Give them Grace – for a dialogue
We need to get the gospel ourselves before we can give it to our children.
As parents we need to know that it’s not the law that changes us – it’s the gospel that changes us. And we need to understand what the gospel is telling us – to flesh out the good news, to see how it changes everything in our life -not just in our relations to the Lord but all our relationships.
We need to understand that it’s not the law that changes us – or our children – it’s the gospel that changes us and it’s the gospel that changes our children
We don’t want to live under the Law – we want to live in the Gospel. We don’t want to put our children under the law -- we want them to live in the Gospel.
But we can’t do it unless we understand it. We can’t give our children grace unless we understand grace.
We need to understand that grace has delivered us out from under the law. The gospel is good news -- We don’t have to live under the law anymore.
When I say living under the Law I don’t just mean rules – rules can be good.
But when we think we’re good if we keep them –– and condemned if we don’t – if we feel compelled to keep trying and trying to justify ourselves by measuring up and meeting the standard – and when we feel condemned when we don’t – that’s living under the law.
If you read the apostle Paul in Romans and Galatians where he says we’re not under law but under grace – he doesn’t mean we’re free to do anything we want to do. He means we’re free from this law-dynamic – free from trying to justify ourselves – trying to get it right.
Even Christens who believe the Gospel don’t really understand how the gospel has freed them from this way of life. So often we’re still living under the law trying to get it right.. . and never getting it right. And it’s so easy to revert to that again and again – I do it.
Andrew’s story – Realized that he his idea of God had been shaped by his own Father. His Father tell him to do something and then send him off on his own to do it and tell him “don’t come back until you’ve got it right.”
A lot of us live like that – we see God like that. We’re still operating on our own – we feel cut off from God – like we can’t come to him because we keep falling short.
And of course that can breed rebellion – which is the response of so many Christian kids – they see Christianity as nothing but rules – because that’s what we’ve turned it into – we’ve made it all about keeping the rules, looking like a nice person, and it feels hypocritical because it is. It feels like a straightjacket because it is. We focus on keeping the outward behavior under control, on cleaning up and looking good, and being admired and avoiding criticism --- but there’s no change in our heart. We raise our kids that way because that’s how we’re living our own lives.
Sometimes it doesn’t create rebels – it creates Pharisees. We think we’ve done it – that we’ve got it down. We think we have our act together which gives us permission to look down on other people – to judge them for not having their act together.
But I think most of the time we just feel vaguely guilty – because we know we’ve fallen short, we know we haven’t done enough. And that sense of failure keeps us from having intimacy with the Lord.
And it makes us touchy in our relationships. We have this reflex need to defend ourselves. I think that’s what creates most of the problems in our relationships with one another– we’re living under the law so we feel like we have to be right. We have to justify ourselves.
Paul says the law is written on the heart of everyone. All of us have this dynamic at work in our consciences where one minute we’re defending ourselves and the next minute we’re justifying ourselves. Even people who don’t acknowledge God’s law. Even atheists.
We have a dear friend who doesn’t believe in God but he stills feels the need to prove that he’s more righteous than the Christians he knows. To some extent everyone feels the need to justify themselves in their own eyes or in the eyes of others.
But the thing that really matters is being justified in the eyes of God. And the Bible tells us is that we can never do it. That’s good news! “Cheer up, you’re worse than you think.” You can stop struggling to justify yourself.
Romans 3.20 Therefore no one will be justified in God’s sight by observing the law.
Which thief are you--
We’re all a thief of one kind or another. That’s the Gospel and it’s good news because it tells us we might as well give up the struggle and look to Jesus. And what Jesus has done delivers out from under the Law – out from under this law-dynamic. – “Jesus was born under law to redeem those under law.” Galatians 4:4
He paid the price of all our failure—and now there’s no condemnation left for us because we’re been justified in the sight of God through what Jesus has done.
He redeemed us out from under the law –
Linda and the trash can –
He fulfilled all righteousness in our place – he kept the law for us – and in him we’re justified – we’re declared righteous.
Which means -- the verdict is in – that’s the good news of the gospel. Based on what Jesus has done – and we have been declared righteous in the sight of God.
We don’t need to go back and start living under the law all over again. This is the point where we make our mistake – we think the gospel is just a portal – a way in -- and once we’re in it’s back to the law – be a good person, do what God requires.
That’s was happening to the Christians in Galatians – they were revisiting the Law and trying to justify themselves all over again.
We’re not supposed to go backwards – we’re supposed to go forward – deeper into the Grace of God.
