Posts Tagged ‘romans 8’

I read the article, “You Have An ‘A’”, earlier today by Tullian Tchividjian and simply had to highlight it here. The story he tells is such an incredibly powerful and simply illustration of what we particularly celebrate this week:

She (the head of the English department) looked up and saw me standing there by my daughter and could tell that Robin was about to cry. There were some students standing around and, because the teacher didn’t want Robin to be embarrassed, she dismissed the students saying, “I want to talk to these people alone.” As soon as the students left and the door was closed, Robin began to cry. I said, “I’m here to get my daughter out of that English  class. It’s too difficult for her. The problem with my daughter is that she’s too conscientious. So, can you put her into a regular English class?” The teacher said, “Mr. Brown, I understand.” Then she looked at Robin and said, “Can I talk to Robin for a minute?” I said, “Sure.” She said, “Robin, I know how you feel. What if I promised you and A no  matter what you did in the class? If I gave you an A before you even started, would you be willing to take the class?” My daughter is not dumb! She started sniffling and said, “Well, I think I could do that.” The teacher said, “I’m going to give  you and A in the class. You already have an A, so you can go to class.”

Later the teacher explained to Steve what she had done. She explained how she took away the threat of a bad grade so that Robin could learn English. Robin ended up making straight A‘s on her own in that class.

Isn’t that the truth of the gospel? Jesus fulfills our need for holiness, strips away the need to focus on our performance, the fear of failing, and enables us to walk in grace and live the life He calls us to. Listen to Mr. Tchividjian’s final thoughts:

That’s how God deals with us. Because we are, right now, under the completely sufficient imputed righteousness of Christ, Christians already have an A. The threat of failure, judgment, and condemnation has been removed. We’re in–forever! Nothing we do will make our grade better and nothing we do will make our grade worse. We’ve been set free.

Knowing that God’s love for you and approval of you will never be determined by your performance for Jesus but Jesus’ performance for you will actually make you perform more and better, not less and worse.

When you think about the cross tomorrow on Good Friday and celebrate his resurrection on Sunday, don’t just think about what Jesus paid for in your sin but think about the adoption and justification he also purchased: We already have an A! We’re in! Forever! He approves of you! When we truly understand this, it won’t cause us to be lazy or to try to take advantage of this grace but to enjoy it! In the story above, Robin did not kick back and check out of her class but was motivated by the freedom her professor gave her and did not want to throw away what she had been given! That is how we should be!

    No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39 ESV)

You can read the full article here: “You Have An ‘A’”

I also commend this short but paradigm shifting message by Mr. Tchividjian:

Giving Thought to Gospel ‘Math’: Why Jesus + Nothing = Everything

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Thus, when an affliction befalls you, many good senses may be made of God’s works towards you. You should think thus: it may be, God intends only to try me by this, it may be, God saw my heart was too much set on the creature, and so he intends to show me what is in my heart, it may be, that God saw that if my wealth did continue, I should fall into sin, that the better my position were the worse my soul would be, it may be, God intended only to exercise some grace, it may be, God intends to prepare me for some great work which he has for me: thus you should reason. – Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment

The Piano on the Head or Hand of Grace?

Do you gravitate towards what Burroughs says above or towards Larsen’s view displayed in the comic? We may read Burroughs’ quote above and claim that it is our view in most circumstances but I think we honestly veer towards the view that we just got a piano dropped on our heads. I know in my own heart, I am so quick to think the worst in what God is doing. This financial hardship is a punishment and an a hindrance to us. That sickness is too hard and more than she can handle. Another miscarriage, really? Another stillborn? How is that a good thing, God? And when I sin I can still tend to hide in shame from God and go silent. My heart still shows more often than not that I still think God to be the man in control at his computer dropping a piano on me or someone I love.

God does not Deal with You as You Deal with Him

Here is where Burroughs had a piercing word for me that called me out on how little I believe God for good and how quick I am to misinterpret God’s ways:

I beseech you to consider that God does not deal by you as you deal with him. Should God make the worst interpretation of all your ways towards him, as you do of his towards you, it would be very ill with you. God is pleased to manifest his love thus to us, to make the best interpretations of what we do, and therefore God puts a sense upon the action of his people that one would think could hardly be. For example, God is pleased to call those perfect who have any uprightness of heart in them, he accounteth them perfect: ‘Be ye perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect’; uprightness in God’s sense is perfection. Now, alas, when we look into our own hearts we can scarce see any good at all there, and yet God is pleased to make such an interpretation as to say, It is perfect. When we look into our own hearts, we can see nothing but uncleanness; God calls you his saints, he calls the meanest Christian who has the least grace under the greatest corruption his saint. You say we cannot be saint here, but yet I God’s esteem we are saints. You know the usual title the Holy Ghost gives, in several of the Epistles, to those who had any grace, any uprightness, is, to the saints in such a place; you see what an interpretation God puts upon them, they are saints to him. And so I might name in many other particulars, how God makes the best interpretation of things; if there is an abundance of evil and a little good, God rather passes by the evil and takes notice of the good.

