The hub of Christianity is not “do something for Jesus.” The hub of Christianity is “Jesus has done everything for you.”

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

TT appears to be voicing the same false disjunction he's been emphasizing for some time now.

Neither of the two things in the quote is "the hub." They are both essential for genuine Christian living. It's not either-or, it's both-and. (I also don't know how he's getting the impression that the call to discipleship is currently overemphasized.)

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  (Eph 2:8-10, ESV2011

"Jesus did everything for you" is not the whole gospel. "Jesus did everything so that you could live a changed life" is certainly more complete.

Mark_Smith's picture

While Jesus did everything spiritually for us to be saved, He told us to go out and preach the gospel, He told us through His word (and Paul) to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, He told us to test whether we are in the faith. There is a lot we have been empowered to do to carry out the gospel message AND that we must do for sanctification in this life.

Mark_Smith's picture

It seems TT is arguing against something I personally have never witnessed. He seems to suggest Millennials want to go to church but it is too rigid with do's and don'ts. This performance Christianity is too much and so they drop away.

 

What I have witnessed is Millennials rejecting the faith they were raised with due to a combination of perceived hypocrisy and "trust in science" like evolution and the Bib Bang, etc. Plus, they just really want to have sex. Additionally, a surprising number admit they smoke marijuana! Just being honest with what I have observed.

Maybe there is a population difference between who he talks to and what I have seen, but the 20 somethings I know have little to no interest in Christianity, but it is due to a love a sin more than anything else. This rejection of Christianity is WAY BEYOND a list of do's and don'ts.

PLewis's picture

Is there some recommended reading .. or articles or study .. or something.. regarding BALANCE in the Christian life?

 

I've attempted to put together a study on my own to no avail...

So many things I see are a balance ... 

Such as this .. things that are not "either - or" .. but "both - and" 

I'm trying to articulate - and lately that's not my forte .. laugh .. I just know so often I hear someone talking and think .. "but it's about Balance"

 

G. N. Barkman's picture

Another reading of the now classic, "Pursuit of Holiness" by Jerry Bridges would help restore the missing balance

in TT's obsessive focus.  It is just as problematic to apply monergism to sanctification as it is to insert synergism into justification.

G. N. Barkman

Anne Sokol's picture

from that link above--plz read b/c he's addressing exactly what commenters on this thread are arguing:

Spend any time in the American church, and you’ll hear legalism and lawlessness presented as two ditches on either side of the Gospel that we must avoid. Legalism, they say, happens when you focus too much on law or rules, and lawlessness when you focus too much on grace. Therefore, in order to maintain spiritual equilibrium, you have to “balance” law and grace. If you start getting too much law, you need to balance it with grace. If you start getting too much grace, you need to balance it with law. This “balanced” way of framing the issue has kept people from really understanding the Gospel of grace in all of its radical depth and beauty.

...

Can the Law make us Lawful?

What is the ultimate solution to lawlessness? The assumption is that championing ethics will make us more ethical; that preaching obedience will make us more obedient; that focusing on the law will make us more lawful. But is that the way it works?

...

Yes, the gospel does transforms us. But transformation does not happen when we make transformation the warp and woof of our message. But that’s exactly what’s happened. Whether it’s “how to have a good marriage”, or “how to be more missional”, or “how to practice godliness more effectively”, people hear more about what they need to do than what Jesus has already done. We’ve taken our eyes off of Christ, “the author and finisher of our faith”, to focus on ourselves. Plain and simple....

As a result, generations of Christians were taught that Christianity was primarily a life-style; that the essence of our faith centered on “how to live”; that real Christianity was demonstrated in the moral change that took place inside those who had a “personal relationship with Jesus.” Our ongoing performance for Jesus, therefore, not Jesus’ finished performance for us, became the focus of sermons, books, and conferences. What I need to do and who I need to become, became the end game.

This is long enough for one post anyways. Will post my own thoughts in another post ...

Lee's picture

alex o. wrote:

would it be fair to say that most fundamentalists are obsessed with Christian performance, their's or others?

 

I think most fundies are blind to their obsession to boot.

 

Would it be fair to say that imperatives like "be ye holy, for I am holy" might lend themselves to a fundamental obsession with performance?

I guess the residual fundy in me still finds holy living (performance, if you please) to be a commendable trait, and unholy living (theirs or others) to be a discernible indicator of need for sanctifying growth.

Lee

Anne Sokol's picture

I wish TT did a better job of explaining the use of the law in sanctification and what it means, practically speaking, to apply what he is emphasizing.

