The introduction to The Bookends of the Christian Life argues that without properly understanding the reality and the role of 1. The righteousness of Christ and 2. The power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, then we will always be in a constant struggle in our pursuit of holiness and the glorification of God. Chapter 1 begins to deal with their arguments involving the righteousness of Christ.
Most of the chapter is spent explaining that we are not righteous, that Jesus Christ was righteous, that God expects perfect righteousness from us and that without perfect righteousness we cannot enter heaven, and that through Jesus’ death on the cross, His righteousness was credited to believers.
So what does this mean practically? They begin to address this near the end of the chapter and this is where I would like most of the discussion to take place. This book is meant to be extremely practical in how it works out in our lives. The first point they make that I would like to discuss is found on page 27, “When…we depend on our own performance, whether good or bad in our estimate, as the basis of God’s approval, our assurance that we stand before God as justified sinners inevitably fades.”
If you are anything like me, you can think of a hundred ways that you act like God’s approval of you is based on your actions. Obviously God is pleased and displeased with us based on our actions, but always as a loving Father would be towards his children. Our salvation is never in jeopardy. Now, I realize that this notion can be taken too far. For the sake of profitable and edifying conversation, lets assume that none of us are going to adopt a ‘eat, drink, and be merry’ lifestyle because of this truth. Lets instead look for the ways that fully coming to grips with its implications frees us from our sin. What are some ways in your own lives that this truth has affected you? Do you see any areas in your life where you are still working to earn God’s approval? Have you ever experienced a time when remembering this truth gave you the courage and power to fight a particular sin in your life?
The second point is slightly different and found on page 28, “Second, we must place our reliance entirely on the perfect obedience and sin-bearing death of Christ as the sole basis of our standing before God – on our best days as well as our worst.” How does this truth work out on our good days? On the days where obedience is easy, God’s blessings our evident, we remembered to read our bible and pray, we didn’t yell at our kids once, and we were respectful and submissive to our husbands. How do we remind ourselves of this truth on these days? Do you remind yourself? Just as it is vitally important for us to remember our justification on the bad days, the days where every time you turn around you see more sin in your life, it is just as important for us to remember our justification on our good days. It is so easy to forget the massive price that Jesus paid for us in His death on the cross when we view ourselves as ‘having it together.’ We must always remind ourselves that we would have nothing without Jesus’ blood spilled on our behalf.
Okay then! Lets discuss…what part of the chapter did you find particularly helpful? Did you have any questions? concerns? disagreements? Please don’t feel like you have to answer every question I asked here; I know there were a lot. Pick the ones you liked. 🙂 Also, feel free to interact with what others have said. This should really feel more like a discussion rather than a bunch of people listing off their own opinions. I know its going to take some getting used to and be a little bit weird in the beginning but I’m very excited to see how this goes!
Don’t forget that Jasmine has chapter 2 next week on Tuesday!