Friday, November 14, 2008

Showing The Love Of God Part 2

Recently my wife came to me in despair because she doubts that she is one of the elect. Here are my meditations on that subject. (By the way, I fight this too sometimes--more then than now).
I guess Dr. Piper has laid a pretty good groundwork for this discussion. He says we should tell the despondent one that we love them and will not let them go. That may convey a sense of the keeping love of God, and draw them to him. Additionally, stress, hard times, our sins, etc. complicate matters so that our thinking and conclusions are skewed. We should distrust our emotions at this point. Let God be true, and every man a liar.
I think she has fallen foul of a kind of Western, logical progression-oriented way of dealing with feelings of assurance and the love of God. She frequently cites pastors and preachers of the Reformed tradition who tend to shake assurance. John MacArthur, John Piper, Alistair Begg, et. al. (Kent Hughes?) are examples of this type of orientation to faith. Rather than immediately assuring the person who prayed to receive Christ, they insist that fruit be produced to evidence salvation.

The logical progression syndrome goes like this: If I must persevere in faith and obedience to be saved, then salvation is not really by faith alone. We cannot believe the simple Gospel of "Believe and Live," nor can we teach it to our children. They may not be one of the elect. And wouldn't you know it--those who believe in a salvation like this get barraged with trial after trial, setback after setback, temptation, sinful reactions ad nauseam. She gets completely discombobulated and assumes that God has not chosen her, as she senses no grace, no love, no peace, etc.

The Good News is both easy and profoundly difficult at the same time. God requires us to be righteous--but knows we can't do it. That is what the Cross is all about. The easy part is--like a little child (please do not miss this!!!) trust God to forgive you based on his Word. The hard part--is keeping yourself close to that forgiveness and grace. There is a gang of thugs out there--and in our hearts--that mitigates against this sometimes with incredible violence. Sin, disappointmemt, hard times,--all of them are thugs. How much attention, though, do we pay to the good resources. God's grace in letting us live and move and have our being. The Church. Songs, prayer, Scripture, meeting together. Good teachers. Thinking, journaling, learning. Meditation, evidence of his power and love in nature, human relationships, government. All of these are our friends.

Reader, God really does love you. Never let anyone convince you otherwise. As for Jacob and Esau, remember that Esau never gave a thought to his sinfulness and earthliness. He became angry at Jacob rather than letting the incident with the blessing make him see that he was a sinner in need of God. He "wasted his porridge." So to speak. God did not intervene in Esau's life because there was no room in Esau's life for God. This explains how God hated Esau. He just let Esau get what he wanted temporarily, but without the God he did not value.
But you have a chance to prove Esau wrong eternally. Value eternity. Value God. Come to him. Show that he did not lavish his temporary graces on you for nothing. And again, I love you and I am not letting you go.

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