How free is Grace? (By John Piper)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4–6) 

The decisive act of God in conversion is that he “made us alive together with Christ” even when “we were dead in our trespasses.” In other words, we were dead to God. We were unresponsive; we had no true spiritual interest; we had no taste for the beauties of Christ; we were simply dead to all that mattered.

Then God acted — unconditionally — before we could do anything to be fit vessels of grace. He made us alive. He sovereignly awakened us to see the glory of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4). The spiritual senses that were dead miraculously came to life.

Verse 4 says that this was an act of “mercy.” That is, God saw us in our deadness and pitied us. God saw the terrible wages of sin leading to eternal death and misery. And the riches of his mercy overflowed to us in our need. But what is so remarkable about this text is that Paul breaks the flow of his own sentence in order to insert, “by grace you have been saved.” “God . . . made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with him.”

Paul is going to say this again in verse 8. So why does he break the flow in order to add it here? What’s more, the focus is on God’s mercy responding to our miserable plight of deadness; so why does Paul go out of his way to say that it is also by grace that we are saved?

I think the answer is that Paul recognizes here a perfect opportunity to emphasize the freeness of grace. As he describes our dead condition before conversion, he realizes that dead people can’t meet conditions. If they are to live, there must be a totally unconditional and utterly free act of God to save them. This freedom is the very heart of grace.

What act could be more one-sidedly free and non-negotiated than one person raising another from the dead! This is the meaning of grace.

The Freeness of Grace #SolidJoys http://solidjoys.desiringgod.org/en/devotionals/the-freeness-of-grace

How Can it Be?

​Just a quick post to share this great song by Lauren Daigle.

How Can It Be

Lauren Daigle

I am guilty

Ashamed of what I’ve done, what I’ve become

These hands are dirty

I dare not lift them up to the Holy one

You plead my cause
You right my wrongs
You break my chains
You overcome
You gave Your life
To give me mine
You say that I am free
How can it be
How can it be

I’ve been hiding
Afraid I’ve let you down, inside I doubt
That You still love me
But in Your eyes there’s only grace now

You plead my cause
You right my wrongs
You break my chains
You overcome
You gave Your life
To give me mine
You say that I am free
How can it be
How can it be

Though I fall, You can make me new
From this death I will rise with You
Oh the grace reaching out for me
How can it be
How can it be

You plead my cause
You right my wrongs
You break my chains
You overcome
You gave Your life
To give me mine
You say that I am free

You plead my cause
You right my wrongs
You break my chains
You overcome
You gave Your life
To give me mine
You say that I am free
How can it be
How can it be

Songwriters: Jason Ingram / Jeff Johnson / Paul Mabury

How Can It Be lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Essential Music Publishing, Music Services, Inc

Grace

What grace it is that we don’t have to win God’s favour by our goodness.

#timkeller

A post shared by Tim Keller Quotes (@dailytimkellerquotes) on

From Tim Keller

The end goal: Hope

God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:8)

Notice that “demonstrates” is present tense and “died” is past tense.

The present tense implies that this demonstrating is an ongoing act that keeps happening in today’s present and tomorrow’s present.

The past tense “died” implies that the death of Christ happened once for all and will not be repeated. “Christ died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18).

Why did Paul use the present tense (“God demonstrates”)? I would have expected Paul to say, “God demonstrated (past tense) his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Was not the death of Christ the demonstration of God’s love? And did not that demonstration happen in the past?

I think the clue is given a few verses earlier. Paul has just said that “tribulations work patient endurance, and patient endurance works proven character, and proven character works hope, and hope does not put us to shame” (vv. 3–5).

In other words, the goal of everything God takes us through is hope. He wants us to feel unwaveringly hopeful through all tribulations.

But how can we?

Paul answers in the next line: “Because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (v. 5). God’s love “has been poured out in our hearts.” The tense of this verb means that God’s love was poured out in our hearts in the past (at our conversion) and is still present and active.

God did demonstrate his love for us in giving his own Son to die once for all in the past for our sins (v. 8). But he also knows that this past love must be experienced as a present reality (today and tomorrow) if we are to have patience and character and hope.

Therefore he not only demonstrated it on Calvary, he goes on demonstrating it now by the Spirit. He does this by opening the eyes of our hearts to “taste and see” the glory of the cross and the guarantee that it gives that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:39).

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-love-of-god-past-and-present

Don’t Burn that Bridge – from The Blazing Center

bridgeHe who demands mercy and shows none burns the bridges over which he himself must later pass. -Thomas Adams

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy”. Matthew 5:7

Are you merciful? Is that who you are? Of all people on the face of the earth, we who believe in Jesus should be the most merciful. The quickest to forgive. The most forbearing with other’s sins against us. Why? Because we have received such incredible mercy from God ourselves. Each of us has sinned horrifically and repeatedly against the Holy One who will tolerate no sin in his presence. Yet he so loved us he sent his Son to become the lightning rod for the wrath we deserved. To have it strike him instead of us. Jesus got what we deserve and we received what we never deserved – Mercy. If we appreciate the mercy we’ve received, we should be quick to pour it out. And pour it out on those who don’t deserve it.

