Dying to Yourself

“A crucifixion of the natural self is the passport to everlasting life. Nothing that has not died will be resurrected.”
C.S. Lewis

In a world that promotes living for oneself, doing what feels best, and is “me-centered”, the gospel declares that the universe does not revolve around us.  If we place ourselves at the center of the universe we are actually placing ourselves at the very worst place possible because of our sinful nature.

If instead, we place Christ at the center and die to ourselves, we can truly enter into a world where we are free to live upward and outward.  With Christ at the center, we enter into a realm of full joy, full community, and full purpose.

For more about dying to yourself and living for God, readDiscipleship 101 by Dane Ortlund.

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Self-Evident Facts About Human Nature

“These… are the two points I wanted to make. First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in.”
(C. S. Lewis)

Dear Mr. Antinomian

I came across this “open letter” on the Resurgence blog and found it amusing and a great insight on the radial power of God’s grace.  For some reason, even Christians seem to have difficulty in believing that God’s grace is as powerful as the Bible declares.  Maybe it is due to our vast experience with the power of our sinful nature – its ability to overwhelm our human desires and attempts to do that which is good (Romans 7:7-25) – that leads to our lack of belief in the power of God’s grace.  Yet, if we say that we believe the truth of the Bible, does it not make sense to believe that the power of God’s grace abounds more than sin (Romans 6:18-21)?  In comparison to the rushing flood of grace’s power, sin is but a dripping faucet. Imagine the wonderful impact in the lives of people if we actually accepted the truth of the radical nature of God’s grace, allowing it to run freely in our lives.

Dear Mr. Antinomian (Resurgence)

An Introduction from Tullian Tchividjian:

There seems to be a fear out there that the preaching of radical grace produces serial killers. Or, to put it in more theological terms, too much emphasis on the indicatives of the gospel leads to antinomianism (a lawless version of Christianity that believes the directives and commands of God don’t matter). My problem with this fear is that I’ve never actually met anyone who has been truly gripped by God’s amazing grace in the gospel who then doesn’t care about obeying him. As I have said before: antinomianism happens not when we think too much of grace. Just the opposite, actually. Antinomianism happens when we think too little of grace.

Wondering whether this common fear is valid, my dear friend Elyse Fitzpatrick (in C.S. Lewis fashion) writes an open letter to Mr. Grace-Loving Antinomian–a person she’s heard about for years but never met–asking him to please step forward and identify himself.

Enjoy…


Dear Mr. Antinomian,

Forgive me for writing to you in such an open forum but I’ve been trying to meet you for years and we just never seem to connect. While it’s true that I live in a little corner of the States and while it’s true that I am, well, a woman, I did assume that I would meet you at some point in my decades old counseling practice. But alas, neither you nor any of your (must be) thousands of brothers and sisters have ever shown up for my help… So again, please do pardon my writing in such a public manner but, you see, I’ve got a few things to say to you and I think it’s time I got them off my chest.

I wonder if you know how hard you’re making it for those of us who love to brag about the gospel. You say that you love the gospel and grace too, but I wonder how that can be possible since it’s been continuously reported to me that you live like such a slug. I’ve even heard that you are lazy and don’t work at obeying God at all…Rather you sit around munching on cigars and Twinkies, brewing beer and watching porn on your computer. Mr. A, really! Can this be true?

So many of my friends and acquaintances are simply up in arms about the way you act and they tell me it’s because you talk too much about grace. They suggest (and I’m almost tempted to agree) that what you need is more and more rules to live by. In fact, I’m very tempted to tell you that you need to get up off your lazy chair, pour your beer down the drain, turn off your computer and get about the business of the Kingdom.

I admit that I’m absolutely flummoxed, though, which is why I’m writing as I am. You puzzle me. How can you think about all that Christ has done for you, about your Father’s steadfast, immeasurable, extravagantly generous love and still live the way you do? Have you never considered the incarnation, about the Son leaving ineffable light to be consigned first to the darkness of Mary’s womb and then the darkness of this world? Have you never considered how He labored day-after-day in His home, obeying His parents, loving His brothers and sisters so that you could be counted righteous in the sight of His Father? Have you forgotten the bloody disgrace of the cross you deserve? Don’t you know that in the resurrection He demolished sin’s power over you? Aren’t you moved to loving action knowing that He’s now your ascended Lord Who prays for you and daily bears you on His heart? Has your heart of stone never been warmed and transformed by the Spirit? Does this grace really not impel zealous obedience? Hello…Are you there?

Honestly, even though my friends talk about you as though you were just everywhere in every church, always talking about justification but living like the devil, frankly I wonder if you even exist. I suppose you must because everyone is so afraid that talking about grace will produce more of you. So that’s why I’m writing: Will you please come forward? Will you please stand up in front of all of us and tell us that your heart has been captivated so deeply by grace that it makes you want to watch the Playboy channel?

Again, please do forgive me for calling you out like this. I really would like to meet you.

Trusting in Grace Alone,
Elyse

 

Preaching Christianity

“The great difficulty is to get modern audiences to realize that you are preaching Christianity solely and simply because you happen to think it is true; they always suppose you are preaching it because you like it or think it good for society or something of that sort.”
-C.S. Lewis

Not Living Up to Our Own Standards

Have someone ever not lived up to your expectations?  Have you ever not lived up to your own expectations?  Have you ever done something that didn’t live up to your own standards? How about your own moral standards?   If you are honest, you would say “yes” to all of the above. Even a “moral relativist” would have to say “yes”, even if they try to qualify their answer away from the use of the term “moral”.

This very admission of not living up to even our own moral standards is one of the key evidences of the fallen nature of humanity.  It also points towards a higher law of morality and thus a moral Law Giver.

C.S. Lewis unwraps this thought in the early chapters of Mere Christianity.  While Lewis goes on to give further evidence pointing to Jesus Christ, a couple of his initial points are striking in and of themselves:

If we do not believe in decent behavior, why should we be so anxious to make excuses for not having behaved decently? The truth is, we believe in decency so much – we feel the Rule of Law pressing on us so – that we cannot bear to face the fact that we are breaking it, and consequently we try to shift the responsibility. For you notice that is is only for our bad behavior that we find all these explanations. It is only our bad temper that we put down to being tired or worried or hungry; we put our good temper down to ourselves.
These, then, are the two points I wanted to make. First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot rally get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in face behave in that way. They know the Law of nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in (p 8).

Consequently, this Rule of Right and Wrong, or Law of Human Nature, or whatever you call it, must somehow or other be a real thing – a thing that is really there, not made up by ourselves…It begins to look as if we shall have to admit that there is more than one kind of reality; that, in this particular case, there is something above and beyond the ordinary facts of men’s behavior, and yet quite definitely real – a real law, which non of us has made, but which we find pressing on us (p 20).

C.S. Lewis on Effective Service

If you read history you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next.  It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this one.
-C.S. Lewis