Thursday, July 13

Good Works

Due to our sin we all shrivel up like a leaf and our good works cannot make us right with God. After receiving the free gift of God’s grace through faith alone in Christ alone, the good works we were created by God to do flow from us not to earn salvation but as a fruit of that salvation.
There is much disagreement, misunderstanding and confusion concerning the role of good works in the life of a Christian. Are sinners made right with God by being a ‘good Christian’ and being good? Is it faith alone in Christ or is it faith in Christ plus good works? The reformed doctrine of faith alone in Christ alone, with the accompanying fruit of good works, is taught in many places in the New Testament. The most concise statement in the Bible of the proper role and order of faith and works is….“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:8-10). One, we are saved by grace alone. Two, faith alone in Christ alone is the way to take hold of this salvation, and it is a gift of God and not generated by human effort. Three, there is no human effort of works or even producing one’s own faith since the faith to believe is also a gift. This eliminates all boasting of a human being taking credit for anything in the salvation process. Four, it is all from God through the merit of Christ Jesus for the purpose of doing good works. These good works were planned and implemented by God through his sovereignty and providence. Praise God for providing the salvation that is impossible for humanity to achieve without God’s initiative and grace.

28 comments:

Exist~Dissolve said...

jazzycat--

I would disagree pointedly with your interpretation of Ephesians 2. As we've discussed, Paul is not talking about "good works" in the sense that you are. Rather, his polemic through Romans, Galatians and even here in Ephesians is against the "works of the law." As I've pointed out several places, Paul is not attacking "action" or activity unqualitatively. Rather, he is contradicting the Judaizers who claimed that salvation came through identification and participation with the Law of Moses. These individuals believed that salvation was limited to the exclusivity of the Jewish religious/cultural system. So then, it is this thinking that Paul is attacking when he says that we are not saved by "works."

Therefore, the interpretation of "good works" (especially since the qualifier "good" isn't even there) in Ephesians 2 is, in my opinion, incorrect and wrongly engages Paul's meaning and polemic against the very real issue of the tension between Jewish and Gentile believers which characterized most of the churches to whom Paul wrote.

bluecollar said...

Paul's statements in this portion of scripture is to both Jew and Gentile. See verse 3. God's richness in mercy and great love is seen in making those (Jew and Gentile) alive together with His Son (by Grace, or unmerrited favor, we are saved) verse 4-5.

We are His workmanship, or work of art - poema - created in Christ Jesus for good works. God the Father, a Master Artist, is taking what was dead in trespasses and sins, what was once ruled by the prince and power of the air, what was by nature a child of wrath that was used to conducting itself in the lusts of the flesh and mind, and has turned that into an individual who now reflects Christ in the life. And, as the church is comprised of these "works of art", then the church itself reflects the life of Christ.

We now stand at the very apex of redemptive history, God dwelling in His people, and they reflecting His Son's glory through their lives. See Ehp. 2:10-22.

jazzycat said...

Exist...
How would you state the method that sinners obtain salvation through a right relationship with God? IOW how are we justified and saved to salvation?

Bluecollar,
I believe you pointed out correctly to 'Exist' that grace is the message to both Jew and Gentile in Eph. 2.

Exist~Dissolve said...

jazzycat--

Exist...
How would you state the method that sinners obtain salvation through a right relationship with God? IOW how are we justified and saved to salvation?


I don't believe there is a "method" or a procedure or anything like that. God rewards those who seek God and are faithful to the will of God.

jazzycat said...

Exist...
If being faithful and seeking God are the keys to God's favor, why was the ministry and sacrifice of Jesus necessary? What standard of faithfulness and seeking is sufficient? What is the role of grace and faith?

I ask you to consider the role of regeneration that Jesus speaks of in John 3:3. I believe this is the answer to the spiritual death that is mentioned in Eph 1 & 2 and especially Eph 2:4-5. God intervenes by making alive (regenerating) man while he is still 'dead'.

Jazzycat

Exist~Dissolve said...

jazzycat--

Jesus' life, death and resurrection are absolutely necessary so that we might be able to live faithfully to the will of God.

It is because of Christ's faithfulness to God that we are able to be "like Christ"--also faithful to God.

jazzycat said...

Exist...
Why was his life, death, and resurrection necessary for us to live faithfully to the will of God? If it was to show us an example of how to live, he could have bypassed the cross and simply left as he did.