I'm going to give a stab at it.

People here skim TT's stuff and assume the following: He's saying we focus on grace alone and it's Ok if we're all sinning up a storm.

Grace = Licentiousness

Jesus is Everything = We Do Nothing

. . .

But that's not what he's saying.

He's saying there's another way to holiness rather than just focusing on trying to achieve it.

Holiness comes by focusing on Christ's achievement.

OK, so, that sounds all hunky-dorey, you say. But what does it really mean in real life?

Let's take the example of s^xual purity.

Let's say you have a teen and let's say he wants to be s^xually pure, and he asks you for advice.

So, what counsel would you give him?

This is a test.

Mark_Smith's picture

Oh boy...what to say and not to say...I realize this guy is a real hero to some. I can't figure out why. But then again, I avoid the Gospel Coalition website and I am not Reformed or a Calvinist. So, what do you expect? The only time I read the Gospel Coalition website is when someone links to it here at SI, and I am reminded why I am not in that camp!

 

OK. Well, I've read and reread both the Washington Post article and the new one linked just above. I really wish this guy would come out and say what he really believes. For the record, I have NOT read any of his books. I have read his articles that have been posted here at SI. I am starting to suspect this guy might be a Reformed Universalist. I'm not dropping bombs or trying to start a fight, but my radar is up. Here is why.

MOST Reformed people I am aware of, like James White for example (a Reformed Baptist...maybe that is the problem as I am largely ignorant of Presbyterians and I know none personally), focus on God having types of love. He loves the elect. He loves the world in a different way...The problem is TT doesn't talk that way. He seems to think God loves everyone equally which is strange for a Reformed person. From this love grace flows and people are saved. That is why I am thinking this guy is a universalist. 

Maybe the problem is he is NOT talking to the world at all and ONLY to the church...but why write a Washington Post article to do that? You are writing to the world by definition! To me his views are so confused that I can't really analyze them in an evangelical Christian context. I feel more like I am dealing with Rod Bell or Mark Driscoll. Someone who is either in error or really close to it.

But hey, I get really suspicious when someone starts quoting modern Dutch theologians! Perhaps it is just me.

 

Oh, and calling the GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST 200 proof...I just can't relate to that. I gave up alcohol a long time ago. I can't believe a minister of the gospel thinks that is an approporiate analogy to the gospel in the modern age. But hey, maybe its just me.

 

 

 

Wayne Wilson's picture

Anne Sokol wrote:

I wish TT did a better job of explaining the use of the law in sanctification and what it means, practically speaking, to apply what he is emphasizing.

I'm going to give a stab at it.

People here skim TT's stuff and assume the following: He's saying we focus on grace alone and it's Ok if we're all sinning up a storm.

Grace = Licentiousness

Jesus is Everything = We Do Nothing

. . .

But that's not what he's saying.

He's saying there's another way to holiness rather than just focusing on trying to achieve it.

Holiness comes by focusing on Christ's achievement.

OK, so, that sounds all hunky-dorey, you say. But what does it really mean in real life?

Let's take the example of s^xual purity.

Let's say you have a teen and let's say he wants to be s^xually pure, and he asks you for advice.

So, what counsel would you give him?

This is a test.

 

Anne, I don't think anyone is suggesting that TT (and thanks for setting the example that we can use initials and not try to spell that name --- makes Ellis Island understandable)  is promoting licentiousness.  It appears he honestly believes that focusing on the cross and grace is sufficient to live a holy life.  He is saying, it seems to me, the battle is there...and only there.  Focus on grace and you will simply be above temptation.  He doesn't say that directly, but he says very little directly. (I'm going off the few articles I've read by him, not his books --- the articles don't prompt me to read more of him) The problem is it doesn't seem to account for many Scriptures suggesting otherwise, nor people's experience.  It seems to me to leave the Christian lightly armed in the war between the spirit and the flesh.

 

I think the Washington Post article is just a rather lame ploy to use modern stats on lower church attendance to promote his vision of sanctification, as though doing, striving, self-sacrifice and serving the Lord weren't proclaimed when church attendance was high.  Kind-a silly, that.

