TL:DR. This is a theological summary of my Thoughts Page. Each post on my Thoughts page is an unpacking of ideas in this summary. Cheers. Here goes:
I have a high view of Grace.
Summary: God’s Grace can change any situation in your life. My supernatural healing and career breakthrough is my testimony that was bought by the finished work of Jesus which was an overpayment for our sins. This leads to what I call the pinnacle of human experience – Faith, Grace, revealed through Redemption. These are elusive concepts that atheists want so badly (but don’t realize it) when they search for “human flourishing” and yet it continually eludes. My own long arduous seemingly unjust suffering catalyzed my own journey into atheism, but the end of that journey led me back to the Gospel of Grace that satisfied me spiritually and intellectually. Please allow me to share a summary of this grace. But first:
What is a low view of grace? To cut the story short, you see it when you hear people say things like “God loves you, but …” “God can heal people, but it might not be God’s will for you to be healed.” “Nothing can separate us from the love of God, but we can take ourselves out …” “God can bless you financially, but you can’t really expect him to.”
Just remember goats butt, sheep follow His voice.
A High View of Grace
A high view of Grace means that I believe Jesus was an overpayment for my sins. That’s why we are not only conquerors in life but more than conquerors. That’s why God always describes himself as the God of the “how much more” (Matt 7:11, Luke 12, Matt 12, Matt 12:12, Heb 9:14). And God does things “exceedingly and abundantly more we can ask or think” (Eph 3:20). The Bible says that all these promises are accessed through Jesus (2 Cor 1:20). I can go on and on. For every one obscure passage that might lead a theologically biased person on the route to a low view of grace I can find a great number of clear passages on the supremacy of Christ, and how grace is open to us today through the Kingdom of Heaven that is here but not entirely yet (Heb 2:8-9, 1 John 3:2, Romans 8:30, Eph 2:6, Rev 1:6).
Because of the quality of Jesus’ sacrifice, I have mercy: the punishment I deserve I don’t get. I have grace: the good things I don’t deserve I get (1 Cor 1:30).
Through mercy, I deserved spiritual death for my sin. My wonton regard for God would have kept me separated from God for eternity. That was the punishment that Jesus took on my behalf when He died on the cross for the sins of the world.
But now through Grace, I not only have my place in heaven booked, but this grace is also overflowing such that I can reign in this life as well (Romans 5:17). The blessings from heaven leak into this world, so to speak (Ps 27:13-14, Matt 15:21-28). We get to experience now in part, although the fullness of this abundance will be fully realized in heaven (Ps 16:11).
I believe this grace opens the door for heavenly blessings in our time on earth to fulfill God’s purposes for us (2 Cor 9:8) and the world. (John 10:7-10. 14-16)
This grace is not just intangible, but also physical. It can consist of favor with men (Prov 3:4, Dan 1:9, Luke 2:52). Healing (Is 53:4-5, 1 Peter 2:24). The ability to grow wealth (2 Cor 8:9, Deut 8:18). But these are the lower blessings. True blessings from God carry “no sorrow” (Prov 10:22) as compared to chasing meaningless earthly blessings without God (1 John 2:16, Ecc 5:10, 1 Tim 6-10).
Often, people do not want to believe in this heavenly supply because of theological bias interpreting small amounts of passages that obscure that Paul and Jesus are really trying to say about you; or they cannot understand the injustice occurring in their lives or the evil rampant in the world.
Regardless, I can only believe what the Bible says. And it says that in Jesus, God will supply all your needs according to His riches and glory (Phil 4:19) … and God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need you will abound in every good work (2 Cor 9:8).
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, one of the greatest preachers and theologians of the 20th century, taught that a high view of God leads to a high view of Jesus. I continue that a high view of Jesus leads to a high view of Grace. For every promise God has made are unlocked through the finished work of Jesus Christ.
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. – 2 Cor 1:20
Yes, God wants on the best for you – health, wealth and meaning. If we parents want the best for our children, then God wants it for us “much more”. My dad went into debt and worked years to clear it just to send me to a great university. How much more God? Tell you a secret. The blessing of going to the university is not as great as me realizing just how much my Dad was willing to sacrifice for me. The thought of my dad’s sacrifice leaves me with that “warm” feeling inside. I can only imagine that if we ramp up the magnitude of what God is willing to do for us today, that “warm” feeling would be replaced with “a peace that surpasses all understanding.” (Phil 4:7)
True blessings from God always has a purpose (Eph 2:10). It shows God to the world, or it reveals a part of God’s heart to you (Gen 50:20, Rom 8:28, Rom 2:4). The blessings not there just for blessing’s sake. The blessing is a way for you to know the blessing-giver. Seek the blessing giver, not the blessing itself, they say.
The blessings are also there for you to bless others, and to do God’s work.
Observe all these elements come together in this one verse:
As good stewards of the manifold grace of God, each of you should use whatever gift he has received to serve one another. (1 Peter 4:10)
Note that 1) Grace is a living entity that we behold. 2) The expression of this grace is the “gift” and 3) it should be used to serve one another, those who are children of God. The word “gift” can be a little misleading in today’s society. Today’s society calls “gifts” talents that we may naturally be inclined to do or be good at. But in this verse, it is much more than that. The word Grace is “charis” in greek. The world “gift” is “charisma” in greek.
“Charis” in this context refers to the gift of the New Covenant through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. It is the unmerited favor, goodwill and loving-kindness of God. It is the spiritual condition of one governed by the power of divine grace. In other words, it refers to the “hesed” in the Old Testament that everyone was desperately longing for, but is now available in full because of the atonement of Jesus for our sins. The only way to know this “charis” is to know the “hesed”, because this is what Paul is referring to.
“Charisma” is the expression of “Charis”, or, the “gifts” is the divine expression of Grace, a “divine gratuity”. In this context, Charisma means “the gift of divine grace”, “divine favour which one receives without any merit of his own”, and finally, “grace or gifts denoting extraordinary powers, distinguishing certain Christians and enabling them to serve the church of Christ, the reception of which is due to the power of divine grace operating on their souls by the Holy Spirit.
Hence, grace gives us spiritual gifts. By spiritual gifts, I don’t mean that the gifts are imaginary or only in the spiritual realm, rather, the gifts are augmented from a spiritual place. For example, when I was a noob financial analyst struggling to make it, I prayed for God’s grace upon my work every day. My job required me to recommended stocks for investors to buy and give the stock a target price. I was naturally inclined to develop skills like financial modeling and technical analysis. But those are just my inclinations. There was one stock that I recommended. I wrote that it was worth more than 35% more than what the price was at the time. That’s not amazing. The amazing part is that the price went all the way to my target price almost exactly and didn’t exceed it. It went there and then dropped. What makes it amazing is that there were more experienced analysts from other broking houses reporting on the same stock. All of them had a higher target price. Yet, I, the noob nailed the price almost exactly. I remember a report that tried to track the success rates of analyst target prices. The stat goes something like this, 80% of actual prices won’t be within 20% of the target prices.
Here, God added something on top of my natural inclinations that I could never have done by myself. With my new financial success, I gave generously to a missionary that God put by my path. I used my charisma to serve my brothers and sisters.
So does it mean God will answer all your prayers and will give you what you want all the time?
Of course not! Because of our fallen, limited intelligence and sinful nature, if he simply gave us what our minds could comprehend, even with our best intentions, that would do us a disservice. We would tear ourselves apart.
But God will over-answer your prayers.
God bypasses your mind and directly answers the prayers from your heart that comes from the Holy Spirit that is interceding for us from there (Rom 8:26-27).
This means that when God does things in your life, it is very common to not get it and have moments of frustrations, despondence or even dissonance because your mind cannot bridge the gap between what you expected and how things are turning out.
BUT, when the time comes that your mind can finally understand what God was trying to do… when your mind finally understood how God answered the prayer of your heart, this moment of awareness will send gracious shudders down your soul that you will never forget … and this is what I call the PINNACLE OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE.
