Unquestionable Character: A 21-day Study in Stewardship.

A New Heart

As in Jeremiah's account of the new covenant (see Jer 29-33), Ezekiel prophesies about the new heart and spirit God will instill within his people. This promise has already become a reality for every person born of the Spirit. Evangelical theologian R. Scott Rodin describes what a person born of the Spirit looks - and is - like. The stewardship implications are readily apparent.

In the study of Christian ethics where you start determines where you will end up. For the Christian, our ethics are our responses to the command of the God who has saved us in Jesus Christ. Therefore, they are both freely given and an act of obedience to the commands of the gracious God who calls us into a new life in Christ. As response our ethics are wholly dependent upon what comes before. They are conditioned by that which calls us to response. The first critical distinction we must make in this study is that for the Christian, what motivates our response is not what but who. We are not motivated by guilt, by altruism, by seeking after a greater good, by pressure to conform to standards of acceptable behavior, nor by a set of biblical or ecclesiastical rules. Christian ethics is nothing less than the study of doxology! It is our freely given yet directly commanded act. Therefore it unfolds in our life as both our obligation and our only possibility.

The study of ethics must recognize its place in the process of the calling of the Christian and the Christian's response. The process can be described in three acts! God acts in sending of the Son to speak a word to us that we could not hear on our own. He reveals himself, his grace, his loving intent, and his righteousness to us and makes us capable by the Spirit to hear and see and understand!

Second, in revealing himself to us in Jesus Christ, our Creator also reveals to us who we really are. Jesus Christ ushered in a new reality called the kingdom of God and called us into as God's children! Our existence in this world is now defined in different terms. We are worshipers, disciples, neighbors. This too is determined solely by the Creator who acts, who speaks, who calls, who saves, who reveals, and who commands. And that Creator also calls us, commands us, and frees us to respond.

Only upon the foundation of these first two acts of God toward us and for us can the study of Christian ethics be built. John Calvin put it this way in speaking of true spiritual insight, 'This spiritual insight consists chiefly in three things: (1) knowing God, (2) knowing his fatherly favor in our behalf, in which our salvation consist, and (3) knowing how to frame our life according to the rule of his law.' Only after understanding and acknowledging the first two acts of God can we begin to ask the questions of what 'framing our life' looks like! What we are to do is wholly dependent upon whom we have become. And whom we have become is seen and known and understood solely in God's gracious actions toward us.