Wonderfully Made? A Response to Doug Pagitt

Back in 2008, Doug Pagitt wrote a book titled, “A Christianity Worth Believing“. In the book he undermines the biblical notion of depravity by contrasting it with the biblical mention of being “wonderfully made”, as if the two concepts are somehow contradictory. Normally it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie, however Pagitt’s work has been reprinted in a recent article from Faith and Fitness, which can be read here. Understanding the concept of man’s sinful condition is paramount to understanding and receiving God’s salvation by grace through faith. Furthermore without such a condition, words such as “grace” and “mercy” are redefined and concepts such as “redemption”, “atonement”, and “salvation” take on different subjective meanings. So there’s a lot riding on what the bible has to say about man’s sinful state and the idea of depravity.

In true emergent fashion, the article kicks off with an emotional story about bullying. Pagitt recalls a time back in junior high when a young girl was bullied and ridiculed while riding the bus to school. Of course we’re all appalled at the bully’s behavior and we all feel for the girl. This story seems like an odd way to intro until you continue reading and realize the story is the backdrop for Pagitt’s comparison of man being wonderfully made vs. man’s sinful depravity. Guess who gets to be the bully in Pagitt’s comparison…the church of course.

As ridiculous as this false dichotomy Pagitt attempts to draw is, it’s a good question and it deserves a discussion. I should say it deserves a look at the biblical text, free from nonsensical stories which attempt to pull the reader into emotion and out of what the verses actually say. Does the fact that man is “fearfully and wonderfully made” as Psalm 139:14 puts it, contradict or undermine the biblical assertion of total depravity? Not only does it not, but contextually it’s not possible. Let’s take a look.

Psalm 139:14 is about man’s physical form, not his nature.

Pagitt makes a mistake a lot of people tend to make which is importing their own definition of what they think a word or phrase means rather than looking at all the verses in context. “Hey look everyone this verse says we are wonderfully made, this must mean we’re all genuinely good people, we aren’t depraved.” A simple look at Psalm 139:14 and the verses after it confirm that the psalmist is speaking about God’s craftsmanship in relation to creating man’s physical being, not man’s inward nature. How do we know this?

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.” Psalm 139:14-16

So contextually speaking it’s not possible for Pagitt to compare and contrast “wonderfully made” vs. “man’s depravity” and pit them against each other because they’re two different subjects dealing with two different aspects of man, namely man’s physical form and his inward nature. Pagitt spends much of the article speaking about a “bully” kind of Christianity where we are taught that we live with a sin nature and comparing it with the notion of being wonderfully made, which presents a false dichotomy that isn’t possible if the reader simply keeps reading past verse 14. This should be enough to establish the idea that man can be crippled with a nature to sin and yet his physical form be wonderfully made by God’s purposeful hand, however since Pagitt wants to speak about the church as if we have depravity all wrong, lets simply take a look at what the bible has to say about depravity and man’s sinful nature,

Is man’s inward nature bent towards good or evil?

among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Ephesians 2:3

for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” Genesis 8:21

For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Mark 7:21-23

just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned - for before the law was given, sin was in the world.” Romans 5:12-13

For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” Romans 5:19

Are all men sinful in nature or just a few?

For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.” Romans 11:32

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6

What about man’s heart and mind? Is that depraved too?

Also, the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead.” Ecclesiastes 9:3

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.” Colossians 1:21

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.” Romans 7:18

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9

to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.” Titus 1:15

Apart from Christ, can man change his sinful inward nature?

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.” John 8:34

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.” Titus 3:3

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.” Galatians 4:8

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.” Romans 6:6

These verses are just a drop in the proverbial bucket when it comes to the biblical description of man’s depravity towards himself, others, and to God. Furthermore if Pagitt wants to compare and contrast wonderfully made, he can’t even make it out of the same book he misinterprets from without it contradicting his premise.

The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies.” Psalms 58:3

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Psalm 51:5

Man’s depravity, God’s power.

Man’s depravity is the backdrop by which God displays his power unto salvation and is the precursor by which we begin to understand his grace, mercy, and love towards us. Isaiah 53:10 says the Lord was pleased “to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt…“. It was the Lord’s will to offer Christ as a what? A guilt offering. How do we know God loves us? As Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Guilt, sin, love, offering…these are inescapable terms.

Pagitt claims man’s true destiny, “has been papered over by a version of the creation story I like to call “From Very Good to Really, Really Bad.” Other people call it “The Fall.” However he never presents anything other than a piece of one verse to make his point. And even then his interpretation of that verse contradicts the following verses making it impossible for it to mean what he claims it means. So who is doing the “papering over” here? On one hand we have verse after verse describing man’s sinful and depraved state and 2000 years of orthodox interpretation and on the other hand we have a piece of one verse taken out of context and a lot of pictures and stories of irrelevant issues such as bullying and children. Pagitt then ends by saying, “But the deeper I go in my Christianity, the more I feel compelled to be the bus driver. I can’t sit by as someone tells me, my children, my friends, that they suck, that they are evil to the core. And I certainly can’t stand to have that perverted message be the imposter of the gospel of Jesus. I need to be someone who steps between the abusive accusations and the victim. I need to be someone who whispers the truth.

What Pagitt seems to miss is all throughout the scriptures God himself is the one telling us we are evil to the core. Verse after verse of God describing man as fallen, wicked, alienated and in need of a new nature. Can anyone turn on the news or take a simple honest look at themselves without acknowledging that something is terribly wrong within man’s own heart? Pagitt calls the notion of Christ’s redemption of man’s depraved nature “a perverted message of the gospel of Jesus“. However, Paul says in the intro to Galatians the true message of Jesus is that he, “gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father“. So not only is the gospel of Jesus salvation from our sin, but it was God the Father who ordained it. Paul has strong words for whoever seeks to pervert this message. “Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!” Pagitt claims that the notion of depravity perverts Christ message, but Paul condemns and curses those who try to undermine it because they distort God’s plan of redemption through salvation. Pagitt goes on to play the victim/hero card by saying, “I need to be someone who steps between the abusive accusations and the victim.” I wonder if Pagitt has thought through the blasphemous implications of his statement and worldview considering the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives is to, “prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment.

So who’s the real victim here? You? Me? Pagitt? According to Psalm 51:4 the real victim in all of our depravity is God. “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.” The whole premise of this article is Pagitt’s insinuation, “hey we’re not so bad after all”. Ironically the article only underscores man’s depravity by highlighting the depths that man plunge in order to get out from under God’s truth. Those who can’t bring themselves to reject God outright, seek to redefine him.

The Prosperity Gospel: A Documentary TRAILER

Here’s the trailer for my upcoming documentary on the prosperity gospel/word faith movement.

The documentary will look at the following heretical doctrines and methods of the prosperity gospel:

1. the occult roots of the movement
2. the little gods doctrine
3. law of attraction
4. allegorizing the biblical text (scripture twisting)
5. how false teaching obscures the truth and ultimately separates people from Christ
6. how prosperity/word faith teaching is virtually indistinguishable from new age/occult teaching

Christianity in Crisis? Trevin Wax Responds to Andrew Sullivan

Trevin Wax of The Gospel Coalition responds to Andrew Sullivan’s story featured on the cover of Newsweek. I encourage you to read Sullivan’s story and then read Trevin’s reply. As an apologist, you need to be ready to speak to the issues Sullivan brings to the table and realize where they are coming from and why they are biblically inadequate and inaccurate. The erroneous “forget the church, just follow Jesus” ideology which redefines what Christ meant by “love” and ignores most of what he actually said, has not only gained traction from skeptics, but also from within the church as well.

Christianity in Crisis? A Response to Andrew Sullivan
by: Trevin Wax

It’s interesting to see how those who advocate a return to the words of Christ often display a frightening ignorance of what Jesus actually said. The primary message of Jesus was not love – at least, not love in our sense of the world. The message of Jesus was Love with a capital “L” – meaning, His message was about Himself. It was about His kingdom, His identity as king, and the cross that became His throne.

Click here to continue reading

Can I Lose My Salvation?

Salvation is a sovereign act of God given to us by bringing us from spiritual death to spiritual life. Gen. 2:17, Rom. 6:23, and Eph. 2:1 make it clear that before salvation occurs, we are spiritually dead. In the act of salvation, God gives us grace (2 Timothy 1:9), God gives us faith (Rom. 12:3), and God awakens us to the knowledge of who Christ is (1 Cor. 2:11-14), bringing us from spiritual death to life. To imply that you “lose your salvation” means you have to go from spiritual death to spiritual life, back to death, back to life, then death again, and so on.

