Turn with Grief and Hatred

A Brief and Untechnical Statement of the Reformed Faith
Benjamin B. Warfield

I believe that God requires of me, under the gospel, first of all, that , out of a true sense of my sin and misery and apprehension of his mercy in Christ, I should turn with grief and hatred away from sin and receive and rest upon Jesus Christ alone for salvation; that, so being united to him, I may receive pardon for my sins and be accepted as righteous in God’s sight only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to me and received by faith alone; and thus and thus only do I believe I may be received into the number and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God. 

I believe that, having been pardoned and accepted for Christ’s sake , it is further required of me that I walk in the Spirit whom he has purchased for me, and by whom love is shed abroad in my heart; fulfilling the obedience I owe to Christ my King; faithfully performing all the duties laid upon me by the holy law of God my heavenly Father; and ever reflecting in my life and conduct, the perfect example that has been set me by Christ Jesus my Leader, who has died for me and granted to me his Holy Spirit just that I may do the good works which God has afore prepared that I should walk in them. 

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Free From the Need to Judge

2 Samuel 1:23-25 (ESV)

[23] “Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely!
In life and in death they were not divided;
they were swifter than eagles;
they were stronger than lions.
[24] “You daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,
who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet,
who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.
[25] “How the mighty have fallen
in the midst of the battle!

When a murderous dictator dies, what might be said in his obituary?  What words might be used by an actual victim of his violence, whose very life was threatened multiple times?  Odds are, we wouldn’t hear words like “beloved” or “lovely.”  Yet this is how David describes Saul as he laments his death.

For years, David lived on the run, fearing for his life even though he had been chosen by the Lord as Israel’s next king.  David had shown only faithfulness and mercy to Saul, yet time and time again, Saul sought his life.  But rather than rejoice in his newfound safety or his impending coronation, David mourns his enemy and calls the daughters of Israel to weep over Saul.  

David not only mourns his enemy, he exalts him.  We are far more likely to remember the faults or the wounds caused by people around us than their good qualities.  Yet David can describe Saul as swift, strong and mighty.  He remembers Saul as the king who brought riches to Israel.

When I’m hurt by another person, it’s not that I wish any kind of violence against him, but if I’m honest, I would be disappointed if he completely got away with what he’s done.  Many thoughts would run through my mind.  “How would he learn his lesson?”  “Wouldn’t it be an injustice if there were no consequences for sin?”  “What if he sins against more people?”

David has no such thoughts for he is that rare man who is not driven by vengeance, self-righteousness, or even his own well-being.  After many years of following the Lord and finding Him trustworthy, David is free to be moved by love.  He is free from the need to be judge and he can even mourn the suffering of his enemy.

The example of David challenges us to pursue mercy for those who don’t deserve it, just as the Son of God pursued mercy for us at the cost of His life.  May God give us grace to forgive freely and to bless those who have hurt us. 

A Challenge to Grow in Love

[1] I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, [2] with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, [3] eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Ephesians 4:1–3

In verse 1, Paul exhorts us to walk in a manner worthy of the calling of Christ.  Verse 2 explains what he means.  To walk in a worthy manner is to walk in humility, gentleness, patience, and bearing with others in love.

We can only do these things in relation to other people.  More specifically, we can only do these things in relation to other imperfect people.  Christian maturity is in many ways relational maturity – maturity in forgiveness, maturity in patience, maturity in selfless love

.

Imperfect people regularly challenge us to grow in love and, if we are honest, we know we are often challenging those around us to grow in love as well.  One of the most remarkable things we will ever see or experience this side of glory is a sinner extending the grace of God to another sinner.  The Church is a place where there are many opportunities to give and to receive this grace.

Free to Love

[41] “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. [42] When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” [43] Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly…he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

Luke 7:41-43, 47

The message of Christianity is that we absolutely cannot earn our way with God.  Jesus does not give us advice as to how to earn heaven because He knows we cannot do it.  We have no hope of proving ourselves righteous to Him.

When we believe that we have earned our blessing, we feel free to look down on others who have not or cannot muster up the goodness that we have been able to.  However, if we believe that every blessing is an unearned gift, we have a basis by which we can love.

Without God, we can love people who have earned it, whether by their achievement or by their suffering, but we cannot love those who are completely undeserving.  Only if we have received a love that is of grace, can we be free to extend this kind of love to others.

From an Enemy to a Son

The Message of 1 Peter
Edmund Clowney

Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

1 Peter 3:9

‘And I thank God that he has given me the love to seek to convert and to adopt as my son the enemy who killed my dear boys.’  These were the words of Korean Pastor Yang-won Son.  The year was 1948; the place was the town of Soon-chun, near the 38th parallel.  A band of Communists had taken control of the town for a brief period, and had executed Pastor Son’s two older boys, Matthew and John.  They died as martyrs, calling on their persecutors to have faith in Jesus.  When the Communists were driven out, Chai-sun, a young man of the village, was identified as one who had fired the murderous shots.  His execution was ordered.  Pastor Son requested that the charges be dropped and that Chai-sun be released into his custody for adoption.  Rachel, the thirteen-year-old sister of the murdered boys, testified to support her father’s incredible request.  Only then did the court agree to release Chai-sun.  He became the son of the pastor, and a believer in the grace of Jesus Christ.

A Chosen, Not Choice People

The Message of 1 Peter
Edmund Clowney

[9] But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. [10] Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

1 Peter 2:9–10

The wonder is not that God chooses some and not others (Abel, not Cain; Isaac, not Ishmael; Jacob, not Esau).  The wonder is that God chooses any.  Certainly God does not choose an elite.  Israel is a chosen people, but not a choice people.

In Need of a Physician

Luke 5:31-32

And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Often we feel as if no one will understand if we are not perfect.  That there is something deeply wrong with us if we struggle.  But that’s not true.  It simply means we are the people that Jesus came for.  Christ died because we have a great need.

A Ragamuffin Prayer

The Ragamuffin Gospel
Brennan Manning

Lord Jesus, we are silly sheep who have dared to stand before You and try to bribe You with our preposterous portfolios.  Suddenly we have come to our senses.  We are sorry and ask You to forgive us.  Give us the grace to admit we are ragamuffins, to embrace our brokenness, to celebrate Your mercy when we are at our weakest, to rely on Your mercy no matter what we may do.  Dear Jesus, gift us to stop grandstanding and trying to get attention, to do the truth quietly without display, to let the dishonesties in our lives fade away, to accept our limitations, to cling to the gospel of grace, and to delight in Your love.  Amen.

How Long?

Phil Ryken

Today I received an anonymous prayer card from someone who was at Tenth Presbyterian Church yesterday for worship.  The card asked us to pray for a baby whose heart is failing and may need a transplant.

The baby’s parents are believers in Jesus Christ.  On Saturday the mother, fearing for her daughter’s life, asked her husband, “How long will God continue to show us mercy?”

“Always,” he replied.