Posted tagged ‘Tullian’

Why Two Way Love Is Not the Grace of the Gospel

November 16, 2013

William Blake

If Moral Virtue was Christianity
Christ’s Pretensions were all Vanity

In The God of Promise and the Life of Faith: Understanding the Heart of the Bible (Paperback) footnote 6 on p244, Scott Hafemann writes: ” The position I am advocating is based on a reassessment of the traditional Lutheran, Calvinistic and dispensational view of the relationship between the Law and the Gospel. The traditional view saw a conflict between the two, with the law viewed narrowly as God’s demand for sinless obedience as the ground of our salvation, while the gospel called for faith In God’s grace in Christ, who kept the Law perfectly in our place.”

Hafemann does not understand correctly the antithesis he is opposing. Yes, the law is the divine demand for perfection (and also for satisfaction for sins). But he is wrong to focus on a demand for perfection being replaced by a demand for faith. The only accptable “end of the law” is not faith but the righteousness obtained and imputed by God. .

Hafemann is inattentive to three facts about the divine alien righteousness. First, Christ died under the curse of God’s law only for the elect alone. Second, faith has as its object not just any Jesus or any “grace”, but the Jesus who satisfied the law for all who will be justified (and not for the non-elect). Third, this faith is not only a sovereign gift but a righteous gift, given on behalf of Christ and His law-work (Philippians 1:29; John 17).

When Hafemann makes the difference to be between a demand for faith and a demand for obedience, the only thing left to discuss Is the nature of faith. Does faith include love and works or not? If faith loves and works and faith is an instrument, why can’t love and works of faith also be instruments? Since faith is a result of regeneration, won’t that faith include works?

Of course Hafemann does discuss the object of faith. His theme is that the law/gospel antithesis is wrong to put all the emphasis on the past. He denies that the past work of Christ is sufficient or the only object of faith. He insists that we look also to the life of Christ in us, and to the future work of Christ in us.

To his credit, Hafemann openly acknowledges his differences with Luther and Calvin’s law/grace antithesis. He thinks his different gospel is more biblical.

I think we would all see the difference between the two gospels if we stopped explaining the antithesis by talking only about “faith alone”.

The real point of the law-gospel antithesis is not “conflict”. It is non-identity. The law is not the gospel. The gospel is not the law. The gospel, however, is about the satisfaction of God’s law for God’s elect.

Though law and gospel are not the same thing, they are not opposed because they never claim to have the same function. Law says what God demands. Gospel says how Christ satisfied that demand for the elect. The law never offered life off probation;y one sin would put you under its curse, no matter how many acts of obedience to the law you had.

Hafemann thinks that the antithesis understands “Christ to bring the law to an end in the sense of abolishment”. But the antithesis does NOT understand Romans 10:4 only in terms of redemptive-historical abrogation. The “end of the law” is Christ completing all that the law demanded, so that there is no remainder left for the Spirit enabled Christian to do. Romans 10:4 is also first about redemptive-historical fulfillment.

The gospel says DONE. The gospel does not say “to be done by the life of Christ in the elect”.

Hafemann reduces the law/gospel antithesis to the abolishment of strict law, and says that what the Spirit does in us helps satisfy the law enough. This misses what the gospel says about Christ’s complete satisfaction of the law for the elect.

Christians sin, and therefore their “fulfillment of the law” (see for example, Romans 13) cannot ever satisfy the law. But the law will not go unsatisfied.

Back to footnote 6 on page 244: “In this view, the law itself taught a legalism that Adam and Israel failed to keep but that God continues to demand in order to drive us to the gospel”. Hafemann does not define this “legalism”.

Is “legalism” a demand for perfection? If God demands perfection, is God therefore a “legalist”? It seems to me that the only alternative to a demand for perfection is either no law at all or a “new” softened-down demand which calls only for imperfect righteousness so that “grace” makes up the difference.

Hafemann is simply following the direction of the Torrances who reject the “contract God” who demands perfection and operates by justice. The Barthians put “grace” and not justice into the pre-fall situation of Adam.

There are some who think that even talking about law’s demand for perfection is “legalism”. But God has told us that the law is not the gospel and that it never was the gospel. Romans 11:5–”So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is not on the basis of works; otherwise grace would not be grace.”

It is Hafemann who is the legalist, because he identifies law and gospel, and then reduces the demand to including what the Spirit does in the elect. What God does in us (by grace) is necessary for a different reason than the satisfaction of God`s law. What God does in us keeps us believing the gospel, but our believing the gospel is not what satisfies the law.

