Minister's Blog

The grace of obedience

The grace of obedience

What’s the relationship between our obedience to God’s word on the one hand, and God’s grace in saving us on the other?

Many people would answer this question very simply along these lines: "Salvation is a reward for obedience. Do the right thing, and God will look after you." It shouldn't be hard to see the problem with that kind of thinking, which (thankfully) is not very common, at least among Christians.

Another misunderstanding, however, is more common among us. It goes along these lines: "Salvation is an act of God’s grace, and then God then calls us to do 'our bit', namely, to obey his word. God gives us Christ, and then he tells us to pull our socks up and start following him."

Again, this is a misunderstanding, but it's important to see why. The truth is found in Psalm 119:146: "I call to you; save me, that I may observe your testimonies."

Notice the logic here (expressed by a regular waw conjunction in Hebrew, but no less clear in this context than the English "that" or even "so that"): The Psalmist pleads for God to "Save me", anticipating that as a result of this he will be able to "observe your testimonies."

In other words, to walk in God’s ways is neither an attempt to earn God's favour, nor is it "our part" of a divine-human transaction whereby, having been saved, we attempt to stay on the right side of God in order to keep him happy. Rather, a life of faithful obedience is itself a gift from God. It's the best way to live, and is itself part of the blessing of being saved. Obedience to the word of God is not "the price we pay" to stay in the good books of the Almighty; it is an aspect of his kindness to us in Christ.

With one mind

In Luke 24:45, Luke strikingly records that Jesus "opened their mind [singular]", and not (contra many modern translations) "he opened their minds." Perhaps this hints at the biblical teaching that the church is called to have "one mind," in the sense that we are to grapple together as one body with the teaching of Scripture and seek to make progress in our un...

The State is not your Mum and Dad

Gill Robins over at Christians in Education has some typically insightful and timely remarks online here on the subject of the State's role in education. Did you know, for example, that "Article 2, Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) ... says that ‘the State s...

Why Don't Men Sing in Church?

My friend Uri Brito, Minister of Providence Church in Pensacola, Florida, has some very helpful (and rather forthright) thoughts on this question over at Kuyperian. Here are a few extracts: "There are a vast amount of churches and leaders that still treasure congregational singing and long for a tim...

A chiastic inclusio in Luke 24

Luke 24:13-35 is bounded by an elegant chiastic inclusio that serves to highlight what happens in the intervening paragraphs (Arthur Just, Luke, p. 979). Note in particular the development from v. 16 ("their eyes were kept from recognizing him") to v. 31 ("their eyes were opened, and they recognized him"), which results from a combination of the Emmaus Road conversation and Jesus' self...
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