Yes! This morning before school my daughter gave the most genuine prayer to give her heart to Jesus! It has been so fun showing her what grace is for the last 6 years and now she knows that grace is hers because of the gospel. So now, my wife and I get to keep the awesome responsibility of raising our daughter, but we get the added bonus of discipling our sister in Christ.
- 1. To start or wince involuntarily, as from surprise or pain.
- 2. To recoil, as from something unpleasant or difficult; shrink.
God’s grace is unflinching.
When you think about your cavernous history with sin, the grace of God enters into the tangible darkness without fear. It enters without singing so the silence isn’t terrifying. It enters without making extra noise to make itself feel less uncomfortable. Grace is often alone behind shower curtains and closet doors where, if something did jump out, we’d run to the police. But what we run from, grace runs towards.
God never flinched when he sent Jesus to the cross. Jesus doesn’t regret the cross. The grace we find there does not recoil in fear. It is not repulsed by your story. No matter how misguided your activism may be. No matter how consistently addictive your sin may be. No matter how heinous your history. No matter how secret your motivation. At the cross, grace is unflinching.
What makes it remarkable is to compare the cross to the definition of “flinch” above. From our perspective, God had every justifiable prompt to flinch at the first whip crack. But
Isaiah 53:10-11English Standard Version (ESV)
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
There was nothing involuntary about this. The cross was not a knee-jerk reaction to a cosmic mistake. God wants his people. He always has. This has always been Jesus’ cup. Grace is firm and unflinching even when we are wayward and wishy-washy. Grace makes no apologies for the legalist or the licentious.
Grace was unflinching when the crunch of a bite of fruit made the world stand still. Grace was unflinching when the world was stilled again by the thunderous, “It is finished!” Grace is unflinching when your world collides with the one you were made for.
Thanks to my co-worker, Anthony Archie, I recently found out that children in Tulsa who are rescued from sexual assault or domestic violence situations are given teddy bears by EMTs, the hospital staff, or DVIS, in order to help them feel a glimmer of comfort and hope in the aftermath of such a traumatic experience.
One representative from DVIS has said that not many churches help out in this area. Maybe it’s a taboo subject? Those reasons notwithstanding, at the KirkYouth Night of Impact we believe in worship, justice, and love. So we’re stepping in.
At 6:30pm on October 29 we will gather at Kirk Crossing for worship and will be collecting hundreds of new teddy bears to donate on the spot to a representative of DVIS. Night of Impact is open to any student (6th grade through college). And if you want to help us, please consider making a monetary donation to the KirkYouth department or drop off a new teddy bear at 4102 E 61st St, Tulsa, OK 74136.
And be in prayer that sexual assault and domestic violence would cease in my city so they don’t even have to give these bears away! But until that happens, let’s pray that these sweet kids that get a bear from KirkYouth know the love and the redemption of Jesus.
One of Judah’s kings, King Uzziah (pictured above; 2 Chronicles 26:23), was stricken with leprosy. And if you are a moderate student of the Bible, you understand the severe separation that was required and imposed partly from fear that lepers had to go through. In 2 Chronicles 26:23 King Uzziah died a leper and it says he
was buried near [his ancestors] in a cemetery that belonged to the kings, for people said, “He had leprosy.”
He didn’t rest with his ancestors. He wasn’t laid in a tomb. Even in death his leprosy excluded him from community.
Can you imagine being a leper at the time of Jesus, then? King Uzziah was buried separately, as a leper, almost 900 years before Christ. Just imagine the severity of the stigma after each generation. This makes Jesus’ embracing lepers all the more remarkable.
Our culture has these people, too. Maybe not people actually afflicted with leprosy, but there are social outcasts that believe there is no hope in life. Ours is a culture that will reject someone if their glasses aren’t in style. Ours is a culture that dedicates websites to laughing at people at Wal Mart. Ours is a culture that is so bored we bully people to death.
I wonder if our Kingdom is supposed to look like our culture?
“Jesus shed his blood once. Once for all sins. Once for all people. Once for all time. When you sin, Jesus doesn’t get back on the cross, He gets between you and God. He is the mediator for us. He tells God not to look at our sin but at the substitutionary blood of Jesus. Blood, law, and covenant have always existed together. But the blood of Jesus satisfied the law once and for all. He is our substitute. He took our punishment on the cross. He takes up our case before God.” (Hebrews 9:11-28)
Do you go to Heaven when you die? It depends on what you mean by “die.”
One common law medical definition of death is
… the cessation of all vital functions, traditionally demonstrated by “an absence of spontaneous respiratory and cardiac functions.”
Medically, you can die and be revived. It happens all the time. But do you go to Heaven and then get sucked back down to earth? Probably not.
There is a medical definition of death that has to do with the physical world. But there is also a spiritual world. I contend that death is final only when your spirit is taken because when God created man, He gave him a spirit (unique to all other creation) and breathed life into him. All of creation is covered by the word of God. But only mankind has the breath of God, the life of God, the spirit of God in him. That makes the spirit uniquely essential for life. Consider:
When Jesus died, he gave up his spirit.
When Stephen died, he offered his spirit.
Proverbs 20:27 says: The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord that sheds light on one’s inmost being. (Lamps in the Bible were oil and flame. When the oil ran out, so did the light. Therefore, when the spirit is gone, so is the life.)
That’s why I think books like “Heaven Is For Real” are a fraud. I believe Heaven is real. But I don’t think God would bring us to His side and send us back after a few minutes of CPR. How unfair would that be? How unloving? The Christian life joins in the groaning of all creation for the time we get to see Jesus face-to-face; when He comes back as the conquering king to re-establish shalom on the earth and make everything as it always should have been. It is our hope to look forward to being with Jesus. It would be cruel on a cosmic level to give us a glimpse of the perfection and peace that awaits us in our final home before damning us back to our mortality. It would be like making my daughter sit and watch me eat her birthday cake when she turns 5 this Fall.
Heaven is real. Jesus is there. And when we die we will know the full and final joy that comes when our spirit meets His Spirit.