Next time, bring a tree

I just finished watching the last main session of Passion 2010. I thought it was really good. The gospel of grace was handled amazingly well, and it is my prayer that a generation of students will be awakened from these few days to the glories of Christ.

Something Louie said in the final session caught my attention. He mentioned that there was no talk of rededication during Passion 2010 for good reason, highlighting the problem with the culture of rededication that is commonplace in many churches today – mainly, that it contradicts the gospel of grace. I was laughing quite hard at this because the way he talked about it clearly showed me the futility and foolishness of the ways we are prone to follow. The neverending cycle of backsliding and rededication is proof that we can never live the Christian life by our own willpower.

Or in Louie’s words, we all like to stand around a bonfire, throwing our sticks into the fire, saying, “This is it. I’m rededicating my life to you.” Only to fail again, and gather around the next bonfire with another stick, saying, “This is the stick. That last stick wasn’t really the stick.”

And the next time, “This is THE stick. I’m sticking it in the ground as a sign of my commitment. Oh, and then I’ll burn it in the fire.”

And the next time, “This is definitely the stick. I’m sticking it in the ground, nailing it to this cross over here, and burning it in the fire.”

And the next time, “This is IT. I’m sticking it in the ground, carving my sins onto it, nailing it to the cross and burning it in the fire.”

Next time, bring a tree and burn that in the fire.

Do you see the problem with the gospel of willpower? The attitude that says I am going to do it better this time round? Left to ourselves, we are unable to do that which is pleasing to God.

Instead of a gospel of willpower, we must awaken to the gospel of grace. The gospel that teaches us to say “I can’t, but you can.”  This is the gospel of Philippians 2:13 – work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Stop trying to do better, and start believing this wonderful truth. The God who saves us doesn’t leave us at conversion, but continues to sanctify us by his Spirit and truth. His work is primary. He is at work in you to will and to work out your salvation. Therefore, work out your salvation. God gives us what he commands us to do, so quit trying to find the resources and the willpower and just start believing and living each day in this truth. If you fail, repent for God is faithful to forgive us, then keep on living in this truth. If you go through a day with much encouragement, thank God, and then keep on living in that same truth the next day.

Will it take a whole forest before you awaken to the riches of the gospel of grace?

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