Sunday, June 02, 2013
For the pod: Faith and Works
Jesus said when one person repents and believes there is rejoicing in heaven. Think on that. It's absolutely incredible.
More and more I am seeing that a church is built one disciple and one salvation at a time. And one's just fine with me and seems more than fine to Jesus.
Today, I want to tell you about justification by faith. I can't remember where I was when Tim Keller first explained the difference between religion and the gospel but I do know I was in my car. I remember rewinding the tape (yes, that long ago) and I played what he had just said over again and then a third time. I then found my journal and wrote out everything word for word. The next day, I listened to the talk again just to make sure I had understood it right.
I will share with you the little model Keller offered me on that day. It changed the way I see the world:
"Believe in Jesus- you're saved- so live different= The Gospel"
"Believe in Jesus - live different - then you might be saved= Religion"
Comprehending the difference between these two sentences is the difference between being a Christian and not being one (I do know that this last sentence will prompt some readers to go 'But wait a minute what about blah blah blah etc.....' and that's fine. Muslims, as an example, do believe in Jesus but not in his deity, in the atonement or in the resurrection. They also have no theology of nor possibility for grace. It is crucial when speaking about Jesus, as many 'Christians' do, that we define who we mean (his nature as fully God and fully man) rather than a definition of our own making or one that fits with our particular religious take on his identity. However, if my sentence makes you pick up a concordance, read a theology book, read Romans and a commentary on it- (what about a chapter a week of the excellent God is for us by Simon Ponsonby for the next year), read an apologetics book on your next two week holiday or buy these talks and listen to them all and work out why you disagree with Paul's argument in Galatians then frankly all well and good.
Two other outcomes:
1. You may get saved and find yourself called to preach, teach and lead a local church (41% of the clergy in my diocese are retiring in the next 10 years so they'll be space but we are losing getting on for a million pounds a year and can't pay our salary bill so you may have to plant a church and resource your own stipend but trust me it's fun and very faith inducing.
2. You may also experience the reality of grace.
If you want to have the issue of religion vs the gospel condensed down to an hour then this talk called Faith and Works is an absolute belter. You should listen to it with a journal in hand, rewind the bits that make you go "But wait a minute...." and once you've done that you should listen to it again.
If grace doesn't shock, offend and amaze you then you haven't understood it.
My in-laws to be and my mother are coming to listen to me preach this morning so I'd better get on with the day :)