“You’re worried about permissiveness – about the way the preaching of grace seems to say it’s okay to do all kinds of terrible things as long as you just walk in afterward and take the free gift of God’s forgiveness… While you and I may be worried about seeming to give permission, Jesus apparently wasn’t. He wasn’t afraid of giving the prodigal son a kiss instead of a lecture, a party instead of probation; and he proved that by bringing in the elder brother at the end of the story and having him raise pretty much the same objections you do. He’s angry about the party. He complains that his father is lowering standards and ignoring virtue – that music, dancing, and a fatted calf are, in effect, just so many permissions to break the law. And to that, Jesus has the father say only one thing: “Cut that out! We’re not playing good boys and bad boys any more. Your brother was dead and he’s alive again. The name of the game from now on is resurrection, not bookkeeping.”
“We live in a graceless culture. A culture of competition in which we’re all trying to get ahead. A culture of insecurity in which we’re all trying to prove ourselves. A culture of spite in which we hold grudges, envy success, protect ourselves. In this culture our shared meals offer a moment of grace. A sign of something different. A pointer to God’s coming world. “Life in the kingdom,” says Peter Leithart, “demands that we adopt a new set of table manners, and as we observe this etiquette, we become increasingly civilized according to the codes of the city of God.” Around the dinner table we offer friendship and celebrate life. Our meals offer a divine moment. An opportunity for people to be welcomed by grace into a better life, a truer life, a more human existence.”
“I don’t want to admit that I have many needs or deep needs. I’m slowly learning, though, that my needs are where I receive grace. Grace seeks places of brokenness, weakness and emptiness to touch, heal and fill.” – Alan Fadling
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” – 2 Peter 3:18
Growth always happens “in grace”.
The truest measure of our growth is not our behavior, it’s our grasp of grace–a grasp which involves coming to deeper and deeper terms with the unconditionality of God’s love.
It’s also growth in “the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” This doesn’t simply mean learning facts about Jesus. It means growing in our love for Christ because of what he has already earned and secured for us and then living in a more vital awareness of that grace.
Our main problem in the Christian life is not that we don’t try hard enough to be good, but that we haven’t believed the gospel and received its finished reality into all parts of our life.
The Law says, “You have not continued in all that I require of you, and therefore you are cursed.” And the gospel says, “Christ has redeemed you from the curse of the law, by being made a curse for you.”
The Law says, “You are a sinner, and therefore you should be damned.” And the gospel says, “Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
The Law says, “If you disown Jesus before men, he will disown you before his Father.” And the gospel says, “Jesus has risen, go tell the disciples, but especially tell Peter.”