We’ve been hearing the word “narrative” come up quite a bit as of late. We hear quite frequently, “It didn’t fit the narrative,” “The media has a narrative.” It is true that narratives are a driving force in the way we see things. A narrative is simply a story by which we present information. Stories are powerful, intriguing, and often draws people’s interest. We remember stories more readily than anything else (except perhaps songs).
Adrift in the storm-tossed seas of cultural relativism and the dangerous tides of
atheistic ideologies, where should the Christian seek moral wisdom and guidance to
safe harbor? How could an ancient book provide the authoritative moral bearings
needed for our day and age? Our pluralistic society champions divergent worldviews
apart from God that steer decisions and opinions into a vortex of mayhem and
contradiction. What right would a Christian have to make audacious, moral truth claims
so binding and pervasive over all people? In the current cultural climate, God’s
helmsmen (His shepherds) must guide the ship with the rudder fixed upon the ultimate
authority of God’s written word.
What is so appealing about the Law that we naturally gravitate towards it? Even as believers, often times, we seek comfort and solace in its structure and boundaries. Instead we should find hope and peace because of the work of Christ. Know better, do better, right? If it were only that easy. No different than an unbeliever who revels in their sin and returns to it like a dog to its vomit (Proverbs 26:11), many believers fall prey to a heart that strives in itself, instead of trusting only in the work of Christ, alone, for salvation.
I recently heard about a snake handling church here in the U.S. They carry snakes while they sing and preach based on Mark 16:17-18, which reads: “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
The Bible is a massive book and we are kidding ourselves if we say it is easy to understand. After all, there are sixty-six books, 1189 chapters, multiple languages, differing cultures, dozens of authors with diverse vocabularies, and the timespan covered is thousands of years. If this is not enough to make the Bible challenging, there are hundreds and hundreds of commands and these commands can be quite confusing given there are also extraordinary promises! How can eternal life require flawless obedience (Luke 10:25-28) and be by grace alone? If there were only a way to read, interpret, and understand the Bible in part and whole that made it more manageable and also honored its one ultimate author. This would be an amazing help! In fact there is just such an approach and we can accept it with the confidence that it is just the way God intends.
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.