Wednesday, December 01, 2010

John Ortberg on Grace

BLOGGER'S NOTE:  This post was written for my October 27 Wednesday evening rehearsals.  Life has been running at break-neck pace the past couple of months.  It has taken me until now to carve out a few minutes to upload my musings to the blog.

FACEBOOK NOTE:  If you're reading this on fb, please take a moment to click the [View Original Post] link below so I can have a clearer picture whether people are actually reading this stuff online.  I'm uncertain how many of my Wednesday ensemble members actually read what I write.


This morning I was listening to a talk given by John Ortberg at Catalyst West Coast. He said some things that expanded my understanding. I haven’t finished listening, but felt you might benefit as I did. Here are excerpts:

Spiritual transformation requires every bit as much grace as salvation does. ... When I am forgiven by God I'm still left with kind of a gap. Not between me and God -- God loves me, God forgives me. Now the gap is between me as I am right now -- the current version of me -- and the me that God had in mind when He created me. The theological language for this is sanctified me, or me 2.0. And here's the problem: a lot of people think that this gap -- the gap between me as I am right now and the me that God made me to be -- can be closed by human effort. What a lot of people don't understand is that it's not just that I am forgiven by grace; I can only be transformed by grace. ...

A lot of people when they hear the word "grace", automatically … just think [that] grace is nothing other than the offer of free forgiveness of sins. … [In] the New Testament when Paul says things like "I want you to grow in grace", he is not saying, "I want you to experience more and more forgiveness". Grace is primarily experienced in our lives as the power of God to do within us what we cannot do on our own. ...

… Grace is part of what enables us to be forgiven for our sins; but grace is much bigger than forgiveness. And you were not meant just to be forgiven by grace; you were actually meant to live on grace: to wake up and receive that first moment as an experience of grace; and then to receive grace through relationships; and to receive grace through eating; and to receive grace through reading; and to receive grace through working. That's why John Wesley used to talk about different practices as means of grace. They are to be conduits of grace because we were meant to run on grace; and when someone is living with God, they are experiencing grace.

Dallas Willard says: "Saints burn more grace than sinners ever could. Saints run on grace the way a rocket ship runs on rocket fuel." But now this understanding, which has always been held by people who go very far in learning to walk with Jesus, has been largely lost in the church in our day which has understood grace to be restricted to the forgiveness of sins. So people find out that they are to be forgiven by grace, but then they think that they are to be transformed by works.

So hearing the above made me start wondering if I experience limited spiritual growth because of a limited understanding of the role of grace in the life of the believer. That’s enough to think about for now. The peace of Christ to you.

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