Ephesians chapter 1 is a brilliant summary of salvation being given to us by grace through faith so God alone is glorified. Why would God save mankind in this manner?  According to Ephesians 2:9 and 1 Corinthians 1:29, “Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” In other words, it’s God’s gift and God’s process so that no one can look at their salvation and say, “I did that.”  You were spiritually stillborn in the line of Adam, a child of God’s wrath (Ephesians 2:3), alienated and hostile in your mind because of your evil deeds (Colossians 1:21), but through God’s grace you have been born again into the Kingdom of his beloved Son Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:13). Simply put, dead men don’t possess the capacity to save themselves and the bible is more than clear, nor do we want to. But God through his Son Christ, graciously intervenes on our behalf as was predestined for his glory and our joy, “those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” Romans 8:30

Not only does God sovereignly give you the gift of salvation by raising you from the spiritually dead, but he keeps you in his Kingdom. John 6 and John 10 say,

And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me“, “and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand“, “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.

Two things are clear from the above texts: 1) It’s the Father who gives; and 2) Jesus will not lose even one of those given to him. Jesus is not a liar. Jesus keeps his promises and he will not lose any the Father has given to him. John chapter 10 speaks of salvation in terms of Christ being a gate we enter through, our Good Shepherd, and we are his sheep.

The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.

On the basis of the above texts, you can’t lose your salvation. The real question is, “were you saved in the first place?”

What about Hebrews 6?

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.

The key to understanding why this text isn’t talking about losing salvation, but rather the falling away of those who were never saved, is to notice the word picture the author uses. He does not say, land that drinks the rain produces good crop and then after a season it also produces thorns. He is telling us sometimes land tastes rain and produces good crop. Other land tastes the same exact rain and produces thorns. He’s talking about two different results from two different kinds of land that experience the same rain. He uses this description to say salvation is the same way with believers. Two different people can share in the same spiritual experiences, one produces genuine salvation and the other does not.

Also notice the temporal terms used, “have once been enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, shared in the Holy Spirit, tasted the goodness of the word of God“. Tasted not eaten, shared not possessed. Ephesians 1:13-14 says, “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.” The Holy Spirit is a deposit guaranteeing that we are God’s possession.

Which is why 1 John 2:19 explains apostasy this way, “These people left our churches, but they never really belonged with us; otherwise they would have stayed with us. When they left, it proved that they did not belong with us.”

These people looked like they were believers. They were in the same church, they tasted of the same word, sang the same songs, shared the same Holy Spirit, then they left. They were land that drank the same rain and produced thorns, whereas the people who stayed were land that drank the same rain and produced good crop. Jesus didn’t lose whom the Father gave him, 1 John is saying these people were never saved, which is why they left. This is also why Ephesians 6 says it’s impossible for them to be brought back to repentance, they never knew him in the first place.

Same rain, same spiritual experience, one produces salvation, one does not.

What about all of the warning verses in the bible about apostasy?

The warning verses in God’s word are one of his chosen methods by which God keeps his children. “…and the sheep listen to his voice”, “They too will listen to my voice…“. If we are truly saved and are truly God’s sheep, we listen to God’s voice, we heed his warnings, we hold firm. His word is the method by which we hear him and follow him. When we wander off in seasons of dryness or confusion, the Good Shepherd comes to our rescue as John 10 promises.

and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” John 10:4-5

A true believer hears God’s words of warning and are saved by them, someone who isn’t a genuine believer ignores those warnings or listens to another voice.

Hebrews 3:14 says it this way, “We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.

Salvation and Perseverance is not a Works Based Phenomenon

The very act of salvation means that you are no longer judged according to your righteousness but Christ’s. To believe that salvation can be lost, you would have to believe that after salvation you are still judged according to your own righteousness which clearly violates 2 Cor. 5:21: “God made him who had no sin to be sin FOR US, so that IN HIM we might BECOME THE RIGHTEOUSNESS of God.

Well did we become Christ’s righteousness or not?

Simply put, people think their salvation hinges on their behavior, so they are constantly trying to earn or keep it. The good news is that your salvation isn’t about your behavior but Christ’s. If it was about your behavior, then it would be called the bad news. When people are “doing great” and things are going well, they think they are in God’s good graces and salvation is intact. When they screw up or do something they shouldn’t, they automatically think they have sinned themselves out from underneath God’s grace and their salvation has been lost. Which is why they’re down at the altar after every episode of their life, “getting saved again”. Salvation is not a works based phenomenon, it’s a resurrection from spiritual death to spiritual life phenomenon.