 

Okay, I want to take the test now:

To the teen struggling with sexual purity. Yes, he should be told that there is strength in the Gospel (Rom 8:11) and in daily fellowship with the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:16), who will help us kill the desires that want to rule us (Rom 8:13) in order to achieve victory over the flesh.  He should be told it is a common temptation, but Christ has made a path to victory over this sin (1 Cor. 10:13). He should be told that love is the primary reason for purity (Gal 5:13), and loving God and others is what enabled Jesus to rise above such temptations.  He should be told that Jesus asks us deny ourselves. He should also be told that the Bible gives much practical advice about not feeding the flesh (Job 31:1, Matt 5:28 e.g.) We must also be wise by not fooling ourselves about the power of the flesh to take advantage of us. This may mean drastic action (carefully explained Matt 5:29), choosing our paths carefully (Prov 5:8), being careful who we hang out with (1 Cor 15:33), governing through practice our thought life (Prov 6:25, Phil 4:8), sometimes running like mad (1 Cor. 6:18), Gen. 39:12), and that we need the dedication of an athlete (1 Cor 9:24-27) and the commitment of a soldier in the field (2 Tim 2:4) to please our Lord. This is what it means to be strong in grace. He should be told God's salvation stands behind you, and the new birth gives you capacity for growth and victory.  God is with you every moment to sustain you as you walk with Him.  Yet he needs to be told that he must choose to abstain from wickedness, so he will be a fit vessel to be used by the Master (2 Tim 2:19-21)  And he should be told: If your love for God does not keep you safe every hour, or flags in you because we are all weak, then you may choose to remember that God is holy and to be feared (1 Cor 10:6-8), and He does discipline those He loves (Heb 12:5-12).  He must also be reminded that we are prone to deception in this area (1 Cor 6:9, Eph 5:5-6, Gal 6:7-9), so we must be vigilant against the world and our own flesh deceiving us about this sin. 

What kind of a grade do you think I should get?  I think TT would give me a "d-" for allowing the possibility that some of this counsel might be regarded as a string attached to the Gospel and may cause some level of anxiety that sanctification takes work.  Since I don't confuse justification and sanctification, I don't think I'm attaching a string to the Gospel, but I do think holiness requires effort, even great effort, since sin is still in me and self-deception is an ever-present possibility.

Anne Sokol's picture

Wayne Wilson wrote:

... He is saying, it seems to me, the battle is there...and only there.  Focus on grace and you will simply be above temptation.  He doesn't say that directly, but he says very little directly. (I'm going off the few articles I've read by him, not his books --- the articles don't prompt me to read more of him) The problem is it doesn't seem to account for many Scriptures suggesting otherwise, nor people's experience.  It seems to me to leave the Christian lightly armed in the war between the spirit and the flesh.

This also really frustrates me when I read his stuff and listen to him.

You should listen to him on youtube. he gives more examples but not a good comprehensive theology of all this. Like, he gives an example where is teenage son did something bad ( I think online), and guess what? they reacted parentally as pretty much all of us would react--they cut off all social media, laid down uber-strict rules, etc.

so I think people are missing the whole picture of how his one-liner message works into sanctification. and he's not great at explaining it maybe.

I will come back to the test--thanks for taking the time to answer! ... want to hear other answers too, if people are game :).

Wayne Wilson's picture

Having done so poorly on my first test, I would like to submit a new answer.  Although I haven't read TT, I have read Elyse Fitzpatrick's book on child-raising, which is TT inspired. This is the book that recommends spanking children when they misbehave, not so much for foul deed they did, but because it shows the child has "forgotten how wonderful [Jesus'] love is." 

So I think the "correct" answer to the test about sexual purity, based on this TT disciple, would be something like:

"When Jesus was on the earth, he didn't lust because He loved people so much. You are desiring the wonderful experience of sexual expression. These feelings you have are really designed to make you more like Jesus.  It's all about love, and He loves you so much He went to the cross for you. He loves you so much He obeyed His Father even unto death. He understands obeying even when it is hard, so you can ask Him to help you love others enough not to lust after them or defile them, even when that's hard."

I think this would get me a "B" from TT.  And honestly, I don't think there's anything really wrong with saying it.  Is it a complete biblical answer to dealing with lust?  No. 

 

 

dmyers's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

TT appears to be voicing the same false disjunction he's been emphasizing for some time now.

Neither of the two things in the quote is "the hub." They are both essential for genuine Christian living. It's not either-or, it's both-and. (I also don't know how he's getting the impression that the call to discipleship is currently overemphasized.)

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  (Eph 2:8-10, ESV2011

"Jesus did everything for you" is not the whole gospel. "Jesus did everything so that you could live a changed life" is certainly more complete.

