The Wordless Father

Personal Matters

A few weeks ago I was privileged, a word I do rarely use for Christian meetings, to attend a seminar in the city where Letitia Shelton spoke about the ministry of City Women in Toowoomba.

This is a diverse ministry that draws resources from the Body of Christ across that municipality reaching into high schools with the message of hope and dignity, and providing discipleship, mentoring, accommodation, pregnancy services, assisting women coming out of prostitution and multiple agencies of relationally based family support.

The fruit is mature and bears all the signs of Jesus’ love (John 15:16). I had heard Letitia previously and was already aware of the unusual quality of their ministry. Given this past familiarity, and my lack of optimism about the Church in Perth picking up the message,

I was initially hesitant about attending the gathering at all. Eventually succumbing to the graces of the Spirit I did come and sensed at the seminar something that inspired my prophetic imagination. It was the presence of a quality of heart that makes this sort of kingdom activity transferable (1 Cor 11:1). The day was facilitated by my friend Nick Scott and it was how he commenced the day that broke things open in the Spirit.

The Broken Father

Nick described how when he returned to Perth from first hearing Letitia speak and attempted to convey to his wife what he’d heard he kept breaking down in wordless tears. This happened repeatedly. Being overwhelmed with emotion at the care being shown to broken and abused women is not the normal response of an Australian male; “even” a pastor. Such brokenness is however a window into the heart of God the Father, a heart indwelt by Jesus. “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.” (John 1:18 NRSV).

When City Women is invited by school authorities to speak to their girls they are of course not allowed to preach about Jesus. But by love, care and compassion they show Jesus and in showing Jesus show the Father (John 14:9).

The interesting thing about this ministry is that it seems completely free of reproaching moralism towards those who don’t yet know the Father’s love.

Sexual promiscuity and like are simply to be expected from girls who don’t know about Christ; how else could it be?

The way Paul speaks to the pagans in Acts 17 is very different from how he speaks to the Church about secular culture in Romans 1 .

The former is a clear communication of the good news to the lost who Jesus came to save (Luke 19:10).

Legal repentance and Evangelical repentance.

There is a vast difference between legal repentance and evangelical repentance.

Legal repentance says: if you repent then God will be gracious to forgive you.

Evangelical/gospel repentance says: God has forgiven you in Christ, therefore turn back to him and accept his acceptance.

The legal lays the stress on what we do to connect with God, the latter on what God has accomplished for us in Christ.

Paul tried to get this through to some legalistic believers in his day;

Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” . (NLT)

An old teacher of mine used to say that when people see Jesus all-forgiving love repentance is “evoked” i.e. drawn out of their hearts. If you think I am going soft in my old age there is a powerful witness to these truths in Jesus’ own teaching.

The Wordless Father

Here is a question I felt the Lord brought to my mind when I was in the City Women meeting; “What did the father of the rebellious prodigal son say to the boy when he returned home?

He said “Nothing.” He conveyed the contents of his heart by what he did; impelled by compassion he ran to his son, embraced him, placed on him a robe and ring and then spoke to the servants that they were to throw a party (Luke 15:20-24).

This son instantly knew that the self-condemnation of his miserable conscience; “‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’” was dissolved in the presence of the Father’s love (Luke 15:21).

The shameful scale of worthiness/unworthiness which holds all prodigals/rebels captive was utterly swept away never to return (John 8:34).

Wordless to his returning son the father however has things to say to the older brother who wants to rake up the record of his sibling’s sins (Luke 15:30).

This angry legalistic child actually rebukes his father and in so doing degrades his own status to that of a slave, “‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command,” (Luke 15:29).

The father’s reply is a gentle but deep correction to his oldest boy; “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”” (Luke 15:31-32).

This son was so consciousness of his own righteousness that he was totally ignorant of his father’s heart.

The story ends there, but if the history of Israelite religion is any guide the chances of the pharisaic in-house son taking the father’s love into his heart are very slim.

What is it that we, who are so often like the older brother, missing?

Raw

Letitia explained that the original impetus for City Women came from expletive laden “raw words” of a former non-Christian woman mayor of Toowoomba who challenged Christian women about taking care of those outside the Church.

The true rawness of human need should take our minds immediately to the cross.

In becoming human and dying for us Jesus fully embraced all the miseries of the rebellious in a “far country” away for the glory of his Father’s presence (Luke 15:13; Rom 8:3).

At the cross the rawness of human depravity and suffering was laid bare in the agonies of Christ.

A practical theology of the cross agrees with the sentiments of a saint much persecuted by the comfortable Established Church of his day, “Christ’s merits bought a blessing to the crosses of the sons of God….no man has a velvet cross” (John Flavel).1)John Flavel [c.1627–1691] was an English Presbyterian clergyman, puritan, and author.

Whilst the churches of today preach cushioned crosses ministries like City Women will remain rare amongst us. It is only as we suffer inconvenience and discomfort in identifying with lost children of God who have no idea what they are doing in their lives can we lead them through Jesus back to the Father (Luke 23:34).

Conclusion

Nick Scott’s tears, the overwhelming emotion of the father of the lost prodigal son and the compassionate ministry of City Women all image in action more than words that through Jesus the lost are already in the heart of the Father (cf. Eph 1:3-4).

In Christ the sin against heaven has been completely dealt with so that his Father is free from all driven legalistic negativity.

