Friday, May 19, 2006

Breathless Gratitude

Ian Stackhouse spoke at the last Surrey CU meeting of this year, last night. I think it was the first time I'd heard him preach in person (rather than mp3), though we'd met a number of times and I loved his book on being gospel-driven as a church.

Anyways, during his talk he quoted PT Forsyth, something he does a lot in his book:
..."We have churches of the nicest kindest people but who have never known the soul's despair nor its breathless gratitude..."
Which is to say that as we consider the gospel we must know the misery, curse and blame we have been under due to sin - and also the unmeasured, amazing, abounding and unending grace that is ours in Jesus Christ.

Earlier I'd met with John Ross in Farnham and he'd shown me a session from Dominic Steele's Introducing God course - in it he describes sin, from Genesis 3, as a our declaration of autonomy. A very helpful term, which leads to the corruption of all our relationships with each other, this world and our God. The situation is dire, and yet, and yet... grace, paid for my sins, and brought me to life... clothes me with power, to do what is right... leads me to heaven, where I'll see his face...."

John's deep rooted passion for the gospel and for developing gospel-centred-partnerships is somewhat reflected in Mark Lauterbach's comments on new churches
....I knew godly older people who understood Gospel humility and Gospel freedom try very hard to understand and appreciate the new wineskin -- and they could not make the adjustment despite their best efforts. There is a place for new churches as new generations rise. Those new churches will look quite different to older churches. But humility will call us to look on each other with charitable judgments and to ask a few basic questions -- Is the true Gospel being preached? is the church faithful to the Scriptures? Do they seek godly and qualified leaders? Do they practice discipline? If these things are present, then how they dress and what kind of music they use is insignificant. The issue is always the Gospel.
I confess I was also sitting rather covetously looking at the well stocked shelves of John's study office.

I'm sobered to have been reminded of the depth of my sin once again. Without that, grace is cheapened and life's gravity is reduced. And I'm glad to have tasted again the glory of God's grace. And I'm really looking forward to indulging in, delighting over, and generally gorging myself of Romans 11v30-12v2 with Tom and Ed later today.

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