So I started a new book called Future Grace. I found a great study guide and wanted to start posting the questions and my anwsers to them. Hopefully this will inspire some of you to check this great book out.
Week 1: Introduction..
Read Proverbs 3:5-6. Note there are three commands, and then a statement. What are the three commands? What is the statement? Why is the statement important? Do the commands make sense without the statement? Explain.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Here we see 3 commands, statements, laws, or things that we must do. We are told to do things. In addition we are told that the LORD will respond to us when we do these things. We are told to TRUST in the LORD, we are told to NOT LEAN on our understanding, and we are told to ACKNOWLEDGE him. Two of the commands are given in a positive light of what we should do. We are to trust and lean on the LORD. One of the commands is given in the negative. We are to not trust in our own understanding. By trusting and leaning on the LORD we will not be trusting in ourselves. How can one trust and lean into the LORD and at the same time be trusting in their own understanding.
The verse closes with a statement about what will happen when you trust and lean on the LORD. When trust is placed in the LORD he will direct your paths. The statement is connected with the commands. If we trust in the LORD he will make our paths straight. By leaning on the LORD he will give us direction. Our paths being straight come from our trusting the LORD.
We do not gain a straight path without trusting in the LORD. If our paths were already guided there would be no need for the LORD. If we were already on solid ground what need would we have to have our paths set straight. It is because we do not trust and lean on the LORD that we have crooked paths.
However...Does this make God a dispenser of grace based on my obedience? If I trust in Him, is he now obligated to give to me straight paths? If I lean on Him, must he grant me a path that I can take hold of? I know my own heart and inability to keep the simplest of what God commands. I know how often I do not trust in him. I know how often I do not lean on him. I pray and I seek God to help me keep the simplest of his commands. It is only by divine enabling that I am able to lean and trust the Lord.
So in one sense this verse is condition. If I do something, God will respond. However my ability to act the way that he commands come as grace that I do not deserve. In that sense I can trust in a future grace where God will get rid of sinful flesh and give me a new body that can keep and obey his law perfectly. This is a great hope. Yet in another way, this verse is more conditional on God that it will ever be on me. I have the promise of the future. God has given the ability and will to trust him. He has given me the faith to lean on his strong hand. And he tells me how he will respond to this. He shows hows he will increases my faith. My faith grows from grabbing the promises of God and not letting go. My faith grows as God opens my eyes to his wonderful grace.
Consider Hebrews 12:14, Matthew 6:14, and James 4:6. In each case there is a promise, and a condition for receiving the promise. What happens if we dont fulfill the condition? Do we receive the promise anyway? If so, why does the Scripture include the condition? If not, does God put conditions on our receipt of His blessings? That is, is Gods love conditional or unconditional?
Each verse has a condition that is called for before we get the blessing. These verses seem to stress that there are certain ways that we can get God to cast his eyes towards us. There are certain thing we can do to draw his gaze.
These verses are conditional in a sense. If we fail to forgive others we will not be forgiven. If I fail to be humble, I fail to obtain Gods grace. These verses seems to stress conditions that we have to meet to obtain blessing. His love is conditional on our obeying his commands.
Now read Future Grace pages 6-20. How would Piper answer questions 1 and 2?
I think that Piper would answer much in the same way. Piper can approach both sides so well. He draws out that anything we do is because of grace and is empowered by God. He is good at calling me to live in response to the conditional promises of God, yet also not taking any credit for being able to keep the commands.
What does Piper mean by future, grace, and faith? How does his usage differ from common ways those words are used? What does he mean when he says faith is the key to holiness?
Future: The grace that begins right now
Grace: The power of God to keep me from sinning
Faith: The confidence that God will give us all things
What did Thomas Chalmers mean by the expulsive power of a new affection, and why does Piper pick up on that phrase for this book?
Chalmers is talking about the ways that we can rightly set our affections on God. We will set our hearts towards him out of boredom of this world or because of His greatness. This is a recurring theme in all of Pipers work. Piper is always trying to show the greatness of God. He magnifies God like a telescope and displays his majesty. This is the affection that I pray and hope for. I hope to turn to God not out of fear of because he is the next thing to try. I want to go to God because God is my joy. I want God to be my food, my desire, my life. Yet so often this is not the case. The world still hold my heart captive. I can feel the chains of lust and want pull me to things that are forbidden and God seems so distant.
I want to know the God that I hear preached. I want to know the God that I learn about in the pages of scripture. I am in agreement with Piper and Chalmers that it is by knowing God properly that we are guarded and guided against sin and corruption. How I pray that God will open my eyes.