But TT specifically says in the additional article linked by alex o. that he doesn't see it as a disjunction at all:

"Spend any time in the American church, and you’ll hear legalism and lawlessness presented as two ditches on either side of the Gospel that we must avoid. Legalism, they say, happens when you focus too much on law or rules, and lawlessness when you focus too much on grace. Therefore, in order to maintain spiritual equilibrium, you have to “balance” law and grace. If you start getting too much law, you need to balance it with grace. If you start getting too much grace, you need to balance it with law. This “balanced” way of framing the issue has kept people from really understanding the Gospel of grace in all of its radical depth and beauty.

"It is more theologically accurate to say that the one primary enemy of the Gospel—legalism—comes in two forms. Some people avoid the gospel and try to save themselves by keeping the rules, doing what they’re told, maintaining the standards, and so on (you could call this “front-door legalism”). Other people avoid the gospel and try to save themselves by breaking the rules, doing whatever they want, developing their own autonomous standards, and so on (you could call this “back-door legalism”). In other words, there are two “laws” that we typically choose from: the law that says, “I can find freedom and fullness of life if I keep the rules,” or the law that says, “I can find freedom and fullness of life if I break the rules.” Either way, you’re still trying to save yourself—which means both are legalistic, because both are self-salvation projects. “Make a rule” or “break a rule” really belong to the same passion for autonomy (self-rule). We want to remain in control of our lives and our destinies, so the only choice is whether we will conquer the mountain by asceticism or by license. So it would be a mistake to identify the “two cliffs” as being legalism and lawlessness. What some call license is just another form of legalism. And there’s always and only been one solution to our self-salvation projects: God’s salvation project in Christ."

Agree or disagree with the above explanation, it appears to be a mistake to say that his position is emphasizing one side of a false disjunction.

Also, "Jesus did everything so that you could live a changed life" is an example of the danger that comes with any Jesus + something description of sanctification -- it is too low a view of the Law and it underestimates our depravity, indirectly devaluing grace.  If we truly understand how far short we fall in keeping the Law post-salvation, despite "best" efforts, we'd be more hesitant to tout the changes we perceive as being anything like a primary purpose of our salvation.  The better formulation might be "Jesus did everything because you would would never be able to anything close to enough (let alone everything), and that means you don't have to do anything.  But once you understand that, you'll almost certainly do more (and for better reasons) than if you thought you had to do something."

Hope that helps.

dmyers's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:

Another reading of the now classic, "Pursuit of Holiness" by Jerry Bridges would help restore the missing balance

in TT's obsessive focus.  It is just as problematic to apply monergism to sanctification as it is to insert synergism into justification.

G.N., you kind of walked into one here.  Jerry Bridges's view of sanctification is the same as TT's.  See his 2008 book Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in God's Unfailing Love.  From the jacket:

"The freedom in falling short of God’s standard relies on His gift of grace. Unfortunately, too many of us forget the free offer. We spend our lives basing our relationship with God on our performance rather than on Him. We see our identity as never being worthy of His love.

Isn’t it time to stop trying to measure up and begin accepting the transforming power of God’s grace?

The product of more than 10 years of Bible study, Navigator author Jerry Bridges' Transforming Grace is a fountainhead of inspiration and renewal that will show you just how inexhaustible and generous God’s grace really is."

TylerR's picture

Editor

The more I hear people talk about TT, and read his quoted material, the more baffled I am. I have no idea where this comes from: 

Spend any time in the American church, and you’ll hear legalism and lawlessness presented as two ditches on either side of the Gospel that we must avoid. Legalism, they say, happens when you focus too much on law or rules, and lawlessness when you focus too much on grace. Therefore, in order to maintain spiritual equilibrium, you have to “balance” law and grace. If you start getting too much law, you need to balance it with grace. If you start getting too much grace, you need to balance it with law. This “balanced” way of framing the issue has kept people from really understanding the Gospel of grace in all of its radical depth and beauty.

I must not travel in the same circles he does. I am not trying to be snide, but I have never heard matters framed in this way, and I have never seen it in action, either. Different worlds, apparently. 

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?

G. N. Barkman's picture

I considered mentioning "Transforming Grace" by Jerry Bridges, and now someone else has brought it into the discussion.  Yes, when you read "Transforming Grace" you realize that Bridges is saying much the same as TT.  The difference, as I see it, is that Bridges also wrote "Pursuit of Holiness."  With Bridges, you get a balanced emphasis upon both the wonder and power of sovereign grace, as well as the responsibility and hard work required of those who have been saved by grace.  With TT, it seems that what I hear him emphasize is God's grace, along with criticism for those who endeavor to achieve holiness through human effort.  When TT writes his version of "Pursuit of Holiness," I will believe he understands both truths of Justification by grace and Sanctification by human effort.  Until then, I am left with the impression that he is trumpeting the truth of grace to the neglect of human responsibility, and that is a dangerous imbalance.

