The Gospel declares that our guilt has been atoned for, the law has been fulfilled. So we don't need to live under the burden of trying to appease the judgment we feel.
At some level, every relationship is assaulted by an aroma of judgment - this sense that we will never measure up to the expectations and demands of another.
My failure to lay aside the sin that so easily entangles is the direct result of my refusal to die to my natural proclivity toward attaining my own freedom, meaning, value, worth, and righteousness - not believing that, by virtue of my Spirit - wrought union with Christ, everything I need, I already possess.
There is no better story in the Old Testament, or perhaps the whole Bible, for depicting the difference between the ladder-defined life and the cross-defined life than that of the Tower of Babel.
The Why's of suffering keep us shrouded in a seemingly bottomless void of abstraction where God is reduced to a finite ethical agent, a limited psychological personality, whose purposes measure on the same scale as ours.
Contrary to what we conclude naturally, the gospel is not too good to be true. It is true! It's the truest truth in the entire universe. No strings attached! No fine print to read. No buts. No conditions. No qualifications. No footnotes. And especially, no need for balance.
The required cheerfulness that characterizes many of our churches produces a suffocating environment of pat, religious answers to the painful, complex questions that riddle the lives of hurting people.
For the life of the believer, one thing is beautifully and abundantly true: God's chief concern in your suffering is to be with you and be Himself for you. And in the end, what we discover is that this really is enough.
My observation of Christendom is that most of us tend to base our relationship with God on our performance instead of on His grace.
Whether this was explicitly taught or implicitly caught, I grew up with the impression that when it comes to the Christian life, justification was step one and sanctification was step two and that once we get to step two there's no reason to revisit step one.
To be Biblically balanced is to let our theology and preaching be proportioned by the Bible's radically disproportionate focus on God's saving love for sinners seen and accomplished in the crucified and risen Christ.
Thankfully, God's restraining grace keeps even the worst of us from being utterly depraved. The worst people who have ever lived could've been worse.
Grace is thickly counter-intuitive. It feels risky and unfair. It's dangerous and disorderly. It wrestles control out of our hands. It is wild and unsettling. It turns everything that makes sense to us upside-down and inside-out.
There is a strange impulse in many to protect Bible characters and to use them as inspiration... as if sanctification happens as a result of emulation.
The gospel announces that God doesn't relate to us based on our feats for Jesus, but Jesus' feats for us.
The law is God's first word; the gospel is God's final word.
We often read the Bible as if it were fundamentally about us: our improvement, our life, our triumph, our victory, our faith, our holiness, our godliness.
Passive righteousness tells us that God does not need our good works. Active righteousness tells us that our neighbor does. The aim and direction of good works are horizontal, not vertical.
In the Old Testament, we are continually told that our good works are not enough, that God has made a provision. This provision is pointed to at every place in the Old Testament.
God has hardwired me to thoroughly enjoy and be sharpened by good and friendly theological discussion about the gospel.