Faith-dependence In All Things

Luther, On Christian Liberty, 13

“If you wish to fulfill the law and not covet, as the law demands, come believe in Christ in whom grace, righteousness, peace, liberty, and all things are promised you. If you believe, you shall have all things; if you do not believe you shall lack all things… God our Father has made all things depend on faith so that whoever has faith will have everything.”

Grace-Sanctified by Faith in Christ

Jason Buzzard:  “315 years after its original publication, I believe that Marshall’s thesis [The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification.] is as important and urgent as ever–that Christians grow in obedience to Christ by the power of the gospel, not by their own strength. I’ve found that most all Christians agree on justification by faith, but that very few Christians realize that our sanctification is also by faith. Marshall’s book is a clear, winsome, and persuasive articulation of the gospel-centered nature of sanctification.”

Monergism Books.com:  “Walter Marshall lays out the biblical way of growth: obedience comes as Christians live by grace, in union with Christ, by faith.  …His basic proposition may seem foreign to many modern believers, who are desperately striving to produce in themselves the fruits of obedience, and so guarantee God’s continuing favor. But it is as scriptural as it is refreshing: sanctification, just like justification, is God’s free gift of grace, and can be apprehended only through the faith which looks to Christ and his perfect work.  The message of the gospel is that we do not become holy by doing, but by not doing – we do not work so that we may become holy, but we become holy by faith, with the result that we begin to work naturally, from our heart. Sadly, many who recognize this truth in the matter of justification forget it when it comes to sanctification. But we are no more able for the latter than we are for the former, apart from the work of Christ in us.  …[I]t is only through gospel faith that Christ’s power flows through us because of our vital union with him.

 

Missing the Point

There are those brethren who see things through a slightly different lens, seemingly missing the Gospel-for-Sanctification.  Recently, I had the opportunity to express such a concern on a Internet discussion list.  In return a brother wrote a scathing response, what I now see as an example of how easily people are apt to miss the point, that, the Gospel is not always appropriated as the means of sanctification.  This brother’s reply (posted below) demonstrates just that, that he found my comments as accusing him of practically missing the Gospel entirely, which is not the case at all.  Please read on….

 

My comments (amended slightly for posting here):

 

I understand, that, the Image-righteousness of God that we behold (by faith) in the Gospel-word is the all-sufficient means that the Spirit utilizes to transform us into the likeness of the Lord.  This is a freedom that OC community yearned to see, as do angels, and only beheld such glory in the shadow of the Law. 

 

2Cor 3

16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.

17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

 

(Bearing in mind also, 2Cor.4.4,6; 5.17; Rom.8.5,29; 12.2; 13.14; 1Cor.15.49; Gal.6.15; Eph.4.22-24; and Col.3.10)

I understand, that, all NC imperatives are made effectual realities in the lives of those whom the Holy Spirit works through faith in the Indicative (Christ’s work).  When God says “Let there be light!”  there’s going to be light in one degree to another (2Cor.4.6), thus manifesting His power (v.7).  Only in the context of our beholding in faith the Person and Work of Christ, do any NC imperatives take root.  Christ the Lord lives in the NC believer by the Spirit (2Cor.3.18), by the NC believer being crucified with Christ, and therein being dead to the Law (Gal.2.19,20).  

In Christ, the NC believer has died to the Law (not merely the typological covenant with Moses/Israel, but moreover to the initial covenant made with Adam/mankind), and are now legally and truly no longer married to Adam (or typologically Moses) but wed to Another.  In which marriage, we are alive toward God in order that we might bear fruit for God’s glory (Rom.7.4; 2Cor.11.2). 

In effect, I understand that the Gospel itself is our hermeneutic and hope of growing in holiness.  Christ’s person and work, the Gospel, is the key to understanding the purpose and meaning of all that was written before and foundation of everything NC.  Christ’s person and work, the Gospel, is the key to our growing in holiness (Col.1.6,10; 2.19; Phil.1.11,27; Eph.2.10; 2Cor.9.8; and 2Pt.1.3).

Lastly, I understand that, the Gospel reveals the power, righteousness and wrath of God in a measure unmatched by the Adamic or Mosaic Cov’ts (Rom.1.16-18).  In this Gospel God’s attributes shine with such brilliance that makes all other previous expressions (the backside) glory pale in comparison.  For in this Gospel alone we behold the express Image of God in the face of Christ.