Did you catch that? God does not deal with us as we would deal with him. God has given us every reason to trust his ways and his goodness through the Cross and His tender dealings with us a father. He gave up his only son for us, do I really believe then that my temporary circumstances are an evil He is pouring out on me? Oh, how I must grieve him. I wept when I read that this morning. God esteems me, a sinner, as a Saint and I esteem him, a gracious, loving father, as an angry taskmaster. I grumble at financial struggles or sickness or loss or not being able to conquer a certain sin as if God is ambivalent or indifferent or uncaring. I become very discontent because somehow I know better how my life should go. Really?

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? (Romans 8:31-35 ESV)

God is Not the Hard Master I Judge Him to be

So should we do, if there is only one good interpretation that we can make of a thing we should rather make use of the good one than the bad. Oh, my brethren (I would I could now speak only to such as are godly), retain good thoughts of God, take heed of judging God to be a hard master, make good interpretations of his ways, and that is a special means to help you to contentment in all one’s course.

God is for me! He has not been a hard master. He is not like us. He counts sinners righteous. He calls enemies his children. He sacrifices his only son for those who hate him. He is working for the good of his children when we don’t even know it or realize it. He is not waiting for you to screw up or waiting to drop another trial on your head just to crush you. Your heavenly father has good for you and me in all things.

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I have been immersed in the Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs now for almost 2 months and it has been extremely good for my soul. Two themes in particular has been huge: that this world is truly not my home and that the world of eternity promised to us in Christ will be better than I can fathom.

The World is Exhausting

These past few days I played Mr. Mom as my wife helped out with our local twins club and their biannual used kids sale. The first day I was amped up and motivated, vacuuming almost the whole house and doing some outside work around our house as well on top of taking care of my 5 little ones. It was an enjoyable day. The next day I was feeling it. I was struggling to get moving in the morning. But, the day went well and I felt like I was able to delight in my kids and even made a fun dinner for them. Day 3? I was toast. Of course, my kids were tired and cranky as well. I was struggling to delight in them, to joyfully serve them, to not fall asleep. Fatigue and my own selfishness fought to taint everything on day 3 without my wife. I honestly was trying to trust Jesus to sustain my but I was exhausted. I almost couldn’t think straight and was starting to become harsh with my kids as Hyde was screaming to take over.

What is My Hope in?

How did I finish the day? I started to put my hope in when my wife got home and my time with her! The evening went pretty well because I was simply looking forward to her. It tainted everything I did from that point forward. I thought about what we might do together and even had some sparkling wine ready to enjoy together. Thinking about my wife impacted the rest of my day and helped carry me through the fog of exhaustion.

The reality is, due to circumstances out of her hands,  she got home later than we both thought and, by that time, we were both walking zombies (date night tonight though!). This anticipation plays out many a time though. It can affect my wife’s entire week to know we have a date night coming. On days we have a date night, my work day flies by and I have an anticipation that can carry me. Eternity should be like this for us. Everything we end up hoping for in this world can carry us only temporarily and can disappoint. This is not the case with what Jesus has stored up for us.

The Hope of Eternity

When you sailors see the haven before you, though you were mightily troubled before you could see any land, yet when you come near the shore and can see a certain land-mark, that contents you greatly. A godly man in the midst of the waves and storms that he meets with can see the glory of heaven before him and so contents himself. One drop of the sweetness of heaven is enough to take away all the sourness and bitterness of all the afflictions in the world.

We know that one drop of sourness, or one drop of gall will make bitter a great deal of honey. Put a spoonful of sugar into a cup of gall or wormwood, and it will not sweeten it; but if you put a spoonful of gall into a cup of sugar, it will embitter that. Now it is otherwise in heaven: one drop of sweetness will sweeten a great deal of sour affliction, but a great deal of sourness and gall will not embitter a soul who sees the glory of heaven that is to come. A carnal heart has no contentment but from what he sees before him in this world, but a godly hearts has contentment from what he sees laid up for him in the highest heavens.