Our task is to so live like Jesus that the Spirit might restore to broken souls the memory of a Father who never rejects.

Repentance must come, but it is a repentance “evoked” by memory of the Father’s love in an unconditional embrace (Luke 15:20).

The parable of the rebellious prodigal son is a parable for our day, a day in which multitudes of lost people, old as well as young, need to discover the heart of God in actions beyond words.

Yet, how many in the church need to discover this for themselves?

References   [ + ]

1. John Flavel [c.1627–1691] was an English Presbyterian clergyman, puritan, and author.

Excommunication: the grace of the Father

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you…Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the sinful nature, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.” (1 Cor 5:1-5)

Personal Matters

Dealing with Christian folk in wilful sexual immorality, bitterness, refusal to reconcile with a brother, gossip, crooked financial dealings and the like, this scripture has very much been on my mind.

Our native response to language about delivering someone “to Satan for the destruction of the flesh” is likely to be either incomprehension or repugnance.

Incomprehension because we have neither been taught about nor witnessed godly discipline at this level, or repugnance at what seems like un-Jesus like bullying.

Paul is talking about excommunication, the Corinthians are “not even to eat with” Christians who are “guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler” (1 Cor 5:11).

To modern people this makes the Early Church look like a cult; but within the New Testament such discipline never comes across as harsh but as part of what it means to belong to a very special family.

Church discipline is not a penal exercise but a manifestation of the love of God the Father which holds everything together, forever. One thing is certain; unless this sort of discipline is recovered it is impossible to imagine a mature Church in Australia today.

Acceptance

A root cause of the discipleship crisis today is the absence of loving spiritual fathers/mothers. Much of this has to do with a confusion about acceptance.

Hebrews defies the understanding of our permissive culture in saying, “v.5 have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, v.because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.’” (Heb 12:5-6).

The author of Hebrews is a mature spiritual guide who understands divine discipline as an encouraging sign of our acceptance by the Father, because the pain punishment brings is a manifestation of love (vv. 7-11).

Pain is pain, whether physical, emotional or relational.

The text makes this very clear by employing a word for “chasten” which was also used to describe the flogging Jesus endured on the way to the cross (John 19:1).

Such “tough love” fulfils the messianic prophecy; “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him” (2 Sam 7:14-15).

Jesus himself did not sin, so the scourging which fell on him was a discipline received in our place. The mystery of the cross alone opens up to us the gracious riches of excommunication.

The Destruction of the Sinful Nature

Satan becomes God’s instrument to destroy the power of the sinful nature in the excommunicated believer solely because such destruction has already taken place in the cross; “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8).

On the cross Jesus took all the satanically inspired accusations, reviling, and torments deserved by a guilty humanity, carrying this pain and punishment outside the experienced presence of the Father’s love (Mark 15:34). Yet all the while as the Son of God he was “in the Father” and the Father was in him (John 14:10).

Restoration to the Father, by resurrection, was the necessary outcome of Christ’s obedience (Rom 1:4).

It was through such devil-inspired suffering, in obedience to the Father, that Christ turned the power of Satan for our good. Jesus still possesses such transformative authority over the devil’s designs today (John 13:27). Knowing this is the key to unlock the discipline we need.

Fathers Discipline

Paul reports that he carries in his flesh “a messenger from Satan” that causes tormenting pain; for him this is not a source of shame but boasting, for it is a discipline on his life causing him to more closely depend on Christ (2 Cor 12:7-10).

The apostle is certainly not an excommunicated believer, but he knows just how God’s wisdom uses the devil to turn us to Christ. Even more intimately, just before speaking about his authority to excommunicate wilfully sinning believers the apostle makes a pronouncement pivotal to the modern church’s recovery of this means of grace; “For though you have countless guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” (1 Cor 4:15).

It is not as a “guardian” of Church morality that Paul administers punishment but as a father whose sole authority is the gospel of Christ (2 Cor 10:1-6).

He is a man of faith unafraid to deliver erring spiritual children to the devil because he knows that as they are men and women still “in Christ” they are not outside the ultimate protection of their Father.

They may need, like Christ crucified for them, to endure satanically inspired accusations, reviling, torments and punishment outside the experienced presence of the Father’s love, but this will assuredly lead them as true children of God back to the Lord and the security of his Church.

This teaching is true, but its practice depends upon a recovery of apostolic faith in the power of the cross over all things demonic. Such a faith release requires a revelation of the complete triumph of the Father-Son love in the power of the Spirit.

Conclusion

Moralistic bullying of controlling church leadership has no future in a permissive culture where people shop for a congregation to satisfy their felt needs.

Yet because such permissiveness cannot instil the holy fear of the Lord which is an absolute prerequisite for deep intimacy with God deep down true believers know they need a different sort of Church family than the average (Prov 9:10).

Such forever-family churches must be grounded in an apostolic faith gutsy enough to embrace the grace of excommunication.

This requires the recovery of a different sort of leadership than that extolled so commonly today.

We desperately need a restoration of spiritual fathers/mothers who understand the divine dynamics of discipline.

These can only be men and women who have personally learned to live in the way the Father dealt with his obedient Son by cross and resurrection.

We need a restoration of the gospel in Church to create a forever-family atmosphere where the keeping ways of the “Holy Father” are accepted as true and good (John 17:11).

Despite the blasé ways Christian leaders talk about “God” today, the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” I know, and I know no other way to put it, is an impossible person to deal with.

He cannot be reasoned with, bribed, manipulated or in any way ordinarily influenced.

I have found he loves us most powerfully in the midst of our utter incapacitation.

This is the inner secret of the cross and of the grace that visits an excommunicated and demonically oppressed sinner turning them back to Jesus.

With so many authentic Christian leaders in our city feeling overwhelmed at the moment, I am anticipating a seismic shift in the way we do Church.

One built only on the foundation of Christ-crucified.

 

Grace! What is this?

by Rev Gary Green
Four Corner Ministries

 

GEG-GraceWhat-Is-01Ephesians 2:8-9
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast

When we first turn to Ephesians 2, the first thing we notice is that we are confronted with a whole list of spiritual-sounding words: grace, saved, faith, gift, and works. Even those of us who have been on the path way of faith in God’s awhile may not clearly grasp the full meaning of these words so we will firstly try to bring you to a deeper understanding concerning the word GRACE as used in the New Testament.

Grace biblically defined

Strong’s Concordance reference number 5485.

Charis, (spoken as khar’-ece); from G5463

GEG-GFX-Grace-02  Graciousness: – (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstr. or concr).

GEG-GFX-Grace-02  lit., fig. or spiritual; especially. the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude):–acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace (-ious), joy liberality, pleasure, thank (-s, -worthy).

Definition: Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

Main Entry: 1 grace  
Pronunciation: ‘grAs
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Old French, from Latin gratia favor, charm, thanks, from gratus pleasing, grateful; akin to Sanskrit grnAti he praises

1a: unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification
1b : a virtue coming from God
1c : a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace
2aAPPROVALFAVOR – stayed in his good graces
2barchaic : MERCYPARDON
2c : a special favor : PRIVILEGE – each in his place, by right, not grace, shall rule his heritage — Rudyard Kipling
2d : disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency
2e : a temporary exemption : REPRIEVE
3a : a charming or attractive trait or characteristic
3b : a pleasingly graceful appearance or effect : CHARM
3c : ease and suppleness of movement or bearing
4 : used as a title of address or reference for a duke, a duchess, or an archbishop
5 : a short prayer at a meal asking a blessing or giving thanks
6pluralcapitalized : three sister goddesses in Greek mythology who are the givers of charm and beauty
7 : A musical trill, turn, or appoggiatura
8a : sense of propriety or right <had the grace not to run for elective office — Calvin Trillin
8b : the quality or state of being considerate or thoughtful

synonym see MERCY

Charis was basically used in secular Greek in an aesthetic sense, but it also had an ethical side.

BENEVOLENCE THAT SHOWS FAVOR

The New Testament writers drew upon this usage to formulate part of the biblical grace to which we are accustomed. In secular Greek charis could also, but not as frequently, be used to indicate kindness, generosity, and helpfulness. Thus, even in secular usage, charis connotes a benevolence that shows favor to inferiors.

Charis needed one more sense to be ready for biblical use. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia makes this interesting comment: It may be added that in later Greek charis also had the sense of force or power that was affecting human life with supernatural influences.

This sense was used in the NT: grace became the power of God to enable Christians to live the new life in Christ (the Anointed on Jesus).

So, biblical grace is much more than (approval, favour or privilege) because its foundation and source are in God. However it would be incorrect to say that the biblical grace has no connection to its secular usage. However, with greater dimension in two areas:

It is the single most important aspect of our spiritual and eternal salvation.

Grace was not the result of the ability of the person as in a secular perspective. In the Biblical meaning Grace reflected “God” His Love and His Ability, His Mercy and His Kindness, in fact Biblical grace had nothing to do with what we had or could do, and this Grace was solely dependant on God.

Hence it becomes something which is completely and totally unmerited to have yet we have it.

As define in the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

1a : unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification

1b : a virtue coming from God

1c : a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace

The Apostle Paul alone uses word of grace 101 times. Essentially, his usage of grace has given us its unique biblical application. The seven other writers together use the word fifty-one times.

Romans 6: 3, 11, 18
Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? . . . Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. . . . And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

1 Peter 2: 24
Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness by whose stripes you were healed.

The death on the cross of Calvary by Christ’s (the Anointed on Jesus) becomes the instrument which enables God to give us grace. So grace is not without cost.

In fact it would have to be the most expensive gift you will ever receive. Not only did grace cost the life of Jesus of Nazareth, but it also costs us our lives if we are to receive it!

When we break His law, we are indebted to Him. The penalty of breaking His law is death. If we pay the penalty, we die, ending our indebtedness, but it also ends our potential, stops our growth, and perhaps — God forbid — keeps us from entering God’s Kingdom. That would be the total end of everything!

However, embracing the Good News of Jesus the Christ & confession of that belief followed by repentance, God permits us to claim the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sin.

He allows the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to substitute for us.

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Grace does not stop at the point of our Salvation!

1 John 1: 9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

When God forgives our sins at the beginning of our conversion, He does not simply wipe sins away. He also invites us into communion with Him, gives us His Spirit to enable obedience, promises to provide all our needs, and adds everlasting life on top of all this! In other words, God sets the example of going above and beyond what is merely required of Him.

GEG-grace-719w-01

For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.

Luke 6: 34 – 38
And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Do not judge and you will not be judged? Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Even as God lives by grace, we too are to learn to implement it into our lives. It would be outrageous to approach God and call upon his Grace and not extend that which we want to others just as God will if we ask for it. Gods Love is underserved and the fruit of the spirit it Love (Gods type of Love, in the Greek “agape“)

After God redeems us from sin and extends to us His Spirit and grace — His free, unmerited election, He expects us to follow His instructions. So we can not use Grace as a pretext to continue in Sin, that would be utter foolishness, and we would be only fooling our selves if we believed God will not interrupt that pattern of behaviour.

God loves us and pays off our debt for sin; he saves us, so that is His Grace being expressed towards us.

In that receiving of His Grace comes the being a follower of Jesus and that will be evidenced by our following his instructions on life and Godliness which are clearly out lined within the Word of God along with any specific instructions God may communicate by His Spirit to us as individual believers.

Grace clearly shows God did not merely pity us from a distance, nor did He allow His compassion for us to remain as an unresolved, inactive feeling.

Hebrews 2: 14 – 18
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil– and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Galatians 1: 4
Who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father

The God the Creator came from His high and pure abode as glorious God, and put aside His divinity for body of flesh. He assumed our nature, was tempted in all things like us, took our sicknesses, and bore our infirmities for the express purpose of being a merciful and faithful and providing us access into the throne of Heaven at anytime.

GEG-grace-719w-01

GEG-next-label-How do I obtain Salvation

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GEG-GFX-article 64h

 

Hyper-Grace: Grace without Limit

by Dr. John Yates

Personal Matters

As a young Christian zealot I relished opportunities to defend the Lord’s truth, these days I need to be faced with a controversy to make comment. So there I was at a Boxing Day party when a heart broken brother started to speak with me at length about the wreckage the “hyper-grace movement” was doing to his local church. Little did I know that a few weeks later I would be sitting in Joseph Prince’s congregation in Singapore, an alleged global hub of a “grace revolution” that many label as a Christianity “lite” on sin, judgement, confession, repentance and holiness? The issue at hand here is not so much about grace and law but about Jesus.

Grace without Limit

In God’s plan grace has an absolute priority that precedes both creation and sin. “He (God) has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.” This is “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” in whom we were chosen from eternity (Ephesians 1:4; 2Corinthians 8:9 etc.). Strictly speaking, all grace is “hyper-grace”. Paul says quite literally; “where sin abounded, grace hyper-abounded” (Romans 5:20).

The implications of the limitless nature of grace flow into Paul’s rhetorical question; “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” (Romans 6:1cf. Romans 3:8). Famous Evangelical preacher Martin Lloyd Jones remarked that if such a thought about continuing in sin has never crossed your mind then you have never heard the gospel! Biblical grace points the sensuous mind towards libertarianism just as much as it scandalises the legal mind.

Since the Lamb of God has “taken away the sin of the world” and “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (John 1:29; 2 Corinthians 5:19) the “worst sort” of men can get off scot-free. Therefore through Christ a friend of mine brought an African rebel leader who used to cut little children into small pieces and feed them to his troops into total forgiveness of all his sin, past, present and future. Jesus’ parable of the workers in the vineyard, where those who did 1hours labour received the same reward as those who slogged a 12 hour day, reveals the utterly radical character of God’s grace (Matthew 20:1-13). Rare is that believer who lives in the truly spectacular goodness of such grace.

There is nothing which is …such a permanent surprise, and such a growing surprise to reason as grace…” (P.T. Forsyth).

Does grace then weaken or intensify our awareness of sin?

Confess

Much of the controversy about the “hyper-grace” movement has to do with its common denial that believers need to confess and ask forgiveness for their sin.

In my judgement this is the result of a tragic confusion about the role of confession in relation to judgement (1 Corinthians 2:15).

 We ask forgiveness of our heavenly Father (Matthew 6:12) not to avert his wrath, for in scripture there is no “angry Father”, but to renew a fellowship with him that has been broken through transgression (1 John 1:3-10). The “godly grief that produces repentance” is not the result of a guilty conscience that fears vengeance, it is actually a deep sharing in the grief of the Holy Spirit for our wounding the heart of God (2 Corinthians 7:10; Ephesians 4:30). 

Much of the controversy about the “hyper-grace” movement has to do with its common denial that believers need to confess and ask forgiveness for their sin.

In my judgement this is the result of a tragic confusion about the role of confession in relation to judgement (1 Corinthians 2:15).

We ask forgiveness of our heavenly Father (Matthew 6:12) not to avert his wrath, for in scripture there is no “angry Father”, but to renew a fellowship with him that has been broken through transgression (1 John 1:3-10). The “godly grief that produces repentance” is not the result of a guilty conscience that fears vengeance, it is actually a deep sharing in the grief of the Holy Spirit for our wounding the heart of God (2 Corinthians 7:10; Ephesians 4:30).

Despite our fallen experiences neither law as such nor grace as such have ever been forms of mediation between God and his covenant people, the only mediator is the person of Christ (1 Timothy 2:5). As Thomas Torrance puts it so excellently; “Grace…is identical with Jesus Christ”. By “Jesus Christ” Torrance means the whole biblical story of the life of Jesus; particularly the cross. All true spiritual discernment passes through the crucifixion for, “The cross tests everything” (Luther).

This is where “hyper-grace” teaching is deeply confused.

Tested by the Cross

The martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously said, “Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ… grace is costly…because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ….Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son”. Cheap grace enabled the guards at the Nazi death camps to continue their normal church-going practices, and permitted the Italian mafia to function as practising Catholics until excommunicated by Pope Francis in 2014. Cheap grace means many of our churches are frequented by men and women practising habitual sin without a troubled conscience.

“Hyper-grace” is exposed as cheap grace whenever it bears fruit in following “Jesus” without sustaining great personal loss (Matthew 7:15-20). Avoidance of the essential grace-suffering connection is a failure to understand grace as fellowship with God in Christ.

Some “hyper-grace” teachers accept that to be a disciple of Jesus will lead to painful consequences, like ridicule and rejection (e,g. Matthew 5:10-12).  They never however teach that grace is made actual in our humanity by our sharing in the sufferings of Jesus through which the God’s grace came for our salvation.

We “share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings”; we suffer “with him”, ours is “the fellowship of his sufferings” (2 Corinthians 1:5; Romans 8:17; Philippians 3:10).  Jesus own humanity became perfectly saving only through suffering for others; “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him” (Hebrews 5:8-9). Since the goal of God’s grace is the formation of holy sons in the image of the Son, suffering is indispensible to our experience and appreciation of what grace is all about (Hebrews 2:10-11). The humiliating inner pain of the Spirit’s exposure of sin leading us to confession and repentance is a participation in the gracious life of Christ (Acts 2:27-38). This is an essential part of what it means to take up our cross daily and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23).

Conclusion

The “true grace of God” only comes to us “in Christ Jesus” through the preaching of his gospel (1 Corinthians 1:4; Titus 1:2-3; 1 Peter 5:12). This message teaches us that we must repeatedly lay down our lives for God’s kingdom in the pattern of crucifixion and resurrection (2 Corinthians 1:3-11; 2 Corinthians 4:7-12). This is no easy call. As natural men even the twelve apostles were originally bearers of a “hyper-grace” message that had no place for suffering as a central part of spiritual growth (Mark 8:31-33). Only after witnessing Jesus’ death-and-resurrection were they empowered by the gospel of grace to lay down their lives for others for Christ’s sake. True grace unmistakeably makes you more like Jesus – a suffering servant! Such fruit is completely unambiguous.

What then of our “hyper-grace” friends?

Many are in danger of fulfilling Jesus’ prophetic word; “the ones sown on rocky ground…when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.” (Mark 4:16-17). If we bear the gracious life of Christ we will serve these ones through anguished prayer and, where necessary, the warnings of the word. No cheap grace here.

Hidden Grace

by Dr. John Yates

Introduction

Australians we live in a time of unprecedented material affluence1)Real household income has tripled since World War 2. and deep spiritual poverty. There is no reason to suppose that we are any more devout than New Zealanders, where only a quarter of professing believers read the Bible regularly.2)Link here Similarly, large numbers of Australian Christians struggle with prayer and even some of the largest churches cannot maintain regular prayer meetings. Sexual sins, the breakdown of Christian marriages and the pursuit of wealth in the church have become commonplace.

These are however mere symptoms of a failure to know God in an intimately.3)My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” [Hos 4:5] Our prevailing spiritual culture suffering from a famine of the hearing of the words of the Lord (Amos 8:11) through a fundamentally mistaken notion of how God grows his children.. Many Christians expect that God will change their lives in the midst of a church meeting or conference where an anointed speaker who will somehow have a word for their lives.

Whilst the scripture encourages believers to meet together,4)E.g. “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some” [Heb 10:25]. our emphasis on meetings reveals a basic misunderstanding of the character of God. Jesus grew in the favour of his Father5)Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature  and in favour with God and man” [Luke 2:52] from finding the presence of God in his daily living, so the focal point of divine revelation will always be our vocation as human beings who eat, sleep, work, marry, have families, suffer,  age and die.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about grace is that it keeps on breaking into the ordinary situations of life. It is a truly remarkable thing to find God in your daily life, sense him in your thoughts, become aware of his presence in daily conversations and encounter him in the watches of the night(Ps 63:6; Ps 119:48). This mode of the presence of God is not like any natural image of a deity preoccupied with power, status, privilege and comfort. The Lord whom we adore through Jesus Christ is uniquely a God of grace who reveals himself in a unique shape and form. This is the form of the cross applied to daily life and explains why my theme for today is the hiddenness of grace.

Eternal Grace

The first thing we must say about grace is that it has no beginning. Paul particularly affirms this to strengthen believers under trial, “v8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, v9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began(2 Tim 1:8-9). In opening up this theme of the eternity of grace Thomas Torrance said, “Grace is …identical with Jesus Christ”. Grace never had a starting point because Jesus has forever been one with the Father (John 17:5). This has several enormous implications.

The first of these is that God’s gracious work is always at his initiative, he is the one who moves us to pray, confess, repent, love him and so on.6)The technical way of putting this is to say that grace is always prevenient. Secondly, there is nothing I can do to get “into” grace. Selwyn Hughes represents a popular but unbiblical way of thinking when he says, “How do you get “in grace”? It is by a new birth, a conversion, a changing of the centre of your life from self –interest to self surrender.”

If I was chosen “in him (Christ) before the foundation of the world” (Eph 1:4) there has never been a time when I was outside of the grace of God. My conversion, however tortuous that experience may have been – and mine certainly was, was the result of rather than the beginning of God’s gracious work in me. It was the time I began to first experience “the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things (Eph 3:9). A final implication flows from this, Peter exhorts us, “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ(2 Pet 3:18). We can only grow in grace not into grace. I am constantly within the limitless circle of the grace of God in Christ.

The Beginning and Loss of Grace

The pre-eminence of the grace of God is hidden deep within the human history of the world from its very beginning. Eden, which means “delight”, would seem to be a place where grace abounds. The undeserved divine generosity was available to Adam and Eve through food, shelter, work and fellowship with God and each other. Free access was available to any tree, but “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” was barred under threat of death (Gen 2:16-17).  .

God’s Word was the only basis the first couple had for believing that eating from this tree would be fatal, for to outward appearances the tree of knowledge was identical any other tree (Gen 2:9).7)It had no special properties of any kind. God had arranged the circumstances of Eden in such a way that grace could flow through faith in his Word in the midst of the human awareness of mortality.8)The principle that grace operates through faith [Rom 4:16; Rom 5:2; Eph 2:8] has always been God’s appointed way of dealing with mankind. The possibility of dying was a powerful revelation to Adam and Eve and the concentration point for the Word of God The fuller expression of grace God desired to impart required a fuller expression of faith in the Word, this was the purpose of temptation.

When Satan entered on the scene with the proposal, ““You will not surely die” (Gen 3:4) Eve was faced with an acute dilemma, to trust God solely on the basis of his Word or trust in her own senses. The inducement to become like God and live forever free from the fear of death (Gen 3:4-5) caused Eve’s imagination to envisage the fruit of this tree as tastier and more delightful than anything she had ever experienced – including the Word of God.9)So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit”[Gen 3:6] Eve failed to believe that the uncomfortable “fear of the Lord” imparted by his Word of warning was the key to a higher wisdom (Prov 9:10). She and Adam and Eve could not accept that the unsettling fear of God was something to be delighted in(Isa 11:2-3; Isa 33:6) as the secret to maintaining the experience of grace.

If Adam and Eve had feared God more than the threat of suffering death and so refused to eat of the tree, they would have been immediately been glorified by an overwhelming divine presence. Instead, they became subject to Satan’s power and in lifelong slavery through fear of death (Heb 2:15). Such fear plagues all human life, for every experience of weakness and suffering is a reminder to a guilty conscience that the divine judgment which ends earthly life is inescapable.

Having lost the glory of God (Rom 3:23) human beings became intoxicated with idolatrous substitutes: material wealth, sexual and sporting prowess, intellectual and artistic self-achievement, physical attractiveness or military strength.  Christians are not immune from such temptations. We imagine ourselves as mature spiritual people, as great teachers and preachers of the Word of God, as wonderful counsellors or powerful evangelists. Churches set forth splendid visions, websites extol their networks, ministries profile their achievements; but none of this has anything to do with the way God’s surprising grace actually works.

Surprising Grace

The Old Testament is full of struggles with God. Abraham must have been completely perplexed when the LORD commanded him to sacrifice Isaac who was the child of promise (Gen 22). This led however to a new intimacy with God which was otherwise impossible. When the angel of the LORD says to Abraham, “now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son”(Gen 22:12), we understand that the patriarch has demonstrated by faith (Heb 11:17-19) that he feared God more than he feared the death of his son.

The whole book of Job represents an ordeal to find the ways of God when there are no signs of his favour. The righteous psalmists struggle with the hiddenness of the face of God in the presence of  apparently triumphant evil (Ps 13:1; Ps 27:9; Ps 30:7; Ps 44:24; Ps 69:17; Ps 88:14; Ps 102:2; Ps 143:7 cf. Isa 8:17).  Under the weight of divine discipline the nation of Israel feels forgotten by God and cries out, ““My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”?” (Isa 40:27).

It is not however that God has forgotten his people,10)This is covenantally impossible, ““Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.” [Isa 49:15-16]. but that in his unfathomable wisdom the Lord had withdrawn himself from open view because of their insatiable idolatries (Isa 30:19-22). Thus the prophet Isaiah declares, “Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.”(Isa 45:15). Nevertheless, by revelation it is possible to discern deep inside the hiddenness of God a plan for the perfection of his people.

We are so thoroughly egocentric, especially about our own spirituality. When things are going well we quickly attribute this to our obedience. If things are not going well we will try to find out what we have done wrong that has caused us to lose God’s favour.11)This is fundamentally a common sense “blessings and curses” approach to the spiritual life. If we can’t find a reason for God’s discipline we feel he has abandoned us in some way. This leaves us with an unavoidable choice, to trust the power of our reasoning about the ways of God, or to trust he is being gracious to us in an unseen manner in the midst of difficulties. To choose the latter is to choose grace through faith and this alone is the pathway of spiritual growth. This is the way of Christ.

Jesus is the Hidden Grace of God

Only Jesus exhaustively reveals to us the ways of God (John 14:6), for it is Jesus who provides us with an inexhaustible supply of grace; “from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace”(John 1:16).

Traditionally, grace has been defined as “unmerited favour”. Today it is more popular to expound the provision of grace by focussing on Jesus’ signs and wonders. Neither of these emphases12)Corresponding roughly to Evangelical and Pentecostal schools of thought respectively. is adequate. Grace is more than an action of God; grace is God himself acting to reconstitute the very life of humanity through becoming one of us. In humbling himself and entering into the form of fallen human flesh (Phil 2:6-8; John 1:14)13)v6 though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, v7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant,  being born in the likeness of men. v8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” [Phil 2:6-8] Jesus ceased to be equal with God in any measureable sense.

There is a profound hiddenness about the depths of grace in Christ, for his humanity was like ours – weak, subject to temptation and mortal.14)Jesus calls human flesh [using the same word as of his own humanity in John 1:14] “useless” [John 6:63]. Cf. Matt 26:41; John 3:5-6; Rom 8:3. In speaking of, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 13:14) Paul provides content for his words, “that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor 8:9). The grace of Christ is identical with his life, a life which is the polar opposite of striving for equality with God, as Adam and Eve did. This is a life which climaxes in the unsurpassable weakness and despair of the cross.

As Jesus approaches his passion in the Garden of Gethsemane he sweats great drops and blood and repeatedly petitions his Father for a way forward other than the way of the cross (Luke 22:39-46). Luther was quite right to say of this episode, “no man ever feared like this man”.15)Compare Hebrews 5:7, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Here in Gethsemane the Son of God is almost paralysingly afraid. For every other believer there is the promise of being able to approach the “the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need(Heb 4:16). For Christ however there would be no mercy and grace, the Father has wilfully led Jesus into a situation where he must die the death of sinners, a death without the presence of God.

Jesus’ terrible cry,““My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”” (Mark 15:34) is an appeal for help which God does not answer. The sensation of the absence of the presence of God is overwhelming. If ever there was an occasion “deserving” of grace this would seem to be it. Instead, Jesus appears as a pitiful object of mockery, with no visible witness that he is Christ the King (Mark 15:32) and Son of God (Matt 27:40). His enemies gloated over his obvious humiliation and the disciples abandoned him because they could no longer discern the favour of God on his life. Every element of human experience testified to the absence of God and the victory of evil powers.

Thanks be to God, the resurrection reinterprets for us the manner of God’s working in Christ. Human reason concluded that God had said “No” to Jesus pleas on the cross, but the “No” was in fact a verdict upon our sin taken by Christ in our place (2 Cor 5:21). All human reasoning concerning the ways of God with man is condemned in the death of Christ, for not for a moment did the everlasting Father abandon his beloved Son. Despite all appearances, Paul can confidently say, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself” (2 Cor 5:19).

The death-and-resurrection of Jesus, which is the content of the gospel, forces us to conclude against the total weight of human experience that God was fully present in the death of Jesus for the purpose of our salvation yet in a hidden and concealed way. In the thinking of the New Testament writers, grace is now tied to the work of the cross in a pre-eminent manner (Rom 3:24; Rom 5:9-10; Eph 1:7).

There is a sense that God is most deeply at work when he is most intangible – as in Paul’s traumatic experience of suffering in Asia where he, in his own words, “despaired of life itself” (2 Cor 1:8); or consider the afflictions of the persecuted church described in the book of Revelation when the beast is “allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them” (13:7).  Under such overwhelming pressures the whole realm of ordinary human reasoning and evidence must be abandoned, faith is trusting in the promises of God that he is being gracious whatever our experience may seem to be saying.

This is not however the blind and irrational commitment of religious fanaticism, it is a faith grounded in the knowledge that all of God’s acts of grace must take the shape of the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is the final knowledge of good and evil. Divine revelation can never teach us anything deeper than what it first taught our Lord himself, grace is first hidden before it is disclosed.

Grace Revealed

This is a lesson that every generation of believers must learn afresh, and which sadly most of this generation is not learning. We throng to conferences on power and influence, but turn away from the plain words of the Lord to Paul, ““My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”” (2 Cor 12:9). His opponents said, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.”” (2 Cor 10:10), yet there was a presence working in the apostle’s life that few can understand. Paul confidently claims, “v11 we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. v12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.” (2 Cor 4:11-12).

Paul teaches that grace has no beginning and sets in process a dynamic spiritual movement. This is what he describes in Galatians,

1.Godset me apart before I was born”,

2. He “called me by his grace

3. and “was pleased to reveal his Son in me,

4. in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles (Gal 1:15-16)

Such an impetus to proclaim Christ arises from the privilege of being conformed to the humble shape of his life.

Christians love the spectacular, but the staple diet Jesus left us was bread, wine, water and the word.16)i.e. the Word and the sacraments. Folk love quoting texts like this one, “the people that do know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits (Dan 11:32 NKJV), but Jesus stressed that we would find him in exercising grace to the hungry,  thirsty, strangers, unclothed, sick and prisoners (Matt 25:31-46).

This is why George Whitfield and John Wesley found such a presence of Christ with them as they ministered in the open air to illiterate coal miners, why William Wilberforce experienced the strength of the Lord in his service to slaves, why William Booth saw the hand of God in reaching out to drunks and derelicts, for  George Mueller it was the kingdom of God with orphans,  Mother Teresa found the Lord amongst the dying,  Jacqui Pullinger with drug addicts,  Heidi Baker amongst the impoverished of Mozambique. This is also why the indigenous people are the key to sustainable revival in Australia. Grace is found where you would humanly least expect it, hidden in the lives of those no-one wants to know about, discovered where the suffering of humanity is most like the brokenness of the cross.

A famous spiritual writer explains the wisdom of the way of God, “If the Christian really has a heart for the Lord then he may find himself in a space where everything seems to have lost meaning”17)As in Jesus’ cry of dereliction from the cross. ...with experience… “The Christian begins to see …the Lord is working death into his being… those periods of death are working for him… it is a thing that is good. The Christian is beginning to learn to let the Lord come and go as he will; that it is not necessary to be possessed by the Lord’s presence.” (Mme Guyon, Spiritual Torrents, pp.27-28).

Many sincere believers struggle to understand that grace is most intensely working in their suffering, because it just does not feel like it. We fail to understand that when we came to the Lord the shape and meaning of his life became the meaning of our lives.18)E.g. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.(Gal 2:20); “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” [Phil 3:10] For our lives to be conformed to the shape of the life of Christ means death and resurrection, wounding and healing at the hands of God.19)““‘See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.” [Deut 32:39] Cf. ““v1 Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.  v2 After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.  v3 Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”” [Hos 6:1-3] This is prophetic of Jesus’ resurrection [1 Cor 15:4]. All this is grace, hidden and manifest.

Such a mysterious operation of grace is working at all levels. The church in China only began to explode after the rise of communism, the expulsion of foreign missionaries and the Cultural Revolution, the revival in Argentina followed the loss of face endured through defeat in the war with Britain over the Falkland Islands. Today the Spirit is moving amazingly in South Africa, at Angus Buchan’s Mighty Men’s Conference this year over 350,000 men gathered, there are more than 7,000 24 hour prayer watches happening in that nation. Much of this involves the Afrikaners who are seeking a new identity in the post-apartheid era. We are not however in any of these places, what does the hidden nature of grace mean for us Australians, who are surely amongst the most psychologically and relationally dysfunctional people on the planet, ever seeking some new sensuous, sexual or spiritual experience.

Luther famously said, “Grace is the experience of being delivered from experience.” Jesus Christ is not some experience; he is a person whom you come to love whatever you experience in the trials and tribulations of daily life, of which there are many. The absence of the meat of the Word of God and the prayerlessness in our churches (Heb 5:12-14) is a tragedy, but in its very absence and the weakened spiritual climate it induces we can press into God (Phil 3:14) and find his hidden grace. Likewise, the spiritual apathy of our culture is appalling, yet by faith it can become a medium of grace for enduring spiritual growth.

When we learn to find God as the hidden God in all the troubles and disappointments of life we discover his sheer goodness. Grace teaches us that the divine purpose in ordaining “the many tribulations by which we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22) is never to impart to us evil, but only good, a good that will finally be our sole experience.  This is what makes the loss of reputation, position, promotion or relationships through following Jesus all worthwhile.20)Compare “any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” [Luke 14:33].

Conclusion

Love and fear dominate human existence, and they are mutually excluding. Love causes us to look out from ourselves in terms of what we may give to others; fear causes us to arrange our lives for self-protection. Fear overwhelmingly rules both this nation and its church. Only the revelation of grace can abolish fear and release love. John says, “v17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. v18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” (1 John 4:17-18).

Central to this text is the expression, “as he (Jesus) is so also are we in this world”. To realise that the shape of the life of Christ is the shape of our lives in this world is the insight that liberates us from thinking that God has ever had a will to do ill to his children. Inside this understanding is the recognition that no matter how difficult life becomes he is always there for us, grace is always present in every situation, no matter how invisible or impossible this may appear.

To “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Pet 3:18) is in fact to grow in the knowledge of good and evil in the way God always intended, it is to come to the heart understanding that God is sheer goodness and in him is no evil at all. With such a revelation of surprising grace in all the unexpected places of life we are spontaneously moved to proclaim Jesus to those who still living in fear of “the shadow of death” (Luke 1:79), the truth about grace teaches us to renounce every distraction  and to seek Jesus, who is the real content of grace and all that we will ever need for our spiritual formation.

References   [ + ]

1. Real household income has tripled since World War 2.
2. Link here
3. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” [Hos 4:5]
4. E.g. “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some” [Heb 10:25].
5. Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature  and in favour with God and man” [Luke 2:52]
6. The technical way of putting this is to say that grace is always prevenient.
7. It had no special properties of any kind.
8. The principle that grace operates through faith [Rom 4:16; Rom 5:2; Eph 2:8] has always been God’s appointed way of dealing with mankind.
9. So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit”[Gen 3:6]
10. This is covenantally impossible, ““Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.” [Isa 49:15-16].
11. This is fundamentally a common sense “blessings and curses” approach to the spiritual life.
12. Corresponding roughly to Evangelical and Pentecostal schools of thought respectively.
13. v6 though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, v7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant,  being born in the likeness of men. v8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” [Phil 2:6-8]
14. Jesus calls human flesh [using the same word as of his own humanity in John 1:14] “useless” [John 6:63]. Cf. Matt 26:41; John 3:5-6; Rom 8:3.
15. Compare Hebrews 5:7, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.
16. i.e. the Word and the sacraments.
17. As in Jesus’ cry of dereliction from the cross.
18. E.g. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.(Gal 2:20); “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” [Phil 3:10]
19. ““‘See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.” [Deut 32:39] Cf. ““v1 Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.  v2 After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.  v3 Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”” [Hos 6:1-3] This is prophetic of Jesus’ resurrection [1 Cor 15:4].
20. Compare “any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” [Luke 14:33].