Grace Upon Grace

Monday, July 6

What is repentance? Repentance is an important concept when it comes to salvation. As usual, Satan has misled people into false thinking so as to keep them from being redeemed. Repentance is not feeling sorry for your sins. Sorrow is good in that it recognizes sin as an affront to a holy God, but it does not solve the sin problem. The root meaning of repentance is turning away from one life style to embrace another one. It’s a radical change of mind, a new attitude toward oneself, toward sin, and toward God. but even repentance is not enough. Determination to change won’t work. The Bible clearly says that we can do nothing to pay for our sin, and judgment is inevitable. Only God can complete the deal. Yes, repentance is prompted by the Holy Spirit, who convicts of sin, but it only moves you toward the One who can remove the sin; it does not save you. The second element in conversion (after repentance) is understanding the gospel. In brief, it is the fact that we can do nothing to save ourselves, and that Christ paid our debt when He died on the cross in our place. But even understanding the gospel is not enough. The third step is believing, or accepting, the free gift. This comes by faith, which is also a work of grace. Trusting in Christ involves transferring allegiance from Satan to Christ, making Him the Lord of your life. The results are two-fold. The sin that separates us from God is removed and Christ’s righteousness is added. The “bad” is gone, replaced by “good.” That’s the gospel, the “good news.” ALL GRACE

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My Older Brother

Sunday, July 5
[Note: The Lotz reunion was great, even more so than I had anticipated. We did not have as many as usual (27) but it was a joyous, refreshing and rewarding time. The love among us, sharing our burdens and blessings, was heart warming. Yes, we had a double reunion. I had no access to the internet, so was not able to send my blogs. We’re back home today, so will resume.] You might have noticed that Jesus was not included in my last blog. It’s not an accident; He deserves special treatment. He is my older brother. He is the “firstborn” of God’s redemptive plan, with all the rights, and responsibilities given to a first born son. He is also my Savior, and He is God. He’s the creator and maintainer if the universe. He is our High Priest, always making intercession for us. He is in a class of His own. No one else even closely resembles Him. He sits on the right hand of the Father. He will be given the keys to the kingdom, and will rule over the entire world. He is to be loved and worshipped. Yes, I’m a “joint heir,” but He is on the giving end, I am on the receiving end. As my older brother, He has taken care of me through conversion, justification, and sanctification (in progress), and will bring about my future glorification before I enter the pearly gates. He is so special. I owe Him everything.

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Two Families

Wednesday, July 1

“The family you come from isn’t as important as the family you’re going to have.”—Ring Lardner. My guess is that he means that whether you come from a poor family or rich one, whether you grew up in a dysfunctional home or not, you have the capacity to have a good marriage and a good family of your own. I heartily agree with that, but there’s another perspective. Being “born again” implies that we also have a spiritual family. No matter what your heritage or your human family is like, your spiritual family is far more important—because it has eternal significance. All those who are born into the family of God are members of my family—my spiritual family. We were born of the same Father. That’s why we call each other brothers and sisters. My spiritual family is precious to me. I love them and they love me. We support each other and sometimes we even correct each other. They make me a better person, precisely as God meant them to be. They care for me. They pray for me and help out whenever I’m in need. I have the same privilege and responsibility toward them. Being in God’s family is marvelous in this life, and will be even more so in the next. And there are thousands of family members I haven’t yet met personally—people like Abraham, Jacob and Joseph, Rahab and Ruth, Job and Esther, David and Jonathan, and a host of other lesser known people. When our family gets together in heaven, the family reunion will be way beyond any family reunion I’ve been a part of in this life! And it will go on forever! By the way, I’m doubly blessed because most of my human family is also part of my spiritual family. Today begins the Lotz family reunion in the mountains of southern Oregon. Call it a double reunion.

