Please pray for me. I am leaving Thursday, Feb 11th, on what is intended to be a 3,000 mile bicycle ride. I will be visiting friends and churches along the way.Here is an article written this morning which sums up some of the central thoughts I will be carrying with me on the ride.Thank you for your affection and prayers.-Michael Spotts:.www.pedadidact.com------------------------------Graciously receiving those who sinThe human heart is tended towards law as the basis for acceptance in society and community. Even after conversion Christians experience a primal instinct to appear acceptable to others on the basis of what they have done or have not done. While to a degree sins may be confessed by saints, and allowing such confessions are often spoiled with motivations to preserve oneself against the worse opinion that he is hypocritical or self-righteous, yet to regard ourselves before others in relationship to sin at all is to obscure the reality and diminish the force of the believer's profound union with Christ. If in fact the Son of God stands as the alone representative of those whose faith is in Him, then their identity under sin and to the Covenant of Works is crucified in His death. Sin is a legal fact, and the transaction of the penalty for sins to Christ received through faith renders the condemnation of sin void. Our identity in faith is none other than the resurrected person of Jesus Himself. It is from this standing that we ought to relate to others.Of course there is no denying that sin, considered in itself, is shameful to those who participate in it and who are effected by it. Sin often rightly discriminates against a person's suitability to function in positions of trust and leadership. Nevertheless, acts of sin in no way impair, detract from, or render illegitimate the real standing of perfect righteousness under which every true Christian lives.If with perfect wisdom and love the Father has chosen to receive men in such a generous fashion, how ought we to receive others into our affections? On the basis of their conformity to a certain degree of conduct? Should we who are free from the law for righteousness reserve our affection against those who fall short of certain standards of law? By all means, no. The Christian reception of men into favor and community is informed by the favor we have received freely from God.From one day to another we come upon persons who appear more or less moral, but there are really only two sorts of people, those who lean upon their works for righteousness and others who profess to trust in that imputed righteousness which is by faith alone in Christ alone. In terms of our affections towards them, we relate to both sorts on the basis of grace rather than law. Rank sinners still sopping with filth and blasphemy are to be met with the message of redeeming love and cautioned to flee to Jesus. Though we must preach the duties of law to those who would attempt salvation by it, yet our demeanor speaks of welcoming grace in Christ. Have we not received such forgiveness? Have we not been marvelously loved, for no good that we ever did? Then why should we restrain our warmth from reckless sinners when they, even as we, must go to Christ without regard to any righteousness of their own? It is for God, who is judge, to bring law against them if He will. But we, who have been freed from law for acceptance, have no perfect righteousness to speak of but that which comes of God through Christ. We ought to be scented with the free redemption we have received, positively redolent with it.The standard of entry into our affections is no different towards Christian professors, and in fact ought to be greater, for there is the likelihood that such are comprehended from eternity in the boundless love of God's redeeming purpose. Patches of fault will always manifest themselves in fields of Christian fellowship, but flaws of character should not be met with pretentious aloofness or phobic avoidance. "Those who are spiritual," that is, those who embrace their standing in Christ alone for righteousness, are to "restore such as one in a spirit of gentleness." We do not immediately shun lapsed professors any more than the parable father shunned his prodigal son. With love we exhort professors to walk in faith of their forgiveness, to become conformed into the image of Christ's character. One may be overtaken in particular sins, even to require discipline and exclusion from regular Christian service and fellwoship, but our acceptance of him into charitable favor does not waver as it is rooted in grace rather than law.So often we attempt to prove for ourselves the reality of another person's profession. We ought instead to work on improving their professions. At first appearance of sin in a man we should spur him to cling more tightly to the forgiveness we have received in Christ through faith alone, and to request of God more aid to obey. We should remind him how our love towards him is based on grace and not law, and that our concern stems not from haughty impressions of personal attainments or fear of marring our own reputation through his company, but of his best interest in Christ. In all cases, we ought to be moved through love informed by grace.
Totally agree with your article Michael. Stay safe on your trip, and take some great pictures. It sounds like a lot of fun. If you're in Ohio, let us know. We'll feed you:)Mike
Thanks for posting this brother, I really needed it. My prayers will be with you on your journey. You have a place to stay in Indiana if you need it.
Amen Brother Michael. May the Lord bless you and give you many opportunities to practice the art of graceful living, with abounding love toward all especially those of like faith.Love unto you in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; Alan
Nice! Praying for you!!! Let me know when you get back to California!:-)
Great article brother it was filled with the spirit. I needed to hear that. Brother may the Lord bless you in your trip and may you be a great witness to all. Our prayers for your safety and blessing.
I pray you will have a safe trip. God blessMary Jane
Hi Michael,I was struck by a couple of sentences.
The Christian reception of men into favor and community is informed by the favor we have received freely from God.
Have we not been marvelously loved, for no good that we ever did? Then why should we restrain our warmth from reckless sinners when they, even as we, must go to Christ without regard to any righteousness of their own?
Thanks to everyone who replied and has prayed for me. The article came from too much failure in this area, and I am yet learning the lesson. Especial thanks to Alan and Eli for honing these thoughts. If I am in the area of those who mentioned themselves i will let you know. It would be nice to get together. PM me for my number, if you're interested, though it may be months before I'm out that way.Meanwhile, here's the latest. Please pray. Lots of opportunity to share the gospel, or get eaten by bears.[url=http://www.pedadidact.com/2009/12/2010-pacific-coast-interior-solo.html]http://www.pedadidact.com/2009/12/2010-pacific-coast-interior-solo.html[/url]