As I have already mentioned, again and again, I find myself pondering this:
how can I communicate and demonstrate Christ as our only hope, our foundation and guarantee of both salvation and sanctification?
Living by grace is counter-intuitive, it goes against all our natural instincts, I know that - but it is also what we are created for in Christ. “Perhaps the most difficult task for us to perform is to rely on God's grace and God's grace alone for our salvation. It is difficult for our pride to rest on grace. Grace is for other people - for beggars. We don't want to live by a heavenly welfare system. We want to earn our own way and atone for our own sins. We like to think that we will go to heaven because we deserve to be there.” (R.C. Sproul)
What can I do?
I'm expected to preach and teach, so I teach on the grace/works, faith/law contrasts in the New Testament. I try to emphasize the focus of not self, but Christ, the Christ-centeredness of true christianity vs. man-centered religion. I preach the Gospel of Grace vs. the False Gospel of the insufficiency of Christ.
...I do so because I know the true gospel is powerful and more than able to transform minds and hearts saturated with legalism and religion. I am confident that the gospel of Jesus Christ can and will turn hearts from law-keeping to Himself as sufficient for both eternal salvation and daily living, by his grace.
“The Gospel supposes that, good and holy and perfect as the law of God is, it is entirely powerless either to justify OR sanctify. It cannot in any way make the old nature better, neither is it the rule of life for the new nature. The old man is not subject to the law, and the new man does not need it. The new creature has Another object before it, and another power acts upon it, in order to produce what is lovely and acceptable to God - Christ the object, realized by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (William Kelly)
How can I make this real for the people I minister to and with in this church?
This is all I can do:
Lift up again and again Christ as the object of our adoration, the focus of our lives, the essence of our Christianity; emphasize and re-emphasize the Holy Spirit through the grace of God as the only power capable of producing in our hearts: love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness.
I can only live by grace myself, daily dependent upon, hungry for God's grace in my own heart, in my own life, in my own family.
I can only act in grace as I attempt to serve these believers in this church, so that my interactions with them are grace-based and motivated by grace.
I can only speak of the Grace of God so abundantly poured out upon us in and through Christ Jesus, letting my words always be centered in and flowing from grace.
When at times I find it a challenge to see the point of this ministry, when I don't know if anything I do or say is even registering - that is when I can, more than ever, revel in the wonderful assurance that His grace is sufficient.
His grace is sufficient for my heart, and for the hearts of those who may catch a glimpse of that all-sufficient grace through me, through Phyllis, as we live here and minister the best we know how...
by, in and through the grace of God.
“Our righteousness is in Christ, and our hope depends, not upon the exercise of grace in us, but upon the fullness of grace and love in Him...” (John Newton)