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Mutual Delight

Tuesday, June 30

Because of our limited understanding of heaven, we tend to fall back on our earthly experiences—which are definitely limited . We imagine that we will spend some time with loved ones, some time enjoying the delights in heaven, do a little exploring in the universe, and have an occasional contact with Christ. Not so! We will be constantly in his presence. We shouldn’t be too surprised at that. Even now, we, along with millions of other people are “on the phone” with God, all at the same time, for as long as we wish. So the idea of “omnipresence” is not just a theological term. God can deal with you and me and thousands of others all at the same time, giving total attention to each one. It will be like that in heaven. There will be no moment of eternity that we are not in God’s presence, enjoying his companionship, his knowledge, his love. I see myself exploring some outer region in the universe, and God is right there to show me his creation, its beauty, its purpose. Just for the kicks he might create something brand new right on the spot. He will be considerably more than a tour guide! The net result, of course, is that our understanding of God will be enhanced and will continue to grow all through eternity. Our praise and worship will become greater and greater. While God is thereby glorified, it will not be because God needs our praise. He is self-sufficient in every way and needs no commendation from little me. No, the purpose of it all is for us. We are the ones that benefit by knowing God more and more. It will be unending joy to get to know God. And our delight will delight him!

[My spin on Dan Schaeffer’s book, A Better Country, comes to an end here. But there is so much more. Get a copy of the book and read it for yourself. Take your time, meditate, and compare it all with Scripture. You will end up eager for heaven. And if you don’t have your ticket yet, get one. It’s already paid for.]

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Hugging My Master

Monday, June 29

There are some stunning statements in Scripture. One of my favorites is Job 19:25-27. “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes . . . . How my heart yearns within me!” Consider: He knew God. He knew he was a sinner. He knew that God had redeemed him. Yet he probably had little or no knowledge of Christ and the incarnation, of the suffering on the cross, the resurrection, or the gospel and the church age. Consider: He knew that he would die, but that he would live again. Consider: He knew that his redeemer would at some specific time set foot on this earth and that he would see him with his own eyes. Consider: He had such a close relationship with God that he yearned for the time that he would be with him. I marvel at all this. And the yearning is not one-sided. Jesus yearned for the same thing. “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” John 17:24. Dan envisions it this way: When I hug my Master I will be hugging flesh and bone—yet eternal deity as well.” His humanity does not limit his deity, nor does his deity limit his humanity. He is forever man, a human being, and my older brother. I yearn to hug him, too. There will be no greater joy in heaven than being with Jesus. I think I will hug Job, too.

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Boredom in Heaven?

Sunday, June 28

We haven’t really answered the question of communicating on an eternal continuum. The questions and their answers are finite and have an end. Eternity does not. So then what? Boredom? I think not. The answer is in what Dan said previously. We will be exploring our universe and making new discoveries, all of them germane to the work of the Creator, and the glory that is due Him. Remember that the universe is still expanding, and will continue to do so throughout eternity. There will never be an end of discovering more about our incredible God. Dan cites Martin Luther: “I would not give one moment of heaven for all the joys and riches of the world, even if it lasted for thousands and thousands of years.” Luther got it right. Yes, we’re living in a foreign land. I think it’s more like we’re living in the slums and we have a celestial city waiting for us. Dan concludes with: “But while the atmosphere of heaven will be wondrous, it is not the main attraction. The real question is this: What will it be like to finally be in His presence—forever.” Bored in heaven? Not with Christ being the central attraction!

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A Gregarious People

Saturday, June 27

We are a gregarious people. I don’t expect that to change when we get to heaven. Dan Schaeffer says: “We will be social in ways we never were before.” Eternity is a long time. Technically that’s not right. “A long time” implies starting and ending points. Forgetting the technicality for a moment, it’s hard to think of carrying on a relationship with a person for an eternity. When do you know all he knows and he knows all you know? Is it possible to still have something to talk about after 100,000 years? How about a million years? OK, you get the point. How much time does it take to get caught up on every detail of history? It doesn’t matter—eternity continues. Will we run out of things to say or ask? What will be worth talking about after all that time? Dan Schaeffer deals with this. He gives a rather long list of things that likely will be topics of conversation. I’m going to give you just a sampling of them here:
1. Whose life did we affect here on earth for Christ without knowing it?
2. The explanation of Scriptures that are still confusing.
3. With Adam and Eve: What was the garden of Eden really like?
4. With Daniel: What was it like in the lion’s den?
5. Why did God choose me to be saved?
6. How were angels and demons active in my life in ways I never knew?
Add to this sampling all the other questions suggested by Dan, plus thousands of other questions that he could have included, and thousands more that you and I might raise, two questions come to mind:
1. What do we talk about after all these questions are fully answered?
2. Will we be bored?
Think about it. See ya tomorrow.

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