Have you ever wondered about the unpredictability of God’s grace? In other words, have you wondered why so many different men and women, from all social classes, have been brought into the kingdom of God?
Acts 4:13 reads, ‘Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marvelled. And they realised that they had been with Jesus’.
What an encouraging verse! As someone who left school with few qualifications, I never cease to be amazed at God’s goodness to me. It is all too easy to belittle oneself over one’s disadvantages.
Why could I not have achieved this or accomplished that? Why did I never have better opportunities to climb the social ladder? Why am I in an unsatisfying job?
Like Asaph in Psalm 73, we look at what others have and soon become despondent. We momentarily take our eyes off God and fail to acknowledge his sovereignty in our lives. Negativity sets in. Dreams are dashed as quickly as an advancing avalanche.
What changed Asaph’s outlook? What brought him to his senses? We are told: ‘I went into the sanctuary of God; Then I understood their end’ (Psalm 73:17).
Charles Spurgeon wrote, ‘His mind entered the eternity where God dwells as in a holy place, he left the things of sense for the things invisible, his heart gazed within the veil, he stood where the thrice-holy God stands. Thus, he shifted his point of view, and apparent disorder resolved itself into harmony’.
Have we lost the habit of entering the sanctuary? The more time we are in the presence of God, the less time we are in the world. The more time we meditate upon God and spiritual truths, the less time we have to bemoan our lot in life.
How much time do we spend reading the Bible and good Christian literature? In these spiritually bleak times, there yet remain a wealth of good resources to edify the believer. The majority of my library consists of books published by The Banner of Truth and Evangelical Press.
Mere casual reading of our Bibles will not fortify us with the spiritual discernment needed in these days. Peter and John had spiritual discernment in abundance because ‘they had been with Jesus’.
Have we become so accustomed to the world that so little time is spent in heaven’s court? The apostle Paul exhorts us: ‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God’ (Romans 12:2).
I wonder how many times we hear about the danger of worldliness proclaimed from our pulpits in this nation. I fear it is not as much as it used to be. The problem is that we have many young Christians who are hardly any different from their secular peers. The distinctiveness that Christianity should produce is almost non-existent.
The secular world often misunderstands Christianity because it is presented with a confusing picture of what a Christian is. The challenge for the true believer is clear and as pressing as ever: ‘Become blameless and harmless, children of God, without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world’ (Philippians 2:15).
‘Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John’. Being with Jesus should result in boldness in our Christianity. But this does not come overnight and I do appreciate that we can blow hot and cold. One day we are on fire for God, the next it seems nothing or no one can warm our hearts.
Moreover, we are all at different levels of sanctification. We are not all on the same rung of the ladder. But the encouraging thing is that we all have the same Spirit as Christians. We can either grieve and quench him or we can be empowered by him through holy living. Being with Jesus is a means to living Spirit-filled lives.
No Christian has to be in the ‘spiritual dumps’. I am not talking about spiritual depression, but rather ‘cool Christianity’ that allows you one foot in the world. It is this type of Christianity that will bring you to a state of despair and despondency until you get back into the sanctuary of God. The ‘spiritual blues’ can easily be avoided.
‘Amazing grace, how sweet the sound; that saved a wretch like me’. This classic hymn by John Newton should be sung regularly. None of us should ever forget where we came from. The manifold blessings that we enjoy now is only because of grace.
Grace has been defined as God’s riches at Christ’s expense. Calvary has brought men and women from all levels of society into unity. By that atoning blood, we are brought into one church. After all, Christ only has one body. As his blood-bought people, we are that body.
Wondrous grace! Did we ever really believe that God’s grace could reach me? May we ever live in humility as we bask in the generous magnitude of God’s love.
Barry Loeber, member of Gateway Baptist Church, Burgess Hill.