Monday, November 19, 2007

What happened before the beginning?

There is a lie that persists today. The lie of Karma-Theology – that God loves good people. It's a tragic lie 2000 years after Jesus came showing us that God saves, v9, by grace. All the more absurd because God said the same to Abraham a further 1800 years before. Grace was always God's way. Yet people prefer karma. We are saved not by what we have done, but by God's purpose and grace.

a) not by works but by God's purpose
This is the killer blow to karma theology. Do we deserve to be in with God? No! v9 – it's not because of what we have done. You're not a Christian because you're good. Or spiritual. Or prayerful. Or a church-attender. Or a Bible-reader. Or an evangelist. Or because of any other thing you might do. God isn't looking at your behaviour. He doesn't save you and me because of what we've done.
  • For some of us that is devastating because we've spent our lives trying to show we're good and religious. Grace takes the ground out from under you, but in the same breath has given you permission to fail and repent and receive grace.
  • For others this is liberating. It's liberating because it means you can take off your Pharisee Mask. You can stop faking that you're good and admit that you're not.
You can join the company of sinners saved by grace. A place where there is permission to fail. And permission to repent. Where we're not judged on our good behaviour but on the basis of Jesus. God doesn't look at your behaviour, only at Jesus. There is freedom to get it wrong. Freedom to admit to having sinned. Freedom to admit that you've rebelled against God. Freedom to receive grace. What comfort! Yet still we protest – what about my deeds... and God says, they're filthy rags. And someone else says – what about my filthy rags, and God says – what of them! I see Jesus.

b) before time
Grace v10 – before the beginning of time. Our deeds aren't even part of the equation. John Calvin who is a wonderfully warm writer about God's grace wrote:
'Before we were born, we were enrolled in His register;
He had already adopted us for His children. ' Our testimony might tell a different story, that it was our decision, our choice. But 2 Timothy comes back and reinterprets our experience... it re-writes the dates and it re-writes who did what. The script is totally reworked.

We default to thinking it was our free will to choose God, but , but 1v9 is clear – it is God's purpose and grace that runs the universe. The throne room of heaven is where the decisions really get made. That isn't to say that I didn't respond to the gospel, Paul says in 2v10, that he endures for the sake of the elect – those God has chosen. He preaches so that people would believe. But, the reality is that before God said 'let there be light' be had poured out his grace upon you! And a gushing river it is! What can we do? Calvin says:
Let us yield the whole to His mercy, knowing that we cannot boast of ourselves, unless we rob Him of the honour which belongs to Him.
Quit trying to impress. Anchor your soul in the grace-word of God. In his word from before time, and in his word in the death of Jesus for you. Christian, let the word of God send a shockwave of grace into your life. Let the word of God produce faith in you.

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