Balance of Faith

Balance Act

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.

2 Mistakes Christians Make

Redemption Acccomplished But Not Applied

People tend to make two mistakes when they think about the redeemed life. The first is to underestimate the sin that remains in us; it’s still there and it can still hurt us. The second is to underestimate the strength of God’s grace; God is determined to make us new. As a result, all Christians need to say two things. We admit that we are redeemed sinners. But we also say boldly and joyously that we are redeemed sinners.

~ from Cornelius Plantings, in Beyond Doubt

Brokeness, Contrition, and Repentance = Marks of a Growing Christian

“So Repentance begins with an attitude of brokenness over our sin. But true repentance will be followed by an earnest desire and a sincere effort to put away  the sin we are repenting of – to put on the Christlike virtues that we see missing in our lives. These efforts often seem to be characterized by failure as much as by success. But the frequent failures should bring us back to a broken and contrite heart that mourns over our sin. Brokenness, contrition, and repentance are all marks of a growing Christian, a person who is experiencing the work of the Spirit in being transformed gradually more into the image of God’s Son.”

~ Jerry Bridges, The Transforming Power of the Gospel

Too Much Religion

Eugene Peterson, in the Introduction to the book of Hebrews in his book The Message, writes:

“It seems odd to have to say so, but too much religion is a bad thing. We can’t get too much of God, can’t get too much faith and obedience, can’t get too much love and worship. But religion – the well intentioned efforts we make to ‘get it all together’ for God – can very well get in the way of what God is doing for us. The main & central action is everywhere, and always what God has done, is doing and will do for us. Jesus is the revelation of that action”.

Paradoxes of Grace

In his excellent, perspective shaping book, Broken-Down House, Paul Tripp reflects some of the amazing paradoxes of the gospel.  Take some time to ponder these; feel the tension. This is what genuine grace is and does:

So grace is a story and grace is a gift. It is God’s character and it is your hope. Grace is a transforming tool and a state of relationship. Grace is a theology and an invitation. Grace is an experience and a calling. Grace will turn your life upside-down while giving you a rest you have never known. Grace will convince you of your unworthiness without ever making you feel unloved.

Grace will make you acknowledge that you cannot earn God’s favor, and it will remove your fear of not measuring up to his standards. Grace will confront you with the fact that you are much less than you thought you were, even as it assures you that you can be far more than you had ever imagined. Grace will put you in your place without ever putting you down.

Grace will enable you to face truths about yourself that you have hesitated to consider, while freeing you from being self-consciously introspective. Grace will confront you with profound weaknesses, and at the same time introduce you to new-found strength. Grace will tell you what you aren’t, while welcoming you to what you can now be. Grace will make you as uncomfortable as you have ever been, while offering you more comfort than you have ever known. Grace will drive you to the end of yourself, while it invites you to fresh starts and new beginnings. Grace will dash your hopes, but never leave you hopeless. Grace will decimate your kingdom as it introduces you to a better King. Grace will expose your blindness as it gives you eyes to see. Grace will make you sadder than you have ever been, while it gives you greater cause for celebration than you have ever known.

Grace enters your life in a moment and will occupy you for eternity. You simply cannot live a productive life in this broken-down world unless you have a practical grasp of the grace you have been given [in Christ].

Lost in Wonder, Love, and Praise


Surely one of the greatest problems of our times is that we have become so nonchalent about the Lord of the cosmos.  Certainly if we were more immersed in God’s splendor we would find ourselves thoroughly “lost in wonder, love, and praise”.  With all the amazing sights and sounds of our cyberspace world, however, many of us no longer recognize that if we but catch a glimpse of GOD – the imperial Lord of the cosmos, the almighty King of the universe – we will be compelled to fall on our faces.  Our awareness of God’s absolute otherness would give us the sense that we could die now because we have seen God.  We would shout with the prophet: “Woe is me, for I am annihilated”. (Isaiah 6.5; Martin Luther’s rendering.)

Marva Dawn, A Royal “Waste” of Time