September 24, 2014

Acts 10:15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

This is an extremely important Scripture. Not only does it reinforce God’s authority over human traditions, even when those traditions are based on what God has said previously, it also touches on the only way anyone can be pure before God, and that is by the edict and action of God Himself. I’m reminded of Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18, in which the man the world would have called less pure was pronounced more pure than the other, because of his humble honesty before God. Here, God was dealing with over a thousand years of awareness that the Jews were the chosen people of God, showing Peter that they didn’t have a monopoly on God’s love and mercy. We are quick to categorize people by all sorts of criteria we set up, some of it Biblical and some not. However, in so doing we often set ourselves in the place of God without realizing it. We forget that none of us deserves to be accepted by God on our own merits, so we are all dependent on His grace. Universalism, that is, “everybody’s going to heaven,” is in no way a Biblical answer. However, as Jesus said so clearly in Luke 6:36, we are to be merciful as our Heavenly Father is merciful. It is the blood of Jesus, and only the blood of Jesus, that cleanses us so that we are acceptable to God.

There are groups that practice “sloppy agape,” (not even pronouncing the Greek correctly, much less understanding it) paying little if any attention to the Bible’s many calls to holiness, and there are groups that seem to search for reasons to disqualify people from being called Christian. Neither is pleasing to God, nor Biblical, though both will trot out plenty of “proof texts.” I am to love both but not be caught up in either. I am to be uncompromising with God’s standards, laid out so clearly in the Bible, but I am to do so with an overriding, and overwhelming, awareness of the grace of God. Yesterday I was talking with someone with a very confused and inadequate understanding of God – as I do almost every day, because so many around me fit that description. I am not to focus on “correcting” them, but rather on sharing with them the grace that has been poured out on me. With my Teacher gifting, I tend to “set people straight,” when that is rarely the best way to open their heart to God’s truth. I am to share the Good News as simply as I can, in terms they can relate to, so that they may grasp the hope that they see in me and make it their own. I need to remember that God loves them as much as He does me, and that I am as dependent on His grace as they are.

Father, thank You for Your grace indeed. Help me be an open, accurate conduit of that grace, never degrading it either by compromise with the world or by legalism, so that as many as possible may receive and accept it, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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