January 18, 2021

iMonk 101: Grace Is As Dangerous As Ever

grace.jpegHere’s a good piece (I think) from the Spring of last year: Grace is as Dangerous as Ever. You can’t talk about grace too much around the blogosphere as far as I am concerned. When grace is understood, you either get in the flow or you resist the Spirit. One is scary and the other is uncomfortable. Take your pick.

I was talking tonight with some of the Boar’s Head fellows, and it seems that some of the “big dogs” who have taken an interest in criticizing this blog so much in the past are losing interest in the blogosphere. There seems to be more of a conversation now and less of a constant team sport attitude. Still plenty of debate, if that’s what you are looking for, but the communities don’t seem to be carping at each other quite in the same way. I could name names, but I don’t want to ruin anyone’s reformed street cred.

Tomorrow, Denise and I travel to Louisville for 3 days of orientation for my upcoming Sabbatical. This is sponsored by the Louisville Institute, and I am incredibly honored to have the opportunity to recharge and revision my ministry with their support.

I’m also working on an idea I’m calling “Jesus Shaped Spirituality” or “Jesus Shaped Christianity.” You will be seeing some posts soon. What you won’t be getting this week is a sermon from First Presbyterian in London, Kentucky. I forgot my recorder. It’s been a busy day.

READ: Grace Is As Dangerous As Ever.


  1. Mike, thank you for pointing to that previous post. That was very good.

    I always thought that this story about the Lord forgiving the woman caught in adultery was meaningful because “the law” (represented by the Pharisees) brought the woman to Christ. It’s a good example of what Galatians speaks of, the law being our “child-conductor” to Christ.

    My favorite part of the story is that the Lord kneels down and writes in the ground. My thought is that this was an expression of humility to confound the Pharisees, and also an expression of sympathy to the adulterous woman. Although of course the Lord was without sin, he lowered Himself to her level, even below her level. He never lost His dignity or righteousness, but He made her feel welcome and comfortable. Otherwise she would have run away.

    It’s amazing when you think about it. This woman was caught in adultery, and was completely alone (without the other adulterer). She was in danger of being stoned to death. The Pharisees were all around her, maybe even with stones in their hands. She was a sinful woman, and she was in God’s holy temple. Everything must have been fearful and intimidating to her. And yet the Lord lowered Himself below her, in her presence, and spoke words that caused everyone else to leave. He was greater than the law, and greater than the temple.

    He spoke words of comfort and grace to her. The temple, the law, and the Pharisees all condemned her, but the God of the temple, and the Author of the law, was there in human form, and He forgave her and set her free.

    Thank the Lord for His mercy, grace, and freedom.

  2. Michael,

    Your article ‘Grace Is As Dangerous As Ever’, was a drink of cool, pure, crystal fresh ,water!

    Now, that’s the gospel!

    Very nice job of handing Him over, with no strings attached!

    Folks are discussing whether “go and live”, or “go and sin no more” is correct.

    Both are correct.

    He knows that when we live, we will sin.For those in Christ, we are fully aware that we will sin some more. But we live in the fullness of knowing that our sins are forgiven.

    If our accusers were to bring us back to Jesus ten thousand times, ten thousand times we would hear, “Your sins are forgiven, go and sin no more”.

    Not one jot or tittle of the law will be undone as long as I’m in charge, or until I bring in my kingdom in it’s fullness (paraphrased).

    The Law upholds God’s righteousness and justice and remains as a fence to keep us from hurting ourselves and our neighbors, while keeping the world and the devil at bay.

    Many mainline churches love the first part, “I do not condemn you”, but totally ignore the last part, “go and sin no more”. That gives them license to do anything they want, live anyway they want, and have zero guilt. The gospel of affirmation. This is exactly wrong. For without guilt over our sin there is no repentance, with no repentance there is no death, and with no death there can be no new life.
    Plus the added whamey of having to suffer, and bringing suffering to others by incurring the wrath brough about by the consequences of sin in the here and now.

    Dying and rising..the shape of the Christian life.

    Go and sin no more – dying(for we will sin)…your sins are forgiven, I do not condemn you – rising (reborn to new life, again, and again, and again)

    This is what returning to our baptism (daily), as Luther said, is all about…dying and rising. Everyday is Good Friday, and everyday is Easter, for the Christian.

    Ok…that’s enough for now…I think I’m getting carried away. But it’s hard not to!

    Michael, thanks for the opprotunity to(once again) make a fool out of myself.

