Grace Upon Grace

Currently listening to: “Suddenly” by BT
I actually only started listening to BT because Celldweller did a remix of this track for the Suddenly EP. Once I checked out some of his catalog, I discovered a lot of really great electronic stuff – and honestly, that’s about as specific as I can get, because this guy runs the gamut – trance, techno, house, etc. etc. etc. Good stuff for sure.

Things have been hopping. Between the looming Harvest church plant this coming September in Durham, our soon-coming daughter (or son, if the tech’s wrong!), juggling three part-time jobs, looking for a full-time job, and all sorts of other things… writing has really fallen by the wayside.

It hasn’t been from a lack of things to write ABOUT. There’s an abundance of that. Here, lets bust out some of it. Rather than my usual routine of apologizing for being inconsistent, lets just get right so some of the thoughts and ideas that have been hard at work in my head lately, by God’s grace.

First, something that came up out of my recent studies in John:

John 1:16 ESV
And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

How true is that? I think the old adage was “count your blessings”, but lets be really honest – they can’t even be counted.

I love this phrase – “and from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace”. The Apostle John was no theological slouch (if that weren’t clear from his epistles), nor was he crusty, and so it should not surprise us to find a remark of sheer praise and exclamation here amidst such profoundly theological statements. To think of the ‘grace upon grace’ instilled in my own life is remarkable if I spend any small amount of time bringing to mind the things of the past, or even the things of the prior week.

God’s grace (ie. things I don’t deserve) literally floods my life: Salvation through the gift of faith, a loving wife whose desire is to be useful to our Lord Jesus (full of “theological astuteness” and gentle wisdom), a child in her womb whose development has been (evidently) ideal and healthy, the blessing of godly leadership at Harvest York Region (whose leadership is both humble and authoritative!), a surrounding of friends who spur us on to love and good works, a series of God’s people to counsel and aid, a healthy God-fearing Bible-preaching church of small groups to be part of, the input of godly men in my life, a juggling of jobs to keep me productive for my family, the hope of full time and stable employment on the horizon as God provides, and so much more. I am inundated with grace upon grace – undeserved blessing is a hallmark of my life in Christ Jesus. His fullness is poured out in and around me with alarming regularity amidst both the glorious circumstances and the horrific events of present history.

Yet, just as often as I consider the abundance, I’m wholly mindful of the solid fact that I don’t deserve any of it. I’m a lawbreaker, a mutinous rebel.

I deserve hell, not all this grace upon grace.

The Gospel is an amazing thing – to think even briefly on the fact that the Holy and Righteous God who created me, the God whose laws and standards I spurned and spat on… entered human history, took on human flesh, and took my hell on the Cross. I don’t deserve it. Grace upon grace.

Second, a bunch of quotes that have been ricocheting around my noggin:

“There is no correlation between new and good.” (CS Lewis)

“Duty is a poor substitute for love.” (CS Lewis)

“Joy is a deep, durable delight in the splendor of God that ruins you for anything else.” (Sam Storms)

“Christians who understand gospel logic should be, taking one thing with another, the most accomplished and least envious people in the world.” (Douglas Wilson)

“Curse the scalpel, if you must, but kiss the Surgeon’s hand.” (John Piper)

and, most of all:

“It is written.” (God)

How incredible is it that God has communicated himself to us through a book – the written word? Grace upon grace, all over again, times infinity.

I Need Church.

Currently listening to: “This Is The End” – Relient K
Relient K made a great new album. You should listen to it if the chance comes upon you. It is called “Forget And Not Slow Down”. I am refusing to be using contractions. No reason.

My friend Ian Hales just made a great post over on the Harvest Durham website. You can read it here.

The post is the second in his series entitled Who Needs Church?”. He’s examining the components of the local church and the necessity of it in the lives of believers. It’s actually something I’ve been dancing around doing myself for many months, so I’m thankful someone far better qualified (and far better “having his head around it”) stepped up to the plate.

Personally, the part that was most useful to me is where he mentions that Acts can’t be our model for church structure, as some are prone to demand (house church movement, anyone?). Why? Simple hermeneutics. Acts is a history book – it’s descriptive. So, just in the same way that we wouldn’t take the historical accounts of the Old Testament as prescriptive for how we should live our lives (thus becoming polygamists, as some misguided folks are… prone to demand) we can’t take the embryonic church structure in the book of Acts and use it as our primary source. I’m not suggesting for a second Acts isn’t useful and important, but basic study will reveal that Luke’s purpose in writing Acts was to relay the history of the early church in a rather condensed form. It’s descriptive – describing the events that took place, only occasionally weighing in on things. Conversely, the pastoral epistles of the New Testament are prescriptive by genre and by nature – they prescribe the correct structure for the local church in a way Acts never so much as pretends to.

All in all, I found Ian’s breakdown quite helpful. I trust you will too. Make sure to check out the first post in the series as well (heck, maybe even add the Harvest Durham blog to your feed reader, fair citizen!).

Minor note: Harvest Bible Chapel Durham is the recently announced church plant out of Harvest Bible Chapel York Region, and is planned to launch sometime in 2010.