So then, I get the impression that some brethren don’t find the Gospel to function in such a capacity [meaning, the Gospel sanctifies]:  the Gospel-accomplishment of Christ is the single effectual power of God unto all salvation (justification, sanctification, unto glorification). 

A brother replied:

 

You have now accused me of not believing that Christ does not change a person from the inside out by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, you are accusing me of being a pagan. You are accusing an elder of a lie that you either made up from an evil heart, or you contrived in your inability to understand these issues. My hope is that it is because you simply do not understand these issues like you think you do.

 

Please offer proof that I do not believe that Christ changes lives from the inside out. You are absurdly offensive, and need to repent.

Sanctified by Faith (II)

[PREVIOUSLY POSTED]

 

What I continue to find interesting is how little is said regarding this important correlation between faith and sanctification.

 

Acts 26:18  …that they may receive …a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.

 

Somehow, what’s said about sanctification tends to place the accent upon our striving (which is of course a facet of the whole) and not upon God’s ongoing sanctifying work in us (1Th5.23), understanding that the latter brings about the former, not merely by focusing upon the former.

 

As John Murray put it: “We must also appreciate the fact that there is an agency on part of the Holy Spirit that far surpasses analysis or introspection on our part.”  (Redemption Accomplished and Applied; pg.147)

 

The following tends to get shuffled aside, that, a) we were first raised through faith in the powerful working of God demonstrated in Christ’s resurrection (Col 2:12), and b) that such a life in Christ continues by faith in the same (Rom.1.17; Heb.10.38; Gal.3.2-3).

 

Our striving need be in the context of *remembering* that Christ dwells in our hearts through faith (Eph 3:17), that our faith might rest in the power of God alone (1Cor 2:5), which is manifest in the Gospel as ‘a’ word and ‘the’ Word (Rom.1.16; Heb.10.14).

Behold and Be Changed – Amen!

Thomas Goodwin:    “That as a glass in itself is but an empty thing, unless the objects to be seen in it be directly placed before it, and by light discovered in it, a glass represents nothing to us; and such I confess the gospel is in itself, a mere verbal representation; but to believers, the saints in the text, the Spirit of the Lord joins with these words, presents Christ by a secret, hidden, and unheard of act to the eye of faith in the preaching or reading of it, opens heaven, and causes the glory of Christ to shine as present in it in a lively, real manner. And so it follows in that 2 Cor. 3:18, ‘We all behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord, even as by the Spirit of the Lord;’ and lastly, which is the strangest of all the rest, ‘are changed into the same image.’ That whereas a man may look long enough upon other pictures, though never so rich and glorious, and go away as he comes, his countenance no whit altered; but this is such a representation as, by beholding of it, we are changed into the same image, and the riches of Christ are made ours; which riches are ‘Christ in you,’ says the text; the strangest glass and picture that over yet was seen in the world.”

“godliness” without Gospel

Mike Horton: “We see this pattern in the New Testament epistles especially in Romans. It is interesting that whenever Paul completes a doctrinal “hike” through God’s gracious election, redemption, calling, justification, and sanctification in Christ the vista from such dizzying peaks leads him to break out in praise. “What shall we say then in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God, how unsearchable are his judgments and his ways past finding out; for of him and to him and through him are all things, to him be the glory forever, Amen.” Only then does Paul say in Romans 12, “I appeal to you therefore, in view of God’s mercies to present your bodies a living sacrifice.”

You see folks, the story generates doctrines, which generate genuine emotion leading to grateful obedience. When we begin to take any of these stages for granted, and its usually the earlier ones that get lost first, we assume the Gospel and loose not only our sense of wonder at God’s amazing grace, but the only hope of genuine experience and transformation. We end up with what Paul called a “form of godliness while denying its power.” Power not only at the beginning of the Christian life, but in the middle, and the end, not only for conversion, but for growth and discipleship is always the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Casting off Law as Covenant

Ralph Erskine:   “…the believer is delivered from the power of the law, and the power of sin too; having cast off the law as a covenant, and finding nothing to satisfy and still his conscience but the blood and righteousness of Chirst, that satisfies divine justice; as in this way he finds rest from the curse of the law, so also some rest from the rule and dominion of sin; the faith of God’s love in Christ does purify his heart, and kill his natural enmity, insomuch that he can attest, to his sweet experience, that the faith of the love of God in Christ is so far from leading him to licentiousness of life, or encouraging laziness, that he finds it the hottest fire in the world, to melt his heart for sin; and the strongest cord in the world, to bind him to duty, while the love of God is shed abroad upon him.”

