Friday, December 12, 2008

Transforming Grace

Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges is a book near and dear to my heart. Kevin's Dad put a copy in my hands ten years ago, and God used it mightily to reveal the true meaning of grace to me. Up until that point, my relationship with God was a swinging pendulum of pride and fear. Pride: if I felt I was 'doing good stuff' and therefore God was happy with me; Fear: I had sinned and so God was angry and hated the sight of me.

I recently re-read the book for the first time. The way I read books lately is so scattered and spread over such a long period of time that I often feel I need to start over again as soon as I turn that last page! That was the case with this wonderful book.

I want to share a few passages from the book that struck me as I was reading. I hope they are as challenging and encouraging to you as they are to me.

Some people believe that, under grace, God's law no longer has the meaning of requirement but is an expression of His desire. They would readily say God desires that we be holy, but God does not require that we be holy. They maintain that we have been freed, not only from the curse and condemnation resulting from breaking the law, but also from the requirements of the law as a rule of life. They believe that to insist on obedience as a requirement for a Christian is to teach legalism instead of grace. In ther words, to assign the concept of requirement to the will of God is legalism, but to assign the concept of desire to it is grace.

I believe such a view is a misunderstanding of grace. God's grace does not change the fundamental character of God's moral law. Rather, the grace of God provides for the forgiveness and acceptance of those who have broken the law. The good news of the gospel is that God has removed the guilt we incur by breaking His law and has bestowed on us the righteousness of Christ, who perfectly kept His law. Legalism does not consist in yielding obedience to the law. Rather, it is to seek justification and good standing with God throught the merit of works done in obedience to the law--instead of by faith in Christ.

We need to always keep in mind that God is not only our Savior and heavenly Father through Christ, but He is also still God, the supreme Ruler and moral Governor of His creation. The sons and daughters of a king are still under obligation to obey the laws their father has decreed for his realm, even though they are his children. The are no more exempt from the laws than any other citizen.

Even when the children of the king freely and willingly obey the laws, because they love their father and understand and agree with the laws he has pronounced, they are still subject to the laws of the realm. So we as God's children are subject to the laws of His realm. Out of a response to His grace, we should obey in a loving and grateful way. Chapter 7, The Proof of Love, pgs 90-91, emphasis mine
Anyone ever tried this? A bibliophile's dream.

5 comments:

Nancy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nancy said...

God has been repeatedly challenging me to serve and obey Him for HIM alone. He has shown me how selfish my motives are. I obey Him because I know it's right, or the best thing for ME, not just because I love Him. It has been so humbling. I keep hoping for this radical heart change, so it won't be such a battle to keep my motives pure. So far that hasn't happened, so I fight the battle in my thoughts (when I think to!). I trust that He will do the work that needs to be done in my heart.

Candice said...

Nancy, I have cried out to the Lord time and time again, 'Sanctify me, Lord!" and have felt so frustrated at my continued failing again and again...but it just isn't instant, is it? What a precious promise that He is working, and will complete the work He has begun in us! (Phil 1:6)

Don't be discouraged, Nancy. Kevin says (and I'm not sure that this quote is original with him) that the difference between a spiritual man and an unspiritual one is that the spiritual man gets up and repents and tries again when he falls.

Kevin said...

"...for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity." -Pr. 24:16

Anonymous said...

Thought-provoking post, Candice. I thought of James 2:10, "But whoever would keep the whole law, yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all." Since we have broken the law, we are guilty of breaking all of it, and nothing we do can ever make up for that. Our sinful nature likes to tell us that we can keep God's law and please him apart from Christ. For Christians, that is a huge battle. Just as we received Christ (salvation is free), we should continue in Him (God continues to accept us because of Christ, not because of ANYTHING we do). The good that we do is only acceptable because of Christ, and the good we do springs from the faith in God's FREE gift of Jesus. Faith alone. What a great gift to remember this Christmas!
-Dana