deceived into thinking they can become righteous and holy and be close to God and He will be pleased. Grace tells us that our relationship and intimacy with our Father in heaven is no longer dependent upon our behavior...or lack there of. Grace tells us we no longer have to strive to become righteous, because He has given us a new nature that is righteous. Grace tells us that it is the only thing powerful enough to deal with our sin. Grace tells us that God is already head-over-heels in love with us and nothing we do can change that. Welcome to "Formed by Grace."

Friday, May 28, 2010

Still describing imputed righteousness

Remember from our last post - just as I now trust in the sinless life of Christ and in the death of Christ in my place as the basis of my relationship with God...and not my God depends on the sinless life of Christ and the death of Christ as the basis of His relationship with me...and not my behavior!

Grace is God's willingness to look at us from the perspective that sees his holy Son in our place. While we see our sin, God sees His son. As a consequence he loves and treasures us as much as if we had never much as He does his own Son.

And so when we talk about "God imputes His righteousness to us" - this is what we mean. God thinks of Christ's righteousness as ours - and because He looks at us through Christ, He makes a declaration about us that we are righteous.

Now next - the implications of this for us are huge, but most believers do not live as if this was true.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Starting to understand imputed righteousness

Before I put my faith/trust in the life and death of Christ - I had a problem...really two problems. First, my behavior, because it was sinful, created alienation from God. Isaiah 59:2 describes this, "But your iniquities have separated you from your God."

But this was not my only problem - God judges and punishes sin, and so I was a condemned person. Alienated and condemned - that was my relationship with God when the basis of my relationship with Him was my effort...or lack thereof.

But then God in His grace sends Jesus and Jesus does two things. He lives a sinless life and then on the cross takes my place and is punished for my sin...he experiences the judgement of God in my place.

So what does it mean to become a Christian, to trust Christ, to believe in Christ? Two things. It means I am now going to trust in the sinless life of Christ and in the death of Christ in my place as the basis of my relationship with longer is the basis of my relationship my behavior or my ability to please Him.

Now, and this is so important - just as I depend on the life and death of Christ as the basis of my relationship with God, so God depends on the life and death of Christ as the basis of His relationship with me. Just as I no longer depend on my behavior as the basis of my relationship with God, so God no longer depends on my performance as the basis of His relationship with me!

The implications of this are huge and we will unpack these in the blogs to follow.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Grace in 35 minutes!

Earlier this Spring, a pastor friend in California was doing a series on experiencing God and asked if I would take the message on grace. I was delighted to do so, but the challenge was I had to summarize the grace of God in 35 minutes! Yikes! After pondering this for quite some time, I decided that we would look at three major acts of God's grace and what the implications are of each one for us. Now I had three acts of grace and twenty implications to cover in 35 minutes!

Now you have the road map for the next few let's start with just listing the three acts of God's grace that we are going to cover and then in coming blogs we will describe each of these and then look at the implications in our lives. These are radical and life-changing truths -so keep following.

What are the three acts of God's grace that we will unpack? The first is this - that He has imputed His righteousness to us. Hmmm - we'll make this a lot more interesting than it sounds. The second is that He not only views us differently (a slight hint about imputed righteousness), but He has also made us different...He has actually implanted His righteousness in us. The implications of this are key to getting off the treadmill of a performance-based faith. The third act of grace toward us that we will explore is that He adopted us.

In I Cor 15:10 the apostle Paul says, "But by the grace of God I am what I am." In verse 9 he describes himself as a wicked, evil person, killing and persecuting the followers of Jesus. A person to be feared and avoided. But in verse 10 he says, "I am not like that anymore...everything that is now right about me - it is a result of God's grace."

Starting with the next blog, we will look at these three acts of grace and the "rightness" they create in us.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010

My View of Me

Last month, Sue and I had the privilege of attending a TrueFaced Intensive. One of the many key thoughts we came away with was this - how we view ourselves is the most revealing commentary of our theology!

I have heard many say that it is how I view God that is the most revealing window into my theology. But how I see me is directly correlated to my view of God. How I view God and how I view me are inseperable. If you were to create a theology and image of God based on how you view yourself...what would it say about God??

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

My Identity is the Source of my Behavior...and my Effort!

Ephesians 5:8 " one time you were darkness, but now you are light...walk as children of light..."

"At one time you you are..." We are not who we used to be! In Christ we actually are someone different. Paul in this passage doesn't just say we are now living in the light, but we are light. He then says that this light has a DNA of goodness, of rightness, and of truth ("for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true"). Because we are a new creation in Christ, we now have this new DNA implanted in us. Then Paul says we are to "walk" or to live consistantly with who we are. We do not behave so that we can become someone with the DNA of light, but because we have the DNA of light, we are to live that way..."walk as children of light." Live like who you are.

Note again that our behavior is not the cause of our identity...rather our identity is the source of our behavior.

The other day we talked about how grace is never opposed to effort...and here it is again. To "walk as children of light" takes effort. A three mile walk takes more effort than a three hour nap. And so we do exert effort...lots of effort...but it is effort focused on living out of our new identity, not effort focused on trying to eventually become someone different from the scum we currently are. Could it be that my obedience is the evidence of what God has already done in me?