The Practicality of Grace

You don’t have to go to a church, or ever even visit one to know that in church you are probably going to be told to do something. Whether that is to actively do something or refrain from doing something. It seems that “Just do it.” or “Stop it.” are common messages emanating from the stages of churches. We are all about practicality. We need to give practical advice to help people change their lives for the better.

But let’s just say that there are a number of topics in the Bible that don’t seem immediately, or at all, practical. For instance, how do you apply to your life the idea of God being 3-in-1 (the Trinity)? How do apply to your life the idea of God being good? Or just? Or right? Those topics may be great on Sunday morning, but how do you apply them to your life on a mundane Monday morning? As we see right off the bat, there are big topics in the Bible that seem impractical concerning your grinding Monday, or your broken marriage, or your sexual orientation.

And then we come to the idea, the big idea, the idea that stands at the center of the Bible: the death of Jesus Christ on a Roman torture/murder-device, a cross, and His resurrection. How does knowing the reality of Jesus’ death and resurrection help you come finals week? How does that reality help you when you’re tempted to have sex with your girlfriend or boyfriend? Or when you’re tempted to look at porn? Or when you’re eating lunch? If the death and resurrection of Jesus is about the grace of God coming after sinners, maybe many of us think it sounds like great news, but we conclude that it seems highly impractical when it comes to fixing our lives.

The impracticality of grace. Sure, we might understand that grace is a (or the) fundamental message of the Bible, but is it the fundamental message I need to hear when someone cuts me off and I would like to have them thrown in prison for life? I mean, on a day to day basis, how does a message of grace in Christ help me? 

Here is a suspicion of mine: the question is not whether grace is helpful on a day to day basis, but rather, the question is whether or not grace is really true at all? I think the question of whether or not grace is helpful may be like asking if water satisfies thirst. Maybe the problem is not that we have tried water and it didn’t work. But maybe we haven’t tried it at all. Maybe we are suspicious of water’s ability to satisfy us because we have never chugged a half-gallon of it to see what would happen to our thirst problem. Maybe we don’t know if grace matters because we have never really “tried it” on Monday; and we haven’t tried it because we doubt whether it is really true. Rather than taking the plunge into the ocean of grace, and letting the grace of God, if He is gracious at all, consume us, we are suspicious. We are hesitant to take the plunge.

Instead of being honest about our real question, we just say we don’t see the practicality of it. Maybe we have “tried it,” but we doubted it so much we just turned away from the notion. If we were honest though, we might ask something different. We may present an entirely new question. Maybe instead of asking, “Is the message of grace practical?”, we should ask, “Is grace really true?”

If you are a college student, join us Dec. 4th at 8pm at Tidwell Bible Building on Baylor campus as we answer, “Is grace really true?”

#faithanddoubt

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Faith and Doubt (Spurgeon Quotes)

Charles Spurgeon is of great help in this sermon on dealing with doubt.

“It seems as if doubt were doomed to be the perpetual companion of faith. As dust attends the chariot wheels so do doubts naturally becloud faith. Some men of little faith are perpetually enshrouded with fears; their faith seems only strong enough to enable them to doubt. If they had no faith at all, then they would not doubt, but having that little, and but so little, they are perpetually involved in distressing surmises, suspicions, and fears. Others, who have attained to great strength and stability of faith, are nevertheless, at times, subjects of doubt. He who has a colossal faith will sometimes find that the clouds of fear float over the brow of his confidence. It is not possible, I suppose, so long as man is in this world, that he should be perfect in anything; and surely it seems to be quite impossible that he should be perfect in faith.”

“To believe without evidence is to be credulous, and to doubt without evidence is to be foolish.”

“In the matters of the soul and of eternity many doubts will arise.”

