Wake Up From 2 Delusions and Sniff the PROOF — Finding Freedom Through The Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace
There once was a monk who despaired over his sinfulness. So much so that he confessed them nearly 6 hours a day! Then one day he re-read a passage from Romans that revolutionized his life:
For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’ (Rom 1:17)
This was an epic moment for our sin-despairing monk.
Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones call it his “Grace on the toilet” moment, based on Martin Luther’s own testimony that his epiphany occurred while he was “on the toilet” (apparently 16th-century slang for “down in the dumps”).
Luther finally found what he’d been looking for: The freedom that comes through the intoxicating joy of irresistible grace.
It’s a moment Montgomery and Jones hope to replicate through their new book, PROOF. It is “an alarm clock that awakens you from the delusion that your destiny depends on you and frees you to discover the intoxicating joy of God’s wild and free grace.” (16)
This book is a clarion call to wake up from two devastating delusions and breath in the intoxicating PROOF of God’s irresistible grace.
Wake Up From 2 Delusions…
In order to experience God's irresistible grace we first need to wake up from two crippling delusions:
The first delusion is about God. The God most people believe exists doesn’t exist at all. This God is what Montgomery and Jones call a “Divine Butler and Cosmic Therapist,” whose job is to solve our problems and make us feel good. (11)
The problem with this God is that there is little need for grace.
“When life is going well, he fits nicely on the shelf. When trouble comes, he rarely makes anything better. Instead he simply encourages people to put more effort into doing better. Even if he does happen to intervene, his assistance depends on our willingness to cooperate.” (11)
This isn’t the God of the Bible; this god is a delusion. In its place is a God who, paradoxically, is a “God of power and glory [and] is also a God of grace.” (11)
The second delusion is that it’s about you, that grace depends on you. The authors quote C.H. Spurgeon, here:
There is no doctrine more hated by worldliness as the great, stupendous, but yet most certain doctrine of [God’s] sovereignty. (13)
The Divine Butler and Cosmic Therapist is the latest manifestation of this attempt to supplant God with our own human gumption and ingenuity. As one popular television preacher insists, “God is waiting on you. You don’t get the grace unless you step out. You have to make the first move.” (14)
In contrast to Joel Osteen, Montgomery and Jones make it clear “God shows grace, not due to any human deed or desire, but because he has a merciful plan—a plan that began before time and requires no contribution from any of us.” (14)
It’s not about us and our merit; it’s God’s grace all the way down.
…And Sniff The P.R.O.O.F.
Combating these two delusions is so-called “gospel wakefulness,” the realization that “I no longer [have] anything to prove because, in Christ, everything was already proven and done.” (19)
We are beckoned to wake up and sniff the PROOF, an acronym summarizing God's amazing grace:
- Planned Grace: Before Creation God sketched the plan of salvation. He planned to adopt a particular group of people, and die for these people’s sins as a substitutionary sacrifice.
- Resurrecting Grace: Every person is born spiritually dead, or totally depraved as the Reformers said. People will not choose God on their own. Instead it takes an act of God to enable people to respond freely to His grace.
- Outrageous Grace: God chooses people based not on anything we did or might do, but rather on the basis of his own sovereign will; God’s favor is truly unmerited.
- Overcoming Grace: The irresistible grace of God works in the lives of His chosen people to transform their rebellion into self-surrender, so that they freely repent and turn to Christ as King.
- Forever Grace: God seals His people with His Spirit so that these saints persevere in faith and are preserved until the end when God finally restores all things and brings His Kingdom to earth.
I commend Montgomery and Jones for refashioning the Reformed TULIP by placing grace at the forefront of God’s rescuing mission.
This summer I was planning to preach on grace. I'm thankful I found such a well-crafted resource to "plus" my sermons! Engaging this resource yourself will help you preach what PROOF insists:
“God saves us single-handedly by his grace,” a grace that “sets us free from the unending treadmill of human effort and earning.” (21)
This is the message that our monk, Martin Luther, needed; it's the message our people need, too.
Jeremy Bouma (Th.M.) is a pastor with the Evangelical Covenant Church in West Michigan. He is the founder of THEOKLESIA, a content curator dedicated to helping the 21st century church rediscover the historic Christian faith; holds a Master of Theology in historical theology; and makes the vintage faith relevant at www.jeremybouma.com.
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