Sunday, 25 November 2007

By grace, through faith.

Have you ever felt like you are under the weight of condemnation? Far from God or perhaps even disapproved of by your heavenly father? A friend said to me the recently 'I am a rubbish Christian'; she felt like she was missing the mark of God's standards and was struggling to maintain a 'Christian Lifestyle'.

The problem is that so often we forget that if we are in Christ, we are justified. This is our legal standing with God, it means we are declared righteous. We are in the right with God.

How can this be? God's standards are way beyond my reach, I take one look at the ten commandments and feel shame at that white lie I told at work, my failure to truly honour my parents and the jealous eye over my neighbours possessions. I can't maintain my perception of what it means to live a 'Christian Lifestyle'; perhaps I drank a bit too much last night, again, or maybe my lustful eyes fell upon someone in a way they shouldn't. Am I a rubbish Christian?

Lets clear this up. There is no such thing as a 'rubbish Christian'. Paul states in Romans that 'All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God'. We all fail. This is why Ephesians 2: 8-9 says 'For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God - not because of works, lest any man should boast'.

On the cross, Jesus took the punishment that we deserved. Because of this, we can repent and God will overlook our sins. We will be forgiven, but there is more to come. The following verse is Isaiah 61:10

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

When we repent, our sins are cleansed so it is as if we had never sinned. But then God does something spectacular. He clothes us in his perfect righteousness. In his book 'Systematic Theology' Wayne Grudem describes this as going from Negative (sin) , to Neutral (forgiven) to Positive (Righteous). In 2 Corinthians 5:21, Paul describes how in Christ, we become the righteousness of Christ when we repent.

For He [God] made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him [Jesus]

So if you ever feel under condemnation, don't let your feelings get ahead of the truth. Ask God to raise your awareness of your right standing in him, and meditate on his word.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007


On February 24 1981, during the press conference just after the announcement of their engagement, one journalist asked Prince Charles and Princess Dianna if they were in love. Diana said “Of course”. Charles replied that he was too, but added…

“Whatever love means”.

A startling statement to say the least, but it is thought provoking nonetheless. Can you define what love means? Think about it for a moment.

Wikipedia defines love as ‘a constellation of emotions and experiences related to a sense of strong affection or profound oneness.’ To me, this definition is completely logical, yet only partially truthful. It’s also a bit of a mouthful. Unfortunately the author has defined love as merely an emotional, psychological experience. I believe that anyone who has experienced love, knows that it goes deeper, and that there is more to it than that.

The Oxford English Dictionary does not do a whole lot better. It describes love as an ‘intense feeling of deep affection’, ‘a deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone’ or ‘a great interest and pleasure in something’.

It seems to me that it is extremely difficult to define in words, what is love?

Perhaps we are better off asking, what is love like?

The bible claims the following…

“Love is patient and kind. Love knows neither envy nor jealousy. Love is not forward and self-assertive, nor boastful and arrogant. Love does not behave rudely, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres”

This inspiring piece of writing accurately portrays the characteristics of love and tells us what love is like, but the Bible also makes a stunning statement about what love is.

The bible claims that…

“God is love”
As a Christian I believe that God not only loves, but is in fact the very definition of love. In himself he defines what love is, and without his existence, we have no point of reference for truly understanding what love is.