Wednesday, February 28, 2007

"Grace to You".

I got up about 5am this morning with the hope of going on a prayer walk but unfortunately it was thundering and raining. So I started flicking through the Bible and felt a desire to re-read Ephesians. My attention was grabbed by the introduction in verse 2 that so often gets overlooked.

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ".

What does "grace to you" mean? I've been thinking about this all day also bearing in mind Terry Virgo's powerful urge to, "Keep yourself in the love of God". It was really interesting to see that I am not alone in thinking about the subject of God's lavish grace! Jul has been convicted by Rob Rufus's powerful preaching and has come to the same realisation that I have - that I don't really know what it is to live in the grace of God. That is despite a lifetime growing up in Church and a dynamic conversion decision and a subsequent powerful encounter with the Holy Spirit. So I would agree with Julie I think, that "grace to you" has, "something to do with the Holy Spirit doing something we don't actually have the power to do ourselves".

I wonder if the key is dual - a dynamic encounter with the Holy Spirit but founded on the living Word of God. Fuel and fire. Logic and power. Word and Spirit.

Here is an awesome statement of logic and truth from the wonderful John Piper.

"Therefore your adoption is not based on your fitness, your worth, or your distinctives. It is rooted in God’s eternal purpose and grace. And that means that your adoption is not fragile or tenuous or uncertain. God will not adopt and then find out that you are not worthy and unadopt. He knows we are unworthy. And he chose us and predestined us for adoption. This is firm and sure and unshakable".

Now that statement is glorious and true. Yet as both Jul and I know, the experience of devastating guilt and failure sometimes seems to cast a dark cloud over the truth of the Word of God. It is here, I believe, that it is only the wonderful ever-present Holy Spirit who can draw near and "shed abroad the love of God in our hearts". The evangelical church is very proficient at proclaiming truth but remarkably (despite the last century of charismatic life) still poor at being efficient at walking with the Spirit of God.

(v13) of the first chapter of Ephesians deals with the wonderful truth of the sealing of the Spirit which again is something frequently neglected. Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones was absolutely firm that the sealing of the Spirit was synonymous with the baptism of the Spirit. John Piper unpacked what the sealing of the Spirit means in practice for us:

"So what did Paul mean in Ephesians 1:13 when he said that believers are sealed with the Holy Spirit? No matter which of these meanings you use the basic truth is the same.

1. If the Spirit seals shut, the point must be that he seals in faith and seals out unbelief and apostasy.

2. If the Spirit seals us as a sign of authenticity, then he is that sign and it is the Spirit's work in our life which is God's trademark. Our eternal sonship is real and authentic if we have the Spirit. He is the sign of divine reality in our lives.

3. Or if the Spirit marks us with God's seal, he protects us from evil forces which won't dare to enter a person bearing the mark of God's own possession".

The dynamic of Word and Spirit is far more than just simply a title or a form of ecclesiology. It's more than a conference or a single doctrine. I do believe it applies throughout every area of the Christian life and particularly here in the vital area of grace. Maybe it is why so many of us as believers are bound up with legalism because we are to some degree or the other neglecting the "form or the power".


jul said...

As always, I find a great deal of encouragement in your words. Thanks again!

Gavin White said...

Good Post Dan - The grace of God is so glorious and lavish (Eph 1). We are a truly blessed people!