February 2, 2012

***I know I have an article coming out tomorrow but I felt the need to share this with you, I pray you enjoy it and don’t mind the extra sharing from me.***

I talked to an old friend of mine this morning, from my Global Expeditions trip to Dallas Texas, a trip I probably should share more about in the blog, the very trip where I received my calling. She told me that her spiritual life had been lacking to the extreme but God had recently pulled her out of it and now she was going hard after her father in heaven. It was inspiring to see her so on fire for God and how much God had blessed her for her obedience to His calling.

Along the same lines a brother of mine was recently very tired, he’d been going to class and doing homework and it was absolutely draining him. I stopped him on his way to dinner and confronted him about what I was seeing. He admitted he hadn’t been spending the time he needed to spend in the word. I advised him to spend an hour in the word that afternoon, just him and God. He did and later came back and thanked me for the advice. I’ve noticed he’s seemed a lot healthier the last two days.

In my last post I talked about how I had become burned out, I told you how I was tired and weary and needed some time with Christ. I told you how I went down to the church and sat and prayed and I shared with you the result of that time. Because of that time I am once again spiritually healthy and the last week of quiet time has been incredible as I’ve been exploring the Gospel of Luke.

On a larger scale I look at the church, people are leaving, God has been backed into a figurative corner of system. Our evangelical tradition has given us a set of tract friendly verses that give a good outline, but are far from the big picture. We are either given the “do, do, do” message over and over again or we hear a watered down christian message that creates toothpick Christians. The “do, do, do” results in burnt out Christians, the seeker friendly church creates skin deep Christians. The church is in need of rest, in need of revival, in need of  reformation.

As I’ve begun to involve myself in the study of church history, and more specifically the life of the great American Evangelist Jonathan Edwards I can’t help but get the feeling we are missing something. Isaac Crook tells us in his book on the Evangelist that Edwards was constantly surprised by grace. No wonder since he lived during both of America’s Great Awakening’s. Even great french reformer John Calvin was must have been surprised by grace when had what he called and “unexpected conversion.”

In some ways I can say my own conversion story was a bit of a surprise, I don’t know what drove me to the cold concrete floor that night on November 3, 2005, I just know I encountered a God that at that time I didn’t believe in. Now, seven years later, as I study the book of Romans I find the lengths that the God of universe went to, to declare us righteous and to be the God who justifies through the gift of faith by grace because of the death of Christ as surprising as ever (Romans 1-8).

Think about it for a second, if God is just then He would have no choice but to destroy us. How can He justify us if He is just? This is what my father calls “God’s dilemma,” a dilemma that was solved by Christ who came to be teh Propitiation (total appeasement of God’s wrath) through his death on the cross. It was the act of that death of the cross that we are justified and have peace with God. Because of that death we are under grace and through grace given the gift of faith. If we are broken and sinful, even depraved as scripture says we are then shouldn’t this surprise us? It surprises me, God being greater than the greatest conceivable being chose to be personal and send his son so that we might have salvation. I certainly don’t deserve that kind of love, I’m surprised.

I’m sure grace surprised everyone present at the Pharisee’s house that night the woman came in and poured the Perfume on Jesus feet and washed them with her tears. This story in Luke 7:36-50 surprises me, especially as one who can still be legalistic at times. I probably would have been like the Pharisee or those present who scolded Jesus for allowing the woman to even touch Him. Jesus tells the following story and gives the following response.

“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
(Luke 7:41-48 ESV)

The more I dig into Scripture the more I find these kinds of encounters with Jesus. The woman at the well in the book of John as well as the woman the Pharisee’s brought to Jesus under the accusation of Adultery. So many examples of grace that should surprise us. I don’t find this surprise in a tract with tract friendly verses, yes they might do some good but a tract has never saved anyone, grace has been given so that we all can be saved.

So let’s stop, take a second to look around us. Forget the tracts and begin to delight in the grace of God. Listen to each others stories and start digging deeper and deeper into scripture. Following our religion with a passion unmatched by any. Let’s run the race set forth before us and push forward to win the prize that is eternity with Christ Jesus.

Dear friends, let us be surprised again by grace, surprised by the work of God. As my friends above have seen through their time in scripture and recent rapture into the heart of God have been surprised! Look up to heaven be amazing by our big and personal God who is both just and the one who justifies. Dear ones, let us be surprised by grace!

Of this one thing I am sure
It’s time to go deep.
Jonathan Faulkner
10:31 Ministries: Director
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