Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A strong and unshakable assurance.

Romans 8:38-39: Nothing in all creation can separate us from God's love for us in Christ.

"Nothing can deny or undo our salvation. Not sin, not law, not death, not the law of sin and death, or the fact we are not Jews. Because our relationship with God is not based on any thing variable or changeable but on Christ to whom God has united us by his Spirit.

All of this Paul intends as strong and unshakable assurance. The world, which continues to relate to its 'god' kata sarka (in the flesh), assumes that suffering undermines confidence in one's relationship with God, undermines and nullifies the doctrine of justification by faith, rendering it impossible for anyone to know without a shadow of a doubt that God accepts them. Everything is conditional, everything is uncertain, and the presence of suffering intensifies that conditionality and that uncertainty.

Sadly, many Christians, to whom God has ceased to relate kata sarka (in the flesh) because they have believed in his Son, continue in their own hearts and minds and from their perspective, to relate to God kata sarka. Their awareness of peace with God is non-existent or fragile, they constantly fear God's condemnation and punishment, they still live as though trapped and enslaved by the law of sin and death, they have no assurance of salvation. To them suffering is God's punishment ' a payout for some demerit or some failure of faith.

To these Paul hammers it home: we rejoice in suffering! (5:3) It can never again be perceived as punishment. It has no ability to sever us from the love of God in Christ. Nothing can do that. Christ has taken all the punishment. Christ has borne all the rejection and separation. It will never be experienced by the believer. Never. All that could ever separate us from God has been dis-empowered forever."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very cool! So many people do not understand the discipline of God.

God's discipline is not REACTIVE, in that it is His reaction to our behaviour (if that was the case, then it goes against everything that Paul taught as the Gospel and mystery of God, and even the prophets of old who foretold of Jesus our redeemer and forgiver of sins etc). No!

There are 2 things we need to know about God's discipline:
(1) God's discipline is PROACTIVE, in that it is purely designed for our own good - that we may share in His holiness (Heb 12:10), and
(2) Ironically (and more importantly), God's discipline is actually not induced by Himself - He does not meet out punishment or discipline upon us. Here's what i mean, and it's so liberating and awesome! If we can get a revelation of this, we will actually fully understand why and how it is possible to literally and fully rejoice in sufferings:

To "spot quote" out of Hebrews 12 is exceptionally dangerous yet so common. Verses 1-5 and Verse 7(a) of Hebrews 12 lays the foundation for the whole chapter on God's discipline (its nature and its purpose).
It ENCOURAGES us to remain in Christ who is the founder and perfecter of our faith(verse 1-2). Verse 7 clearly indicates the nature of our discipline - "it is for discipline that you endure". Remaining in Christ during hardship (i.e. standing firm/enduring/persevering in HIS promises and goodness) amounts to discipline - its purpose: " that we may share in His holiness" (verse 10).

Verse 5 would not make sense if God's discipline was a punishment for doing wrong, because then surely " exhortation" in verse 5 is the wrong word - shouldn't it be "wrath" then? But it's not! Suffering and difficult times are NOT from God (see ISAIAH 54:14-15 -and the context here is future glory through Jesus Christ) - COMFORT and "EXHORTATION" during suffering and difficult times are from God.

So to summarise God's discipline: We are called to endure such difficult times by drawing on His grace and "precious promises", and to be encouraged and comforted by it in order to develop and grow in character and spiritual maturity (i.e the process of being discipled/disciplined and trained in Christ-likeness).

It's all about conformity, not punishment - everyone who loves God wants to be spiritually mature, yet the bible teaches us that this maturity/character is developed through the enduring of hardships (which is only possible by the grace of God).