    – Steve

  3. Sorry that people are being negative towards you. I am not really aware of the dispute though.


  4. “I’m also working on an idea I’m calling “Jesus Shaped Spirituality” or “Jesus Shaped Christianity.” ”

    Michael, you should go for it! My beef with contemporary American Christianity, particularly in the evangelical variant, is that Jesus is largely missing. Oh, sure, we acknowledge that he’s God, preach his crucifixion, recognize his resurrection from the dead, and understand that all of this enables us to be “saved,” but when it comes to walking in the world, living out our lives, where’s Jesus? In contemporary Christian thinking, he’s not all that involved, and the Christian life is reduced to doing *our best* for Jesus, while he cheers us on from the sidelines. Grace makes all the difference, of course. Recognizing that God relates to us completely upon the basis of grace through Christ, we more fully see the imperative of not only believing on Christ for “salvation,” but the importance of walking in Christ, moment-by-moment, through faith, to live out our lives and God’s purpose in this life.

    I’m reminded of Hudson Taylor’s term, “the exchanged life,” wherein we understand that all that we have is essentially the result of an exchange — our sin for Christ’s righteousness; our death for Christ’s life; our weakness for Christ’s strength; our flesh for his Spirit; our inability for his capability; our insufficiency for his sufficiency; “not I, but Christ.” Grace informs us that “in Christ” is more than a tag line at the end of our prayers in which we ask God to bless our efforts, but is the secret of the Christian life.

    I think you wrote a piece some time back entitled “Christless Christianity,” or some such. That piece was the perfect description of what’s lacking in the church. So, go for it. We need to bring Christ back into Christianity.


  5. strange person says

    I’d like to ask a strange question that has troubled me for a very long time. This seems like maybe an appropriate place to ask it.

    I have a severe problem with procrastination and time management. My question is: Are those the types of things that can be solved by grace, or does it require effort on my part? I’ve often struggled with these problems, and sometimes I’ve wondered whether the Lord is waiting for me to give up, so that I depend on Him. Other times I think that fighting poor habits like procrastination is something He leaves up to us.

    The fact is, part of what hinders me is that as I struggle against these things, I get complicated by whether I’m practically under the law, and am not depending on the Spirit within me. So I’ve sometimes bought self-help books, and become frustrated as I try to apply their methods, because in the back of my mind I’m thinking “what if this is Romans 7, and the Lord is allowing me to fail to realize that I can’t make it”?

    I hope I’m not “hijacking” this thread to ask this. It seems appropriate because the subject is grace. I realize procrastination and adultery are very different things, but the law is the law. I’m interested in people’s insights.

  6. stange person,

    We might be cousins, ’cause I are one too.

    I have a similar problem with time management and procrastination. My pastor keeps telling me to ask God for help, but I just can’t seem to get around to it.

    Jesus says “you don’t get because you don’t ask”.
    So I wouldn’t hesitate to ask Him for help in those areas(or any area). But I wouldn’t expect a change unless you get at it.

    The Lord will be with you either way. If one wishes to sit in a pile of horse dung, the Lord will be right there by their side. I’m sure the Lord would much rather the person move to a new location, but He pretty much let’s everything happen, for good, or for ill. Anyone that disagrees with that hasn’t looked around in awhile, or visted a children’s cancer ward.

    In any case, s.p., take great comfort in knowing that He loves you and forgives you. Maybe this knowledge alone will be beneficial to your stewardship over organizational matters.
    It hasn’t really helped me much along those lines, but I did marry a lady that is super organized. Maybe the Lord had a hand in that. Who knows? God knows…and He’s not talkin’.

    – Steve

  7. Michael, are you saying that some of the “big dogs” are showing grace toward those who they used to show no grace toward because they are not writing about them? 🙂

  8. tom kelly says

    I trust no word of the Bibles’ as being literally the word Jesus spoke BUT, if he did say, as I suspect he did,

    “Your sins are forgiven,”

    I think he meant they are forgiven in the sense of being forgiven in adVANCe of their commission, or PRE-fore-given…for they never WERE sins, in the sense of willfully, knowingly and deliberately doing harm (which, I believe, not ONE of us is capable of doing.

    The way of Truth is the Way of Love

  9. tom kelly says

    I further believe that, just as Jesus did not first have to die to say those words, so he did not need to die to explain to us that “The Kingdom” (by which I understand our divinity and earthly paradise = total peace of mind) is within each and every single one of us, should we but manage to perceive it, by peering in carefully enough, and there seeing NOTHING but good, but love, peace, joy and (so) goodwill to ALL.

    I believe that many other (“enlightened”) human beings have carried that message and carry it today – probably today far, far more than ever before.

    Love to all.

    Via Veritatis, Via Caritatis: the Way of Truth is the Way of Love.

    Tom Kelly.

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