An Illustration of the Sanctified Life

“A three-year-old little boy once went to meet his father at the train. “I want to carry your suitcase, Daddy,” he said. “Good lad,” said his father. “Put your hand on my hand.” Together, they carried the heavy suitcase. When they arrived home the little lad told his mother, “I carried Daddy’s heavy suitcase.” And that is exactly what we should do. Lay our weak hand in Jesus’ strong hand. We are strong together with Him. Yes, more than conquerors.” -Corrie Ten Boom, I Stand at the Door and Knock

Not Being, But Becoming

“This life is not godliness, but growth in godliness; not health, but healing; not being, but becoming; not rest, but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way; the process is not yet finished, but it has begun; this is not the goal, but it is road; at present all does not gleam and glitter, but everything is being purified.” -Martin Luther, A Defense and Explanation of All Articles

As quoted at: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/100-quotes-from-you-on-sanctification

It’s not “about us,” except for when God says it is…

I was thinking today about how theological slogans can become abused to the point of becoming untrue. Today, I was thinking about the criticism that the mere preaching/teaching of the ethical sections of Scripture automatically means making Christianity “about us.”

In the broader history of Reformed theology that viewpoint is called antinomianism, and has never actually been countenanced in the Reformed confessions and catechisms.

But it did get me thinking about what needs to be present in a sermon or lecture to avoid a legitimate charge of making Christianity “about us.” Here’s me taking a stab at it:

  1. The lecture/sermon needs to connect the ethical teaching to the Gospel, wherein the Gospel is shown to be the source of strength that enables us to obey the ethic.
  2. The ethic should not be preached/taught as a way of securing salvation before God.
  3. More subtly, when our hang-ups about making Christianity “about us” lead us to the place where we won’t let God in his word address us about ethical questions that he wants to talk to us about, we actually have made Christianity about us. Why? Because that means God’s revelation speaks to an issue, but we are forbidding that teaching to be given because of an irrational fear in our hearts. In that moment, the fear (about Christianity being “about us”) has become the real God in our heart, and the true God has been forced to be its servant.

Grace Changes the Heart, Or Else It Isn’t Good News

“What is the alternative to obedience and holiness of life? It is no treat to be forgiven adultery, and yet remain adulterous. It is no glory to God to forgive anger, and yet leave a person irritable, explosive, and self-righteous. It is no honor to the gospel if anxiety can be forgiven, yet someone remains a nervous wreck. It is no advance for God’s kingdom to forgive self-centered people, if they do not learn how to consider the interests of others. It does no good to the world or the church if a forgiven warmaker does not learn how to become a practical peacemaker. Grace takes a lazy, selfish, thieving person, and pushes him in the direction of becoming hard-working and generous. God will remake a liar into an honest man and a shrewish complainer into a kind, constructive woman. These are long journeys, but the direction of grace is towards obedience to God’s law of love. None of these changes mean perfection until Jesus returns. You will always need mercies to be renewed every morning. But there is substantial healing amid the ongoing struggle. It isn’t always dramatic. Small choices count. But the Spirit will produce his fruit in us, and biblical counseling serves such practical changes.” -David Powlison