How can we grow without grace?

The heroes of faith are not winners of a race, taking the three possible medals. They are not like popular Grammy winners having the acclaim of their peers They lived in faith and died clinging to the promises they had embraced whether they had received what was promised or not. They struggled and rejoiced in adversity and in comforts. Faith was their victory.

Not many us are like Sarah and Abraham, having a child against all odds. Not many us are like David and Gideon, conquering kingdoms with meager resources. Not many us are like the cave-dwelling faithful of ancient times, harrassed and pursued with murderous intent, choosing to die rather than deny their relationship with God. None of us has resisted the pressure of testing, choosing to die so that life can be distributed to others.

How does our garden grow?

The new and false notion of grace does not allow believers to suffer, or be in need of assistance, or have the very benefits that declare the difference between Christ and others. The new and false notion of grace has people flipping the pages of their imagination between saved and lost, between condemnation and justification, and between life and death. This is the torment that attends the unrepentant and hard hardhearted. Christ is just not enough for them. They have to invent circumcision and holy food and drink, allegiances to dead moons, and erect barriers that Christ has thrown down.

Are you saved? Are you dead? Are you a child of God?

I know whole groups of believers who would like us to believe that answers to these questions cannot be a simple yes or no. These are the people who would kill a man raised from the dead because of malice.

There are seeds that do not germinate, people who do not believe the gospel, and the two situations define the dead and those still in the dark kingdom.

The living do not return to the grave of condemnation. They stay with the Saviour God.

John 8:31-32

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

A Sovereign and Persistent God

The stories of ancient Israel are a picture of divine persistence which is the complement to the waywardness of the Hebrew people. We often talk about repeat offenders, zero-tolerance, and three-strikes-you’re-out. But what does it take for God to put up with Israel all the way from Sinai all the way from the Red Sea and the Exodus all the way to New Testament times where we find them making a mockery of the temple and its sacred purpose.

Repetition and Prediction

What does it take to press a wayward people back into a relationship?

Lots, including (A) the evidence of the poor choices people make to ameliorate their situation. Running to each other is futile.

A. Amos 4:8. So two or three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.

B. EXILE. Amos 4:3
And Ye shall go out at the breaches, every cow at that which is before her; and ye shall cast them into the palace, saith the Lord
C. FAMINE. Amos 4:6
And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.
D. DROUGHT. Amos 4:7
And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered.
I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased, the palmerworm devoured them: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.
I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.

It was all in vain. Progress was not in the area of faith, spiritual insight, or covenant-keeping. Ancient experience was designed to be cautionary, not a template for faithfulness. No-one can merely copy ancient practice in order to stand in a right relationship with God.

Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed (with close examination), nor will they say, Look, here it is! or There! for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you. Luke 17:20-21

Everyone needs grace.

Faith is its river.