 

Faith and Doubt (A Worthwhile Quote)

“By his Spirit, Christ’s continuing subjective work in me consists of his constant, daily driving me back to his completed objective work for me. Sanctification feeds on justification, not the other way around. The gospel is the good news announcing Christ’s infallible devotion to us in spite of our lack of devotion to him. The gospel is not a command to hang onto Jesus. Rather, it’s a promise that no matter how weak your faith may be in seasons of spiritual depression, God is always holding on to you.” – Tullian Tchividjian

Faith and Doubt (Quote):

“The strongest faith and the greatest courage have a mixture of fear. Those that can say, Lord, I believe; must say, Lord, help my unbelief. Nothing but perfect love will quite cast out fear. Good men often fail in those graces which they are most eminent for, and which they have then in exercise; to show that they have not yet attained. Peter was very stout at first, but afterwards his heart failed him.” – Matthew Henry

Join us at Tidwell Bible on BU campus at 8pm on Aug. 28th for part 1 of Grace Church’s college series, Faith and Doubt.

Faith and Doubt (Pt. 1)

This is the first of a handful of posts that will be published throughout this fall semester as Grace’s college ministry works through our 4-part series, Faith and Doubt.

The subject of doubt in the life of the Christian, and really in the life of anyone as it concerns doubting the gospel, seems to be vastly overlooked in many church pulpits, small groups, and Bible studies. Yet most, yes most, Christians have, are, or will struggle with doubt. “Everyone doubts their faith to some degree. If they say they don’t, they are either lying, they don’t take their faith very seriously, or God has had incredibly mercy on them” (M. Patton).

I want to wrestle with faith and doubt this semester because it is a reality in the lives of most Christians and non-Christians and carries extreme importance. We are not talking about believing in and doubting something insignificant, like whether it will rain today. We are talking about God. We are trying to answer questions like,

Does God exist?

Is God good?

Can I trust God?

Does God love me?

Has God forsaken me?

Do I know God?

The nature of the questions makes this subject infinitely important.

I think the result of how overlooked this subject is has been, and still is, devastating for the Church and world around us. The majority of Christians, so it seems, are ignorant on the issue of doubt, and thus personally have no idea what to do with their doubts. They are left to think that they are the only Christian with doubts, because no one is talking about it. And when it is brought up, there are 2 typical, and often very unhelpful responses:

First, doubters are simply told to repent. They are doubting because clearly they are in some kind of sin and simply need to repent of their sin and everything will return back to normal; everything will be ‘ok’. They should just go to church, confess all their sins, and God will restore their peace.

Or secondly, doubters are told that doubt is normal, everything is ‘OK’, there is not much they can do, and, actually, doubting is kind of cool and hip. They should go buy a coffee at Common Grounds and just let the doubts remain. (Seriously though, have you had Common Grounds?).

Both of these responses contain some aspects of truth, but left alone are rarely, if ever, helpful. So, these are not my approaches on the subject this semester for two reasons:

First, I sympathize and have my own personal experience with faith, doubt, and the resulting sadness, uncertainty, and sometimes depression. In my doubts, someone telling me to repent for unknown sin is unhelpful at best. I may have sin to repent of, but I need more than that from someone trying to help me.

Secondly, I think doubting God is about as cool as constantly doubting whether your boyfriend or girlfriend, or husband or wife, is going to cheat on you one day. No one thinks that is “hip” to live with. It may be normal to have those doubts, but it is not enjoyable. Our goal as Christians is to be the happiest people on earth, assured in knowing Christ and him crucified for our sins. Doubt only hinders that joy from growing, and slowly kills it. That’s really cool, right?

So Christian, don’t be afraid of your doubts. Don’t be ashamed of your doubts. We all have them. It doesn’t mean you’re not a Christian. It doesn’t mean Jesus has left you. He loves you. He is closer than you think and feel. You can relax in faith. But I know it isn’t fun. I know it hurts. I know it feels dark. So I want to help you grow in faith and joy in your Savior this year.

See you Aug. 28th, 8p at Tidwell Bible Building.