The gospel isn’t meant just to be a portal – an entrance into the Christian life – it’s where we live – we live in the grace of the gospel.
We live like the prodigal son – who’s come home, who’s never going to brag about how good he is like his older brother but he’s home. He’s in the Father’s embrace. He’s been deeply humbled but also loved, and celebrated and endowed with incredible honor and dignity.
There’s so much freedom in living in the Gospel because you don’t have to defend your own righteousness. When Satan accuses us we can use the gospel to defeat him. “Yes I am a great sinner and Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of whom I am the chief.”
And not only that – he who has been forgiven much loves much. That’s what Jesus said to Simon the Pharisee who was looking on the woman of ill-repute. She was a big sinner but she’d been forgiven by Jesus. Jesus tells Simon that she had the advantage on him – she loves him enough to publically wash his feet with her tears and dry them with her hair. She loves much because she’s been forgivenmuch.I think that story captures it. That’ how h=the Gospel changes us – we love much because we’ve been forgiven much.
It’s easy to revert to Simon the Pharisee mode. I do it all the time. And one of the red flags is defensiveness. I feel like I have to defend my righteousness. Or I get critical – that’s another red flag. I start to feel superior.
I need to remember the cross all over again. Remember all over again that I can’t justify myself. Jesus had to die for me – he had to justify me.
And he has. And the struggle is over.
“There’s now condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1
I think the Gospel is what lets us be humble in our relationships to each other. Instead of defending ourselves it frees us to admit our sins, to stop defending ourselves.
Instead of judging other people we can identify with them as fellow sinners. In Galatians Paul called Peter out for withdrawing from the Gentile Christians and just eating with the Jews. Paul told him he wasn’t living in line with the truth of the Gospel. When we live in the Gospel we all sit together.
Of course the big fear is that this will lead to sin. Don’t you need a little fear to get people to obey? Don’t you need the law kind of nipping at your heels to keep you on track?
The overwhelming teaching of the New Testament is that sin increases under the Law. But not under the Gospel. In fact the Gospel produces righteousness. Grace has the power to deliver us from sin and to change us at a heart level.
Romans 6.14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
The grace of the Gospel softens our hearts – it fills us with gratitude to Jesus and a deep love for him like the sinful woman at Simon’s house. It creates a desire to live for Jesus out of love.
Living in the Gospel keeps our eyes focused on Jesus – and seeing Jesus and his love for us – especially on the cross – it transforms us – from one degree of glory to another as Paul puts it.
The gospel humbles us so we relate to others with humility instead of pride. Jesus took off his glory and put on a servants apron and washed our feet – and he calls us to take off our pride and put on the apron of a servant and in humility to serve one another in love.
Grace is like a fountain that wells up in us and pours out of us to others.
The gospel teaches us to relate to others with the same grace we’ve received.
Paul does give commands in his letter – and so Peter and John and so of course does Jesus. But all these commands flow out of the Gospel – they are the “therefore” of the Gospel”
Ephesians 5.8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. (therefore) Live as children of light
Colossians 3:13, 14 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
All the therefore’s of the New Testament – all the commands – flow out of the gospel. Starting with Jesus:
John 13.12-15 “When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”
Does the gospel produce sin? I think it’s just the opposite – the law stokes up our sin – the gospel produces a changed life. We take in what Jesus has done for us – that he has washed our feet – and I think that’s a picture of the cross. We take it in and we take in all it means for us. And then we pour it out.
The gospel is a power – It has the a power to change us. The law is powerless -- Romans 8.3 For what the Law could not do . . . God did: sending His own Son.”
But the gospel has the power of life in it – and as Paul told the Colossians – it bears fruit in us.
Colossians 1:6 “All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.”
Colossians says the gospel bears fruit in us – it’s the fruit of being loved at such a jprice. By Jesus. And that love, that cross jsu tkeeps getting bigger nd bigger because we see more and more clearly who we are, the dpth our sin. And the cross just keeps getting biger and bigger and more beautiful
And when the cross is beautiful, it bears fruit
It’snot powerless like the law – it has the power to transform us—the Bible saysGod will write the law on our hearts through the gospel – not childseled in stone but written on our hearts by the holy spirit (verse)
So we don’t have to try and try in our own strength – Christ is at work in us
The Gospel is being written on our hearts so it can pour out of us
Jesus was the one who taught us that this is how it would work ‘John
1 peter --- the towel of a serant
the gospel is powerful it bears fruit in us – the more deeply we understand it the more we lwill ive it out.
Its not just a portal – it’s our way of life.
Give Them Grace
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