Atheists for centuries have been trying to define “human flourishing” but without God, whatever they define will always be lacking.
I’ve been there. I’ve gone through long periods of injustice and hopelessness and years to stew through the tough questions of life all alone.
I’ve finally realized why pain and suffering are necessary.
Pain and suffering is the dark night that reveals just how big, bright and beautiful the stars are. The twin stars of FAITH and GRACE is seen best in suffering and dissonance.
Danish philosopher and theologian Soren Kierkegaard describes the phenomenon that it’s easy to have faith when you can understand how hardship is beneficial, but real faith is seen when we aren’t smart enough to know if the suffering happening to us is beneficial:
The believer humanly comprehends how heavy the suffering is, but in faith’s wonder that it is beneficial to him, he devoutly says: It is light. Humanly he says: It is impossible, but he says it again in faith’s wonder that what he humanly cannot understand is beneficial to him. In other words, when sagacity is able to perceive the beneficialness, then faith cannot see God; but when in the dark night of suffering sagacity cannot see a handbreadth ahead of it, then faith can see God, since faith sees best in the dark.
It’s also when you are in dire situations that you know solutions of human origins can only take you so far that you can correctly identify the hand of God working… that we can see God’s grace.
Pulitzer Prize Annie Dillard puts it well:
“You do not have to sit outside in the dark. If, however, you want to look at the stars, you will find that darkness is necessary. But the stars neither require nor demand it.”
Both Faith and Grace are entities that are experiences that money can never buy. But in order to experience both of these, you have to 1) believe in a loving powerful God that has purpose for you, AND 2) that He is bound to you not by your own righteousness (or else you will always wonder in the back of your mind if you did anything to disqualify yourself for his love) AND 3) have to be willing to go through bouts of uncertainty, pain and even prolonged, senseless suffering. This darkness sets up the stage for Grace and Faith to emerge, which is the Pinnacle of Meaning and is transcendent over worldly comforts.
Atheists will avoid the idea of prolonged or seemingly unbeneficial pain like the plague because, for them, there is no guarantee that meaning can sprout from it; if there is such a thing as an objective meaning for them in the first place. Pain is just a process that makes chemicals in our brain fire up in undesirable ways. Pain has no meaning. Suffering has no meaning but to make us even more harder in heart. Without God, the accumulation of carnal pleasures is treated like points on aa scoreboard. The higher the score, the better. When it gets too low, then something is wrong, do something desperate or even illegal to get the points back. But woe to those people who live to accumulate these points only to realize that the purpose of life was to realize that there was a different game to be played.
God in the hands of a master artist of a God, He not only can make beautiful what people had planned for evil (Gen 50:20, Rom 8:28), He can also turn the headwinds of your life into tailwinds.
The pinnacle of human experience is NOT in the physical blessings alone, just as the depth of the cursed experience is not the physical suffering alone.
The deepest depth of experience is NOT the physical suffering, but the implication that prolonged unjust suffering is that we are TOTALLY alone in the universe. That there is no purpose, and also no way to overcome impossible odds if you were naturally selected to be a loser in the chaotic random universe populated with people slaves to their own sinful natures.
On the flip side.
The pinnacle of experience is God revealing Himself through this process and we realize that we are truly not alone, that there is a purpose, that there is something much more than this mortal coil that limits us and there is a loving God that is waiting for us in eternity. And, the redemption He reveals on earth is an audition, a sampler, or a shadow to reveal the fullness in heaven that we cannot see yet (Col 2:17).
When we accept Jesus into our lives, we give permission to God to work His redemptive purposes in our lives. Those purposes are always bigger than our imagination and often consist of delayed gratification. But once again, when the mind finally understands the actualization of reality God has done that the soul had seen from afar – there are no words to describe this serendipity, the epiphany, this… this… peace that surpasses all understanding. (Phil 4:6-8)
And, this is the pinnacle of human experience that all the atheists tried to vocalize they needed but could not.
This is Redemption… it all starts with a high view of Grace accessed through accepting the gift of salvation through Jesus. Won’t you do that today?