Read carefully what Hafemann writes about the “obedience of faith” (p 188): “Still others consider obedience to God’s law to be the necessary evidence of faith. For them, if one believes, then obedience becomes the mandatory sign of something else, namely faith, which is the human response to God’s grace that actually saves us. Faith must lead to obedience as a sign that it is real.”

While that it is an accurate description of many Calvinists who talk about assurance, it is not biblical assurance. We do not work to get assurance. We must have assurance before our works are acceptable to God. We must be saints before we can offer proper thanks and worship to God. We must make our calling and election sure before we take the first step of obedience in which God can delight.

Through faith in Christ we are sanctified by the blood of Christ (Hebrews 10:10-14), even before we do good works. Because they do not understand the distinction between Christ’s obedience for us alone for sanctification and our works after we are saints, most folks continue to seek a way to build Spirit-wrought obedience into acts that will help sanctify them

The Spirit works faith in the hearts of saints through the preaching of the gospel even after they are saints. Continuing faith is not a condition but a result of sanctification. Saints are commanded to continue to have faith but this faith is still never a work. It’s an anti-work because it has no inherent goodness or holiness. Faith itself is nothing in sanctification. Only Christ and His finished work counts in sanctification.

We Don’t Care About Your Motives, Just So You are Against Sin, Secularism and Obama?

November 11, 2013

William Blake

The Moral Virtues in Great Fear

Formed the Cross & Nails & Spear

And the Accuser Standing By

Cried out Crucify Crucify

If Moral Virtue was Christianity

Christ’s Pretensions were all Vanity

Conservative “Christians” tend to be identified with a prescribed set of practices rather than with ideas and doctrines about what God did in Christ.

Hearing the gospel is not about how much we make ourselves do or how much we can make ourselves believe. Faith is the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ causing us to look to Jesus Christ so what we depend on what Jesus Christ already did by His death and resurrection so that we do not depend on what we believe that Jesus Christ is doing in us and in our church.

Grace is not for the nice people who are living right. Grace is not what causes us to live right. None of us lives right yet. Grace is not useful the way parents and politicians want it to be. Isn’t it wonderful that Jesus Christ has already done enough so that we don’t have to con ourselves into believing that God has to “show up” every Sunday in the presence of authorized clergy?

For freedom Christ has made us free. We don’t have to have Jesus “warm up our hearts” in our daily quiet time. Romans 6 even says we don’t even have to sin to get more grace. Romans 5—we stand in grace. What are we going to do, now that we know that our doing is not what causes God to bless us?

But surely there’s got to be more to life than “merely” that, doesn’t there? More than “only” not having our sins imputed to us? At the end of the day, I say, NOT SO MUCH. Who in our day cares about not having sins credited to them? Who cares about that? Can’t we now get over that basic fact, and get on with it, and concern ourselves now with moral progress? Our sins are not counted against us. Do you hear that anymore? Who in our age now is so selfish and individualistic to still care about if their sins are counted against them? I Am.

But isn’t it dangerous for God to not count our sins against us? Maybe it’s so, maybe it’s not. Maybe there’s a not yet aspect of our justification in which God’s work in us by the Holy Spirit will be brought in as an additional factor, so that we can now still have various different motives, including the beauty of threats and the loss of assurance, and whatever else that works to get us on the move… NO NO NO.

But wouldn’t it be better now, in the present fight against secularism and liberalism, to not “rock the boat” about grace, and accept the “tension” between grace motives and other motives? So what if some works are not done from a clean conscience but done in order to keep the conscience clean, why rock the boat just because grace happens to work for you? Can’t we get along with people who operate out of different motives?
And the accusers appeal to us, if you really believe in grace, they tell us, you should get alone with the rest of us, with other doctrines, with other motives. Some Christians, they tell us, are

Many today warn us–yes, grace and gratitude is one complex of motives, but don’t forget to balance that with other motives

Do we address the people in church as if they have been believing some form of the gospel all along? “Close as in horseshoes”? Or do we say—some or all of you may need to be reconciled. Nobody is born reconciled. Let’s not presume. Let’s not beg the question.

Jerry Bridges, p 34, Transforming Grace—“if you are trusting TO ANY DEGREE in your own morality, or if you believe that God will somehow recognize any of your good works as a reason for your salvation, you need to seriously consider if you are truly a Christian.”