Digging for Gold – Gospel Astonishment

I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been doing a lot of stuff though – preaching and pastoring a church, working a “bivocational” full-time job, finishing up a new book, and just taking some time to do some reading and thinking off-line. So, I’m sorry to have been so absent here! Blessings to everyone who has asked what I’ve been doing.

I’ve really had so much material to share but I’ve been putting it into sermons. You can listen to my sermons on our church site:


In the course of things I’ve noticed that I talk to people who divide into two camps: those who are astonished at grace and those who are not. What I’ve noticed underlying this is that there is a fundamental difference between what kind of gold for which the two camps are digging. Both would agree that we have continuing struggles with sin. Both would agree that Jesus has died for our sins. But the non-astonished camp seems to think that the important end-game, the goal of being Christian, is to be more successful at keeping the law. If there is grace, it is to produce this success under the law. No wonder there is no astonishment – they never see good results unless they are lying! The non-astonished heart sees the cross of Christ as an entry point into a more stringent law, and the presence and gift of the Holy Spirit is a means to this end. Which means that if you’re honest, the Holy Spirit sucks at His job. So in the end, it is some kind of new way to win at the old game – but you never really win.

On the other hand, astonishment dawns on us when we realize that the blood of Jesus has won the old game completely, and that the gold is that we are greatly and eternally loved by God despite everything. Instead of saying that the blood of Christ is the beginning of our entry into righteous living, we say that it is the end of our concern with righteous living. We have been declared completely and eternally righteous. The astonished heart says with joy, “there is therefore now no condemnation..” The gold is to walk in the Spirit and to serve one another with our prodigious gifts.

1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4 NASB)

Posted in Blog and tagged , , , .

One Comment

  1. In Genesis 32:2 it says “When Jacob saw them, he saidT, “This is the camp of God!” So he named that place Mahanaim.” What’s interesting here is I found out Mahanaim means two camps. I think my pastor had referenced this scripture and i happened to find out what it meant and then Dr. Paul Ellis wrote about this topic that same week although he didn’t mention this verse. I think it was titled “there is no grace camp” (or another related article) although he does preach grace. (See http://escapetoreality.org/2013/02/26/there-is-no-grace-camp/ ) I guess everyone either identifies with the prodigal or the elder brother. It’s too bad we have to deal with the tension which is perhaps putting it lightly. Thankfully it’s only this side of heaven.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *