What sort of parent would ever base their love for their child on whether they behave or not? It is a gift for all children that their parents favor, pleasure and love is based on the mere fact that they are the children of their parents. Christ said, in Matthew 7, if your earthly Father knows how to give such good gifts, how much more will your heavenly Father. Can there be a greater gift given or for the children to have their affections stirred by and awakened to the unyielding, immutable, impassable love of God. This, by very definition, is the very thing John spoke of in 1 John 4:19.
Often, because the gospel is mixed with the law in ways that rob us of both their beauty and distinct purposes, one may be left feeling that the gospel is not sufficient as a means to bring real transformation and saving grace. Thus one must do more and keep doing more – to ensure that we are indeed saved rather than resting and living in the finished work of Christ.
When we fail to stress that we should be putting off the old man and putting on the new or live lives of self-discipline, we deny that we are indeed deeply loved, treasured and desired by the Father. For sin is the disbelief of what God says. A flexible, bendable softened standard of law will never be demanding enough to push us back to the well of the gospel of truth; nor is it a law that points us to the fact that God is still righteous, perfect, demanding of holiness and just.
You know, often when we ourselves or someone else is not living right, the first thing we start thinking is, I need to start telling myself what to do, let me find a book on ten steps to a better you name it, let me listen to preacher X so that he can get me fired up again. I need to start telling myself what to do or how to live, in order that God will be more pleased with me and love me more. If only I will do this or that, follow this law, be more obedient, my life will be better and there will not be as much suffering. Well, there might be some truth to that last one?.
All men and women are interested in making a name for themselves. All are passionate about their own self-promotion. However, when one encounters Jesus Christ and his Gospel, the desire for self-praise diminishes and the desire for Savior-praise increases. When our eyes are opened and we see the magnificence of our Glorious Lover, our natural tendency to promote self decreases, and we find ourselves more like John the Baptist who uttered the famous statement, “He must increase, I must decrease.”
There is certainly a time for us to sacrifice, labor, toil, work, serve, or minister. God gives all of us spiritual and temporal gifts, and he expects us to steward and spend them for his glory and our neighbor’s good. Yes, it is good for us to work as did Moses, labor as did disciples, minister as did Paul, and serve as did Mary. There are certainly benefits when we do serve. As the Father witnesses our obedience, worship, and selfless service, he smiles. It thrills him to see what he does through the hearts and hands of his redeemed children. He loves to see us loving and looking like his Beloved Son. Yes, when we labor, God grins, brothers and sisters are benefited, the Gospel is promoted, and our own souls are encouraged and made glad. However, despite the duty and benefits of service, something better is before us. According to Jesus, it is better for us when we sabbath than when we serve.
There are leaders who sacrifice, and then there are leaders who sacrifice. What sort of leader are you? David Mathis?wrote the following, “Mark this, husbands and dads, pastors and presidents, the very essence and heart of leadership is taking initiative we otherwise wouldn’t take and making sacrifices we otherwise wouldn’t make, to guide our people somewhere good they otherwise would not have gone. We embrace short-term personal difficulties for long-term corporate gains. We are among those who are learning that life’s greatest joys come not in private comfort and ease, but in choosing what is uncomfortable and hard for the sake of others’ joy. We are learning to find our joy not in the ease of attending to self, but in the toughness of attending to others.” Let us be leaders who sacrifice ourselves in order to promote the interests of God and his friends
In the bible, there is Law and there is Gospel. One has to do with our duty to perform, and the other has to do with God’s promise to perform. In order to properly understand theology, one must clearly define these two concepts. In doing theology and thinking biblically, one must always distinguish between the two, and they must never be divorced.