This Mystery

reflections on theology and life

Tag: grace

Josh Harris: ‘Try hard’ is not good news

There seems to be a grow­ing intra­mural dis­cus­sion on the inter­net among those who say we must “try harder” to attain growth in holi­ness and those who say our growth in holi­ness comes from con­stantly return­ing to the Gospel — under­stand­ing that in Christ, it is fin­ished. I’m with the lat­ter camp; our stand­ing is not based on our per­for­mance and our growth is based in His com­pleted work.

Growth in holi­ness — pro­gres­sive sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion — is not a bat­tle to be fought in the flesh but in the strength of the Holy Spirit () in light of the Cross.

Check out this clip from Josh Har­ris as he makes the case:

HT: Tim Bris­ter


Are you so fool­ish? Hav­ing begun by the Spirit, are you now being per­fected by the flesh? (ESV)

Sanctification, Gospel and Effort

Tug of war in 1920'sJustin Tay­lor brings our atten­tion to an online dia­logue between Kevin DeY­oung and Tul­lian Tchivid­jian on the effort we’re called to make in our sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion. Since that ties in with our cur­rent series, Com­pleted by the Spirit, I thought it would be good to visit the dis­cus­sion as it stands so far:

The two pas­tors agree that the indica­tive of the gospel and our jus­ti­fi­ca­tion in Christ must be the basis of our sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion. But I think the dif­fer­ence can be boiled down to the dif­fer­ence between action and ontol­ogy. At the risk of over­sim­pli­fi­ca­tion, Kevin’s call is for us to “do” those things that are given to us as imper­a­tives, while Tullian’s call is for us to “rest in” the indica­tives so that the imper­a­tives flow from them.

Our view — and the one that will be explained in fur­ther posts in the Com­pleted by the Spirit series — is that Paul’s imper­a­tives are calls for us to “be who we already are.” We can do things that look like sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion but if those actions are done in the flesh, they are sim­ply behav­ior mod­i­fi­ca­tion. It’s a change in the heart that is desired, not sim­ply an out­ward change in actions.

To grow in Christ’s image, we must engage in “the hard work of going back to the cer­tainty of our already secured par­don in Christ and hit­ting the refresh but­ton over and over,” as Tul­lian explains. It’s know­ing who we now are in Christ that gives us the free­dom to be that new creature.

Tchividjian: Too Good To Be True

I enjoy read­ing Tul­lian Tchividjian’s blog because of his unwa­ver­ing com­mit­ment to the Gospel — not just in our jus­ti­fi­ca­tion but in our sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion. Many in the “reformed camp” can focus too strongly on our own wretched­ness and on law-based behav­ior mod­i­fi­ca­tion in sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion, while instead we should be rely­ing on the fin­ished work of Christ and grow­ing in grace by behold­ing Christ. That sort of flesh-based attempt at sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion leads to despair and a los­ing bat­tle against sin — rather than the joy and vic­tory we’re called to have — as I am argu­ing in my cur­rent series, Com­pleted by the Spirit.

Today, Tchivid­jian writes about his new ser­mon series enti­tled “Pic­tures of Grace:”

What the Phar­isee, the pros­ti­tute, and all of us need to remem­ber every day is that Christ offers for­give­ness full and free from both our self-righteous good­ness and our unright­eous bad­ness. This is the hard­est thing for us to believe as Chris­tians. We think it’s a mark of spir­i­tual matu­rity to hang onto our guilt and shame. We’ve sickly con­cluded that the worse we feel, the bet­ter we actu­ally are.

A friend refers to that feel­ing of guilt and shame as “Protes­tant penance.” Christ’s for­give­ness removes that shame. Under­stand­ing that grows us in the knowl­edge and like­ness of Him.

Orig­i­nal post: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tullian/2011/05/24/too-good-to-be-true/

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