Christianity and theology

Taking God’s Grace and Mercy for Granted

“Our tendency to take (God’s) grace for granted was driven home to me while teaching a freshman Old Testament course to 250 students at a Christian college. On the first day of class I went over the course assignments carefully. My experience taught me that the assignment of term papers required a special degree of explanation. This course required three short papers. I explained to the students that the first paper was due on my desk the noon of the last day of September. No extensions were to be given except for students who were physically confined to the infirmary or who had deaths in the immediate family. If the paper was not turned in on time, the student would receive an F for the assignment. The students acknowledged that they understood the requirements.

On the last day of September, 225 students dutifully handed in their term papers. Twenty-five students stood quaking in terror, full of remorse. They cried out, “Oh, Professor Sproul. We are sorry. We didn’t budget our time properly. We didn’t make the proper adjustment form high school to college. Please don’t give us an F. Please, oh, please give us an extension.”

I bowed to their pleas for mercy. “All right,” I said. “I’ll give you a break this time. But, remember, the next assignment is due the last day of October.”

The students were profuse in their gratitude and filled the air with solemn promises of being on time for the next assignment. Then came the last day of October. Two hundred students came with their papers. Fifty students came empty-handed. They were nervous, but not in panic. When I asked for their papers, again they were contrite. “Oh, Professor. It was Homecoming Week. Besides it is midterm and all of our assignments are due in other classes. Please give us on more chance. We promise it will never happen again.”

Once more I relented. I said, “OK, but this is the last time. If you are late for the next paper, it will be  an F. No excuses, no whining. F. Is that clear?” “Oh, yes, Professor. You are terrific.” Spontaneously the class began to sing, “We love you Prof Sproul. Oh, yes we do.” I was Mr. Popularity.

Can you guess what happened on the last day of November? Right. One hundred and fifty students came with their term papers. The other hundred strolled into the lecture hall utterly unconcerned. “Where are your term papers?” I asked. One student replied, “Oh, don’t worry, Prof, we’re working on them. We’ll have them for you in a couple of days, no sweat.”

I picked up my lethal black grade book and began taking down names. “Johnson! Do you have your paper?” “No sir,” came the reply. “F,” I said as I wrote the grade in the book….The students reacted with unmitigated fury. They howled in protest, screaming, “That’s not fair!”

The students had quickly taken my mercy for granted. They assumed it. When justice suddenly fell, they were unprepared for it. It came as a shock, and they were outraged. This is after only two doses of mercy in the space of two months.”

(Is this not the same way we treat God’s grace and mercy in our lives sometimes?)

Taken from “The Holiness of God” by R.C. Sproul

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My Reflections on the Defense of the Faith

One thing I know for sure is that God cannot be defended by you and me. He is capable of defending himself and he can do it better than any of us. However, at times God uses people like you and me. Believe you me, there are times when God calls us to “Contended for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). This realization has led me to believe that there ought to be a thin line dividing these two truths. My prayer is that God will always open my eyes to discern the battles he is calling me to fight and those fights I ought to leave to Him alone. Believe you me, this will never be an easy task but I know His grace will always be sufficient.

I also pray that God will grant me the grace to march to the battle he has called me to fight even though my fellow soldiers in the Christian Army stand aloof and are hesitant to march on. Believe you me, not every Christian will be convinced and convicted to fight all the battles that God calls you to fight. There are various reasons for that. R.C. Sproul points out one.

“I’ve seen it again and again. Someone recognizes false teaching and arises to resist it. But instead of supporting the courageous person who wants to uphold Christ’s truth, other Christians call for that person to be silent. Fearing hostility from the culture or the wider body of professing Christians, many believers turn the guns inward and silence their fellow believer for the sake of peace. Yet peace that is won at the expense of the truth is no peace at all. Of course, so far as it depends upon us, we are to live peaceably with all (Rom. 12:18). But when God’s truth is attacked we must draw a line in the sand. Like Daniel of old, we must be willing to face the lions if that’s what it takes to guard the truth (Dan. 6).”

So whatever  the reason that other Christians might have to avoid some battles, but if God has called me to fight that battle, I pray that His grace should always go with me. May I always be comforted in the fact that I am not alone rather He is with me as I fight.

Another thing I always pray for when I am on duty as a Christian soldier is to fight graciously out of love. I think that’s what differentiates the Christian army from any other army in the world.   The aim of our fight is love for God and love for fellow man and because of this goal we battle graciously.  I know sometimes when my fallen human nature rules, I end up fighting brutally; however, I always beseech the Lord that I should fight with grace. Of course, the other camp might hardly appreciate the grace in my strategy of the battle; however, if God approves that there is grace in my fight, then all is well with my soul.

Last but not least, I pray that God will give the courage to fight on when fellow Christian soldiers stand in my way. You know, it is one thing to have fellow Christian soldiers hesitating to join you in the fight and it is totally another thing to have fellow Christian soldiers standing in your way as you fight. Sometimes it even gets worse because the fellow soldier s turn their guns on you and fire. It’s really sad, very sad!

In such cases, I pray that I will not be bitter but I will appreciate the truth as William Cowper once observed that “God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform.”  I pray that I should be able to say as Joseph said “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for God” (Genesis 50:20).  Believe you me, not all Christians will hear the trumpet when God calls you to fight. There will be some who will think you are crazy and they will even shoot at you. Please pray for a forgiving heart and remain faithful to the Master as you onward march to the battlefield.

So, may all Christian soldiers  join Sabine Baring-Gould ( 1834-1924) and shout out:

 

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,

with the cross of Jesus going on before.

Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;

forward into battle see his banners go!

Like a mighty army moves the church of God;

brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.

We are not divided, all one body we,

one in hope and doctrine, one in charity.

 

Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane,

but the church of Jesus constant will remain.

Gates of hell can never gainst that church prevail;

             We haveChrist’s own promise, and that cannot fail.

      

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