Pulpit Reflections

Pulpit Reflections
Ever had a scare with your health? Almost killed from a car accident? Received news of a terminal disease? Not pleasant thoughts to consider. I have seen people make major life changes in an instant after receiving the news they have cancer or other diseases. All of a sudden a doctor visit becomes crucial. The doctor's prescription is welcomed and acted on. No longer do you give casual answer for your eating and drinking habits; changes are made.

It is unfortunate that we often wait until the moments are urgent before we take things seriously. I know I have blown off the dentist's lecture of flossing many times as well.

But when you know you have a problem, you reach out for the medicine. You are absolutely thankful that it is available. You treasure it, knowing that it is essential for life.

The Bible tells us that "all have sinned and fall short of God's glorious standards. Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God's anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us." (Romans 3:23-25)

We need medicine from this thing called sin. Grace is the cure, like medicine for someone sick. Hopefully over Lent we will be reminded of our sickness and God's medicine through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

So often we live in denial. We live like we have no disease and because of that the medicine seems unimportant, unnecessary. We laugh at the commercials that espouse the benefits of a pill and then list a dozen awful side effects. Yet to the person having the problem they are a life saver. In the same way if you and I never come to an understanding of sin; that we have fallen and individually are separated from God. We will never reach out for God's grace and never really take it seriously.

The apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Romans "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" He is saying how can we who have been made right not live righteous lives? How can we who have been loved not love? How can we who have been blessed not bless? How can we who have been given grace not live graciously?

People then and now might have thought "hey, the more we sin the more grace is given. We are providing God another wonderful opportunity to show off his grace. Paul by his response in this passage expresses shock at the idea. To him how could grace result in anything but gracious living?

So do you think we should continue sinning so that God will give us even more grace? Certainly not.

This philosophy is known as antinomianism; meaning "against moral law." Promoters of the idea see grace as a reason to do bad rather than a reason to do good. Grace grants them a ticket for evil. The worse I act the better God seems. Like the idea of your teenager saying "Mom, I will keep my room messy so the whole neighborhood can see what a good housekeeper you are. A boss wouldn't let an employee say "The reason I'm lazy is to give you an opportunity to display your forgiveness."

No one respects the beggar who refuses to work, saying "I'm just giving the government an opportunity to demonstrate benevolence." We would scoff at the idea and certainly wouldn't tolerate it.

Or would we? Perhaps we don't sin so God can give us grace, but do we ever sin knowing God will give grace? Do we ever compromise tonight knowing we'll confess tomorrow?

It is like the guy visiting Las Vegas who called the preacher wanting to know the hours of the Sunday service. The preacher was impressed. "Most people who come to Las Vegas don't do so to go to church," he said.

"Oh, I'm not coming for the church. I'm coming for the gambling, parties, and wild women. If I have half as much fun as I intend to, I'll need a church come Sunday morning."

Is God's goal with grace to promote disobedience? No the goal of grace is to transform us. Paul later writes, "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." (1 Corinthians 15:10).

Grace is free to us, but costly to God. They say there is no free lunch � not true � grace is free to us but it is costly to God. He gives grace to hit men, liars, stealers, prostitutes, homosexuals, church goers. Christianity is all about grace � Paul was a murderer, Peter a betrayer, Rahab a prostitute.

Yet when these were presented with grace, they were changed by the love of God. Remember grace is free, but it is not cheap. It is precious.

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