So what will you do for God today?

 If you plan on doing something for God today, it had better be pretty darn spectacular. It had better be something far better than you’ve ever done before and better yet than you’ve ever e ven dreamed of doing.

I put it like that because God is not easily impressed. God doesn’t get giddy when He sees one of His creation doing something for Him which, quite frankly, doesn’t cut the mustard.

God does not need you to do cartwheels for Him and then looking up and saying,”pretty good, huh!”

God is not interested in your keeping His commandments for His sake.  “The sabbath was made for man, man wasn’t made for the sabbath.”

There was really only one that has ever done the necessary work to impress God. There was only one that was of pure heart, of pure motives, who acted out of pure love and faithfulness to the Father. There was only one that heaped upon Himself the firery coals of our sinfulness. God was impressed by this one. One who would take the punishment onto Himself and willfully give up his life for those who murdered Him. This One impressed God so much that He answered the prayer to forgive the murderers, the liars, the thieves, the self obsessed idolators. This is what impresses God. Not our half-hearted efforts at obedience.

 Jesus Christ has impressed God by His faithfulness and has asked the Father to forgive us…for His sake.

And now we are at peace with God because of Christ. No more struggling to do what is right that we might be acceptable in His sight. No more wondering if we have done enough to merit forgiveness and entry into Heaven. We have not, and will not. But He has, and He does, and He always will, that we might live with Him eternally.

So do not worry about what you can or should do for God. It has already been done…for you!

Now, in that great freedom, purchased for you with the blood of Jesus, go out and live the way that God always intended for you to live…in love for others. Realize that He is already pleased with you because of Christ. Realize that when you fall back upon yourself in sin that you ARE forgiven. Realize that now, in your baptism and in hIs supper, He has put to death the old sinner in you and is conforming and transforming you into the person that He wills you to be.

A much better question, then, is ‘what will you do for others today?’

15 Responses

  1. ‘what will you do for others today?’

    Nothing, I’d rather watch tv and read some tabloids. Does that mean anything; is that wrong?

  2. John,

    Nope. Your time and energies are a matter of stewardship for you and maybe your pastor.

    My question was really of a re-directional nature.

    A subtle (maybe not so) way of letting people know the direction the application of their gifts should run…if and when they excercise the use of those gifts.

    I think I’ll watch some t.v. today also.

  3. Right you are, Steve… and when you ask “What will you do for others today?” you are essentially asking, “What will you do for God today?” because when you do it unto “the least of these” then you are doing it unto Christ.

  4. W.E. Messamore,

    When Christ said to them, ‘when I was hungry you feed me, thirsty, in prison, etc’., they did not realize that they were doing anything for God…they were just doing what needed to be done out of love for the other, expecting nothing in return…un self-consciously.

    They even said, “when did we do that?”

    That is what Christ is after and doesn’t come about by obeying a law but by being free to act, inspired by the Holy Spirit.

    Thanks W.E.!

  5. Cool, Steve. Were you sinning by watching tv? If so, is forgiveness conditional on repentance (this is starting to lead back to the question I asked a few threads ago at with the prostitute on what genuine repentance consists of, is it more than sorrow, which I think you were going to ask your pastor about).

    Just an aside, a suggestion for the site – perhaps you can add a “reading list” link that has your book recommendations for your theological views? I know you recommend Forde, but was curious if there are other authors/works you think do a good job of expounding on your views (aside from your pastor’s sermons of course!).

  6. John,

    I do watch way too much t.v., but I like to think that it is mostly edifying stuff like college football, jeopardy, house hunters (my wife loves it – I hate it), the occasional Dodgers or Angels game, and an old movie once in awhile.

    I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you on matter of repentance and forgiveness, John. I think old timers disease may be setting in a bit earlier than I had hoped.

    I did talk to Mark (my pastor) about it, and he told me that forgiveness is not conditional upon our repentance. He said that the problem of our sin in relationship to God has already been taken care of on the cross and that the repentance part of the equation is for our benefit and the benefit of our neighbor.

    He said that being sorry is enough. But even then, we often aren’t really very sorry, or sorry enough to really do anything about the problem. Usually, everyone has areas that they are very weak in. This is a sure sign of being a sinner (duh).

    When we are not willing to change our behavior (whatever the sin) we and our families, friends, neighbors, are the ones that will suffer. But we are still forgiven. God isn’ going to love me any less because I spend Saturday afternoon on the couch watching football instead of working at th homeless shelter.

    Mark said that one of the reasons that Luther said we should return to our baptisms daily, is because we are in constant need of repentance and forgiveness and realizing that we do have those things in Christ and in our baptisms.

    He said that there are different levels of repentance and that different people may be weaker or stronger when it comes to actually doing something about the particular sin.

    Mark said that once in awile you’ll hear a Christian say to another Christian, “well..if you were really sincere about your repentance you would be able to stop X,Y, or Z.” Well, the trouble is that many times we are just not sincere about it. But we are no less loved, and no less forgiven.

    Can a Christian willfully be unrepentant to the point that forgiveness can be withheld? Yes. And that is a matter of the ‘office of the keys’, and something that we might want to discuss in a later post. While I think I have a basic understanding of the doctrine of ‘the office of the keys’, I think I could use a refresher course.

    Anyway, I hope that helped a little bit and didn’t muddy up the water too much.

