God waited to save you. He waited, like a parent who waits to give a birthday gift. He waited to cover you in grace, mercy, and love. He waited because he cared. He even waited through your sin and shame. He waited through your rebellion and anger. He didn’t punish you immediately. He didn’t strike you dead. He waited.
Are you a gracious person? When you show grace to others, do you do it with joy or do you perhaps show grace begrudgingly? Truthfully, when we show grace, we often have a predetermined limit to our grace. And, even if the limit isn’t predetermined, you will know it when you reach the limit But, regardless of how gracious you are or are not, very few of us would say that we wait to show grace–that showing grace to others is something we look forward to doing. And yet, that is precisely how Isaiah describes the Lord:
Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you. Isaiah 30:18
God isn’t gracious to us out of requirement. He doesn’t show us grace to satisfy someone else or out of a sense of responsibility. God waits to be gracious. He wants to be gracious. He finds pleasure in extending grace toward us.
I don’t often appreciate this aspect of God’s character the way I should. It rarely occurs to me that I am undeserving of God’s love, but he desires to be gracious to me anyway–to overlook my sins and my shortcomings–and to welcome me in.
God lavishes his grace upon us. In Romans 5:20, Paul writes, where sin increased, grace abounded all the more. Should we continue in sin? By no means, but know this, wherever there is great sin, God’s grace is greater.
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By Ray M. Sanchez — 2 months ago
Written by Ray M. Sanchez |
Sunday, June 19, 2022
My use of “paper tiger” when describing the PCA is slightly different than the standard definition. There are many good things going on in the PCA that profitable for gospel ministry that are certainly not façades. When I say the PCA may be a paper tiger, I mean that the PCA is strong on paper but not in practice, especially when it comes to the “Twelve Statements,” in the Report of the Ad Interim Committee on Human Sexuality.
Paper vs. Practice
The phrase paper tiger conveys the idea that outwardly something or someone is strong or powerful, but in reality, inwardly, is weak or ineffectual. A paper tiger may be an organization, a nation, or a person, that looks powerful or demonstrates an outward show of strength but is, in fact, only a façade. It occurred to me today while reflecting on the latest round of overtures, and the cause(s) that precipitated many of them, that the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) may very well be something of a paper tiger.
Of course, my use of “paper tiger” when describing the PCA is slightly different than the standard definition. There are many good things going on in the PCA that profitable for gospel ministry that are certainly not façades. When I say the PCA may be a paper tiger, I mean that the PCA is strong on paper but not in practice, especially when it comes to the “Twelve Statements,” in the Report of the Ad Interim Committee on Human Sexuality, pp. 6-13 (hereafter, study report). The PCA has not yet applied and integrated these statements into practice in the Book of Church Order (BCO). These statements are “biblically useful” but the PCA has not used them. To be clear, our stated formal values, which are also our proper animating values, are found in Scripture, the Westminster Standards, and the BCO. However, at this moment we should be using the study report, which is widely supported across the PCA. The study report draws its principles from the Scriptures and the Westminster Standards to explain, clarify and apply these principles to the qualifications of men to be ordained as church officers.
Since the Ad Interim Committee published its study report in May 2020, I have heard or read dozens of articles, podcasts, and interviews–from all sides–about how the PCA unanimously supports the report. Indeed, this is something for which our denomination should be encouraged–that there is general unity on the understanding of biblical sexuality. Unfortunately, while there appears to be much agreement by looking back to the study report, there doesn’t appear to be much discussion on looking ahead to discern the times. To my mind, there seems to be more effort put on nuancing terms and words instead of applying Scripture to give us discernment to distinguish good from evil (Hebrews 5:14).
The committee states the following in the Introduction to the study report:
Herein the Committee has sought to address the issues and questions assigned to it for study by the 47th General Assembly. Although we are not making any formal recommendations, we hope and pray that this Report will be unifying, edifying, and Biblically useful for our denomination. [Emphasis mine]
Presently, the study report has been broadly unifying and genuinely edifying for our denomination. However, it hasn’t yet been widely applied. Let us pray that one of proposed overtures submitted to the 49th PCA General Assembly (see Overtures 12, 15, 20, 23, 29, and 31) will be approved and sent to the Presbyteries for approval. Then we will be able to see the biblical view of human sexuality, clearly delineated in the study report, studied and practiced in the PCA.
Unity and Purity
The PCA has been blessed with the production of a solidly biblical study report. The 49th PCA GA has the opportunity to approve wording consistent with the study report that overcomes some of the objections alleged to have been in Overtures 23 and 37. Many have expressed the sense of unity based on with the principles laid out in the study report. What we need now is to focus on our need for common sense of purity by including the biblical and theological precision found in the report into the BCO.
