Sunday, February 17, 2013

"Future Grace"

    Having explored some of the incredible riches in 2 Cor 6:16-18, it's fitting that we see where that leaves us from Paul's viewpoint.  He's great at explaining himself (most of the time! 2 Pet 3:16) and tracing out for us non-geniuses where his thoughts are going.  Rom 6:1 & 12:1 are great examples of Paul answering the question "So what?"  2 Cor 7:1 is just such a verse:
Great tasting holiness...
"Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God."
     So we know which promises he's talking about, and how we have been included into the family of God under the New Covenant... now what do we do about it?  We are to "cleanse ourselves":  to purify every area of our lives consciously put it under Christ's feet, to (as Paul will put it later in 2 Cor) "take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (10:5).  Also he mentions holiness:  rather than just moral uprightness, this term basically (especially in Hebrew) means "to cut".  That might puzzle many until we consider what happens when we slice and dice meat in the kitchen:  we set something apart from everything else.  We sever every tendon and bit of gristle that connects our piece with the rest, and dedicate that part to whatever use we see fit.  So briefly, God is holy in that He is separate from everything else that exists:  we are created, but He is Creator.  We are dependent on Him in every way, but He needs nothing from anyone.  In Christ, we can be holy in a derivative sense... we can be wholly dedicated to God's use.  The Mosaic Law often uses "holy" in this way:  the cups, incense, animals, etc. were only to be used for the rituals God had laid out
     But rather than further interpret our verse, I want to use the motivation Paul puts forth to introduce you to a great book I got for Christmas:  "Future Grace" by John Piper (thanks, Jeff and Mom!).  In the intro, he makes the bold claim that instead of gratitude as is commonly believed, our efforts and progress in sanctification should be motivated by "faith in future grace".  Simply put, this faith is the assurance that God will continue to shower sufficiency and goodness on us, based on His declaration to do so, and the experience of past grace (the greatest of which is Christ's work/our conversion) buoys and reassures us that God is faithful.  Piper therefore says...
"It should be obvious from this why future grace is so utterly crucial in God's great plan to glorify Himself and satisfy His people.  Most of our experience of God's active grace lies in the future.  The grace that I have already experienced from God -from a quantitative standpoint- is infinitesimally small compared to the future grace that I will experience from now to eternity.  This means that the great wealth of glory that God means to display for the enjoyment of His people is duly praised where future grace -in all its freedom- is duly prized."
     So you see why 2 Cor 7:1 made me think in terms of future grace:  Paul points to the guaranteed prospect of God's riches and generosity when we will be His children by glorified nature, as well as by our union with Christ (1 Jn 3:1-3).  It is this future reality that must propel us to and through holiness;  Piper warns that a motivation of gratitude can easily lead to what he calls a "debtor's ethic" we'll explore in the future.  In conclusion, Paul urges us in our verse towards what is the only fitting course for God's people:  to live out what God has declared us, promised to us and is continuing to remake us into... holy.

Photo courtesy of Amazon and borkazoid

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please keep your comments worthy of the calling with which Christ calls us!