In a recent letter (“From the Pastor’s Heart,” April 2013) from In Touch Ministries’ Charles Stanley, the author lists and briefly expounds upon some of the blessings of Christ’s resurrection. Following are some of his statements.
“Jesus’ resurrection gives us truth we can cling to no matter what we experience.”
“Our Savior conquered death.” (He then quotes 1 Corinthians 16:26-27, and references Romans 8:38-39).
“No matter what seemingly desperate or helpless situation we face, it will eventually be transformed for our good.”
The preceding quotes from Stanley’s letter are correct. No matter our experience, and whether we feel God’s love, mercy, forgiveness, or not, these do not change what God has done for us in Christ. Even should death be near, this in no way means that God is far away (John 11:25; 12:25-26; Revelation 14:13). Regardless of feeling, God’s Word is sure (John 14:1). Whether we feel forgiven or not, God’s Word stands (1 John 1:8-9; John 20:23). God’s love for you in Christ doesn’t depend on you in any way (Romans 5:8-11).
St. Paul says, “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). This is true. Therefore, we don’t live by faith in what we see, but according to the Lord’s Word (Matthew 4:4; Deuteronomy 8:3). This applies to our lives in Christ in the world concerning justification (how we stand before God) and how we live our lives in the world (sanctification). Only according to what God says do you have the certainty of sins forgiven and peace with God. Feelings, emotions, experience, etc. often may (and do) say something completely different from what the Lord says. However, Christ’s resurrection from the dead and His empty tomb demonstrate the victory of our Lord over sin and death, inclusive of our own, through faith (1 John 5:1-4).
Having said these things and Charles Stanley stating what is right and true in his letter, he concludes by saying, “So how are you living? Do you trust the Father? Are you enjoying the resurrection life, triumphing through the power that raised Jesus form the dead? Remember, when you rely upon the living God to sustain you, no foe that stands against you will prosper, all things—no matter how hopeless—will be transformed for your good, and you will be fit for the very halls of heaven (Italics mine). You were saved to soar.”
By asking such questions and then stating, “when you rely upon the living God…will be transformed for your good…”, Stanley confuses Law and Gospel. His words here confuse his words written previously. Such matters might seem insignificant and trivial, yet Stanley is placing the burden of activity for transformation and being “fit for the very halls of heaven” upon the individual and taking it off Christ. This may not be what he wants to do, but this is what he’s doing.
“So how are you living?” “Do you trust the Father?” “Are you enjoying the resurrection life, triumphing…? These questions are Law questions, and condemn us (Romans 3:9-10, 19-21; Mark 9:24; Romans 7). To them, we answer, “Not so good, not enough, and not always.” Like the tax collector, we too can only say, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner” (Luke 18:3). We are not as God wants us to be.
It is not in our relying upon the living God that “all things work together for good” (Romans 8:18) or that all things will be “transformed for our good.” Instead, it is the promise of God that makes these things so. Thus, they are, not because we believe or because we rely on Him, but only according to His Word. Otherwise, we could never be sure, for the promises of God are not dependent on our faith. Rather, it is our faith that is dependent on God’s sure promises. These are what make faith solid and true (Romans 10:17).
Filed under: Bible-Holy Scripture, Christian Denominations & Fellowship, Justification & Sanctification-The Christian Faith & Good Works, Law & Gospel-Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, Son, Theology & Doctrine Tagged: | Assurance, Charles Stanley, hope, In Touch Ministries, living, Promise, Rely, resurrection