We Can’t Help Ourselves

This past week I was reading a story about someone who was going to do something that would probably be very regrettable but would have been an easy way out. In the story advice was given this person to “do the right thing and God will bless you.”

When I read that I cringed. We can’t help ourselves can we? 

Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Grace

There is a sense in which the doctrine of justification by faith only is a very dangerous doctrine; dangerous, I mean, in the sense that it can be misunderstood. It exposes a man to this particular charge. People listening to it may say, “Ah, there is a man who does not encourage us to live a good life, he seems to say that there is no value in our works, he says that ‘all our righteousness are as filthy rags.’ Therefore what he is saying is that it does not matter what you do, sin as much as you like.” . . . There is thus clearly a sense in which the message of “justification by faith only” can be dangerous, and likewise with the message that salvation is entirely of grace. . . . I say therefore that if our preaching does not expose us to that charge and to that misunderstanding, it is because we are not really preaching the gospel.

Nobody has ever brought this charge against the Church of Rome, but it was brought frequently against Martin Luther; indeed that was precisely what the Church of Rome said about the preaching of Martin Luther. They said,”This man who was a priest has changed the doctrine in order to justify his own marriage and his own lust”, . . . and so on.”This man”, they said, “is an antinomian; and that is heresy.”That is the very charge they brought against him. It was also brought against George Whitefield two hundred years ago. It is the charge that formal dead Christianity — if there is such a thing — has always brought against this startling, staggering message, that God “justifies the ungodly”, and that we are saved, not by anything we do, but in spite of it, entirely and only by the grace of God through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

That is my comment; and it is a very important comment for preachers. I would say to all preachers: If your preaching of salvation has not been misunderstood in that way, then you had better examine your sermons again, and you had better make sure that you really are preaching the salvation that is offered in the New Testament to the ungodly, to the sinner, to those who are dead in trespasses and sins, to those who are enemies of God. There is this kind of dangerous element about the true presentation of the doctrine of salvation.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones in a sermon on Romans 6

Question: Martin Luther said, “we must offend these legalists boldly”.  Are you offensive to legalists? Does your church preach grace , but live works? Do you know someone who could use some grace in their life right now? What can you do to make grace known to others?

Performance Reviews and the Gospel

I just finished up on delivering nearly 30 performance reviews to my team members. I am exhausted. The only thing more tiring than delivering that many performance reviews in the space of about a week is working in a “performance oriented culture”.

“Performance oriented culture” is a significant business buzzword these days. Kind of like “people are our most important asset”. That one got a lot of traction too, until someone realized that “assets” are things like filing cabinets, carpets and lightbulbs. You put paper in filing cabinets and then forget about it, you walk all over carpets and you burn out lightbulbs and once you do, you simply unscrew them and plug in another one. So the “people are our most important asset” phrase is no longer in vogue. And with good reason.

I suppose I cannot argue with the idea that businesses do have to perform to stay in business. As long as team members remember that they are performing against the competition and not each other, then it is somewhat healthy. With the provision, too, that the CEO understands that work force reductions are never to be the easy way out to doing their jobs. The problem I see so often is that companies turn this performance thing in on themselves with things like forced distribution ranking and rating systems for their people. Where senior management expects the performance of individuals on the teams to follow a “bell curve” with some at the top and some at the bottom – and they force managers to rate people accordingly.

There is not a day that goes by though, that I do not thank God that He is a “manager” who doesn’t use a forced ranking system. Oh, He is demanding. He is demanding of perfection actually.

You see the thing is, I have Someone to stand in my place that meets all of the demands God has placed on me. His name is Jesus. He was and is perfect and according to 2 Cor 5:21, He became sin for me so that I could become the righteousness of God.

This means that when God looks at my “performance review” I get perfect marks.

There is no “bell curve” for believers. All of us are at the top – not because of anything we’ve done you see, but because of what has been done for us.

If you work in a “performance oriented culture” remember that…. remember that until you die… or at least until the next “business buzzword” comes along.

Question: Do you find yourself “performing” for God to gain His approval? Do you have difficulty separating the need to perform on the job from the lack of need with God? What about your motivation for doing things for God? What are you doing about these areas?