Wednesday, April 20, 2016

More Than Hopeful

And He personally brought you out of Egypt by His great power. Deuteronomy 4:37

"Jesus is not 'anxious,' 'worried,' or 'hopeful,' " said Matt Chandler at Together for the Gospel last week, finger-quoting each of the adjectives as he spoke. It was the second time in as many weeks that I had heard a reliable source disdain the portrayal of Jesus as 'hopeful', the pacing God, wringing His hands over the possibility that some He had died for might not take Him up on His offer.

The week before, I had read this in J.I. Packer's book, In My Place Condemned He Stood: The Gospel will not countenance the degrading presentation of Christ as the baffled Savior, balked in what He hoped to do by unbelief. 

It's a good word. It's an important word. But let us not use 'hopeful' in the wrong application.

There are traits reserved for God. God is jealous, wrathful, and perfect. We are not. And there are traits reserved for us: sinful, fickle,...and hopeful.

In recent days, I am more and more convinced that hopeful is not a term we should EVER use to describe God. 'Hopeful' implies something that we yearn for but that is beyond our control. There is nothing that God yearns for that He does not get. There is nothing outside of His control.

Jesus did not offer us salvation.
He saved us.
Jesus did make salvation available.
He saved us.
Jesus does not 'hope' that we get saved.
He saved us.

And He personally brought you out of Egypt by His great power. He didn't ask or cajole. He is not like the modern daddy who gets down on eye level and pleads with his son, asking, "Would you like to come with Daddy?" No. A thousand times no. Rather, He takes his son's hand and declares, "You are coming with Me."

Some people don't like that. If Jesus secured salvation, then how does that explain those who do not receive salvation? Does it mean that Jesus did not secure salvation for some?
That is precisely what it means.

And that is precisely what it means to say that it is by grace we are saved, and that not of ourselves.
It is by unmerited favor that we are saved.

Everyone's special, Dash.
Which is another way of saying no one is.
If everyone is favored--then no one is. Favor implies disfavor. There can't be favor if there is not also disfavor. They exist side by side, or they do not exist at all. So if there is no disfavor, there is no favor. And if there is no favor, then there is no grace. And if there is no grace, friends, then we are not saved.

Aw, she's still in the cage stage.
No. I'm not. Or rather, yes. I am.
If cage stage means that I rejoice in a God who secured my salvation...
If cage stage means I am overwhelmed by God and His saving grace...
If cage stage means God is biggER, bettER, kindER, MORE merciful, MORE gracious, MORE glorious to me in the last eighteen years or so than He ever was in my first thirty years...
then I'll never be out of the cage stage.

Growing up, God was portrayed to me as hopeful.
It was almost the good news.
It was almost finished.
I could almost sleep at night.

Packer is right; it is degrading to present God as merely hopeful. And he's right again: Can we seriously think that this most precious blood would be spent with the possibility of an empty class of people called 'the saved'?!?!
As if He is not powerful enough or sovereign enough to save.
As if He is not entitled to grant favor.
As if...He was a mere man.
As if.

And because we have a God who is not merely hopeful, we are not merely hopeful, either. We do not yearn for something that may or may not happen. Our hope is certain and sure because God is certain and sure, and His plan is certain and sure. This same Jesus who personally brought His people out of Egypt by His great power has personally saved us by His great power.

This is Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

That's not hopeful.
That's a wrap.

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