There is a great deal of hope in these thoughts from Burroughs. We who trust in Christ do indeed have a light at the end of the tunnel and it is a glorious light. There is land ahead of this journey on the sea and we will get there. It feels so far away as the world and trials beat down on us but it is there. In hoping for heaven and eternity, God will use that anticipation to give us the joy and contentment we need to thrive and not merely gut it out in the here and now.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:18-25 ESV)

This life can be complex and feel like the walls are caving in. Simple tasks can be painful. The rug can be pulled out from beneath us so quickly.  But it will not be this way forever. This world is not our home and we are just passing through.

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Evil besides (which I must still believe to be the lethal side of man) had left on that body an imprint of deformity and decay. And yet when I looked upon that ugly idol in the glass, I was conscious of no repugnance, rather of a leap of welcome. This, too, was myself. It seemed natural and human.

We all know the basic story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: one man creating a second evil alter ego and the battle that ensues. However, this past week, I finally got around to reading the original classic written by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1886. This is yet another classic worth the read that is significantly deeper and more insightful than recent caricatures of the premise. Like Frankenstein, this is no fairy tale but a tragic story and there were a few things that stood out to me.

What Motivates Jekyll?

Jekyll’s motivation is to try to separate his sinful side from his upright side as he sees it. This is wild to me: he is truly making a foolish attempt to mortify his flesh.

If each, I told myself, could be housed in separate identities, life would be relieved of all that was unbearable; the unjust might go his way, delivered from the aspirations and remorse of his more upright twin; and the just could walk steadfastly and securely on his upward path, doing the good things in which he found his pleasure, and no longer exposed to disgrace and penitence by the hands of this extraneous evil. It was the curse of mankind that these incongruous faggots were thus bound together—that in the agonised womb of consciousness, these polar twins should be continuously struggling. How, then were they dissociated?

Jekyll knows the tension that Paul expresses in Romans 7 but doesn’t exactly track with Romans 8:13 and so he takes his own potion and his own “alter ego” in unveiled in Mr. Hyde. The problem is that it is only his evil side that is unveiled and hardly separated from his whole self. But Jekyll hardly groans at this result.

The Allure of Hyde

Jekyll tries to use Hyde as a way of yielding to all sin. Becoming Mr. Hyde is akin to giving himself over to complete debauchery. Of course, it is utterly intoxicating and he is eventually pressed to make a choice between the two (especially after Hyde kills a very prominent person). Easy decision, right? Stick with Dr. Jekyll! Wrong. The allure and power of Hyde is overwhelming.

To cast in my lot with Jekyll, was to die to those appetites which I had long secretly indulged and had of late begun to pamper. To cast it in with Hyde, was to die to a thousand interests and aspirations, and to become, at a blow and forever, despised and friendless. The bargain might appear unequal; but there was still another consideration in the scales; for while Jekyll would suffer smartingly in the fires of abstinence, Hyde would be not even conscious of all that he had lost. Strange as my circumstances were, the terms of this debate are as old and commonplace as man; much the same inducements and alarms cast the die for any tempted and trembling sinner; and it fell out with me, as it falls with so vast a majority of my fellows, that I chose the better part and was found wanting in the strength to keep to it.

The Growing Slavery to Hyde

Jekyll’s nightmare very quickly becomes a reality. He thinks he can just become Hyde on his own terms and then turn it off. That’s not how it works with sin and it’s not how it works with Hyde either! Mr. Hyde becomes more and more powerful until Jekyll is hopeless.

At all hours of the day and night, I would be taken with the premonitory shudder; above all, if I slept, or even dozed for a moment in my chair, it was always as Hyde that I awakened. Under the strain of this continually impending doom and by the sleeplessness to which I now condemned myself, ay, even beyond what I had thought possible to man, I became, in my own person, a creature eaten up and emptied by fever, languidly weak both in body and mind, and solely occupied by one thought: the horror of my other self.

Jekyll does not win this battle. Only in his death is Hyde defeated. It is very tempting for us to think that yielding to sin just one time is no big deal. Just satisfy the desire today and tomorrow I’ll feel better. Or we think we can muster the will to defeat the sin in us. I will just stop being harsh with my kids. I will just stop looking at pornography. I will just stop overeating so much. That works pretty well too, doesn’t it? There is no playing games with sin – it will crush you and take miles like Mr. Hyde does when you give inches just as Jekyll tries to do.

There is no quenching the desires of sin, they will not be satisfied in feeding them! Yet we can’t simply discipline ourselves out of Mr. Hyde. However, there is a “magic potion” that gives a mortal wound to the Mr. Hyde in us. It’s slow acting (lifetime!) and painful but guaranteed…

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:56-57 ESV)

But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
(Hebrews 10:12-14 ESV)

I definitely commend this classic for you to read. The print version is only about 60 pages! I hope you will be stirred and sobered as I have been.

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