Grace Denial

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(Octavius Winslow, “The Glory of the Redeemer in His People” )

Be cautious of grace denial.

You will need much holy wisdom here, lest you overlook the work of the Spirit within you.

You have thought, it may be, of the glory that Christ receives from . . .
brilliant genius,
and profound talent,
and splendid gifts,
and glowing zeal,
and costly sacrifices,
and extensive usefulness.

But have you ever thought of the glory, the far greater, richer glory, that flows to Him from . . .
the contrite spirit,
the broken heart,
the lowly mind,
the humble walk,
the tear of godly repentance that falls when seen by no human eye,
the sigh of godly sorrow that is breathed when heard by no human ear,
the sin abhorrence,
the self loathing,
the deep sense of vileness, and poverty, and infirmity that takes you to Jesus with the prayer:
“Lord, here I am; I have brought to You . . .
my rebellious will,
my wandering heart,
my worldly affections,
my peculiar infirmity,
my besetting and constantly overpowering sin.
Receive me graciously, put forth the mighty power of Your grace in my soul, and subdue all, and rule all, and subjugate all to Yourself! Will it not be for Your glory, the glory of Your great name . . .

if this strong corruption were subdued by Your grace,
if this powerful sin were nailed to Your cross,
if this temper so volatile,
if this heart so impure,
if these affections so truant,
if this mind so dark,
if these desires so earthly,
if these pursuits so carnal,
if these aims so selfish,
were all entirely renewed by Your Spirit, sanctified by Your grace, and made each to reflect Your image? Yes, Lord, it would be for Your glory, through time and through eternity!”

Brought to you by Grace Gems!

LET US BE FRANK: You Are Not Needed There

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Continued from Part 1

“I’m not sure that I’ve got the exact point you are trying to make,” said the Ghost.

“I am not trying to make any point,” said the Spirit. “I am telling you to repent and believe.”

“But my dear boy, I believe already. We may not be perfectly agreed, but you have completely misjudged me if you do not realise that my religion is a very real and a very precious thing to me.”

“Very well,” said the other, as if changing his plan. “Will you believe in me?”

“In what sense?”

“Will you come with me to the mountains? It will hurt at first, until your feet are hardened. Reality is harsh to the feet of shadows. But will you come?”

“Well, that is a plan. I am perfectly ready to consider it. Of course I should require some assurances … I should want a guarantee that you are taking me to a place where I shall find a wider sphere of usefulness-and scope for the talents that God has given me-and an atmosphere of free inquiry-in short, all that one means by civilisation and- er-the spiritual life.”

“No,” said the other. “I can promise you none of these things. No sphere of usefulness: you are not needed there at all. No scope for your talents: only forgiveness for having perverted them. No atmosphere of inquiry, for I will bring you to the land not of questions but of answers, and you shall see the face of God….

Happiness, my dear Dick,” said the Ghost placidly, “happiness, as you will come to see when you are older, lies in the path of duty. Which reminds me. . . . Bless my soul, I’d nearly forgotten. Of course I can’t come with you. I have to be back next Friday to read a paper.1 We have a little Theological Society down there. Oh yes! there is plenty of intellectual life. Not of a very high quality, perhaps. One notices a certain lack of grip-a certain confusion of mind. That is where I can be of some use to them.”

C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

Ah, yes, to be of some use, to  scramble for that wider sphere of usefulness, to find that special  purpose that God has for us.  Sound familiar?

It sounds scary, actually, considering the ghost’s obsession with his own talents and usefulness. I know many useful Christians and many talented souls still searching for their special calling.

Yes, God does have a special plan for us, albeit not hid as though we’re asked to join some divine game of hide and go seek.  God has revealed it plainly. Our chief and highest end is to glorify God and to fully enjoy Him forever.2

For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.  Romans 11:36

Here lies our special purpose.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.  1 Corinthians 10:31

Whatsoever we do… whether sweeping the streets, birthing a child, sailing the sea, writing a book, riding a camel, sleeping on a cot, scaling the highest mountains, or plunging a smelly clog… we are commanded to do all things big or small, grand or lean, noticed or hid… to the glory of Him who gave us life, goodness and much grace.

For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?  1 Corinthians 4:7

If we are useful, and I hope we are, it’s because God has fashioned and equipped us – has graciously blessed us with His gifts perfected in Christ. God has done so because He is good and worthy of all glory (not because we are great and indispensably useful).

So, let us do what we’ve been asked to do. It is more than enough.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?  Micah 6:8

To what end? To see the face of God and to have all our questions stilled, all doubt dissolved, all tears wiped away in His love and glory.

