Monday, October 22, 2007

Righteousness by Grace?

My pastor said something a couple of Sundays back that has really stuck with me. He said this:
The one and only effective way to walk in righteousness is by grace.
Now, I really do anticipate the rest of my life being an investigation of this one truth. Because the thing is, though I believe it with all my heart, I really don't understand it. My question is simple: how does this righteouness by grace look in real life?

A note: we all need to resist the tendency to transform truth into mere truism. That's when something difficult and lofty is brought low, supposedly for the sake of understanding, but having the effect of actually preventing real thought about the matter. It's not a falsification of the truth, only a gross simplification, some form of words that we content ourselves with in lieu of real thought. It's something like copying Van Gogh's Starry Night with a paint-by-number set.

As an alternative, it's good to begin our thinking about these things with something like David's recognition of the limits of his own understanding. He, in considering the omnipresence of God, simply confessed,
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot obtain it. [Ps. 139:6]
But let's get back to what my pastor said. I've spoken to a few people about it, but to be quite honest they seemed to be uncomfortable with the asking of difficult questions about matters of faith. Everyone wants to avow that grace is a wonderful thing, but grace as power to walk in righteousness, man, that's a deep river.

I don't intend to say any more than that. It's deep. I cannot touch the bottom.


Anonymous said...

i think spiritual matters are just not easy to put into a language that our physical mind can comprehend.
it seems that when i stop thinking with my head and start listening with my heart that i understand. but, not in a way that can be interpreted into language for the mind.

and the only way i have found to see what that looks like in real life is to live it. to actually be lead by the Holy Spirit and wear the armor that God has given to us. and all this happens as life unfolds, no planning ahead. just, always being on the path.

Bob said...

I think you're absolutely right, Nancy, and yet I'm stuck with this thinker up in my skull, and I have found it is not the enemy of my heart, but a great help. You yourself, in expressing your thoughts above, were using your head as an essential tool to express your heart. "Expressing," after all, is what we humans do. Relentlessly!

Anyway, this living by grace, we walk it out, as you say, we simply live it, and that's when we see how it looks, and where the stumbling blocks were, etc. Then we can say at least, well this is how it looked this time. I had faith or I didn't have faith, I trusted God or I didn't trust him, the Lord moved in a visible way and I exulted or He seemed hidden and I was full of trepidation. That's what I mean by asking, how does it look?