Yahweh: A God of grace

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

2 Cor. 5:17

The death and resurrection of Jesus changed the world. More specifically, it changed how humanity relates to God and to itself. In a bygone era, there was a complicated system of sacrifices, observances and rituals to be observed before a person could be considered righteous before God. A complex code of moral obligations surrounding personal piety and hospitality to strangers and kin regulated a Godly society.

Jesus, with his simple way and transformative death ended these overbearing rules, the demands of a cantankerous and capricious deity.

Or at least this is the implication of such thinking.

To dismiss the Old Testament as the unreasonable demands of an uncompassinate God makes Jesus so alien to the previous story that one wonders whether he really is Yahweh’s Son, or at least whether the whole history of Israel is some cruel point-proving exercise in human fallibility.

To affirm that the New Testament has done away with the painful experiences which fuelled much of the Old Testament implies that the Christian Church has no fellowship with the pain of the world. It is only a doctor, never a patient.

Plainly, the Christian Church is not immune to sickness, suffering, grief and death any more than individual Christians are. The Catholic church has been beset with a sex abuse scandal for the last decade, and even newer families can’t escape the failures of a few.

Look and see, we have not arrived.

We, the community of faith, are not morally pure.

We are not pious.

We are not holy when eyes are off us.

The Christian Church inherited a grand tradition: The Hebrew faith in a God who calls people to be his own, who listens to the pleas of human voices and has grace upon the sinner.

Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;
listen to my plea for grace.
In the day of my trouble I call upon you,
for you answer me.

Psalm 86:6,7

The ancient singer would not call upon God’s grace if God were not gracious.

Yet why would he call upon grace, if God were truly gracious?

That is to say, surely a gracious God wouldn’t need to be called upon? Surely he would have already acted to save, to soothe, to heal, without waiting to be called upon?

And isn’t this what he did in Jesus, stepping into human existence to solve all our problems?

Why does God want to be called upon? Why does it matter that our prayers must be spoken or sung aloud?

The faith of the Christian Church is not private. It is a story which demands to be told, yet it can only be told if it is true. The Psalmist in the quote above tells part of a story, and other psalms report of God’s favour and grace as it has been experienced.

Jesus was a man, he was God written in to human experience. Not human words or ideas, but human being. What could this mean apart from the radical expectation that real human lives can be touched and changed by this same God?

Grace is not an idea, a righteousness which I confess yet do not experience. It must be experienced before it is confessed. Yet the sacred tradition of the faith gives me the words for every step from despair to hope.

And sometimes back again.

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  1. Jesus with his simple way …………. This isn’t the thinking of any Christian who truly engages in the Bible. God has never been cantankerous and capricious – he has been just fair merciful and consistent – it would be against his nature to be anything else.

    To Dismiss the Old Testament as the unreasonable ………………..Why on earth do you consider that any Christian (I am guessing you are implicating word of faith grace camp Christians) thinks this way. I certainly don’t. But I do choose to obey scripture when it tells me HOW to read the Old Testament – I seek to rightly (not wrongly) divide the Word.

    To affirm that the New Testament has done away with ……… is ONLY to accurately report what the New testament writers wrote themselves. Of course we are the doctor – Jesus called himself the Doctor – and we are now Christ to the world. You aren’t much use to others if you are sick yourself. Clearly and concisely throughout the whole of the New testament we are informed that the ONLY problem left is a knowledge problem. God has solved the world’s problem. The world’s problem was SATAN – Jesus came to destroy the works of satan – and he succeeded. Even a brief study of new testament prayers would show that the apostles prayed for knowledge for their fellows in faith.

    We are advised to transform our minds, we are advised to take our stand against satan, we are advised to know who we are in Christ – and walk in it. We are advised not to stray from what brought us to the Lord in the first place. We are advised to go out to a hurting sick hungry hateful naked needy world – and provide pain relief, health, spiritual sustenance, love, garments of righteousness and supply all their needs – through the same power in us that raised Christ from the dead – because their problems were all sorted by Christ at the cross. At least we’d better hope they were – because he isn’t dying for us again.

    Why would you want to base your theology on experience rather than on the Word of God. Experience tells us that virgins don’t give birth – the Word of God says they do. Experience tells us that miracles don’t happen – the Word of God says they do. Experience tells us that people don’t come back from the dead – especially when they have been executed – the Word of God says they do. I totally agree that the misled church is not immune to sickness – does this mean this is what God intends? I think not. If nothing has changed between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant then just what was the point of the death of Jesus?

    We may not have arrived – but we are supposed to have left. We cannot blame God if we choose not to believe and take advantage of his promises As you quote scripture above – the community of faith is a new (translation – brand new never seen before species of) creation. Exactly what do you think that means. My body may still need to get in line but I know who I am in the spirit and as fast as I can transform my mind by reading and meditating on the Word of God day and night THEN I WILL BE PROSPEROUS AND HAVE GOOD SUCCESS – Joshua 1 v 8 9 (see I am quite comfortable with the Old Covenant in its proper place) – God’s ways of achieving success never alter because Gods Word never fails. The only thing that fails is us not believing it.
    Our flesh may not be morally pure but that new creation in us is as pure as it’s ever going to get.

    We aren’t called to be pious – just to remember who we are – nothing more – but certainly nothing less. Regardless of whether we feel or act holy – scripture says we ARE Holy – what are you going to believe – your eyes or scripture. You are called a SAINT – a saint means you ARE sanctified – and that which God has made holy cannot be made unholy.

    Lovely lovely psalm – a prayer that has now been completely answered through the vicarious death of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ – who perfectly fulfilled the law for us so that we no longer have to try – who took away all our sin so we are no longer considered a sinner in the eyes of God. So we can now praise instead of Beg – and say

    “Thank You wonderful Heavenly Father for giving ear, O Lord, to my prayer;
    Thank you for listen to my plea for grace and providing me with more grace than I could ever have asked or imagined
    In the day of my trouble I called upon you and for you answered me.” Hallelujah past tense

    Absolutely that is exactly what Jesus did – he did step into human existence and solved all our problems – so why are you insisting that there are still problems to be solved?

    God wants relationship with us – always did – always will – that’s why he made Adam and Eve – he wanted someone he could commune on an equal basis with. In spirit realm everything has to bow the knee – in the created physical realm he made kings (gods psalms says) so that he could commune king to king equally. God does not delight in our begging – especially seeing as he has already done it all – he delights in our worship and our praise and our fellowship and our communion and our thanksgiving.

    Totally agree we should be telling our story of God’s grace and favour as it has been experienced – to read your blog would appear to say that the church has little experience of grace and favour to tell – if it’s still got all the same problems as the world – he’s not a very good God is he? I don’t want to know a God whose grace and favour is described as people experiencing swapping from despair to hope…… and sometimes back again – now THAT is a cantankerous and capricious deity.


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