1 But they all began to make excuses…
2 The Westminster Larger Catechism

“We walk into the future in God-glorifying confidence, not because the future is known to us but because it is known to God. And that’s all we need to know.” ― Kevin DeYoung, Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will

Let Us Be Frank

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“Friend, I am not suggesting at all. You see, I know now. Let us be frank. Our opinions were not honestly come by. We simply found ourselves in contact with a certain current of ideas and plunged into it because it seemed modern and successful. At College, you know, we just started automatically writing the kind of essays that got good marks and saying the kind of things that won applause. When, in our whole lives, did we honestly face, in solitude, the one question on which all turned: whether after all the Supernatural might not in fact occur? When did we put up one moment’s real resistance to the loss of our faith?”

“If this is meant to be a sketch of the genesis of liberal theology in general, I reply that it is a mere libel. Do you suggest that men like …”

“I have nothing to do with any generality. Nor with any man but me and you. Oh, as you love your own soul, remember. You know that you and I were playing with loaded dice. We didn’t want the other to be true. We were afraid of crude salvationism , afraid of a breach with the spirit of the age, afraid of ridicule, afraid (above all) of real spiritual fears and hopes.”

“I’m far from denying that young men may make mistakes. They may well be influenced by current fashions of thought. But it’s not a question of how the opinions are formed. The point is that they were my honest opinions, sincerely expressed.”

“Of course. Having allowed oneself to drift, unresisting, unpraying , accepting every half-conscious solicitation from our desires, we reached a point where we no longer believed the Faith. Just in the same way, a jealous man, drifting and unresisting, reaches a point at which he believes lies about his best friend: a drunkard reaches a point at which (for the moment) he actually believes that another glass will do him no harm. The beliefs are sincere in the sense that they do occur as psychological events in the man’s mind. If that’s what you mean by sincerity they are sincere, and so were ours. But errors which are sincere in that sense are not innocent.”

“You’ll be justifying the Inquisition in a moment!”

“Why? Because the Middle Ages erred in one direction, does it follow that there is no error in the opposite direction?”

“Well, this is extremely interesting,” said the Episcopal Ghost. “It’s a point of view. Certainly, it’s a point of view. In the meantime . . .”

“There is no meantime,” replied the other. “AH that is over. We are not playing now. I have been talking of the past (your past and mine) only in order that you may turn from it forever. One wrench and the tooth will be out. You can begin as if nothing had ever gone wrong. White as snow. It’s all true, you know. He is in me, for you, with that power. And- I have come a long journey to meet you. You have seen Hell: you are in sight of Heaven. Will you, even now, repent and believe?”

“I’m not sure that I’ve got the exact point you are trying to make,” said the Ghost.

“I am not trying to make any point,” said the Spirit. “I am telling you to repent and believe.”

C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

White

white

I searched all my pockets, but I could not find any white chalk. Now, those who are acquainted with all the philosophy (nay, religion) which is typified in the art of drawing on brown paper, know that white is positive and essential. I cannot avoid remarking here upon a moral significance. One of the wise and awful truths which this brown-paper art reveals, is this, that white is a colour. It is not a mere absence of colour; it is a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black. When, so to speak, your pencil grows red-hot, it draws roses; when it grows white-hot, it draws stars. And one of the two or three defiant verities of the best religious morality, of real Christianity, for example, is exactly this same thing; the chief assertion of religious morality is that white is a colour. Virtue is not the absence of vices or the avoidance of moral dangers; virtue is a vivid and separate thing, like pain or a particular smell. Mercy does not mean not being cruel, or sparing people revenge or punishment; it means a plain and positive thing like the sun, which one has either seen or not seen.

Chastity does not mean abstention from sexual wrong; it means something flaming, like Joan of Arc. In a word, God paints in many colours; but he never paints so gorgeously, I had almost said so gaudily, as when He paints in white. In a sense our age has realised this fact, and expressed it in our sullen costume. For if it were really true that white was a blank and colourless thing, negative and non-committal, then white would be used instead of black and grey for the funereal dress of this pessimistic period. Which is not the case.

Meanwhile I could not find my chalk.

- G.K. Chesterton, A Piece of Chalk (Read the essay here)

I Asked The Lord

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It’s almost been four years since I’ve started this blog – have left this blog – have come full circle. I’ve also come to move, weed, and sort. It feels a little like sitting in a room full of settled thoughts and padded letters, not knowing what to toss and what to keep. It feels much like walking through a hushed garden still replete with sounds of grace left by friends who came often. The silence is weird, almost convicting. You were all very welcomed.

Not sure how to explain my flitting to and fro and in and out of the blog world. I’m flawed. Thank God, I’m also saved by grace. I’ve more to share but not for now. Perhaps this hymn will shed some light on where I’ve been.

Thank you for everything!