To believe you can lose your salvation, you have to explain away numerous biblical promises from God to the believer. How can we go from spiritual life back to spiritual death? How can we be judged by Christ’s righteousness only if our salvation is conditional upon our righteousness after salvation? How can the Holy Spirit be a guarantee of eternal life if the promise of eternal life is conditional and not guaranteed at all? How can we rest in the promise of being sealed with the Holy Spirit if that seal can be broken? How can God lose one to whom the Father gave him? How can the Good Shepherd who promises to leave the ninety nine sheep to rescue the wandering one, not save the one? How can land that produces good crop, simultaneously produce thorns? How can we truly become the righteousness of Christ if our righteousness unto salvation rests in our after salvation works? God says even our good works are filthy to him, how can that be good enough to keep me in my salvation? How can our works really keep salvation if salvation is a free gift of grace so that we can’t boast about our works in it? If our works play any part in salvation, albeit minimal, does God truly get all the glory for that? Can a spiritually dead man raise himself back to life? Is God truly sovereign in bringing about salvation to his people, or does he fail in that endeavor?

The real issue isn’t “can I lose my salvation”, but rather “can Jesus lose those to whom the Father gave him?” The biblical answer is clear, absolutely not.

After God sovereignly raises you from death to life, makes you a new creation, and bestows upon you salvation, you are going to screw up, have seasons of dryness, have seasons where you question your sanity, etc. For his true sheep, those who share in Christ’s inheritance, and have the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of eternal life, God promises to redeem and use these times for your spiritual development (Rom. 8), to conform you into the image of his Son for his glory (Romans 8:29). These are the times when your roots should grow deeper into the Gospel. In these times a true Christian perseveres and continues to walk towards Christ, a non-christian who is just caught up in church culture will walk away from Christ (Hebrews 3:14). God’s promise to bless you and keep you in his Kingdom should be a catalyst to holy living because you live from a place of eternal gratitude for his grace and mercy. You are truly free from having to earn your place because Christ has done that for you. Perseverance of the saints is a promise that brings deep comfort to those who truly know him.

Your behavior and wandering away from the faith isn’t an indication you might be losing your salvation or that Jesus may be losing his grip on you, but rather that you may have never known him in the first place. You simply were a partaker, not a possessor, you tasted but never ate, you heard the knock and never answered, you sat in church, learned the culture, and sang the same songs and never knew him.

From Victoria’s Secret to Proverbs 31

Sometimes the greatest apologetic you can possess is the power of a changed heart and life. It’s one thing to speak the truths of God and never have your life scrutinized, it’s quite another to have a lot on the line with the eyes of the world watching and still give it all away to testify to the power of the risen Lord Jesus Christ.

In 2009, at the age of 19, Kylie Bisutti achieved what most young models dream of when she beat out 10,000 contestants to win Victoria’s Secret model search. She recently announced her decision to walk away from modeling lingerie to Good Morning America, “because I personally feel that I am not honoring God or my husband by doing it.

She also said:

I was growing in my relationship with the Lord and my faith.  I’m a strong believing Christian…

I just became so convicted of honoring the Lord and my body and wanting to be a role model for other women out there who look up to me…

I have decided not to model lingerie because I personally feel that I am not honoring God or my husband by doing it. My marriage is very important & with divorce rates rising I want to do everything I can to protect my marriage and be respectful to my husband. God graciously gave me this marriage and this life and my desire is to live a Godly faithful life…

 I want to point out that all too often we preach morals before the Gospel. Get your life right, get cleaned up, then get in church and pursue a relationship with Christ. Kylie clearly articulates the kind of God exalting morals that flow from the Gospel and testify to the power of a transformed heart and life in Christ. She also touches on two great points in her blog on Live31 when she writes, “Christ also led my husband and I to a great church that has helped me so much. It is a lot easier to stay grounded when you are plugged into a church and fellowship with other believers. I also stay committed to reading the bible.

Gospel driven morals, plugged into a Church, committed to reading the Word of God…bravo Kylie Bisutti.

I Quit Being A Victoria’s Secret Model To Become A Proverbs 31 Wife

Kylie Bisutti

“I started my modeling career at the very young age of 14. It was always my dream to become a super model and to be a Victoria’s Secret model was my ultimate goal in life. I felt like I was born to walk the runway and at the age of 19 I achieved that goal. I walked in my first Victoria’s Secret runway show, beating out 10,000 other girls to win the prize of their newest runway angel. From there I started doing shoots for their catalogue and was on the cover of multiple magazines, including men’s magazines. I hosted parties, dazzled red carpets, and got more attention than a girl could ever imagine. (and I loved every minute of it) I selfishly desired the attention that I was getting and I gave in to worldly ways… UNTIL I had a very gracious and convicting AWAKENING!

Click here to continue reading her story at Live31.org…

The counterfeit gospel of moralism

I recently read an article by Tullian Tchividjian that included a list of statements adapted from Dr. Tim Keller, Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in Manhattan. I thought I would share these statements and then discuss their implications on us. These eight points are adapted from Dr. Keller.