Ray M. Sanchez is a Ruling Elder in the Grace Presbyterian Church in Fresno, Calif.
By Jim Elliff — 7 months ago
The size of our giving is not to be a matter of revelation, but of devotion. In other words, each of us should “do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). Now think about that carefully. God likes giving to be as far removed from drudgery and duty (though it is our duty), as possible. It is to be pure joy.
It would be difficult to imagine any giver doing so often or generously without joy in doing it.
I began to be curious about giving early on. In fact, I can still picture the book on giving that my mother read to me, one of only two children’s books I remember. My first book on George Muller, the man who fed and clothed over 10,000 orphans, made the deepest impression. I was drawn into a lifestyle that was so attractive that I could not resist it. I immediately began to live out what I had learned in a radical way. That pursuit still enchants me.
On the one hand, I’m enamored with the promises related to giving. How is it that we can give and give and give and still have enough to give more? Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return” (Lk. 6:38). He was describing what has happened in my experience so often, so dramatically, so regularly, and so faithfully, that its validity as a promise is unquestionable. He has the right to change that for higher purposes without my complaint (He is sovereign after all), yet I can say that God has graciously allowed an increase for giving steadily through the years.
The size of our giving is not to be a matter of revelation, but of devotion. In other words, each of us should “do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). Now think about that carefully. God likes giving to be as far removed from drudgery and duty (though it is our duty), as possible. It is to be pure joy. The word “cheerful” is hilaron— from which we get the word “hilarious.” But the meaning in that day would be more like “ready because of a heart full of joy.” Remember the Macedonians who “begged us with much entreaty for the favor of participating in the support of the saints” (2 Cor. 8:4)?
And secondly, giving is a sign of something. You give according to your own desire, not begrudgingly and mournfully as if you are parting with your vital organs. It is the expression of your love. God likes to keep it on this basis. Attitude is every bit as important as amount—no, much more so. You should want to give.
Have you ever dreamed of giving more? I mean, have you dreamed of giving a lot. By “a lot” I mean “a lot compared with what you have, not what somebody else has.” What about 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, 60% or more? You wouldn’t do that without love and God wouldn’t want you to do it without cheerfulness. But it can happen.
Years ago I decided that I would try to give more every year. I’ve not done this perfectly nearly every year since that little whimper of a desire was voiced to God. It wasn’t a vow and I’m under no obligation, but I am free to do it. Jesus never puts down radical givers.
I have to keep in mind two other matters: First, “Am I taking care of my family in a reasonable way as the Lord has instructed me?”
By Benjamin Glaser — 1 month ago
Whenever the catechism speaks of a saving grace it means that the subject under consideration is a fully orbed gift from above. The Lord in His love for you has not only given the means for sanctification, our being renewed in the image of Jesus, but He has granted to you the ammunition to keep killing sin like Rambo in a southeastern Asian triple-canopy jungle.
This week in our catechism time we only have one question to look at, and this will be true for our next lesson as well. In this part of the SC we are in the midst of talking about what it means to believe in Jesus, and how we are to follow Him as His disciples. Not only that, but specifically how that hope goes about affecting every area of our lives. The writing out of the Ten Commandments and all the implications they touch on is meant to encourage us to consider the way we are living and walking in light on the glorious work of our Trinitarian salvation won unto us by the decree of the Father, the work of the Son, and the application of it all by the Holy Spirit. Jesus speaks more about the fruit born of redemption than just about any other topic.
Believers ought to have no problem understanding that when we confess Christ as our Lord and Savior that this is not a one-time event. At least, they shouldn’t. However, many cultural Christians have this idea that as long as they get baptized, sign a card, say the magic words “I believe in Jesus” that whatever they do after that is immaterial. They said it publicly, or at least intimated it by attendance at a church building for a while. Maybe even their name is still on the register as a member somewhere, that ought to be enough to get into Heaven. Right? Well, no. Our Redeemer is pretty clear that if there is no fruit which follows faith than there is no there, there. As the old saying goes you are no more a Christian by taking up space in a pew than you are a car by sitting in a garage. If there is anything that drives unbelievers away from considering the truth claims of the Christian religion its false confessors who deny its power. Why should they want to be a Believer if it apparently makes no change in the lives of the people they meet?
We need to understand that if you have truly placed your trust in the Son of the Living God than you’ve entered into a citizenship in a new kingdom which has with it new responsibilities, well not so much new as in never before seen, but in the sense of a fresh relationship to the person and work of God, especially in His commandments. No longer do they have the ability to kill you dead, and no longer do you desire to be saved by them. To expand on that a little we see this language of new meaning new to you in the Psalms for example when the Psalmist in Psalm 96 uses the term new song.