 

Dynamic Duo!

Great conversation between two faithful teachers/students of the Text and tradition.

So too, an interesting distinction exists in each man’s grasp and emphasis on those things discussed.  Carson is not one you can easily sack, regardless of your theological bent.

Well worth the listen!

D.A. Carson & Mike Horton (part 1)

A New Letter and Pure Devotion

Paul’s words to the Corinthians (2Cor.5) sum up the essence of obedience in the New Covenant (3.6):

In 5.14, Paul speaks of our actions springing from the love of Christ for us, in His having died (5.15) for us.  This alone is the exclusive cause of our not living for ourselves but for His sake. 

For, in Christ, we are no longer regarded according to the flesh (5.16), but are now partakers of the new creation (5.17) through the ongoing transforming ministry of the Spirit (3.6,8,18); all of which is of God (5.18)!

We then are partakers of a most glorious and permanent ministry of righteousness (5.21; 3.9,11), and are equipped with the weapons of righteousness (6.6,7), not waging a fleshly warfare (10.3-5), according to a ministry of death and condemnation that no longer has any glory (3.7,9,10)!

So then, it is Jesus Christ we proclaim (1.19; 2.17), in whom all the promises of God are fulfilled (1.20) and by whom we are enabled freedom by the Spirit (3.17) from every defilement of the body (physical sins) and spirit (idolatry) (7.1) unto a maturing holiness unto the Lord. 

Our having fellowship with the Holy Spirit (13.14) – who writes His letter upon our heart (3.3) – is antithetical to a ministry of Stone (3.6). 

Being mindful of these things, we maintain a sincere and pure devotion to Christ and resist the Devil’s first lie (11.3) that mere knowledge of “right and wrong” suffices, which is nothing more than “another Jesus,”  a “different spirit,” and a “different gospel” (11.4). 

Getting the Gospel

Here are three discussions by Tim Keller that aid our thinking about the nature of the Gospel and its ongoing function in the life of the Church and believer in the way of sanctification. 

 

Gospel Realization

a)      Exposing the idolatry of all our sin (disbelief in the Gospel), and

b)     Expelling unbelief (the heart of all misbehavior) by the transforming truth/work of the Gospel.

Gospel Communication

a)      Exposing the idolatry of religion (grace-less) and irreligion (truth-less) by way of wisdom of the Gospel.

Gospel Incarnation

a)      Exposing the idolatry of civil, emotional, or familial “faith”

b)     Expounding the need for a personal faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

The more of Tim’s stuff I read and hear, the more our faith—that the power of God for all redemption is the Gospel alone—is confirmed!

Idol-bashing Gospel

Here is a helpful discussion by Tim Keller (click on name to listen to lecture) regarding the correlation between all idolatry and a lack of the Gospel.

Things that Keller discusses:

·        Idol = something that you will die for or without (dying either emotionally, psychologically, or otherwise)

o   Ending up angry enough to die!  (Jonah 4:3)

§  Because that something was lost.

·        Gospel = Christ’s person and work

o   May at times prove to be nothing more than a mere abstraction

§  “Yes, I know Jesus died that I might live (Rom.6.8; 2Cor.5.15; Gal.2.19; 2Tim.2.11), but I can’t live with having lost…”

·        Sin = Idolatry

o   All sin is ultimately rooted in idolatry (1Cor.10.13-14; 12.2; Col.3.5; Jn.5.20-21)

§  Every wrong behavior has an idolatrous motive.

§  Every wrong thought has an idolatrous nature.

o   All idolatry is a disbelief in the Gospel

§  Idolatry is our being functionally self-righteous (or seeking to be)

·        Idolatry rooted out (expelled) by the Gospel

o   Mere behavior modification will never break the bonds of idolatry

§  Unless there is an ‘overmastering passion’ for/in Christ…there will be no ‘dispossessing of passion’ for idolatry

·        It is a question of what’s the ‘reigning affection’ of the mind.

o   We all were made with the capacity to idolize (Col.3.1-5)

§  Idolatry is the idolizing of anything other than God in Christ

·        Having something (besides Christ) as your ‘functional lord’

§  Maintaining Christ as Idol happens in a daily renewal, putting on the mind of Christ (Col.3.10) through the word of Christ (Col.3.16).

