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!

Podcasting for Jesus

This week, and actually for the last few weeks, I’ve been listening to a lot of Mars Hill’s podcasts of Mark Driscoll’s sermons. I’m currently going through the Trial series, where he goes through 1 & 2 Peter. It’s awesome. I’ve really really enjoyed listening to these and learning – or at least having reinforced – all these great Biblical teachings. I’ve had a real hunger for good teaching lately, and these podcasts have been a great meal.

The one I just completed is an amazing message for men, in regards to how to relate to their wives and be a godly man, husband, and father. This is Driscoll preaching to men – he is harsh, blunt, and brutal. His passion for this topic really shines through, and I think really gives evidence that a complementary stance on gender roles does not mean that you have any less love or respect or value for women, as so many claim. It’s all about being complementary. Equal, but serving different functions in harmony. And the burden of responsibility for the family is on the man – which means that men need to step up that much more when seeking to enter such a relationship.

Honestly, I find it terrifying.

Not in the crippling, “oh woe is me” sense but just that this is such a massive responsibility that we need to go into it with eyes wide open and lives that are ready to support that responsibility. Too many people do not take this or anything else seriously in life, and it’s a travesty. God expects nothing less than our all, and to give anything less is absurd.

Anyway, considering starting a new “series” on here this coming week. We’ll see how it goes. Have a great weekend, all!

A few thoughts and a plug for a friend

So who would have guessed that it is a lot easier to write when you have a purpose to what you are writing? Apparently not I. After receiving a few suggestions on what to write, I’ve been pounding away at the keys writing on what they have suggested and doing further research into the topics. Overall it has certainly brightened my mood; there is something I find inherently relaxing about writing.

I’m still listening to Driscoll. Over the last three or four days I’ve listened to probably at least 12 hours of his material, which is very unusual for me – I can read studies for hours on end, but listening tends to wear on me quickly. I’m hoping this is evidence of a (sustained) renewed interest in study, and I’m certainly picking up on things I had not before. The man has his opponents throughout the web; one of my favorite sites is run by a guy who regularly mentions Driscoll as a preacher he has issues with. This, though, only makes me think he’s doing something right, and doctrinally I still can’t find anything we’re at odds over.

And last but not least, I have been listening quite a bit to the musical stylings of my friend Michael Birch, aka Flexstyle, especially his latest album Elements of Creation. It’s a solid album overall and he’s set to release his next one soon, so now is the perfect time to check him out.

NaBloPoMo & Me

So Elisabeth, my old friend Silas’ wonderful new bride, recently posted about NaBloPoMo – a blogger’s answer to NaNoWriMo, for those of us less inclined to writing novels and more interested in filling our websites with drivel and nonsense. Or maybe that’s just me, not really sure. Anyway, the long and short of it is that you pledge to update every day in November, the idea being to “force” you to write. I think I’m going to give it a shot, though if there’s anything my track record here shows, it’s that I am inconsistent at best.  The timing will either work really well or really poorly, as I’m starting a new job (yay!) on November 2.

In the meantime, I’ll just let everyone know that I’ve been spending hours and hours this week listening to Mark Driscoll’s sermons at MarsHillChurch.org – and it’s really feeding a need I’ve had for a while to digest some good, solid teaching. I recommend these sermons wholeheartedly, as I have yet to find anything I fundamentally disagree with in any of his teachings. One thing you will quickly find that may turn you off is that he’s a “complementarian” – which is a fancy word used to mean that he believes that men and women have different roles in the family and the church. In other words, he believes what the Bible actually says. Some people don’t like that, I suppose, but it kind of comes with the territory. Maybe that can turn into a November blog post.

Until then, readers…

Edit: Holy crap! Jennifer Knapp is back! YAY! Thanks to reader sami for pointing it out.