Sunday, 13 April 2008

The ridiculousness of snubbing grace

I'm still 'coming back down' from being at the awesome New Word Alive conference in Pwllheli. We had a great time. This post isn't going to be a review - for that I suggest you check out Adrian Warnock's blog or posts like this one that reflect on the place of the conference in the future of evangelical Christianity in Britain.

What instead I want to write about is a reflection that I had on site during the week, following Terry Virgo's excellent talk on the opening night. Terry expounded verses from Romans 5 and Romans 7. He reminded us of how the law is like a demanding marital spouse that never lifts a finger to help us. What's more, the law is always right and will never go away! But good news, of course, is that we have died to the law and now have a new 'marital relationship' with Christ. We were also reminded of how we cannot be saved by the law, and how the law cannot change us either. Grace is how we are saved, and grace is how we are changed. Grace is absolutely central.

The following day I reflected on how far we often drift away from this message. I know it from my own life - as so often I fall into legalism, as so often I trust in rules to change me, and as so often I am completely unbothered by my sin. And as I chatted with old friends, I was reminded by how hard it is for Christians to stay committed to grace. One friend in a church situation where they preach salvation by grace but practice grace by law. Another friend spoke of the condemnation she feels at the hands of the judgemental Christians around her. The message of grace is, in so many ways, so simple - and it is so good and so liberating - and yet we drift from it so quickly; as individuals, as organisations, as churches.

I think that this is perhaps the epitome of sin. We are told that God has done everything to cancel the penalty of sin. We are told that he alone as expert surgeon can free us from the power of sin in our lives through Word and Spirit. He is everything we need - and he alone can give it. And so as I walked through the site at Pwllheli I was struck again by how sad and how pathetic it is that we turn back to ourselves and our own efforts to save and to sanctify ourselves - something that we can never hope to acheive by ourselves, snubbing the God who can.

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