Grace generates panic because it wrestles both control and glory out of our hands.–Tullian Tchividjian
A few years ago I read the book, Surprised by Grace: God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels, by Tullian Tchividjian, Billy Graham’s grandson and pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. I bought it because I longed for insight and hope for a son who, at the time, was rebelling in certain areas. As I began reading however, I thought, “Oh, bummer.” I realized I am the rebel. Don’t you hate it when that happens….Like when you sit in church listening to the sermon thinking how great it is that your husband, son, daughter, or friend is there because that person REALLY needs to hear it, and then the preacher gives a specific example that is straight out of your diary. Immediately, all the words and truth are finally & unequivocally determined to be for you. Yeah, bummer.
We see our sins as stars in the sky, definitely present, but not really clear without the use of a telescope (and who has a telescope these days???), and certainly non-intrusive in everyday life. We see others’ sin under the microscope of judgement, ourselves as the God-type scientist. Things are always upside down, inside out, confused and backwards without the truth of God’s word inserted in every thought.
Tchividjian says, “I’ll never forget hearing Dr. Doug Kelly (one of my theology professors in seminary) saying in class, ‘If you want to make people mad, preach law. If you want to make them really, really mad preach grace.’ I didn’t know what he meant then. But I do now. The law offends us because it tells us what to do–and we hate anyone telling us what to do, most of the time. But, ironically, grace offends us even more because it tells us that there’s nothing we can do, that everything has already been done. And if there’s something we hate more than being told what to do, it’s being told that we can’t do anything, that we can’t earn anything–that we’re helpless, weak, and needy.”
Cooperating with grace makes sin a stepping stone. Do we sin more for more stepping stones??? NO. Do we sin? YES. Every day? Yes. Do our flesh, the world, and the powers of evil want to use that against us? Do they want to emphasize law when grace seems too insufficient for this particular sin/failure/loss/struggle? Yes.
God’s grace is never insufficient, no matter how great our sin. (2 Cor. 12:9)
Are you a rebel? Do you occasionally rebel? Or do you love a rebel? Rebellion brings fear, hate, condemnation, guilt, insecurity, confusion, selfishness & hopelessness. How incredible that in Romans 7:24, as Paul writes about his inability to be sin-free (his tendency to be a rebel), he does not ask “What?,” but he asks, “WHO?,” “Who will set me free from the body of this death.” Who, indeed. The God of all grace, the God who makes grace abound, He whose grace is sufficient, the Father who hung His son on the cross because of grace.
–William R. Newell (1868-1956) is remembered fondly as a pastor, evangelist, Bible teacher, author, & conference speaker. And he is remembered as a humble man who recognized that it was only by the grace of God that he was able to accomplish so many good things. William was a very troubled and wayward teenager. In desperation, his father wrote to the president of Moody Bible Institute, and begged him to allow the enrollment of his son. Since the college was open to serious Bible students, the president was at first resistant, but finally agreed that Newell would be enrolled with the proviso that he would meet with the president daily, and would take his studies seriously. A father’s prayers, a college president’s commitment, and the three steps forward, two steps back efforts of Newell (I can relate…can you?) eventually resulted in the young man not only graduating, but several years later returning to Moody Bible Institute as a teacher. Eventually he penned this as part of his testimony, in the hymn, At Calvary:
“Oh the love that drew salvation’s plan; Oh the grace that brought it down to man; Oh the mighty gulf that God did span…
At Calvary the ground is level. I thought I was reading that book for my rebellious son (the one I viewed through a microscope) and God showed me it was for His rebellious daughter ( me, who thought my sins were so far removed I needed a telescope…& like I said, who has one of those???). I thought I would teach and instruct; Instead I was taught and was instructed. Today, when guilt overcomes you or when you find yourself wielding judgement, run to Jesus, run to grace. Find freedom & find a new amazing desire to please God. Do not ignore or be offended by grace. Repent and find it’s power. Romans 7-8
Coming Soon…beautiful things God is teaching me through Psalm 51….Real Faith, true confession without shame, God’s outlook instead of our in-look, the power of God in a prisoner’s life, Freedom,Freedom, Freedom (for those who like things in 3’s-B fam), utter depravity-utmost hope…come along with me and learn of Him! It’s so amazing…