The sin of partiality was the subject of a ReNEWalcast episode, but we had some technical issues that prevented the episode from being streamed live. Not only was the 45-minute conversation not streamed, but it was not recorded, so it is like it didn't even happen! The fact is, having a conversation about partiality, or the sin of what we often refer to racism is not an easy conversation in today's climate of continuous virtue signaling and moral superiority on social media and even in the pulpit. Uneasy discussions about difficult subjects are often necessary. When we take sin seriously, we must have uncomfortable conversations. The sin of partiality is not an exception to this line of thinking.
“You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.” Psalm 18:35
David said these words about and to the Lord, and they should be words we echo in praise, as well. By means of application, we should also pray that we are found faithful in living this out before our kids…that we might be ambassadors of this truth in their lives. After all, as parents we are called to be ambassadors of gospel living and represent a picture of Christ to our children.
Is the work of Christ alone enough for my salvation or is there something extra that I need to contribute? If you have trusted in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone for salvation, this may seem like an easy answer. But for many it is not. Those throughout history who have questioned their faith because of their struggle with sin may not know the answer to this question. And if you have been exposed to false teachers adding to or subtracting from the Gospel, this question may be difficult to answer. This is an old issue. It has plagued the church since its inception. Whether you believe that the church began at Pentecost or that it began much earlier in the Old Testament (Genesis 3:15), the question most prevalent is whether the hope and promise God offers in and through Himself is enough.
I feel a little like Jude must have felt. I have wanted to write for a long time, but not about this. I feel compelled to write for believers to contend for the truth. Certain persons or ideas have crept in and Jesus Christ is being denied. Some do not even know it is happening.
There is a new religion in town, in our country and in our churches. The gospel message varies a little in this new religion. Sometimes it is all whites are racist and only a lifetime of conscious effort and repenting of that privilege will heal you. The problem is you actually can’t do it. It is a “do this and live” principle that you can never do. Sometimes the message is our country is full of systemic racism. So everything needs to go-statues, the confederate flag, even the American flag, the cops, history- we need to start over. The gospel is humanity and it improved instead of Christ and Him crucified.
I appreciated Brian’s blog post on the law / gospel distinction narrowly considered. The law—gospel distinction was also highlighted by the godly 19th century pastor/ hymn writer John Newton, he wrote, “The correct understanding of the harmony between law and grace is to preserve oneself from being entangled by errors on the right hand and on the left.” Someone reading Brian’s post may ask: where does repentance fit in? Is repentance then part of the covenant of works or is repentance gospel? We must understand that repentance is gospel truth, it is an essential part of the salvation that the gospel brings. “Repentance is a pure gospel grace. The covenant of works admitted no repentance; there it was, sin and die. Repentance came in by the gospel. Christ has purchased in his blood that repenting sinners shall be saved.” (Thomas Watson). Repentance has been called an evangelical grace, which declares it is a gospel grace. It is fashioned in the heart of the sinner by the Word and Spirit of God.
“Lord, I don’t know what to do.”
How many of us have spoken these words with a level of exasperation in the past couple of months? In most homes, life is looking a bit different and while there may be many gifts found in our new reality, change to routines and plans can also cause turmoil in our hearts. Maybe you’ve uttered the words, “Lord, I don’t know what to do” as you watch your parenting seem to fall on deaf ears; or you are realizing, for the first time, just how hard-hearted one of your kids really is and you are not sure how to shepherd a heart that doesn’t want shepherding. Maybe you have said these words after another argument with your husband over something unimportant, as you waved an accusatory finger of rightness while all the while, it was over little more than a difference of opinion…the very thing that makes you such a good team when you work together. But you keep forgetting that and are repeating a cycle you haven't been in for a long time. You are struggling to find a way to break this sinful behavior.
Maybe these words have whispered past your lips in a spirit of discouragement, as you watch the plans you made go up in smoke or fall like heavy rain. Or maybe this is the sentence that echoes over and over in your mind throughout the day as you watch your business struggle, your income shrink, or a loved one battle for life due to this very real virus. Your heart is prone to fear, not unlike the man who uttered these words in the pages of Scripture some 6,000 years ago…King Jehoshaphat.
2 Chronicles 20 begins with a daunting picture. Several nations, the Bible calls them a “vast multitude”, joined together to fight against Judah. King Jehoshaphat was afraid. Yet in that fear, he didn’t panic. He didn’t begin to strategize with the leaders of the land. He didn’t turn to the corrupt king of Israel for help. He didn’t try to negotiate with the evil kings that were coming against him. He didn’t grumble and complain or give up.
