Thursday, June 26, 2008

Notes on Our Ongoing Need of Redemption as Christians

Here is an excerpt from a great article, and a great challenge. You can read the rest John Hendryx's article here:

When the Lord opened my heart to the gospel in December of 1985, He set me on a radical new course, having delivered me from a wild life which was characterized by various anti-social behaviors, selfishness, drugs, crime, and the occult. Out of the most unlikely place, as I was reading the Scripture, the Lord revealed to me my lost condition: that I was without hope save in the mercy of Jesus Christ alone. In a moment, the Holy Spirit graciously united me to Christ, adopted me into God’s family, turning me from my idols to serve the Living and True God. I reflect back with awe as I consider that during the honeymoon period of my newly granted life in Christ, how the Lord actually poured out on me an extraordinary grace to overcome some of my previous bad habits and gave me a remarkable heart for prayer, especially for the lost. With zeal and great affection my greatest desire was to follow and obey the Lord. He stirred my heart to pray for a couple hours each morning as I arose, knowing that I must call down blessing from God if I was to have any power to live effectively during this age. And the result was much fruitfulness and effective personal and corporate ministry to the glory of God.

Well one day in His great wisdom … and for His sovereign good purposes, God decided to remove part of that extraordinary initial grace. I don’t know if you have had a similar experience but the first years after conversion I felt invincible, that all sins were there to be overcome and souls were there to be harvested. There was a zeal that felt as if I would never fall, yet one day, perhaps due to my great personal and ministry success, and God wanting to show me what was really dormant in my heart, allowed a subtle pride began to creep in. Even though I knew intellectually that my conversion and newfound devotion were all a gift from God, there was self-righteousness which entered my heart in my daily life. I began to believe the lie which presumed that it was my own zeal, my own prayers and my own obedience which kept me in good standing with God. As a result, Christ’s finished work became increasingly minimized by my own efforts and activism. The result was fruitlessness and sin. And when I fell into sin I would hold in the guilt because I considered repentance as something more related to what people do at the beginning of their Christian life. I feared to look at myself in the mirror of God’s word and so hesitated to acknowledge my weakness. Christians were not supposed to be like this, especially me. Pride kept me from recognizing how largely dependant I still needed to be on Christ every day. Being in a far away land I was not able to access good teaching or shepherding, and my understanding became distorted by my sin. A moralistic strain became somewhat more evident in my Christian walk. I had become too reliant on my successful walk in the past and forgot, that all I had was wholly of the Lord, a gift from Christ and not something self-generated. [...]

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