Do you see a danger in having an under-realized eschatology or that this could be taken in that way? How you encountered many people who just throw up their hands and say, “I guess I’m just weak and will always be like this,” type idea?
There is an under-realized eschatology and there are people who make it, yeah, who make it sound as if, “Well, there’s no need to try. Just let go of everything. God has taken care of everything,” and that’s wrong. Again, it doesn’t fit with scripture. You have all of these passages in the Old Testament, New Testament that urge us to try hard, but they’re all wrapped up and intertwined with passages reminding us that it’s God who’s at work in us, and He’s going to complete that work, and that God is sovereign over that process.
One of the key truths in helping people understand God’s work in sanctification is, as you talked about, the imputed righteousness of Christ and the fact that he sees us clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Barb, I know one of the statements you made in Extravagant Grace is “God is not disappointed in you. He cannot be disappointed in you.” How do you explain that, especially in light of passages that are talking about, like 2 Corinthians 5:9 is talking about, “We make it our aim to please God.” You hear that passage and it sounds like the flip side of that would be displeasing God and how does that square with His disappointment or not disappointment?
One point to make in beginning is that in order to be disappointed in someone you have to be naïve. You have to think that they are able and willing to do something they’re actually not able and/or willing to do. The heart of disappointment is naivete, and God is not naïve. God knows our sinful, foul, nasty hearts better than we do and that heart, even though we are a new creation, is still in us. God doesn’t remove that naughty heart when He saves us. God is not naïve about the depths of sin that we are capable of getting into, and neither, and I don’t know that I have time to unfold the whole work of the Holy Spirit and how the Holy Spirit works in us, but if God is orchestrating in advance the moments when He’s going to cause you to will and to do according to His good pleasure and then the times when He’s going to not do those things, you’re going to stand in obedience, you’re going to fall when you’re left to yourself.
If He’s orchestrating all of that there’s no room for Him then to be disappointed when He leaves you to your sin. Again, we’ll go back to the Prodigal Son story. Is the father disappointed in the son? Well, I’m sure he’s not happy. He knows exactly what the son is going to do when he gives him the money. One way to decrease the number of sins in the universe at that moment would have been to not give him the money maybe. The kid would have had to stay home and sin in other ways I suppose. You don’t see disappointment and you don’t see anger in the father. You see a very calm leaving of that son to his sin for a period of time and then waiting on the horizon and rejoicing when he comes back.
- Listen to this episode: 013 Interview with the Duguids
- Learn more about Iain Duguid
- Learn more about Barbara Duguid
- Listen to Iain’s talks from the 2016 Summer Institute
- Listen to Barbara’s talks from the 2016 Summer Institute
- Read The Song of Songs: An Introduction and Commentary
- Read Extravagant Grace: God’s Glory Displayed in Our Weakness
- Read Prone to Wander: Prayers of Confession and Celebration
One other quick thing, if I may. The other part of the conversation that has to happen is not just what is the correct sexuality to come in to people, but what do we need to do as a church to make that sexual ethic or viable lifestyle, and to easily, we’re saying to people in a lot of churches that I see, if you’re same sex attracted, you need to be celibate. Actually, in our church, that means you’re going to be really, really lonely. I kind of feel like saying to churches, you can’t call people to celibacy unless you are providing the kind of family and community that the Bible says churches should be.
I’m glad that you mention that because I know that you’ve written on a wide variety of topics. You’ve written on the book of James and then you’ve also, you wrote about the Trinity. I didn’t want this to go by without talking a little bit about that for a minute. Community and the trinity and what that means for life of the Christians. For those that are listening, tell them the name of the book that you wrote, what the theme of that book was and why you wrote it.
The book is called Connected Living in the Light of the Trinity, I think. Yeah that sounds right. I wrote it because I was looking for a book to recommend to people at church on the Trinity that didn’t have any Latin words in and couldn’t find any at that point. I thought, “I’ll write one.” What I was trying to do was to show how understanding that God is Trinity, makes the world of difference to your daily Christian life. It is such a good thing to know and it shapes so much of who we are as His people. Anything we learn about God is going to help us understand ourselves a lot better, because he made us. To know that God is trying, actually that is going to have huge implications for the kind of universe we live in and what discipleship and church life and all these things are going to look like. I was just trying to show how actually this makes a practical, joyful difference day by day to understand these things. It’s not obscure and irrelevant.
I’ll just push it deep. Could you give us one example of something when looking at the triune nature of our God that you said touches the Christian on a day to day level? Or should, at least.
- To listen to this episode: 012 Interview with Sam Allberry
- Learn more about Sam Allberry
- Listen to Sam’s talks from 2016 Summer Institute
- Read about The Bible and Same-Sex Attraction
- Visit the website Livingout.org
- Read Connected Living in the Light of the Trinity
- Read Is God Anti-Gay?
- Read James For You
- Read Why Bother with Church?
The guy, he teared up and he said, “If what you’re saying is true, I would so love God. I’d go crazy for him.”
I think that’s the rub that the Gospel of God’s grace, his forgiveness for us who are unworthy of that, to really let that in and believe it. If we did let that in and believe it, it sets our hearts ablaze, but it’s actually hard to believe, and once believing it, to then wake up the next morning still believing it, after maybe you failed in some way. It’s like Martin Luther said, he had to beat the doctrine of Justification into the heads of his congregation. That’s what I feel like I need for me in my ministry to others, because it’s tough to believe from a human standpoint. Only God gives us the power to believe it, but then someone you’re talking to may believe it today, but then tomorrow afternoon, they’re not believing it for whatever reason and you got to preach it to them again.
Hearing that answer, that illustration of that couple, I mean, that really gets at the heart of it in so many ways of what the gospel can ignite in a heart when it’s truly understood.
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You don’t have to have a counseling center to be effective in your community. In fact, you know, I would argue from scripture that it’s you know, as you go you’re preaching the gospel so you know, the church is gathering together to be equipped, to be encouraged, and then we disperse, right? We go to our work places, we go to our schools, we go to our neighborhoods. That one-on-one ministry, where now we have some equipping to be able to address some of those life issues, you know I think as a pastor I’m thinking I want the average person at our church to be able to you know, talking to their neighbor next door that evening and a life issue comes up. You know, a teenager that’s addicted to something, or you know, they’re having marriage problems. I would hope that a believer at that point wouldn’t say, “Well hey, let’s go to our community counseling ministry,” although they could do that, but that they would engage them wisely and in a loving way from the scriptures to give them gospel hope in that moment.