“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Throw yourself into the Redeemer's arms

This is another email to a friend.
Grace, peace, and rest from God our Father and our Lord Jesus.

I hope your Sabbath was nice. Liz and I passed out some tracts to some homeless men. They were very receptive, much more than the white residents around the church neighborhood. The wealthy need to be reached too, but it was nice to go to a place where others were more willing to hear some good news.

D_____, I want to encourage you to think about Jesus differently than you have. And I hope I don’t further complicate the situation or weaken your faith. But what the Lord desires is our complete dependence on Him. Not that He will destroy us in order to make us dependent. That would defeat the whole purpose. The only one who wants to destroy us is the devil. And he wants to devour us, especially if we have some faith in God, which you do in abundance. That makes you a special target of his. The last thing God would ever want to do is hand us over to him, and He never does that unless we force Him to.

How can we force Him to give us up to the devil? When we accept Righteousness by works. Everything hinges on whether we believe that lie or the truth, that our acceptance and growth in grace only comes by faith in what God has already done and promises to do for us. You said that after all you had done in service for God, you expected better treatment in life. Isn’t that righteousness by works? “I will prepay for God’s acceptance and blessing.”

That is nothing but legalistically forcing God to be your protector and guardian. The moment we think that’s how it works, we subconsciously see God, not as a loving, freely-giving Father, but a wheeler and dealer, cold and calculated—basically He takes on the traits of the devil in our mind, and Satan uses that mental state to gain control of us. Then we have no barrier against sin and his temptations.

I like it the way Ellen White says it,
Through heathenism, Satan had for ages turned men away from God; but he won his great triumph in perverting the faith of Israel. By contemplating and worshiping their own conceptions, the heathen had lost a knowledge of God, and had become more and more corrupt. So it was with Israel. The principle that man can save himself by his own works lay at the foundation of every heathen religion; it had now become the principle of the Jewish religion. Satan had implanted this principle. Wherever it is held, men have no barrier against sin. --Desire of Ages, p. 35.

Without a dependent, child to father relationship with Jesus, our “everlasting Father” (Is. 9:6), like a lamb “without blemish, a male of the first year,” (Ex. 12:5) we will never receive the strength to overcome the devil. Without a childlike relationship like this, we are legalists, and “the law worketh wrath.” (Rom. 4:15). Relying on our efforts to please God will always make us angry, because we are always frustrated by not being perfect. If my acceptance with God is based on my good living, then I am lost from the word, “Go.” My very nature is corrupt. I breathe the smell of a sepulchre, I exude death. What God requires is for all my ways to be pleasantness and all my paths to be peace. But the way of peace I have not known; there is no fear of God before my eyes. And of my self, it will remain this way forever. We have no hope, of ourselves, to ever please God in anything we do—because of our rotten natures. We can’t be as patient and gracious of a master over our misbehavior as our Master in heaven will be patient and gracious with us. “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Is. 64:6).

If we are ever to be good, God has to do it all! He has to make it all happen! All of it! And we get to respond, and nothing more. That is humiliating to our pride at the basest level. But that’s the terms of the covenant from God: “To him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” (Rom. 4:5). And God is inflexible here. He will not compete for being God, especially from His sinful, helpless, beloved children who don’t realize their precarious position, hanging by a thread over hell because they want to be in charge of their salvation.

If we don’t approach the Creator as a creature, or our Savior as a weak, destitute sinner, not only do we lose the benefits of His grace, but we simultaneously place ourselves into Satan’s territory. And there’s nothing God can do about it. He must abide by the rules of our choice.

But that doesn’t stop Him from arranging events so that through His providences He brings us into contact with others who’ve “been there and done that” and can give some helpful direction to our confused mind assailed by the tempter. And then when my confusion is cleared up, and I can understand the ways of God, then I am a bona fide ambassador of His, and a qualified witness to His ability to save sinners. Then I go in search of others who are having the same trouble I had. Now I have the tools they need. I have words they will hear. I can tell them that in spite of how it all seems, that God desperately loves them. “O Daniel, a man greatly beloved.” “For thou art greatly beloved.” (Dan. 10:11;9:23).

D_____, we all can learn a lot from Martin Luther.

He led a most rigorous life, endeavoring by fasting, vigils, and scourgings to subdue the evils of his nature, from which the monastic life had brought no release. He shrank from no sacrifice by which he might attain to that purity of heart which would enable him to stand approved before God. “I was indeed a pious monk,” he afterward said, “and followed the rules of my order more strictly than I can express. If ever monk could obtain heaven by his monkish works, I should certainly have been entitled to it. . . . If it had continued much longer, I should have carried my mortifications even to death.”--Ibid., b. 2, ch. 3. As the result of this painful discipline he lost strength and suffered from fainting spasms, from the effects of which he never fully recovered. But with all his efforts his burdened soul found no relief. He was at last driven to the verge of despair.

“When it appeared to Luther that all was lost, God raised up a friend and helper for him. The pious Staupitz opened the word of God to Luther’s mind and bade him look away from himself,... “Instead of torturing yourself on account of your sins, throw yourself into the Redeemer’s arms. Trust in Him, in the righteousness of His life, in the atonement of His death. . . . Listen to the Son of God. He became man to give you the assurance of divine favor.” “Love Him who first loved you.”--Ibid., b. 2, ch. 4. Thus spoke this messenger of mercy.
--Great Controversy, p. 123,124.

Blessings, brother. I’m proud to serve next to you in the Lord’s army. We will soon be stepping in perfect cadence. :)


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