Read to yourself the following statements and answer true or false:

  • I obey-therefore I’m accepted by God.
  • My self-view swings between two feelings. If I am living up to my standards, I feel confident God likes me, but then I am prone to be proud and unsympathetic to failing people. If I am not living up to my standards, I feel like a failure to God.
  • I obey God because I receive things from God. My blessings are a result of my good deeds and not ultimately because of my relationship with Christ.
  • When circumstances in my life go wrong, I get angry at God, since I believe that anyone who is good deserves a comfortable life.
  • When I am criticized I am furious or devastated because it is critical that others view me as a ‘good person’. Threats to that self-image must be destroyed at all costs.
  • My prayer life consists largely of petition and it only heats up when I am in a time of need. My main purpose in prayer is control of my circumstances.
  • My identity and self-worth are based mainly on how hard I work. Or how moral I am, and so I must look down on those I perceive as lazy or immoral. I disdain and feel superior to ‘the other.’
  • Since I look to my own performance for my spiritual acceptability, my heart manufactures idols. It may be my talents, my moral record, my church performance, my social status, etc. I absolutely have to have them so they serve as my main hope, meaning, happiness, security, and significance, whatever I may say I believe about God.

If you answered ‘true’ to any of these, chances are you have wandered off from the gospel and moralism has taken it’s place.

What is moralism and how is it different from the Gospel?

Moralism says, “obey the law, do good deeds, try harder, do better, and THEN God will bless you and favor you.”

This often leaves you feeling broken, tired, and dirty trying to live up to what you cannot. Or you end up pretending like you are doing a good job obeying the law, so you look down on others who are struggling and have no patience with them.

This stands in stark contrast to what the Gospel says, “Christ obeyed the law for you because you can’t obey it on your own. Your blessings and righteousness are based on his sacrifice and his identity that he gives to you freely.”

The Gospel leaves you feeling joyful and free before God because it’s no longer about what you do or have done, but about what Christ did for you.  This enables you to treat everyone with the same kind of patience and kindness God has shown to you in your sins.

Another way to spot whether or not you believe in moralism instead of the gospel, is to see what you do when you sin.  If you believe in moralism, when you sin you run from the cross, run from Christ, and run from the Church.  Chances are you feel dirty or unacceptable because you still think it’s about your own ability to become righteous by your deeds.

If you believe in the Gospel, when you sin you run to the cross, you run to Christ, and you stay in the Church because you understand that even though you have sinned against God, ultimately it is his loving arms that will hold you, forgive you, and make you clean again.

What does the Gospel look like?

I am going to end this with another set of statements for you to answer true or false to.  This is what the Gospel has to say in response to the above statements that define moralism.

  • I’m accepted because of Christ-therefore I feel free to obey God because I am grateful, not because I have to earn his love.
  • My self-view is not based on a view of my self as a moral achiever. In Christ I am “simul iustus et peccator”-simultaneously sinful and yet accepted in Christ. I am so bad he had to die for me and I am so loved he was glad to die for me. This leads me to deeper and deeper humility and confidence at the same time. Neither swaggering nor sniveling.
  • I obey God because I am grateful I don’t have to earn his blessing. My blessings are a result of my relationship with Christ.
  • When circumstances in my life go wrong, I struggle but I know all my punishment fell on Jesus and that while he may allow this for my training, he will exercise his Fatherly love within my trial.
  • When I am criticized I struggle, but it is not critical for me to think of myself as a ‘good person.’ My identity is not built on my record or my performance but on God’s love for me in Christ. I can take criticism.
  • My prayer life consists of generous stretches of praise and adoration. My main purpose is fellowship with Him.
  • My identity and self-worth are centered on the one who died for His enemies, who was excluded from the city for me. I am saved by sheer grace. So I can’t look down on those who believe or practice something different from me. Only by grace I am what I am. I’ve no inner need to win arguments.
  • I have many good things in my life-family, work, spiritual disciplines, etc. But none of these good things are ultimate things to me or define me. None of them are things I absolutely have to have, so there is a limit to how much anxiety, bitterness, and despondency they can inflict on me when they are threatened and lost.

In Matthew 11:30 Jesus says, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  Moralism masquerades as the Gospel, but will ultimately break your back with what you cannot hold.  The Gospel, because it is based on Christ and his righteousness FOR YOU, is easy and light.

Breath deep of the Gospel and rest easy in what Christ has done for you.  He obeyed for you, took your sins away and gave you his righteousness in return.

He took your curse so that you could have his blessing.

That’s why we call it grace.