G. N. Barkman

Mark_Smith's picture

I don't know whether you read my post above that I wrote yesterday but I feel the same way about TT. After I wrote my post I felt a little concerned about being too judgmental about what I wrote so I went and bought the kindle version of his new book One Way Love.  The quote you gave above is from that book. I've read through chapter 3 and it is full of quotes like that. I kept scratching my head wondering who his target audience is. It seems he is writing to millennials who have terrible misconceptions about what Christianity is. He has this thing against the law and I can't figure out why. He tells his personal story (often reminding us that Billy Graham is his granddad) but I can't imagine that the environment he was raised in was that legalistic. His dad was a psychologist and his grandfather Billy Graham!

For the record, I have met some serious legalistically people who were Christian. But I have YET to find a professing Christian who thinks all Christianity is is a list of Do's and Don'ts. He keeps hammering away at that over and over again like it is common to believe that. This is why I wonder who his audience is and why I wonder about his soteriology. People who are unsaved often think all Christianity is is a "joy killer". Don't have fun...Do got to church, etc. He seems to be talking to them but writing like they are saved...very confusing.

 

Just to be fair I also read all the available pages on amazon for what seems to have been his first book Do I Know God? from 2009. From what I can read on-line, it seems to be much more straight forward. He gives a generous but thoroughly orthodox view of the Christian life and soteriology, specifically mentioning unsaved versus saved. That is missing from his more recent writings from what I can tell.

Anne Sokol's picture

I think TT's message is a half message, kind of, though I think he's right. Though if you listen to him, he'll talk about times you need to "apply the law." (rules, etc.) But you have to listen a lot.

But I want to posit a few points about sanctification that I think the "grace" people get, that most people don't get.

So, taking the example of a teen that desires to be s*xually pure, I have to start out with a few large, background truths--that I never really heard at all in our circles.

1. We never attain God's standard. We never, ever, ever, ever attain God's standard. Not even as Christians. Only Christ is capable of doing this. And He did it for me.

2. Not understanding #1, a lot of Christians think they are pleasing God by their actions and gaining certain favor or not (not salvific) by their "performance" (or however you want to term it).

3. Not understanding #1, we tend to reduce God's standards into something keepable, and then think we are keeping it or not. Ex. read your Bible every day. Reading my Bible daily is SO FAR AWAY from God's standard for me towards His Word, but keeping the rule satisfied me for years. ... No more.

4. Not understanding #1, we reduce our ability to grow as believers. Once we understand that these rules or socially-Christian standards are not even close to God's standards, then we open the door to looking honestly at who Jesus was and asking how to live this life.

I can give more examples if anyone is interested.

 

Wayne Wilson's picture

Anne Sokol wrote:

I think TT's message is a half message, kind of, though I think he's right. Though if you listen to him, he'll talk about times you need to "apply the law." (rules, etc.) But you have to listen a lot.

But I want to posit a few points about sanctification that I think the "grace" people get, that most people don't get.

So, taking the example of a teen that desires to be s*xually pure, I have to start out with a few large, background truths--that I never really heard at all in our circles.

1. We never attain God's standard. We never, ever, ever, ever attain God's standard. Not even as Christians. Only Christ is capable of doing this. And He did it for me.

2. Not understanding #1, a lot of Christians think they are pleasing God by their actions and gaining certain favor or not (not salvific) by their "performance" (or however you want to term it).

3. Not understanding #1, we tend to reduce God's standards into something keepable, and then think we are keeping it or not. Ex. read your Bible every day. Reading my Bible daily is SO FAR AWAY from God's standard for me towards His Word, but keeping the rule satisfied me for years. ... No more.

4. Not understanding #1, we reduce our ability to grow as believers. Once we understand that these rules or socially-Christian standards are not even close to God's standards, then we open the door to looking honestly at who Jesus was and asking how to live this life.

I can give more examples if anyone is interested.

Anne, I don't disagree that missing #1 would have dire consequences for true sanctification.  I haven't been in churches where that wasn't made clear, so I don't know how many Christians out there really have never been taught this.  If it's many, it's very sad.  I can't imagine a church telling people that daily Bible reading meets God's standard. Maybe some do. or maybe it's not explained thoroughly and some Christians read that into it. Maybe that was true in your case.   I've always heard it as a good way to "let the word of Christ richly dwell within you" ---something essential for sanctification.  Your experience is a good reminder to us to keep explaining the reasons for why we encourage things that promote sanctification, what they used to call the "means of grace."  I rather like that old term!