We should pour out mercy on those who sin against us. Those who hurt us. Who misunderstand us and can’t see our point. Those who insist that they are right and we are wrong. Those who don’t realize they are sinning. We should quote Jesus regularly: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” They don’t realize their sin. They don’t see their pride and stubbornness. They don’t know how much they are hurting me. Or maybe they do, but Father, have mercy on them as you have had mercy on me. And help me to have mercy on them. As John Piper says, we should:

“Be stunned that you are a beneficiary of mercy – be reminded and stunned that you and I deserve nothing but wrath from God, and in Christ receive nothing but mercy from him. Be stunned. And then pray that God would make you merciful to the undeserving.Oh, how sweet marriages would be if we stopped thinking about what we deserve and thought more about how to show more mercy – how to do more undeserved good to each other. Oh, how sweet would be the fellowship of the church if we all really felt undeserving of any good and lavished with God’s mercy. And, oh, how bright the gospel would shine if we touched the poor with Christ-exalting mercy. May God raise up many who will build, with joy, ministries of mercy to the city and the nations.”

Are you stunned by the mercy you’ve received from God? Do you reflect regularly on the mercy you’ve received? Are you a merciful person – is that who you are? Not just something you do, but something you are? Who do you most struggle to feel merciful toward? Pray for that person. Affirm that you forgive them, whether they have asked your forgiveness or not. Ask God to bless them. You and I are not yet perfect. We will need mercy in the future. We don’t want to burn bridges we’ll need to pass over later. Lord Jesus, make us merciful, as you are merciful.

http://theblazingcenter.com/2016/03/you-dont-want-to-burn-that-bridge.html

One thing 2016 will certainly bring us

Let us make crystal clear at the beginning of the year that all we will get from God this year as believers in Jesus is mercy. Whatever pleasures or pains come our way will all be mercy. . .
The fullest obedience and the smallest faith obtain the same thing from God: mercy. A mere mustard seed of faith taps into the mercy of tree-moving power. And flawless obedience leaves us utterly dependent on mercy.

John Piper

Flawless . . . Clever visual clip from Mercy Me

“No matter the bumps, No matter the bruises
No matter the scars, Still the truth is
The cross has made, The cross has made you flawless
No matter the hurt, Or how deep the wound is
No matter the pain, Still the truth is
The cross has made, The cross has made you flawless”

This clip has just been released by Mercy Me, for song Flawless. Watch to the end to understand the paint…and why it has disappeared.

I have previously discussed the virtues of this song here:
https://sevennotesofgrace.com/2014/05/14/the-cross-has-made-you-flawless/

Blessings!

 

Watch “MercyMe – Greater (Official Lyric Video)” on YouTube

Greetings from school holiday land (aka teacher prep time). I’ve previously written a post about the lyrics of this song, but have just found a neat new official lyrics video that I thought I would share. It is such an uplifting and joyful tune. Blessings to you.

I JOHN 4:4-6
“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.”

Our Saviour chose the Mercy Tree

This a beautiful song – a blessed Easter to you!
May your celebrations proclaim the grace and mercy of the empty tomb.

MERCY TREE

On a hill called Calvary
Stands an endless mercy tree
Every broken weary soul
Find your rest and be made whole
Stripes of blood that stain its frame
Shed to wash away our shame
From the scars pure love released
Salvation by the mercy tree

Verse 2
In the spot between two thieves
Hung the blameless Prince of Peace
Beaten, battered, scarred, and scorned
Sacred head pierced by our thorns
It is finished was his cry
The perfect lamb was crucified
His sacrifice, our victory
Our Savior chose the mercy tree

Chorus
Death has died, love has won
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Jesus Christ has overcome
He has risen from the dead

Verse 3
Hope went dark that violent day
The whole earth quaked at love’s display
Three days silent in the ground
This body born for heaven’s crown
On that bright and glorious day
When heaven opened up the grave
He’s alive and risen indeed!
Praise him for the mercy tree!

Verse 4
One day soon, we’ll see his face
And every tear, he’ll wipe away
No more pain or suffering
Praise him for the mercy tree

(Chorus 2x)
On a hill called Calvary
Stands an endless mercy tree

Official music video of “Mercy Tree” by Lacey Sturm, as seen in the film “The Cross” featuring Billy Graham. To watch the film visit http://watchbillygraham.com.

God rejoices in his loving initiatives

rejoiceI’ve recently been studying the amazing covenant promises of God and tracing them through his Word (as part of my external studies with Moore College, a subject called Promise to Fulfilment). While reading that famous passage about God establishing relationship with us and writing his law in our hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-36) I was reminded of a less famous but equally gracious promise located nearby. Here it is:

“They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well for them and for their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.”
(Jeremiah 32:38-41 NIV)

These verses have been highlighted in my old NIV bible for a long time. The passage contains so many elements of grace and blessings unimaginable! God is the one who ‘inspires us to fear him’ and gives us ‘singleness of heart and action’. Our faith is a gift; the Spirit is a gift that enables us to follow him and secures our relationship with him. God gives this and does this because it brings him pleasure; he rejoices in doing good to us. We can rejoice that he has ‘assuredly planted’ us in Christ, in his growing family of believers, the Church. We have a home in heaven that Christ is preparing for us. None of this is down to us, to our own making. God graciously provided our salvation and he rejoices in it. How could we do anything else?