Saturday, July 15, 2006

Our God is a great BIG God (2)

What makes Christianity different? A debate once raged as to what was the distinctive thing about Christianity, compared to other world faiths. After much debate, C.S. Lewis walked in and simply said: grace.

Those very famous words in Romans 8v37-39 tell us much of grace. Sinners secure in the love of God. Terry Virgo calls it: “God's lavish grace”. The clouds open when we discover the reality of grace, with fresh wonder, such that “God's grace defies our comprehension”.

I love grace – and so I love the scriptures because they're full of grace. Even a few words on grace can make you want to turn to praising God. But... back to Virgo... he says:
“Few joys can be compared with discovering the wonder of God's grace, and I now set this material before you, certain that, if you will give yourself to reading it with an open heart and a willing spirit, your whole experience of Christ can also be transformed. You can be set free to enjoy his grace, to celebrate his love, to be certain of your freely-given righteousness, and to make him known to others”
The Bible bleeds grace on every page and so we turn there to be fed by our God. Dan Philips has written:
“If [studying the Bible] doesn't increase your passion, and your love for God, you're not doing it right"
And that's my aim. Turning to Romans 9-11 to have our passion and love for God increased.

People think Romans 9 is hard to understand. Listen, its not simple but I don't think it is hard. The hard thing is for us to believe it. Not because its fanciful but because God's word here seeks to demolish our sinful pride and put us on our knees and faces before God. Its that hard teaching that has made it a disputed passage in the history of the church. Disputed by people who want to make it not say what it plainly says. Church history can teach us – learn from it – read John Piper's biography series, for example.

Whatever the bad press, this is the Word of God. Mark Driscoll writes about the importance of having “solid reformed doctrine” and says:
“If you don't know what that means, the gist is that people suck and God saves us from ourselves. For more details... just accept a plain reading of Romans, particularly Romans 9-11”.
And that's the plan as we explore God's grace in Romans 9-11. I want us to find a plain reading of it. You might disagree with some of the detail – but let me challenge you to examine your heart if you find some of this to hot to handle. If we disagree with the Bible then we're wrong. The Bible bleeds grace, we must not take offence. The Bible bleeds grace...

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