The only problem I see with how #1 is worded is the possible misunderstanding of "he did it for me" as applied to sanctification.  If it is suggested that Jesus has done for me my current responsibility as His servant to serve Him, I think that is leading people astray.  In fact, I really don't know what that means, but I think that's what some people take away from TT's emphasis.  

I would be interested in your further points about sexual purity from the TT perspective.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Anne Sokol wrote:
1. We never attain God's standard. We never, ever, ever, ever attain God's standard. Not even as Christians. Only Christ is capable of doing this. And He did it for me.

Anne,

It's true that we never fully meet the standard and our acceptance before God is entirely based on Christ's substitutionary atonement. However, as a Spirit-filled believer, I am no longer enslaved to failure, and I am empowered for success. That's where the command from 1 Peter 1, mentioned earlier, comes in. I have no excuse for not living up to that standard at any given moment in time, and God's expectation is that I am actually living up to it. I still rest securely in Christ, but I am also responsible to be "putting on the new man" and "being holy as God is holy." These are commands which require obedience of the believer, and they mark failures in my Christian walk any time I do not obey them in the power supplied through salvation.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Mark_Smith's picture

I agree! I am empowered for success in Christ. Now, will I ever meet the ultimate standard? No, since sin still resides in me. But God through the Holy Spirit in me and the word of God and fellowship with believers has given me all that I need to live out a sanctified life. The purpose of resting in grace is to launch out and seek to live holy and to reach the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Anne Sokol's picture

it takes a work of God to get this clear in our hearts. It really does. I don't know how else to say it, but I wish people in our circles understood it more.

You never live up to God's standards. You never, ever fulfill God's standards by your works. Only Jesus is able to do this. Only Jesus lived the righteousness God requires.

1689 Bapt Conf of Faith talks about this:

Those who attain the greatest height which is possible in this life in their obedience to God, are still so far from being able to supererogate, and to do more than God requires, that they fall short of much which they are bound to do in their duty to God.

and

And in any case, in so far as our works are good they originate from the work of the Holy Spirit. Even then, the good works are so defiled by us, and so mixed with weakness and imperfection, that they could not survive the severity of God's judgement.

notwithstanding, God is gracious:

Yet, quite apart from the fact that believers are accepted through Christ as individual souls, their good works are also accepted through Christ. It is not as though the believers are (in this life) wholly unblameable and unreprovable in God's sight, but because He looks upon them in His Son, and is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although it is accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.

so, this is where TT gets it right though he's really weak on the application side.

Anne Sokol's picture

we really push the "God and I" time, read your Bible every day, devotions, etc.

It's not bad. It's useful.

But it is bad in that we now focus on man-made ideas instead of God's standard.

What's God's standard?

  • Pray always, in the Spirit.
  • Obey His Word
  • Love and delight in His Word
  • Value His Word more than my bank account, more than chocolate (that's the NIV application)

 

so what are we teaching people? read your bible and pray every day? (our standard?) our minimum that is no where written in Scripture?

or God's standard?

They can't do God's standard, but Jesus did it for them. And now we just look to him, the leadership of His Spirit, and he will show us how to move into the greater commands/expectations of God for our lives. He will lead us in learning to value His Word to such an extent in our lives, to obey it, to pray constantly in His Spirit. It might look really different from what we've envisioned. 

 

alex o.'s picture

Anne Sokol wrote:

we really push the "God and I" time, read your Bible every day, devotions, etc.

It's not bad. It's useful.

But it is bad in that we now focus on man-made ideas instead of God's standard.

What's God's standard?

  • Pray always, in the Spirit.
  • Obey His Word
  • Love and delight in His Word
  • Value His Word more than my bank account, more than chocolate (that's the NIV application)

 

so what are we teaching people? read your bible and pray every day? (our standard?) our minimum that is no where written in Scripture?

or God's standard?

They can't do God's standard, but Jesus did it for them. And now we just look to him, the leadership of His Spirit, and he will show us how to move into the greater commands/expectations of God for our lives. He will lead us in learning to value His Word to such an extent in our lives, to obey it, to pray constantly in His Spirit. It might look really different from what we've envisioned. 

 

 

In trying to formulate how to communicate requirements for discipleship to others, in my view, it is best to stick with what the Bible says. Preach the word.

