Jesus + Nothing = Everything God Promised

3097 reads

There are 10 Comments

TylerR's picture

Editor

I have read some of Tchividjian's articles. He's the guy who shamelessly plugs himself as "Billy Graham's grandson," as though that's supposed to mean something. Just so you folks know, I'm Paul Perry and Thomas Robbins' grandson - just thought you should know . . .

Tchividjian's writing on sanctification is a lot like popcorn. It sounds good at first, and is seems so refreshing but it is actually so much hot air. I'm not sure if it's his content or his writing style. The linked article quotes this from "Billy Graham's grandson," and it gives you a good flavor for what I'm talking about:

Bad behavior, therefore, happens when we fail to believe that everything we need, in Christ we already have; it happens when we fail to believe in the rich provisional resources that are already ours in the gospel.  Conversely, good behavior happens when we daily rest in and receive Christ’s ‘It is finished’ into our rebellious regions of unbelief.

Just what in the world does that mean? It sounds good, though, doesn't it!? It repeats the word "Christ" a lot. It even includes the word "gospel." But, what in the world is Tchividjian saying? All his writing on sanctification I've ever seen is like that. I'm not sure if his position is simply incoherent, or his writing is unintentionally vague and horrible, or I'm just stupid. Here's a challenge for "Billy Graham's grandson" - drop the buzzwords and the Christian fluff language and speak plain English. Until then, continue to enjoy the popcorn. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Very interesting. I don't think I've seen TT's J+N=E analyzed and answered quite that thoroughly before.

Hope I'll get some more time to ponder it tomorrow.

TylerR's picture

Editor

I knew you weren't referring to my own insightful analysis, Aaron . . . Smile

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

SuzanneT's picture

That article was MOST helpful and instructive even well beyond the issue at hand....! At the end I saw why-it was written by Jerry Wragg :) Does anyone else have certain people they'll read and for some unexplained reason you just resonate so easily with what they are saying?  I also really appreciated the Ichabod Spencer story included--again, so instructive!

Anyway..  

I've benefited greatly from some of TT's messages though have not read his books (I have read the similarly-aligned Elyse Fitzpatrick). I totally understood and appreciated the whole "my identity is now in Christ and I no longer need to struggle with ______" (fill in blank).  But I also understood from the plain reading of scripture (and the struggles in my own heart!) that there's work to be done in the life of the Believer and that it is by my own choice to "sin-or-not-to-sin" that I'll have victory (and so-joy!).

I guess I never noticed that part of the message missing, which is why I didn't understand the "debate". Maybe I just didn't notice. The excerpts that the article included are telling, and perplexing..I just don't get it. For the most part I'm a complete noob in the realm of theological studies, and it's plain to me what the scriptures are saying about how we are sanctified and being sanctified.  I pray this ship is turned aright in the hearts of any who are believing falsely about these things.

James K's picture

Exactly right Tyler.  TT tries to sound more spiritual than God it seems.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Anne Sokol's picture

Vitaliy is so good at explaining this. Wish you all could spend the hours with him listening that I do <3

I don't like how TT handles sanctification--his statements are a start, but they are incomplete.

I also dislike how fundies (or whomever) handle this.

I'm not sure I have the answer in words to explain what I think about sanctification, but I want to say a few things.

1. Most Christians understand salvation is by faith but is sanctification by works. .... There is something wrong with this. Not entirely sure how to explain it, but the false fruits of it need to be dealt with, at least.

False fruits of our usual beliefs about sanctification:

a. Believing I can reach God's standards. ... What we really do is reduce God's standards to some level we can attain, like the read your Bible every day, or wearing certain clothes, or tithing, or ....

b. Being conservative (or whatever we see ourselves as) makes us more pleasing to God than XX who is less conservative than we are.

c. Believing that someone who conforms/attains to the religious expectations of our certain milieu means that this person is closer, more pleasing to God.

Correct beliefs:

a. Christ alone reached God's standards. When He lived on the earth, he fulfilled to the fullest extent every single law, command, expectation of God.

b. God is pleased when I glorify Christ. I glorify Him by being in Him, by acknowledging His holiness, etc., and by setting my heart to follow in His steps. This may or may not look religiously acceptable to others.

c. About practical sanctification, one thing Vitaliy points out is to do the step that God gives you grace to do. You struggle with reading your Bible every day? OK, but does He give you the ability to at least pray about this? ... To attend church? Do the thing that God gives you the power to do. (This is to someone who is actually wanting to grow. If a person is just wanted to languish, that is a different issue, and probably need to talk about the consequences that will come from this.)

...

I don't understand it all. But I'm not really satisfied with either take on the issue. And there is a level, as I have said before, that it is a mystery b/c it is the power of the Spirit actually working inside a person so it seems like it's *me*.

I have considered, too, that if it were so intensely important to God that we not sin, then He could have made us sinless somehow upon salvation. But He hasn't done this. There is some eternal value in all this.

TylerR's picture

Editor

Why do the other two Persons of the Godhead go unmentioned in this current "gospel-centered" craze? I propose the following, new equations:

Salvation:

  • Father's plan + Son's work + Spirit's application = saved by grace

Sanctification:

  • Father's chastening + Son's intercession for sin + Spirit's conviction and prompting = growth

 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

James K's picture

Tyler, it would be more convincing to some if you put it like this:

Sanctification:

  • Christ centered Father's chastening + Christ centered intercession for sin + Christ centered Spirit's conviction and prompting = Christ centered growth

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

TylerR's picture

Editor

What I like best about your proposed alternation is that it's just so Christ-centered! I have another suggestion:

  • Radical, Christ-centered, Gospel centric Fatherly chastening + Radical, Christ-centered, Gospel-centric intercession for sin + Radical, Christ-centered, Gospel-centric Spirit conviction and prompting = Radical, Christ-centered, Gospel-centric growth
  • If we can all get together around this simple equation, perhaps we can finally (to quote "Billy Graham's grandson") . . . "daily rest in and receive Christ’s ‘It is finished’ into our rebellious regions of unbelief."

There's nothing quite like Radical, Christ-centered, Gospel-centric focus to eradicate my rebellious regions of unbelief. I feel the radical cleansing beginning even now . . .

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

SuzanneT's picture

Anne, very helpful thoughts on these things, well put together. And I think you hit on something that is often forgotten about in these conversations--some things are just going to remain a mystery until we meet our Savior, particularly when it comes to the nuances of the Spirit's continued work in each of our lives. And pointing to something as simple as "eternal value" to ultimately be considered, spot on. 
~

So much of what Wragg was saying reminded me of what I've heard at biblical counseling conferences, he made some really important points as to the life and mind of the Christian.
 
In his addressing this brand of grace I thought this was especially effective:

 
Could God have designed progressive sanctification that way?  He could’ve ordained that as we revisit the theme of God’s scandalous grace over and over, our pride is melted away, sin no longer entices, fleshly desires take flight in utter impotence, and our will seamlessly oozes into delightful conformity to Christ.  No real battle, and no moment in a temptation when “by the Spirit” we are responsible to “put to death the deeds of the flesh.”  Indeed, there are times when our obedience to Christ seems to happen in just that way!  Reflecting back on how we conquered some sin and it’s as though we experienced the delight of saying “yes” to God without the pain of saying “no” to the flesh.  Biblically speaking, however, true obedience only happens when both things occur.

~
No matter how much we strive in being unified in the Faith we are going to fall short on some level, sin's noetic effect on the mind is inescapable.  So Thankful for God's patience and sovereignty.