A Favorite Book
One of my favorite books is Transforming Grace, by Jerry Bridges. It is a simple, but profound and deeply helpful exploration into what it means to live by faith in the justifying, adopting and sanctifying grace of God.
One statement that I find particularly insightful is when he writes, "The Bible never speaks of God's grace as simply making up for our deficiencies."
No, grace is so much better than that.
It's not that I try my best and God fills in the gap with grace. I do not co-build the bridge that reconciles me to the Father. The gospel is not that I do my part and Jesus does his part in my salvation.
In the words of Charles Spurgeon, our salvation is "all of grace." We contribute nothing but our sin to the equation. Jesus supplies all the grace.
Why Am I Not Staggered by Grace?
Then why am I not more staggered by grace? Maybe because I haven't really, really come to grips with the mission of Jesus and what it says about me.
In Romans 5:6, the apostle Paul says that Jesus "died for the ungodly."
Did you get that?
In view of the cross, we learn that Jesus came to serve the sentence for those who deserve the death penalty. Jesus didn't come to suffer and die for those who are doing their best. He was sent for the ungodly.
Here we discover that the ungodly are not saved because of their efforts to obey and sacrifice but because of the obedience and sacrifice of Jesus for them. In their place. As their substitute.
Reconciliation with God is not something we achieve. It is something we can only receive. This is why it is called grace. It is a gift. For the ungodly.
In other words, a question I must ask is, "Am I ungodly enough for grace?"
What? Of course, I am. No, seriously. Do I really believe that? Sometimes we (and I'm talking especially to pastors like me) believe the lie that being a "vocational Christian" has auto-sanctified us. We don't need the blood. We have robes. We have degrees and positions and titles.
It is the besetting sin of those in Christian leadership to become Pharisees, the ones whom Jesus considered the most ungodly of them all. And yet Jesus died for me. What is an ungodly pastor to do in view of such mercy?
Confess and Cling, or Wax on, Wax Off
Confess and cling. Confess my unrighteousness and cling to Jesus as my perfect righteousness.
This is what Jesus invites us to do as leaders. To set the example of being a needy sinner who has a complete Savior - a sin-bearer and righteousness provider.
Confess and cling.
Sounds kinda like wax on, wax off. :) But it really is like that. We don't just confess and cling once. We keep on confessing and keep on clinging.
Wax on, wax off. This is how a car shines. It's also is how a soul
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