Saturday, September 27, 2014

Part 3: In a letter, to my daughter, after a sermon.

Audio: 1 min. 2 sec.

But Jesus said to him, "No one, after putting his hand to the plough and looking back is fit for the kingdom of heaven." So what is Jesus saying? What is he trying to do? He's trying to drive home a key component of true faith, and it's this... You can't follow Christ without giving up your life.

And right in the middle of it is a cost-benefit analysis. Do you see it? He's really saying don't go down this path if you're not really willing to pay the cost. Calculate the cost. Make sure you're really willing to pay the price that is necessary in order to be my follower. This isn't a time to be flippant, or glib, or impulsive. This is a time to be very thoughtful. And make sure that you're really willing to do this. You see, you can't follow Christ ... there's no reward of resurrection ... without giving up your own life. That's true faith.

Dear E.,

It is true that many of the words of Jesus are hard sayings indeed. And yet, perhaps He is describing less how we are to rise to the occasion, and desires more for us to understand just how unfit we really are. And that's a good thing. It drives us, with nothing to offer and nowhere else to go, ... to Him.

You've probably heard the saying, "don't put the cart before the horse". When we hear words that describe a "key component of true faith", it is important not to think of these components of faith as something we are supposed to generate or procure beforehand to make us fit to come to God. Faith is a gift from God, it is not the result of a cost-benefit analysis.

Instead of fumbling with more words of my own, I leave you once more with better words from Charles Spurgeon:

"I would like to make this very plain. ... It does at first seem most amazing to an awakened man that salvation should really be for him as a lost and guilty one. He thinks that it must be for him as a penitent man, forgetting that his penitence is a part of his salvation.

'Oh,' says he, 'but I must be this and that,' -- all of which is true, for he shall be as the result of salvation; but salvation comes to him before he has any of the results of salvation. It comes to him, in fact, while he deserves only this bare, beggarly description ... "ungodly". That is all he is when God's gospel comes to justify him.

May I, therefore, urge upon any who have no good thing about them -- who fear that they have not even a good feeling, or anything whatsoever that can recommend them to God -- that they will firmly believe that our gracious God is able and willing to take them without anything to recommend them, and to forgive them spontaneously, not because they are good, but because He is good.

Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners: forgiveness is for the guilty. Do not attempt to touch yourself up and make yourself something other than you really are; but come as you are to Him who justifies the ungodly."

All is grace,

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