My difference with the emphasis of many Fundamentalists is theological and biblical. Discipleship requires death (take up your cross) so there really is no effort involved with that contra the emphasis on "effort" from some in the F. camp. How can a living sacrifice expend effort?

As Christians we need to walk (sanctification) in the same way that we came to Christ (by faith). See Colossians for this concept.

Fundamentalism (today's variety) overly concerns itself with outward conformity such as decorum, dress, and also political ideology to some extent. These conformities are carnal generally produced by "efforts." Christ says "abide in Me and I in you for without Me you can do nothing." I have never heard a Fundamentalist expound John 15 (I know they have, but I have never heard it and doubt many would preach it well).

Reread the promise of the New Covenant in Jer. and Ez. along with the section in Hebrews. It was made with the House of Judah and Israel at Shavuot 10 days after Christ ascended (in my view). It promises and provides for a supernatural life in the Spirit not carnal self-efforts to please God.

This is my last reply in this thread. I have too much going on to do more than this post.

 

 

"Our faith itself... is not our saviour. We have but one Saviour; and that one Saviour is Jesus Christ our Lord.  B.B. Warfield

http://beliefspeak2.net

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

alex o. wrote:

Anne Sokol wrote:

we really push the "God and I" time, read your Bible every day, devotions, etc.

It's not bad. It's useful.

But it is bad in that we now focus on man-made ideas instead of God's standard.

What's God's standard?

  • Pray always, in the Spirit.
  • Obey His Word
  • Love and delight in His Word
  • Value His Word more than my bank account, more than chocolate (that's the NIV application)

 

so what are we teaching people? read your bible and pray every day? (our standard?) our minimum that is no where written in Scripture?

or God's standard?

They can't do God's standard, but Jesus did it for them. And now we just look to him, the leadership of His Spirit, and he will show us how to move into the greater commands/expectations of God for our lives. He will lead us in learning to value His Word to such an extent in our lives, to obey it, to pray constantly in His Spirit. It might look really different from what we've envisioned. 

 

 

In trying to formulate how to communicate requirements for discipleship to others, in my view, it is best to stick with what the Bible says. Preach the word.

My difference with the emphasis of many Fundamentalists is theological and biblical. Discipleship requires death (take up your cross) so there really is no effort involved with that contra the emphasis on "effort" from some in the F. camp. How can a living sacrifice expend effort?

As Christians we need to walk (sanctification) in the same way that we came to Christ (by faith). See Colossians for this concept.

Fundamentalism (today's variety) overly concerns itself with outward conformity such as decorum, dress, and also political ideology to some extent. These conformities are carnal generally produced by "efforts." Christ says "abide in Me and I in you for without Me you can do nothing." I have never heard a Fundamentalist expound John 15 (I know they have, but I have never heard it and doubt many would preach it well).

Reread the promise of the New Covenant in Jer. and Ez. along with the section in Hebrews. It was made with the House of Judah and Israel at Shavuot 10 days after Christ ascended (in my view). It promises and provides for a supernatural life in the Spirit not carnal self-efforts to please God.

This is my last reply in this thread. I have too much going on to do more than this post.

 

 

Bold Added

This is the bone of contention. No matter how you slice it, we still have to walk.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Anne Sokol's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

This is the bone of contention. No matter how you slice it, we still have to walk.

This is not accurate. The contention lies in what understanding/emphasis we have while we are walking.

I fished around and here is TT talking about this--how he counsels people pastorally and what causes/motivates change.

 

TylerR's picture

Editor

I read the short interview from TT, linked above. This man is simply a bad communicator. 

A lot of preaching these days is too theoretical and disconnected from reality when it comes to the human condition and how real change happens. We use language like “indicatives” and “imperatives.” We love phrases like “faith alone saves but the faith that saves is never alone” and “grace is opposed to earning, not effort.”

No idea what he's talking about. I've never used those words or phrases. His main focus appears to be about proper motivations for sanctification. 

And all of those categories and phrases are good. I affirm them all theologically. But none of them answers this question: how does change actually happen?

Here is his main issue:

But there’s a distinct difference between a reason to be obedient and a motivation that actually produces obedience. It’s all well and good to say there are many reasons to obey, but what actually motivates you to be obedient? The idea that we act based on reasons—we act to please God because it’s “the right thing to do”—presupposes that we act rationally. 

No kidding. Just what in the world is he trying to say? Legalism is bad? Serve God with the proper motivations? Those are not exactly novel concepts. 

God’s command to love him is all the reason we need to love him, but it’s not what causes actual love for him. What causes actual love for God is God’s love for us. His love for us is what motivates love from us. 

