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It Would Have Never Occurred to Me

09 October 2012 by Tom Chantry

Q. 71. How is justification an act of God's free grace?
A. Although Christ, by his obedience and death, did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God's justice in the behalf of them that are justified; yet inasmuch as God accepteth the satisfaction from a surety, which he might have demanded of them, and did provide this surety, his own only Son, imputing his righteousness to them, and requiring nothing of them for their justification but faith, which also is his gift, their justification is to them of free grace.

There are days when I rejoice that Christ is the Head of the church instead of me. I know, it should be every day, but I’m a stupid, proud sinner, and some days I want to be pope. Eventually I see just how awful the problems are, and I remember with relief that I am not in charge.

A friend told me yesterday, “The church teeters on the brink of disaster every day. It’s amazing that it withstands the gates of hell, but it does.” He’s right twice: it is amazing that we withstand, and yet we do. The reason why is the headship of Christ and the difference His headship makes.

Whenever I look at a brewing catastrophe in the church and put on my home-made miter, I wind up saying something like, “The only way this can possibly be fixed is if…” “This sinner needs to repent,” or “That elder needs to show greater wisdom,” or “These people need to love one another.” I see only one way and usually have only one idea of how to get there. “I need to preach,” or “I need to make a phone call,” or “I need to gather a council.” It has to be my one way. Having a head of the church who is neither omnipotent nor omniscient simply doesn’t work.

Our true Head, however, is both, and often He resolves the irresolvable in ways that never occurred to me, for the rather obvious reason that I am no god. He has options that will never be at my disposal. It is the only reason the church prevails against anything. Left to our own paltry bag of tricks we would very rarely prevail against the turnstyles of heck. Only by the grace of our Sovereign Head do we prevail against the gates of hell.