Sunday, August 02, 2009

Reckon & Abide

So-and-so is "not walking with God." I forget how offensive the statement may be outside of free grace. The reply comes "Well I know so-and-so is saved, undoubtedly! So how can we even be talking about whether they are walking with God?" Then we have discussion about what walking in the flesh is supposed to look like.

I appreciate so much learning recently in conversations with Tim, Jim, Alvin and Gary that most of the "bare minimum" questions (regarding freedom in the LORD) that I ask are all answered in the same way: "The answer is that we must be abiding in Him." I'm adoring how it is bringing it back to the Word of God, because only in His mindset may I find rest and righteousness. This is so good for me. I need correction in this area. My drift far away from fundamentalism and legalism had been sending me somewhere in approach of universalism.

Yes; it's largely about abiding; choices; intention.... Though I believe there is a subdued sanctification that occurs for the Christian who "shows up."

We recently benefitted from a doctoral candidate transplanted from Texas who had never heard of free grace theology. He taught our sunday school as a guest. His six week lesson was through the Upper Room Discourse. He began and concluded with his testimony. "I used to believe for years that all I had to do was just show up, you know, for church and ministry and that's all it took for me to become pleasing in God's eyes. But now I understand it from a new perspective that we must abide in Him; it's a choice we make."

I could call this "BAM!" - sanctification, like Alvin calls it "ZAP!" - salvation. God "mercifully sometimes" sends you opportunities to increase your faith and increase your obedience or... He doesn't.

Way back in the beginning when I was 21, the first mentor I had who was a (calvinist) grad of Denver Seminary told me that the reason why God doesn't answer some prayers is because "you just have to keep asking. And your requests start to pile up. Eventually the pile of prayers becomes so large, God can't ignore it any longer, and He answers it." Calvinism has seemed to make our contriteness and God's goodness, impotent.

I have been one of those Christians who resented prayer and one who "showed up" but didn't know I should "choose to abide"! The pessimism of calvinism caused me to miss so very much. I went to my pastor to try and understand why victory was elusive. He happened to be free grace, but I didn't know that till a year later when I stumbled into a seminary class on Romans, and there he was, sitting there with his wife and his daughter and her husband. That was the class where I "heard" these verses for the first time, clearly (Romans 6:11-22):
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.
I read that last paragraph and understand it again, new. We either bear fruits of unrighteousness while in the flesh, or fruits of righteousness which are obtaining for us the quality of our eternal life. As Dr. Taliaferro taught, walking in the Spirit is like a light switch. It's either on or off, and the potential may be either one at any given moment.

As the class drew near a close, my free grace pastor and I crossed paths out in the parking lot. It was a single moment but I'll never forget. It was one of those looks at him that'll never be said in words with appropriate power. He wanted to know what was up. I shook my head in wonder as if saying, "Oh -- it's on."

I don't want anything to stand in my way. God is good, and I have no doubt. As long as I keep walking, He is able and fair to meet all my needs and I take peace in that! I believe that God's heart is to share inward regeneration like the beat on the street.

This is the video I sent my FG pastor as thanks for what I thought he must have observed; the fruit of free grace in my life. You will see the man in this video start off with some first steps, one foot after another, getting started in abiding. I want to share it with whoever may read this blog. What an amazing thing to discover, as we walk with Christ, the very evolution and conclusion of this video.... Oh, we have such a special thing in free grace! Keep walking! :D


Sanctification said...

I would jump for a chance to say something affirming about the sovereignty of God... When I walked in to the Romans class my pastor and I both must have been thinking simultaneously, "What are you doing here?" He could have provided FG answers and had invited many other people to class, but, God had to get me there through a syllabus available in the lobby. God did this because it is so important that we do not follow after men but Him.


In the video he sings "I stand only because you've given me strength to walk." We are saved by the grace of God, and sanctified by grace too! However it is conditional that we should choose to believe it.

Yield, reckon, abide, present (to Him).... All verbs addressing our responsibility, and in so doing He completely holds us up - carries us - through it all. He is still carrying us through it all even when we do not yield and trust and obey His Word. He will carry us forever. But we will miss out on the experience so long as we do not permit it.

I hope I have this correct. I just am in awe at the interplay between God respecting our choices and also how easy His yoke is - praise God!


agent4him said...


I like it. I think you've captured the essence of "our responsibility" in our free choice to "reckon and abide" (or not). Clearly, Calvinism cannot hold consistently to the doctrine of irresistible grace in sanctification and still support free will.

I try to avoid being misconstrued as pushing any sort of legalism in using a phrase like "our responsibility." I prefer to couch the idea of "obedience" (in our exercise of free choice) in terms of "accepting God's invitation." As chosen agents of His redemptive purposes, we will always get "more life" by accepting his invitation to participate in these redemptive purposes than we can ever scrounge on our own.

When we "reckon and abide" we are simply acknowledging his ongoing offer of life in Him by accepting his invitation to follow Him. This recasts "our responsibility" as the high privilege of serving in what He is already "up to" because he values us highly enough to entrust us with his work on earth.

Sanctification said...


I feel so much gratitude to learn it. It's so wonderful to serve God without doubt. I wanted to share some heart and testimony why it is good to separate justification and sanctification enough so that they are not the same thing.

Later I caught up with my pastor and I told him how I had squandered so much opportunity, with God. Because I was expecting God to just BAM sanctify me and it wasn't victorious, I had slowly started walking away from evangelism, prayer, etc.

"Now what?"

He began with some fine erase-board geography, of Ur and the Middle East and Abraham's journey through it to the promised land. He asked me if, when they stopped in Haran, did he have to start all over? No. Abraham picked up where he left off, and kept walking forward by faith again from that city. In the same way, I haven't lost anything, all I have to do is pick up where I left off and start walking with Him again.

I thought I'd share that. I hope anyone reading may know that I have suffered from confusion too. Whether a reader may have never known they should abide, or used to walk with God and do not know how to start again with Him. Or even if a reader is abiding they may take comfort in seeing Abraham as an encouraging model for our service in Christ. It encouraged me to begin again.

How can I not be indebted. Great and knowledgeable people online, the seminary and all the profs there, and I forgot to mention Kev in the post. There was this one thread at his blog that went on for forty comments, I can't find it. It was a conversation that showed me again how the Word should never be the problem itself.

I am so joyful now, "accepting the invitation to participate in what He is up to"!

I'm just ecstatic and humbled by the great company I'm in. People who will encourage this important teaching in me as I attempt to do the same. If I can give a measure of Christ back some day I'd be thrilled!

:D Michele

blog archive

Phrase Search / Concordance
Words/Phrase To Search For
(e.g. Jesus faith love, or God of my salvation, or believ* ever*)