N. T. Wright

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Christian Freedom

Posted by on 18 Sep 2012 | Tagged as: Christian Freedom, John Stott, N. T. Wright

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.

Gal. 5:1 NLT

Christian freedom is the ability to do what we want to do. What a Christ-follower wants to do is please their Lord and Savior. Christian freedom is not the freedom to do whatever I want, but the freedom to do what is right by God. Freedom for the Christian is the heart-felt, passionate desire to please their Lord.

By contrast, legalism, that is the Law, can only motivate through fear of rejection, punishment, and slavish duty. Legalists are fear-based, proud, and guilt-ridden which leads to touchiness, insecurity, pride, discouragement, and weariness. The legalist believes that they are not valuable to the kingdom of God unless they perform well. They cannot receive Christ’s righteousness for they feel that they are unworthy creatures who have not done enough. Rule keeping is a perversion of freedom: we think by doing we can achieve acceptance by God. Legalism stifles joy and freedom in the Christian life.

On the contrary, the saint is free for he or she is liberated by their righteous standing in Christ: nothing they do or fail to do will change their status as saints in Christ. God’s grace magnifies God’s unconditional love and motivates us by filling our hearts with overwhelming gratitude and appreciative love.

True freedom is not freedom from all responsibility to God and man in order to live for myself, but the exact opposite.  True freedom is freedom from myself and from the cramping tyranny of my own self-centeredness, in order to live in love for God and others.  Only in such self-giving love is an authentically free and human existence to be found.

John Stott, ‘Obeying Christ in a Changing World’, in Obeying Christ in a Changing World, Vol. 1: “The Lord Christ” (London: Collins, 1977), 28.

Christian freedom is not freedom to do what you like, but freedom from all the things that stop you being the person God wants you to be.

N.T. Wright

Astonished Gratitude

Posted by on 29 Sep 2011 | Tagged as: God's Love, N. T. Wright, Thanksgiving

Thankfulness that Flows From the Heart

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Col. 3:17

Christian gratitude begins at the Cross. We were  God’s enemies, we despised his call on our lives and his claim on our hearts. The Holy Spirit reached out to us: he convicted, he wooed, he drew, he convinced us of the Father’s love for us. We melted under his influence recognizing that there was nothing in us that deserved saving.

By God’s grace, we saw Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross as our just punishment for ignoring, violating, and despising God’s commands. We were astonished by Christ’s sacrifice: gratitude overwhelmed us as we saw God’s grace acting to deliver us from our self-imposed darkness. In turn, we met the resurrected Christ, he not only forgave us, but renewed, restored, and healed us. Astonished gratitude was our only response then and continues our heart’s cry now.

When we learn to read the story of Jesus and see it as the story of the love of God, doing for us what we could not do for ourselves–that insight produces, again and again, a sense of astonished gratitude which is very near the heart of authentic Christian experience.

N.T. Wright

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The Point of the Resurrection

Posted by on 21 Sep 2011 | Tagged as: Easter, N. T. Wright, Resurrection, Second Coming

 

The Resurrection of the Dead

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.

1 Thess. 4:16 ESV

When Christ returns, he will raise from the dead the bodies of all believers who have died in Christ since the beginning of time (1 Thes. 4:15-18).  Jesus will reunite these bodies with their spirits which have been residing in heaven (Phil. 1:21, Dan. 12:2-3). Also, he will change the bodies of all those believers who are alive, giving them glorified bodies. Therefore, all believers from all time will have perfect resurrection bodies just like their Savior. The resurrection of the dead is the final work of God in applying Christ’s work on the Cross to our lives and to creation (1 Cor. 15:50-57).

The point of the resurrection . . . is that the present bodily life is not valueless just because it will die. . . What you do with your body in the present matters because God has a great future in store for it . . . What you do in the present—by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself—will last into God’s future. These activities are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until the day when we leave it behind altogether (as the hymn so mistakenly puts it . . . ). They are part of what we may call building for God’s kingdom.

N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church (New York, HarperOne, 2008).