Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Gospel and Sanctification by Grace through Faith

Tim Keller from Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City summarizes the ongoing impact of the gospel:

"At the heart of Redeemer's ministry and its philosophy of preaching to post-modern audiences is the conviction that "the gospel" is not just a way to be saved from the penalty of sin, but is the fundamental dynamic for living the whole Christian life--individually and corporately, privately and publicly. In other words, the gospel is not just for non-Christians, but also for Christians.

This means the gospel is not just the A-B-C's but the A to Z of the Christian life. It is not accurate to think 'the gospel' is what saves non-Christians, and then, what matures Christians is trying hard to live according to Biblical principles. It is more accurate to say that we are saved by believing the gospel, and then we are transformed in every part of our mind, heart, and life by believing the gospel more and more deeply as our life goes on."

I point this out primarily because often, we Christians (post-Justification), are inclined to judge our position with God based on our performance and actions. Not that anyone reads my blog or anything and might find this useful at all... but I did really, really like Mr. Keller's quote.

I think the "Faith Alone" (SolaFide) crowd is not only concerned about those who might preach a works-based justification, but also there is a highly warranted concern against the legalist prison that is created. Such teaching creates a culture of perfectionists who typically live life either as condemned, defeated Christians or, on the the other hand, who think their only neediness for Christ is found by looking back at what we were saved from (then of course trying to measure up to what they believe they were saved to.)

Of course, I definitely understand how the "Plus Works" crowd can be very concerned about the ethical and moral actions of new Christians and young Christians. Teaching Justification and Sanctification by faith alone can be very much misused in an unbiblical direction that leaves people open to sin. Of course it is easy to see (humanistically speaking) how very scary it may be to trust that the Gospel really is effectual even for the matters concerning sanctification.

But it is!!! It is!!

“for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure”.

“I am the LORD who sanctifies you” (Lev 20:8; cf. Ex 31:13, Lev 21:8, Ez 20:12, etc).

Jesus is the author [justifier] and finisher [sanctifier] or our faith (Heb 12:2).
This truth is placed in the immediate context of the importance of faith (Heb 11), followed by a call to always look to Jesus (Heb 12:2).
We (believers) draw near to Christ is “with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Heb 10:22),
Our own confidence is repeatedly grounded in the faithfulness of Christ (Heb 10:23).

Two of the benefits of Sancitification by Grace through Faith:

1- First, we will not be inclined to commend ourselves to God on the basis of our own works or actions, therefore we will be less inclined to commend ourselves to one another on the basis of our works and actions. Nor will our approval of others be based on their performance, their piety, or even their knowledge of “the right answers.” Our relationships will be much more grace filled.

2- We Christians will be much better at incarnating the Gospel by being open and vulnerable with one another about our own weaknesses and shortcomings. By publicly/collectively modeling the repentance, confession, forgiveness, humility, and charity -- we will model for new or younger Christians true and authentic examples of that which characterize the life of faith in a believer.

Here is another helpful link on Sanctification by Grace

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