Life Theology

God’s Gracious Will

For the past few days, I have been reflecting on the verse of the week, Luke 10:21. Jesus thanked God that “these things” were hidden from the wise and understanding people and that they were revealed to little children. Jesus ended with, “Yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.”

This plainly shows that God hides things from people. Why would he do that? Why would a gracious and loving God not reveal all of himself to anyone and everyone in the world? How could a God who doesn’t desire that anyone should perish, but all come to everlasting life not reveal the way to salvation to everyone?

Perhaps the question we should ask is “How in the world does a just, perfect, holy God reveal anything to little children who are dead in their sin?” First Corinthians 1:27 says, “For God what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.” God has chosen to reveal things to little, frail, incapable children.

Why did God do it? Jesus says it was God’s “gracious will.”

There is no one who deserves grace. That’s why it is called grace. But God chose to reveal it to some and not others. I do not know why God did it that way. All I know is that he did. Passages like Romans 9, Ephesians 1, John 6, and this one from Luke make that theme inescapable.

Instead of arguing over God choosing or not choosing some to believe, perhaps we should simply look at the Scriptures and tremble at what it says. Perhaps we should bow low and worship God for not hiding his glorious plan of salvation from us.

He is God and we are not. The only way his revelation to us can be explained is that he did it simply because it was his “gracious will.”


God, Be Merciful to Me!

Lamentations 3:22-23 says:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

I was talking to my discipler from my summer project the other day. I told him how I am continually amazed at God’s mercy more than any of God’s other attributes. What is mercy? Mercy is what you don’t get when you do deserve it. It’s different than grace. Grace is what you do get when you don’t deserve it. In layman’s terms:

Grace gets you in to heaven.

Mercy keeps you out of hell.

That is a very humbling, amazing, mind-blowing thought. How wonderful is thy mercy, O God! I am an unworthy, wretched sinner and all I deserved was to be stillborn. If I died at this moment, God has done me no wrong! God has been putting in on my heart to wake up everyday (at least most mornings) and pray, “Thank you for not killing me in my sleep because that’s what I deserve! I praise you for another day to breathe!”

Titus 3:5 says, “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of theHoly Spirit.” God’s mercy saved us from eternal punishment and condemnation! How glorious is God’s mercy on helpless and hopeless sinners.

As I talked to my discipler, he reminded me of a passage in Luke 18 where Jesus tells a story about a Pharisee and a tax collector praying. The Pharisee thanked God that he wasn’t like the other “sinners.” He boasted of his fasting and tithing. The tax collector, however, stood afar and could not lift his eyes to heaven. Beating his chest, he said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” That was all the words he needed and that was all God needed to hear. This man, Jesus said, was justified rather than the Pharisee.

We don’t realize how depraved and gross our sin is. We barely comprehend how much it offends God. I want to grow to hate sin and be immersed in and amazed at God’s mercy every day.

As the old hymn says,

God be merciful to me
On thy grace I rest my plea
Plant us in compassion now
Blot out my transgressions now
Wash me, make me pure within
Cleanse, oh cleanse me from my sin

To that, I sing, “Amen.”

Life Theology

I was Bought with a Price

For you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

– 1 Corinthians 6:20

I don’t answer to myself anymore. I don’t even own myself. My being–heart, mind, body, was purchased on the cross. What was the price? The price was God’s own Son, Jesus. Second Corinthians 5:21 says Christ became sin for us even though he didn’t know what sin was. He had never, has never, and will never experience sinning. Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death. Christ became sin, he bore the wage of death and used that as a ransom for my soul to escape from death and hell. He bought me–not from a posh shopping center, but from a dirty, stinking, ghetto, white-trash garage sale. I was the item in the corner, tattered and beaten down, almost thrown away and unrecycled. Christ bought me with a price, not because I was worth anything, but because by his grace he wanted to make me worth something (2 Cor. 3:4-6).

So, if I am a purchased vessel, a bought slave, I must be obedient to my master and use my members for righteousness. My body must be used to glorify God–for there is no other option. I was bought as an enemy, a rebel, a fugitive. Now, I am alive in Christ, no longer dead in my sins. “He who washed us with his blood has brought us nigh to God.” Near to God, there must only be obedience and love for righteousness and a utter contempt for wickedness.

I must glorify God in my body, because I was bought with a price.


The Eleventh Hour

In Matthew 20, Jesus tells a parable about the kingdom of heaven. “It is like,” he said, “a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.” This is such a beautiful passage about God’s choice, his property of us, and his love for sinners.

Perhaps the most amazing part of this passage is the men who came in at the eleventh hour and worked for one hour. They were paid the same amount as the men who worked the whole day. These men who worked through the heat of the day were angry, yelling, “They worked only for one hour and you have made them equal with us!”

The master replied, “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me?” Romans 11:35 comes to mind here, “Who has given a gift to the him that he might be repaid.” These workers felt as if the master owed them something. Rather, everything the master gave was a gift. In verse 4, the master says to workers at the third hour, “You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.” The master was not going to wrong the workers. He did not cheat them, for they received what they had agreed to work for. “Friend, I am doing you no wrong” and “I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you,” the master said to the angry workers.

This is such a beautiful picture of how God interacts with us. He owns us, therefore he can choose who he pleases and he can give as he pleases. He hired a few to work in his field and he has done us no wrong for whatever we receive. If we are honest with ourselves, we should realize that all we deserve is hell and damnation. Instead, God went out early in the morning to search for workers, selected a few and said, “Here’s a denarius. You don’t deserve this, but I want you to work in my field.”

Then there are those who were hired in the eleventh hour. How many of us are eleventh hour workers?

I am.

I should have been left on the street, condemned, thirsty, and penniless. I was “dead in my trespasses and sins” and without a hope in this world. But God didn’t leave me there. Some days I feel like my sin is so great and I am so wicked. That should be an everyday realization. All I can do at those times is quiver at the thought of God extending his hand of grace and saying, “Here’s a denarius. I know you only worked one hour, but that’s okay. I love you.”