Sunday, September 14, 2008

more amazing grace

Yesterday's post wrote about John Newton, author of the hymn Amazing Grace. After Newton was saved he was, like all new believers, lacking in a lot of understanding. For example he was afraid of losing his salvation. He looked back on his past life of making moral resolutions and then eventually having moral relapses, leading a life of aestheticism then succumbing to a life of self-indulgence. How long could he last this time?

Fortunately he met another Christian captain, Alex Clunie, while in St. Kitts. Clunie was a strong Christian with Calvinist roots. (Evangelical Calvinists in the 18th C. weren't quite as extreme as today's Calvinists.) He told Newton that it only seemed like he chose God while the reality was that God first chose him. This clicked with Newton since he had spent his life running from God rather than searching for him. Despite Newton's continual rebellion, God had sought him, rescued him, preserved him and eventually drew him to Himself.

Newton began to understand Romans 11:6, "But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace."

If by strength and conviction you could receive Christ then by doubt and weakness you could lose Christ. Newton saw that he had been saved by grace and his remaining saved was through this same grace. As Newton later wrote, "Now I began to understand the security of the covenant of grace and to expect to be preserved, not by my own power and holiness, but by the mighty power and promise of God, through faith in an unchangeable Saviour."

When I read this I thought of not only how stupid I was, but how long it took me to catch on to this truth. (Actually, I'm still trying to grasp this truth.) I thought of all the time I wasted trying to be "diligent" in the things of God. I worked hard to obtain a holiness that could only be obtained by grace. I can't stop sinning unless the grace of God allows me. I won't be faithful unless God gives me faith. I missed out on the rest God promises unless I ceased to strive and instead accepted His grace.

Accept His grace? How do you go about getting something when there is nothing you can do to get it? That made no sense to me. All I could figure out to do was ask. I stopped struggling with sin, a fight I could never win. Stopped with my out-of-whack ideas about what diligence meant, and just asked Him for grace.

I quit working, and despite my thinking not working wouldn't work, it did work!

Go figure. Now that still doesn't make much sense to me.

I think this is also the message of John 15:1-12 which Andrew Murray expounded upon in his classic Abide in Christ.

It is hard to rest. No, I take that back. It is not hard. What is hard is to give up trying to do things in my own power and waiting with God. Diligence is resting in His grace. Even that can't be done without grace.

I can't figure this out. But then, nobody ever asked me to.

Be blessed,

1 comment:

nymrsb said...

If we could figure it out, then it wouldn't be grace ;)