A true, vibrant Christian faith is someting akin to a balancing act.
In a post this morning, Tim Keller suggested:
If we are going to grow in grace, we must stay aware of being both sinners and also loved children in Christ.
Keller’s paradigm reminded me of something Edward Payson – “Praying Payson of Portland” – wrote long ago:
True Christianity consists of a proper mixture of fear of God, and of hope in his mercy; and wherever either of these is entirely wanting, there can be no true Faith. God has joined these things, and we ought by no means to put them asunder.
He cannot take pleasure in those who fear him with a slavish fear, without hoping in his mercy, because they seem to consider him a cruel and tyrannical being, who has no mercy or goodness in his nature. And, besides, they implicitly charge him with falsehood, by refusing to believe and hope in his invitations and offers of mercy.
On the other hand, he cannot be pleased with those who pretend to hope in his mercy without fearing him. For they insult him by supposing there is nothing in him which ought to be feared. And in addition to this, they make him a liar, by disbelieving his awful threatenings denounced against sinners, and call in question his authority, by refusing to obey him.
Those only who both fear him and hope in his mercy, give him the honor that is due to his name.
Both Payson and Keller give credence to thw wisdom of Puritan Thomas Watson:
The two great graces essential to a saint in this life are faith and repentance. These are the two wings by which he flies to heaven.