“The human heart is a factory of idols…Everyone of us is, from his mother’s womb, expert in

inventing idols.” John Calvin

 

See also C.J. Mahaney’s article  — _Idol Factory_

 

 

Irons(ing) out Gospel-sanctification

 

Lee Irons:  

“[I]t is not only justification but sanctification that has been merited by Christ. The merit of Christ, then, does not make sanctification optional but in fact a necessary part of salvation. Your sanctification is rooted in the merit of Christ. Christ has not only merited the right and title to heaven for his people, he has also merited the regeneration and progressive sanctification of his people. Both are grounded in the merit of Christ.

“You can see the connection between imputed righteousness and sanctification in Romans 8:9-13.

“The Roman Catholic Church rejects the notion that the ordinary Christian can and should have full assurance that they will go to heaven. They argue that this will lead to license for sin. It will breed carnal security. For if heaven is already in the bag, then why bother living a holy life? But the paradox of the gospel is that it is precisely the opposite. Only if you have full assurance of your right and title to heaven on the ground of the merit of Christ can you begin to fight against your sins. Only the believer who is fully assured that they are glory-bound is able to get up after they have sinned and move foreward in the confidence that their sins do not condemn them.

“The imputed merit of Christ, then, so far from leading to license for sin, is in reality the only way the believer can have any hope of fighting against sin and making progress in sanctification.

 

Striving to remember…

[Reply to Bruce, in post: Gospel-Punch-Packed Sermon; 04-06-08]

What I continue to find interesting is how little is said from many pulpits regarding this important correlation between faith and sanctification.

Act 26:18 …that they may receive …a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.

Somehow, much of what’s said about sanctification tends to place the accent upon our striving (which of course is a facet of the whole) and not upon God’s ongoing sanctifying work in us (1Th5.23), understanding that the latter brings about the former, not merely by focusing upon the former.

As John Murray put it: “We must also appreciate the fact that there is an agency on part of the Holy Spirit that far surpasses analysis or introspection on our part.” (_Redemption Accomplished and Applied_; pg.147)

It gets shuffled aside, that, we were first raised through faith in the powerful working of God demonstrated in Christ’s resurrection (Col 2:12), and that such a life in Christ continues by faith in the same (Rom.1.17; Heb.10.38; Gal.3.2-3).

Our striving need be in *remembering* that Christ dwells in our hearts through faith (Eph 3:17), that our faith might rest in the power of God alone (1Co 2:5), which is manifest in the Gospel as ‘a’ word and ‘the’ Word (Rom.1.16; Heb.10.14).

Monergistically Sanctified!!!

Chad Bresson:  “I’d call it a paradox, not a contradiction.

“Enablement theology” (at least the way some in the Reform community postulate it) is veiled Romanism/humanism/Gnosticism all rolled into one.  He who perseveres to the end will be saved, but he who perseveres to the end will find it was God’s workmanship through the Spirit’s monergism all along to make it happen and it is Christ’s righteousness, not his own, which is vindicated at the last day as if it were his own.  Imputation doesn’t end with the point of origination of my salvation… it continues and will continue into eternity.  I will never have a righteousness I can call my own.

“We have been saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved.  None of it is me.  All of it is Christ.  If it is Romanist synergistic infusion/impartation to suggest that I have something to do with my past salvation, it surely is the case for my present (and future) salvation as well.

[This statment captures quite well how the Gospel (person & work of Christ) continues to be that single: focus & food of faith, giver & grower of grace, helm & home of hope, regulation & reign of righteousness, and life & liberty of love.  In a word, Chad unpacks how God is the Gospel! mm]

Gospel-purging

Ralph Erskine:  “Gospel-mortification is from Gospel principles, viz.,

(1)    The Spirit of God, “If ye through the Spirit mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Rom.8.13).

(2)   Faith in Christ, “Purifying their hearts by faith” (Acts15.9).

(3)   Love of Christ constraining, “The love of Christ constraineth us” (2Cor5.14). 

[1685-1752]

Crucified with Christ

Ralph Erskine:  “The strength of sin remains where there has been no Gospel-mortification…Yea, what great reformations have taken place among some, so as by their life you would think they were real converts because of their exactness and tenderness.  Yet they are enemies of grace and strangers to the Gospel, and consequently to true mortification, which cannot be by the Law, it being the strength of sin (1Cor15.56).   [1685-1752]