Should I Be Dying Daily?

I spent years confused by Paul’s statement, “I die every day!” (1 Cor. 15:31). The confusion came because when I became a Christian the message I heard was salvation is a free gift, with no strings attached. The forgiveness of sins was free, apart from merit, works, or duty. I can’t earn it. It’s a free gift that will never be taken away. That was good news! No strings attached? I’m in! Where do I sign up?

But what happens to most of us (probably all of us) is that once we’re in, the message changes. It morphs into something else. It morphs into my own ability to keep God happy with me by the things I do, think, and say. I was no longer free, but weighed down with “Christian duty.” The message changed from Jesus plus nothing to I’m now responsible to be doing A-Z, whatever A-Z was determined to be, and my failure to do A-Z consistently resulted in feelings of guilt and remorse for being such a failure. Failure to have a consistent quiet time resulted in feelings of shame and guilt. Failure to read the Bible through in a year resulted in feelings of shame and guilt. Failure to pray every day with my wife and children brought feelings of shame and guilt. Failure to be the husband and father I was told I needed to be by Continue reading

Can Grace Be Balanced?

“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”  (John 1:17)

This verse from John is a watershed verse because in a few simple words, it delineates the Old Covenant from the New; Jesus from Moses. In a very clear way, it summarizes the flow of redemptive history by reminding us that there is a difference between Moses and Jesus and the two were never intended to be mixed together.

Unfortunately, mixing them together is what many of us like to do. Grace scares us so we read this verse as though it’s a subtle warning and reminder that truth is meant to balance out grace. We read it as though truth polices grace and keeps it manageable. And of course by “truth,” we mean some sort of law or rule-keeping that somehow tames grace down a bit so it isn’t quite so free and threatening. It can be something we pull over from Moses or some rule or principle we find in the New Testament or in our religious environment. Either way, we read this as though grace needs balanced out by Continue reading