    Your idea for a reading list on ‘the old Adam’ is a good one. Not being very computer savy, it might take me a little while to figure out how to do it. There was something else, awhile back, where i wanted to add another column to the blog and i couldn’t figure out how to do it without totally changing the template for the site.

    I’ll have to ask one of the neighborhood kids (over 7 years old) they’ll know how to do it.

    Thanks John.

    – Steve

  7. It is not about what we do to impress God – more so about our loving response to his love. Paul quite clearly shows that we do not carry on in our sin so that grace can abound – that is cheap grace! We should therefore strive to be like Christ in all that we do.

  8. Question of Identity,

    Good points.

    Paul clearly shows us that now we are free to love and serve the neighbor.

    He also clearly shows us in Rom.7 that we choose to do the opposite of what we ought be doing.

    I think that death on the cross and forgiveness for us has freed us to be human without having to worry about trying to emulate God.

    Grace is free, but it is never cheap.

    The Christian life is best lived outward. Focusing on our performance or worrying about WWJD just curves the thing back on ourselves.

    That’s my 2 cents worth.

    Thanks for popping in, Q.of I. !

    – Steve

  9. Interesting, Steve – yeah I look forward to you posting about unrepentance to the point of withholding of forgiveness given your view of what genuine repentance entails and different levels of repentance. Seems hard to distinguish genuine from false given a person could just continually engage in the behavior while still having pangs of conviction/sorrow – I guess if they were just completely indifferent to their sin and thought there was no problem at all, maybe that would be a sign, but how many really think they are sinning by watching a frivolous sports game or something when they could be serving God/neighbor. I guess kind of in view of that, is there any notion of believers being overly scrupulous with sin in Lutheranism (as there is in RCism)? Seems like there wouldn’t be.

  10. John,

    I’ll get around to that ‘office of the keys’ and the withholding of forgiveness post one of these days in the not-too distant future. I might just ask Pastor Mark to write something about it, or borrow another article on the web, since I don’t think my grasp of it is too strong.

    I guess we can never know how much repentance is genuine or not. It’s difficult to judge even within ourselves. St. Paul said that he doesn’t judge anyone…not even himself.

    From the looks of things, I don’t think thre are any Christians being overly scrupulous about their sin.

    That’s where good law/gospel preaching and teaching comes into play. When the law is presented in the hard, unmitigated way that Jesus presented it (Sermon on the Mount and elsewhere), the law will do it’s job on the hearer.

    The guy or gal working at the homeless shelter might just be commiting a bigger sin (if we can even use that language) than the guy or gal watching the ballgame.

    I guess the real crux of the matter is that they are both forgiven in Jesus Christ.

    When I hear that liberating message of grace and forgiveness, I feel great about it…but it also makes me feel worse about my sins.

    Does it work that way with you, also?

    Thanks John.

    – Steve

  11. “When I hear that liberating message of grace and forgiveness, I feel great about it…but it also makes me feel worse about my sins.”

    Absolutely. But if I feel bad about something, I usually want to work on fixing it, which is not always the case with people and sin. I have not come to the point of making such a clear separation between law and gospel and sanctification as you have, though, which is why I bug you on this blog 🙂 The terrifying thought of hearing “I never knew you” or not hearing “Well done good and faithful servant” is a sobering one indeed. But I certainly see where you guys are coming from and find the posts and discussions here quite edifying.

  12. John,

    Of course we don’t want to work on our sins…we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves…”men love the darkness.”

    You aren’t bugging anyone. The discussions with you are treasured. I need to hear this stuff over and over again, also. We, by nature, don’t want to believe it, and thus the spiritual battle continues. But make no mistake about it…the war is over…we have peace with God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    In the 6th Chapter of John the people asked Jesus, “What is it to be doing the works of God?”
    Jesus answered them, “believe in the one whom He has sent.”

    You will hear, “well done good and faithful servant, John.” He has ‘done’ everything for you, John. Trust in Him and you’ll experience an eternity beyond all your imagination.

    Thanks John, for your great comments and questions and helping the rest of us to see this faith of ours (His really) more clearly.

    – Steve

  13. Stevo…….

    “But make no mistake about it…the war is over…we have peace with God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

    If you really believe the war is over, then it doesnt matter what the hey you do.

  14. John T.,

    My Father (earthly) loved me. It didn’t matter what I did. He was never not going to love me. Our relationship was that of Father and son.

    In the same way, our Heavenly Father loves us because of Christ. It doesn’t matter what we do…good or bad…He’s still going to love us because we are now children of His…adopted in our baptism….by Him.

    As a child of my Father (earthly), I never wanted to disappoint him. I tried to do things that made him happy…not because he wouldn’t love me anymore, or disown me…but because I loved him.

    It doesn’t matter what you do…and yet it does matter.(another paradox) Why would we not want to try and be our Father’s son or daughter, by living the best way we know how?

  15. Steve,
    I believe you’ve said before we can’t earn our salvation, but we can earn to lose it. If we can indeed earn to lose it through our acts and unrepentant sin, is the law any guide in showing us how we can earn to lose it (and conversely, how we can avoid earning it – although that does come close to simply saying we are still earning salvation indirectly, though perhaps that’s where the tension between sovereignty and personal responsibility comes into play).

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