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."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Removing the Scare from Fear (60 seconds)

We have talked a number of times about "the fear of God" and how for the believer it no longer contains the fear of being punished for our sins...because of the cross - judgement, condemnation and punishment are gone for us.

Over vacation I was reading Living the Resurrection by Eugene Peterson and he has some interesting thoughts on the fear of God for the believer. Let me quote some for you.

" the Hebrew culture and the Hebrew Scriptures in which the word fear is frequently used in a way that means far more than simply being scared...It includes all the emotions that accompany being scared- disorientation, not knowing what is going to happen, the realization that there is far more here than we had any idea of. But that 'more and other' is God."

"Fear of the Lord is the stock biblical term for this either sudden or cultivated awareness...We are not the center of our existence. We are not the sum total of what matters. We don't know what is going to happen next."

"Fear-of-the-Lord keeps us on our toes with our eyes open...prevents us from acting presumptuously..."

"Fear-of-the-Lord is fear with the scary element deleted."

I like that - it reminds me of Brennan Manning's NT definition of the fear of God as "silent wonder, radical amazement, affectionate awe - at the infinite goodness of God."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hiding My Sin From You (45 seconds)

Since God allows me to bring my sin into the light with Him and only experience positive, helpful, and beneficial results...I need to love you the same way and allow you to bring your sin into the light of our relationship and allow you to experience the same beneficial results of doing that! On the other hand, if bringing my sin into the light with you means the beginning of punishment, I think I will keep it hidden and risk the possibility of getting caught.

If bringing my sin into the light with you means the beginning of discipline, and I have experienced an environment of discipline that has always been rooted in love and has been focused on my growth, my healing, and my spiritual maturity (Hebrews 12), I will bring my sin into the light with you because I know that is better than the pain and deceitfulness of hiding my sin.

Remember - we know we have found a relationship of grace when we share the worst about us and the other person moves closer and holds us tighter.

You having that kind of relationship with me helps break the power of sin in my life...because I can live in the light. A relationship of grace is the greatest gift we can ever give someone.