So I’ve been listening to Mark Driscoll’s Trial series and we’re in 2 Peter now. I was really struck by the message today. Peter opens his letter with a simple statement, but one that is really quite profound:

Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ…

The key phrase here that I love is “obtained a faith of equal standing as ours.”  It’s so obvious, but so awesome – we have, purely by grace, obtained a faith as excellent and powerful as that of the apostles and Peter himself. Equal standing! These are the men handpicked by Jesus to follow him around for years, learning at his feet. Peter, in particular, is one of the three closest to Jesus, and ultimately the leader – he got to meet Moses and Elijah at the Mount of Transfiguration, to preach the gospel at Pentacost, and write books of the Bible before ultimately giving  his life for Christ – and he says we have a faith of equal standing to his own.

Your first reaction should be, “How?”

We obviously haven’t had the opportunities he had. We haven’t made the sacrifices he did. We, on good days, read the Bible – he wrote some of it. So how is our faith even in the same ballpark as his, much less completely equal?

Because it isn’t our own faith.

Let me repeat that, because it’s a big one:

It isn’t our own faith. It’s Jesus’ faith.

There’s an astonishing doctrine called “justification” that a lot of people kind of gloss over as they’re studying the Bible. Justification is the act of making the unjust into that which is just. This is something that sounds simple, but think about how this would look in a day-to-day example: imagine a judge trying a man for murder, and the jury finding him guilty after monumental evidence is brought against him. The judge hears the guilty verdict, then turns to the man and says “you are innocent, and free to go.” If a judge were to do such a thing, he would lose his seat! But that is exactly what God has done for us.

But how can a just God allow that which is unholy, which is sinful and abhorrent into his presence? If heaven is perfect, then how can we imperfect people get there, regardless of how good or faithful we are? The obvious answer is that we can’t, not on our own. This is where the sacrifice of Jesus comes into play.

The faith we are judged upon is that faith which was given us by Jesus, not our own. His is the only one that is perfect and pure and complete, and not even the apostles could add one iota of worth to that gift. So – do you see now? Regardless of what we do, regardless of who we are or how good or moral we are, we are unable to earn our way even into God’s consideration. It is only by accepting that perfect gift of Christ’s, that which is so far beyond anything we are remotely capable of, that we can stand boldly before the throne of grace and expect anything but eternal damnation.

It’s not you. To think you can add anything to his work is blasphemy. While dying on the cross Jesus cried out that his redemptive work was finished, and who are you to dare say you can add anything more to what God himself said was complete?

That’s justification. We’re all in the same ballpark because that’s where Jesus put us all there. Peter didn’t deserve it any more than you do. Knowing that, how can you not be overcome with hope? With joy? With a complete and total sense of unworthiness and thankfulness?

This is the God we serve, people. How awesome he is!

No Condemnation

I’m working on a lengthier post that I may have up later today or tomorrow, but right now I feel like there’s something else I should be writing. Lately I’ve been struggling with a lot of things as I’m trying to put my life back together the way it needs to be, and one of the ways that I’ve come under attack is with spurts of crushing guilt and feelings of worthlessness. I get that little voice in my head that’s telling me that God isn’t going to waste his time on me, that I’m a failure, a hypocrite, a betrayer of Christ, so how could he really love me?

And then, this morning, Jon Acuff’s latest post popped up in my Google Reader.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, …”

If I’m being honest, sometimes I rewrite that verse in my head. I write it, “There is now some condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Or “There is now at least a little condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” But that’s not what it says.

There is no condemnation.

There is no condemnation.

There is no condemnation.

Will the Holy Spirit convict you? Certainly. Will God reveal areas of your heart He wants to shine His light into? Without a doubt. Will God condemn you? Will God press play on the failure film of your life? Will He make you mentally relive your worst moments over and over again? No. That’s not God, that’s an attack.

Go read the whole thing.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. How blessed we are to serve a God who so fully and completely loves us,  that he was willing to die just to give us the chance to be with him again. How can we ignore that? How can we respond to that in any other way than complete and total devotion?

If you’re under attack today, I hope that these words will help you to see that you’re not in this alone. God is always there, always forgiving, always the gracious and loving father – and where my words fail, his never will.

How great is our God!