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Life on God’s Terms

My second book was released two days ago. It explores different ways God changes us over time to be more like Jesus. I really hope people buy the book, read it, and share it with others, and I hope all who read it grow more in trust and rest more in peace. Yet something has been nagging at me lately, and that is this: It is very easy—a temptation even—to spend so much time learning about God’s Kingdom that we spend very little time working to grow God’s Kingdom. Reading and studying is important: we must discern what is true and renew our minds accordingly. Yet as a pastor once shared with me, there is more to Christianity than just being right.

Throughout the Bible, God defines His relationship with us through His promises and His commands, often speaking both at the same time. To Abraham, for instance, He commanded, “Go . . . to the land I will show you,”1 and promised, “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you . . .”2 At His ascension, Jesus commanded His friends, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations . . .”3 adding then this promise: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”4 Again, God defines our relationship with Him on His terms. Then what is our role? We respond. We say “yes” to God’s promises by believing them, and we say “yes” to God’s commands by obeying them. These are hardly separate from each other, in fact, the apostle Paul blends them in referring to “the obedience that comes from faith,”5 which is to say, when we really believe God, when we trust in His amazing character and receive His intimate love, our spirit leaps in response. Our enlightened faith in God pours out in effective obedience to God.

Does this mean we run around doing things “for” God in order to gain His favor? No, we ask Him to lead us in the works He has “prepared in advance for us to do.”6 Do we stop learning and focus on doing? No, that would be a false-choice alternative—there are other options between the two extremes. Instead, Peter charges us “to make every effort” to grow in godly character for a purpose—to “keep . . . from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”7 We draw near to God through His Word, so that as He calls us, we will go. And as we go according to His promises and commands, we will be effective and productive. He promises.

“Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” (Luke 11:18)

Father, quiet our hearts before you, that we would trust in you and go in your Spirit. Bear fruit through us, Your people, today. In Christ we pray. Amen.

1 Genesis 12:1
2 Genesis 12:2-3
3 Matthew 28:19 ESV
4 Matthew 28:20 ESV
5 Romans 1:5; 16:27
6 Ephesians 2:10
7 2 Peter 1:5-8

5 replies on “Life on God’s Terms”

Paul, thanks for using your creative talent to share the gospel. Your Christ-centered messages, whether in a book or blog, draw me closer to His presence.

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