The following are some quotes and insights from Bryan Chapell’s book Holiness by Grace. The concept of gospel-motivation as normative for the Christian life is one that has been rocking my world lately. Not only is it a vital part of a sermon series at church (“The Joy Church: Series Through Philippians”), but it seems to be resonating with my own struggles with sin and living as a redeemed child of God. I’ve put some my reflecting thoughts in blue to differentiate between what Chapell wrote and what I’m processing.
What Should Move Us?
Turning From a Desire for Gain
Not for Self Protection
• “The loses the thankful leper risks indicate that neither self-promotion nor self-protection drives him…what we do for God cannot make god our debtor, and should never be done primarily for our gain. ” [Looking at Parable of 10 Lepers Healed] p. 30
• If we are serving for our personal gain, who are we really serving?
• Serve to get favors from God – self-promotion –> More my deal than I’m aware, I’m afraid
• Serve to keep Him off our backs – self-protection
• “What such people think is gaining them ‘brownie points’ with God is actually to their demerit in heaven’s accounting, which considers the motives of the heart as well as deeds of service,” p. 30
• “The point is not that his blessings should never motivate us at all, but they cannot be the driving force of our service. His blessings are the oil that helps the machinery of obedience operate, but love for God and desire for his glory are the pistons and the wheels,” p. 31
• Frankly, I think I would have been alright without this statement. How do you combat wrong, works-related motivation for the blessings of God when they still “help the machinery of obedience operate?” This is my struggle; I’d rather chuck all of the obedience – God loves you despite what you do or don’t do – or all of the blessings, and not let them mix. But then, what am I left with when I do this? Neither a very good religion, or a joyful relationship (I think anyway?).
Turning to a Delight in Gratitude
• “…the Bible teaches us that what should move us to serve God is our delight in expressing thanksgiving to him for his grace,” p. 32
• “What ultimately keeps our motives biblically prioritized and holy before God is the profound conviction that obeying God will merit us nothing. This is why Jesus tells us that, when we have done all that we should do, we are still unprofitable servants. Jesus does not nullify the value of duty in order to dissuade us from serving God, but to keep us from depending on duty to gain God’s acceptance…Thus we learn to serve God not for personal gain but for his glory – not for love of self but for love of the Savior,” p. 32
• Quoting Samuel Bolton
• “There is nothing more powerful than love. Things impossible to other are easy to them that love. Love knows no difficulties…Love is an affection that refuses to be put off by duties or difficulties which come between it and the person loved,” p. 32
• Quoting B.B. Warfield
• “We are sinners, and we know ourselves to be sinners lost and helpless in ourselves, but we are saved sinners, and it is our salvation which gives tone to our live – a tone of joy which swells in exact proportion to the sense we have of our ill-desert. Fir it is he to whom much is forgiven who loves much and, who loving, rejoices much,” p. 33
• “Because God accepts us on the basis of his unmerited pardon, rather than on the basis of our earning his affection or compensating for our guilt, we are enabled to serve him with an unrestrained childlike love that is a joyful response to his care. The power of this joy to strengthen and heal our lives makes God’s mercy the primary message we must share in our churches, counseling rooms, classes, homes and workplaces,” p. 35
• “Grace distinguishes its possessors by their joy,” p. 35
• So what does it mean then if “joy” isn’t the characteristic of your life, and with that, your relationship with God?