Friday, 12 October 2007

Not the God of merit

Sometimes you get the impression that God is trying to say something when it feels like every day you are hearing the same thing. That's something I've felt over the last few days.

I've been so fortunate to have spent the last few days thinking about, writing about and speaking about the God of grace, who does not treat us as our sins deserve through the cross of Jesus.

On Monday, I was writing a talk to give on Tuesday at Lancaster CU on the prodigal son and his older brother. The big point: grace cannot be earned, but is freely given.

On Tuesday, the UCCF North West team (of which I am a part) had an incredible overview of the whole of Mark's Gospel by Justin Mote. I was struck again by Mark's point in chapters 8-10: where we cannot help ourselves, the God of grace has intervened.

On Wednesday, I met up with several students who wanted to talk further about God's grace, following the prodigal son and older brother talk from the night before. And I had the joy of studying Colossians 1:15-23 with cell leaders at the University of Cumbria campus in Lancaster. Again, the big point: Christ has done it all, and by trusting in him you have everything.

Then yesterday, I was privileged to have attended the Northern Evangelists' Conference in Leyland, where Tim Keller expertly showed how it is the gospel of grace that changes the hearts of both moralists and relativists. In the evening, it was great to engage with God's word from John 3, where Jesus tells Nicodemus that he can be part of the Kingdom of God only through a miracle of God's grace.

I think this week has shown me how prone I am to what Tim Keller calls 'older-brotherishness', the trap of obeying God for something more than just the relationship this represents. It's been so liberating to have been confronted and buffeted by the message of grace from all sides. It's been so amazing to remember that the God of the Universe is not the God of merit or the God of karma, but the God of grace who is drawing a people together to be his very own. He is the God who does not treat us as our sins deserve.

I was struck by the words of this simple song as I drove back from Preston:

Holy God in love became
Perfect man to bear my blame.
On the cross, he took my sin
By his death, I live again

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