Sunday, 20 July 2014

Prostitutes, Sex offenders, Murderers and Homosexuals welcome

This from a beautiful and moving exposition of God's grace. First a bit of the intro:
One of the greatest scandals of the gospel is the free grace of forgiveness. But we say this, and I do not think we often let it sink in. The scandal of free grace is God’s love of sinners, God’s love of His enemies, His love of the worst kinds of evil people...
Then some applications:
This means that God receives prostitutes who sleep with married men, helping them break their marriage vows, helping them betray their wives at home. God receives those prostitutes. 
This means that God receives sex offenders, men who prey on little children, rapists, abusers, stalkers, molesters, and creeps of all of shapes and sizes. God receives filthy sex offenders. 
This means that God receives murderers, haters, backbiters, gossips, and liars. He receives those who have planned the execution of the innocent. He forgives abortionists and the women who order the murder of their own babies. He forgives the military officers who order unjust attacks, and He forgives the soldiers who carry them out. God receives bloody murderers. 
This means that God receives homosexuals and transexuals and bisexuals and transgendered and porn addicts and adulterers and fornicators of every stripe. God cleanses. God forgives. God extends mercy. God receives the sexually immoral and confused.
The challenge:

And someone will say, but don’t they have to change? Don’t they have to repent? Don’t they have to stop sinning? Don’t they have to understand something about the grace of God? Otherwise, why wouldn’t God save everyone? We’re not universalists are we? Yes, good questions. But first let’s fix the pronoun problems in the previous sentences.

Why do you say they…? Why do you speak as though they are out there, they are behind bars, they are extreme cases? Don’t you know that they are you? Don’t pretend that these sins are so far removed from you. Don’t pretend that you are all holy, chaste, and pure. If you say you have no sin, you deceive yourself, and the truth is not in you (1 Jn. 1:8). But if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 Jn. 1:9).

From most unrighteousness? From the milder forms of unrighteousness? From the socially acceptable forms of unrighteousness? No, from all unrighteousness. Yes, when God’s grace comes, it accomplishes miracles, it transforms, it breaks through, it heals, it changes. Absolutely. This is no inert grace. This is reactive, explosive, living grace.

Moving stuff indeed. Read the full thing here

Monday, 7 July 2014

The Old Testament is the Gospel in bud

...let us beware of under-valuing the Old Testament. There has arisen of late years a most unhappy tendency to slight and despise any religious argument which is drawn from an Old Testament source, and to regard the man who uses it as a dark, benighted, and old-fashioned person. We shall do well to remember that the Old Testament is just as much inspired as the New, and that the religion of both Testaments is in the main, and at the root, one and the same. The Old Testament is the Gospel in the bud; the New Testament is the Gospel in full flower. The Old Testament is the Gospel in the blade: the New Testament is the Gospel in full ear. The Old Testament saints saw many things through a glass darkly: but they looked to the same Christ by faith and were led by the same Spirit as ourselves. Let us, therefore, never listen to those who sneer at Old Testament arguments. Much infidelity begins with an ignorant contempt of the Old Testament.

— J. C. Ryle, Sabbath: A Day to Keep

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Proud of my little red babies

Some of the fruit of this year's labours. Don't they look scrumptious? And simply the work of some watering and protecting the strawberries from birds and those wretched slugs! One is proud and God is good:

Praise the Lord, O my soul!
    Lord my God, you are very great!

You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
    and plants for man to cultivate,
that he may bring forth food from the earth

    and wine to gladden the heart of man,

oil to make his face shine
    and bread to strengthen man's heart.

Psalm 104

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

To see what is right and not do it is...

...cowardice. It is never a question of who is right but what is right.

 John Buchan (1875-1940)

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Finding rest for your soul, featuring prophet Jeremiah and Bonheffer

Much of the what we know as Western civilisation (a la the first world) is rapidly falling apart. People mistreat one another, husbands cheat on their wives, mothers abandon their families, leaders prey on little children - and that's just in the Church! At the start of his heartbreaking book, Jeremiah rebukes God's people that they have forsaken God the spring of living water and have dug cisterns that cannot hold water. In other words, God's people had turned away from the source of all goodness and life and have tried to replace Him with disappointing, worldly, sham gods - which are no gods at all. Rather than completely abandon them, God offers a way out:

So the way out is to quit faffing, to cease babbling and to stand, to reflect, to pause and to ask for the ancient paths. Rather than keeping busy, immersing ourselves on facebook, twitter and i-tunes or with sex, money and skinny lattes, Jeremiah invites us to stop and consider God and His good and loving ways. Have you stopped and looked at where you are? Have you considered what road you are on and how you got there? If you are not in a good place, then perhaps you need to heed Jeremiah's advice and stop, stand and look. It won't do to keep walking on, in the hope that the future will suddenly turn bright. Bonheffer put this well:

If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the opposite direction

Or in a slightly different vein, CS Lewis says:

We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.

Our culture is very big on progress and many people nowadays (including in the Church) want to be progressive. But, what good is that if you're progressing in the wrong direction? Progress means getting off the wrong road and getting onto the right road. If you've been on the wrong road - avoiding God and His ways - then the best thing you can do for this life and the next, is to stop, look, turn - to turn to Christ and to submit to Him for in Him is life, life in all it's fullness.