Couldn't he have just quoted Rom 12:1-2 and have been done with it? What is TT saying that is so amazing? Why is he being listened to? Honestly, I had an easier time reading philosophy back in community college than understanding what in the world he is saying - and he isn't even saying anything novel or deep. Rom 12:1-2. Moving on . . .

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?

TylerR's picture

Editor

Yes, I'm not sure who in the world TT's audience is. It is as though I'm reading a Martian author. For example, in his book One Way Love, TT laments that "you will hear great concern from inside the church about too much grace . . . " (27). Excuse me? No idea what in the world he's talking about! Perhaps somebody coming out of a legalistic, KJVO-ish church may find his works on sanctification helpful. I would assume, however, that rather than legalism, a certain degree of apathy and hedonism is what is hindering "evangelical" churches today.

Consider this synopsis from another of his books, One Way Love:

In this "manifesto," Tchividjian calls the church back to the heart of the Christian faith—grace. It is time for us to abandon our play-it-safe religion, and to get drunk on grace. Two hundred-proof, unflinching grace. It’s shocking and scary, unnatural and undomesticated … but it is also the only thing that can set us free and light the church—and the world—on fire.

Ok . . . I'm ready to get drunk on grace! Not just any grace, mind you, but 200-proof grace! Perhaps then, and only then, I can light the world on fire . . . Is there anything actually original in here? Years back, I worked at a used bookstore. I hated being assigned the Christian section. I had to deal with a glut of fluffy books just like this one. They came out every year by the usual characters. They were snapped up at the new bookstores and tossed our way the next year, when the next book by the same author came out. This book appears to be more of the same (with 11 pages of endorsements). He also has a bizarre obsession with telling everybody he's Billy Graham's grandson. Well, you know what? I'm Paul Perry's grandson! Yes, it's true!!!

Reading his article (linked above) on motivation for sanctification was like listening to a lecture explaining that the world is round. At the end of it, I shrugged my figurative shoulders and said, "Yes, of course. What's the fuss and why did you take so long to make your point?" 

Who knows? If his works help Christians, then I wish him the best. I'm just not the guy he's writing for, apparently.  

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?

Wayne Wilson's picture

Here, I think, is where the problem lies:  TT says

I think the Bible includes exhortations that appeal to a wide range of “reasons,” but I’d like to suggest “reasons” are very different from “motivations.” For instance, we might say that a reason to follow the law is to simply please God. After all, Hebrews talks about our good deeds being pleasing to God (perhaps we could call this “running for the crown”). But there’s a distinct difference between a reason to be obedient and a motivation that actually produces obedience. It’s all well and good to say there are many reasons to obey, but what actually motivates you to be obedient? The idea that we act based on reasons—we act to please God because it’s “the right thing to do”—presupposes that we act rationally. But that’s the very idea that the Reformers rejected! Just because we have a reason to be good doesn’t mean we’ll do it—we have to want to.

He believes reasons to serve God and obey Him are not motivations to do so because the Reformers said we are irrational. This is his formula and I think he just made it up.  The implication is that we are irrational because we are sinners.  I would suggest he is confusing the condition of believers and unbelievers. As believers, we are new creatures in Christ, and regeneration does not leave us behaving in wholly irrational ways.   It's true we love God because He first loved us. That's the foundation of all true faith.  So by the power of regeneration and the work of the Holy Spirit, I love God.   Why isn't pleasing Him a proper motivation? Why isn't it much more than a reason?  For me, the fact that God should be obeyed is both a reason and a motivation. 

TT pushes this dichotomy between law and grace much too far. He says:

When it comes to real heart change, we have two options: law or grace. That’s it. Two. At the end of the day we either believe law changes or love does.

Either/or.  Why can't we say love embraces the law because it is from the one we love?  The most natural thing in the world is to please the one we love.  That's basic.  It's obvious.  But even though we love God, and want to please him, we still battle the flesh.  Sin still rears its ugly head.  So all the other reasons to obey become motivations as we battle our sin. It's not about "performance," it's about conquering that part of us that makes us weak servants, and occasional failures in the service of our great King.  Sometimes the failures are pronounced.  These failures are a legitimate cause for sadness. Grace sustains us in this, however, knowing we are eternally loved in Christ and secure in God's affection.  That doesn't make our failure okay.  It calls for repentance, and a godly sorrow that leads to restoration and life.  Is it wrong to say it motivates us to try harder next time...to look for escape routes, to change some things, to discipline ourselves? Grace teaches us to do things. It is

instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

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