The Bible says he “resolved to seek the Lord”. (vs. 3,12)
“We do not know what to do, but we look to you.” 2 Chron. 20:12
He meditated on the character of God.
“Lord God of our ancestors, are You not the God who is in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand, and no one can stand against You.” 20:6
He obeyed the words that God commanded.
“You do not have to fight this battle. Position yourselves, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” 20:17
He praised God in the midst of the storm before he was even delivered from it.
“Then he…appointed some to sing for the Lord and some to praise the splendor of His holiness. When they went out in front of the armed forces, they kept singing, “Give thanks to the Lord, for His faithful love endures forever.” 20:21
And when he, and all the assembly with him, brought their need before the Lord, fixed their eyes on Him, meditated on who God is, obeyed the words of the Lord by standing firm on His promises, and as they exalted His glorious name…they had a front row seat to His magnificent salvation. God turned the nations that had come against Judah on each other, and the Bible says they completely destroyed one another till all that was left were corpses, and there was so much plunder it took three days to gather it all in. Who could have imagined an outcome like that?
And He is the same God we serve, love and cling to today. While we may not always understand His ways, His ways are not without purpose.
“Lord, I don’t know what to do.”
Whether it’s been said in a moment of exasperation, discouragement, fear or uncertainty, as children of God, our Heavenly Father loves to bring us to the place of total dependence on Him. He loves to help us see that He is enough for every moment and situation of our lives. May we follow King Jehoshaphat’s example and resolve to seek the Lord. And as we meditate on His character and obey His righteous commands, we will find our hearts at rest and filled with praise, even though the storm may not have passed. God loves to display His saving power in our lives that the world around us might see His greatness, as we stand firm on His truth and cling to Him. He displayed this truth through King Jehoshaphat and He’s still displaying this truth today through you and me!
“Be gracious to me, God, be gracious to me, for I take refuge in you. I will seek refuge in the shadow of your wings until danger passes. I call to God Most High, to God who fulfills His purpose for me. He reaches down from heaven and saves me, challenging the one who tramples me. God sends His faithful love and truth…For your faithful love is as high as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches the clouds. God, be exalted above the heavens; let your glory be over the whole earth.” Psalms 57:1-3, 10-11
Find the original blog post HERE!
Kristin Pichura has been married to her husband for twenty-two years and has been a pastor’s wife for almost just as long. The Lord has blessed Bryan and Kristin with 7 children: one whose home is in Heaven, two whose beginnings were in Ethiopia and all claim the title “teenager” right now. She has a heart for discipleship and encouraging women to pursue Christ through being women of the Word. You can find more of her writing at www.justtheclay.com.
It is often said that John Wycliffe was the morning star of the Reformation because of his work in translating the Bible into English. The story goes that once the printing press was invented a couple of centuries later, everyone had access to the Bible in English, and upon reading the Bible everyone discovered the truth. As important as John Wycliffe’s work was, it is simply not true that everyone had private access to the Bible the minute that the printing press was invented. Even though it was the Reformers’ great desire for everyone to have this access, this did not widely happen until the eighteenth century. Furthermore, one may have a Bible in his hands, but one must understand and accurately interpret the Bible.
This brings us to what I believe is the true morning star of the Reformation: Martin Luther’s rediscovery of the distinction between the Law and the Gospel. Luther came along after years of darkness because of Medieval corruption regarding the doctrine of salvation. The Medieval church had a high view of the Bible and a heavy focus on grace. They did not teach a pure salvation by works (really, nobody in history ever did). Rather, they taught that one is saved by God’s grace. This grace, however, is freely given by God so that the sinner may sufficiently cooperate with it in order to produce sanctification (intrinsic holiness). This sanctification, then, becomes the basis by which one may finally be justified and make it to heaven. Roman Catholicism officially adopted and codified this teaching.
Luther, however, broke away from Rome and sparked the Reformation when he discovered a key distinction in Scripture: the distinction between the Law and the Gospel. This distinction was a key component in sparking the Reformation and bringing liberty not only to himself but many others for generations to come. This occurred as he was wrestling with Paul’s statement in Romans 1:17: “for in [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed.” Luther writes about his struggle and the relief he found when he discovered the gospel in distinction from the law: