Category Archives: future grace

The struggle is as easy as dropping the nut

For a couple of months I have been a participant, along with about six other men, in aFist in the jar bible study joined by a book written by John Piper called “Future Grace“. I have written about this book in a previous posting and I would imagine I will be posting something else about the book before we are finished with the study. It is such a great book. The study is usually led by one of our church elders but this week he will be absent, so he asked me to put together some questions and lead the study. I am excited that he asked me to do this. I am praying for God to graciously provide His wisdom as I prepare. Like most folks who have prepared to teach something, I certainly learn the most from a subject by teaching or leading it.

As has been our task in previous weeks, we are covering a couple of chapters in the book. This week it is chapters 24 and 25. Chapter 24 is titled “Faith in Future Grace vs. Despondency”. There is a particular sub-section in this chapter called “The Struggle is As Easy As Dropping a Nut”. In this section Piper writes about the narrow gate that Jesus refers to in Matthew 7:14 as a description of the struggle or difficulty in following Christ. This same depiction is used by Luke in 13:24:

Strive to enter by the narrow door.

This word strive in the Greek text means to struggle or contend for victory like an athlete. The New Testament teaches the believer that keeping the faith is a rigorous undertaking and yet Jesus also teaches us in Matthew 11:28-30 that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Piper asks the reader if these two teachings are contradictions? He asserts that they are not, and he does this by using a simple but awesome illustration. Piper states:

It is like the monkey with his hand caught in the jar. It would be easy for him to slip his hand out of the opening except that he has his fist clenched around a nut. If he loves the nut more than he loves freedom from the jar, then getting his hand out will be hard, even impossible (as Jesus said to the young man who had his fist clenched around his wealth). But what could be easier than dropping a nut? The battle we have is the struggle to love the freedom of faith more than the nut of sin.

Jesus teaches us in scripture that His yoke or burden is easy if we will trust in Him for future grace. If we do not, we will surely continue to struggle against our old self and sin. Are we holding onto something or trusting in something or someone to fulfill our needs? Has this something shackled us much like the monkey fist in the jar illustration? Do we continue to struggle with hanging on to it. When we let go of it, does the burden lighten and the struggle fall away? Trust in Christ for He alone is worthy of that trust.

Sola Gratia.


Posted by on August 17, 2007 in Christian struggles, future grace, John Piper


A day of reflection on dependency

Today I took the day off from work to repair my car. You see my wife used it to take ourAudi repair daughter and her friend to the pool yesterday and when she returned home noticed that motor oil was liberally running out from under the car. She suspected that she may have done something to the car when she encountered a pot hole in the pool parking lot and the car bottomed out. Yep, the pot hole had punched a hole in the oil pan. It took no time for the oil to completely drain onto our driveway. I spread some dry-all compound on the spill in the driveway and then proceeded to search for an oil pan on the Internet.

The Lord has graciously provided two cars for us so I was able to drive down to the local U-Pull-It junk yards today to see if I could get my hands on an oil pan. I quickly found out that an oil pan for my Audi is a commodity in Omaha. After much searching I finally determined that I would not find one to install today and I would have to resort to ordering one over the Internet and wait the few days for it to arrive. As I was trying to figure out some way of working our schedules around one vehicle for the next few days it began to dawn on me how dependent we had become on the two cars we have. We would actually be considered very wealthy having two cars in any third world country and even in our own country depending on where you live. I also began to question how dependent I was on God. One of my favorite passages in the Old Testament came to mind. Isaiah 53:6 is such a wonderful reminder of God as our Good Shepherd:

All of us like sheep have gone astray. Each of us has turned to his own way: But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.

You see we are like sheep and we are dependent on God our shepherd to provide our hope. As our shepherd He gathered us to Himself with the redeeming blood of His Son Jesus Christ. Most of us as believers in His Son’s work on the cross will acknowledge our dependence on Him for salvation. But do we also depend on Him for this grace in all things? Grace is what it is. Or like the puncture of my oil pan and the realization of my dependence on having both of our cars running, do we also only realize our dependence on God’s grace when we encounter a puncture or trial in our life?

This is what I was thinking as I drove to Lincoln to pick up the oil pan that God had provided from a junkyard there. Yes, God does provide grace and I am so dependent on His grace even if I do not consider it as I go to and fro in life. My hope is that my attitude will turn from taking Him for granted, to trusting in Him completely. Trusting in Him for future grace.

ht: John Piper