Also, what grade must we achieve to satisfy God's standard and how do you think you are doing in meeting this standard? What role does grace and faith play? You are not fully explaining your position on salvation. Consider Isaiah 53 as you do this.

I would change your first paragraph to: Jesus' life, death and resurrection are absolutely necessary so that we might be able to be reckoned as righteous by faith in him. Then out of gratitude and the power of the Holy Spirit we will endeavor to live faithfully to the will of God.

Jazzycat

bluecollar said...

With all due respect, is it accurate to say that "Jesus' life, death and resurrection are absolutely necessary so that we might be able to live faithfully to the will of God.

It is because of Christ's faithfulness to God that we are able to be "like Christ"--also faithful to God."
----
Is this not Finney-ism?

Exist~Dissolve said...

jazzycat--

Why was his life, death, and resurrection necessary for us to live faithfully to the will of God? If it was to show us an example of how to live, he could have bypassed the cross and simply left as he did.

Ah, but we could not live as Christ did because of our enslavement to the power of human sinfulness and evil. By pursuing fidelity to God's will even to death on the cross, Christ has overcome the powers of sinfulness and evil (the very ones that killed him). Because Christ has broken their power, we are now able to live as he did, by grace, in fidelity to the will of God.

Also, what grade must we achieve to satisfy God's standard and how do you think you are doing in meeting this standard?

The only standard is the life of Christ. If we are faithful to God, we will be justified. If we are faithless, we have proven where our loyalties lie and we will reap the consequences that we desire.

As far as figuring out where one "is," I would suggest reading 1 John. Do we love? If not, the answer is obvious. Do we love? Again, the answer is self-evident.

What role does grace and faith play?

They don't play a "role." They are "it." We are saved by God's grace. It is not an instrumental force that be quantified to a "part" that occurs in salvation; it is the very definition of the reality that we can be reconciled to God.

You are not fully explaining your position on salvation. Consider Isaiah 53 as you do this.

There's a lot in Isaiah 53...perhaps we can narrow it down a bit. Could you be more specific?

I would change your first paragraph to: Jesus' life, death and resurrection are absolutely necessary so that we might be able to be reckoned as righteous by faith in him. Then out of gratitude and the power of the Holy Spirit we will endeavor to live faithfully to the will of God.

I would agree with this, save for the words "reckoned as." Our hope is that we will be as Christ is--even as Christ was made to be as we are--not simply that we'll be "considered" the same as Christ. The latter does not mean anything at all. Moreover, it does not explain how we are "new creations," only how Christ convinces God to think that we are.

Exist~Dissolve said...

blue collar--

Is this not Finney-ism?

I wouldn't know, as I have not read any of Finney's work. Do I read you correctly that you mean this correlation in a negative way?

jazzycat said...

Exist...
We agree that God's grace is the source of salvation. I am still not clear how you believe we access this grace. So, let me ask it this way. How do you believe a man is stands justified before God on judgement day or put another way, what must a man do to be saved?

I can not tell if you are saying it is by action or if action is linked to faith. Then I can not tell if you believe action is proof of a true faith (1 John) or if action has merit in and of itself toward justification.

The way I like to state it is:
We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone by a faith that is not alone but will result in action or deeds. The deeds or action have no merit, but are the results of a true born again faith.

Jazzycat

bluecollar said...

Exist~dissolve:

I respect your knowledge of church history and mean you no disrespect. However, Finney preached that Christ's death was merely to show the world how much God hates sin, and also to show His love of the Father. He denied that our sins were imputed to Him to be punished on our behalf. He did not think it possible that the judge would take the place of the sinner and pay the price of that sinner's sins.

Exist~Dissolve said...

jazzy--

We agree that God's grace is the source of salvation. I am still not clear how you believe we access this grace. So, let me ask it this way. How do you believe a man is stands justified before God on judgement day or put another way, what must a man do to be saved?

I think "access" comes simply by following the example of Christ--being faithful and obedient to the will of God. I think Protestant theology, with its "order of salvation," has over complicated the issue. The "kingdom of God" that Jesus came to preach was very simple: those who were not "against" him were for him. Obedience to the will of GOd, then, is the way in which I understand that humans access God's graceful gift of salvation.

I can not tell if you are saying it is by action or if action is linked to faith. Then I can not tell if you believe action is proof of a true faith (1 John) or if action has merit in and of itself toward justification.

That's just it, though. I would not see a hard and fast difference between "faith" and "action." As I see it, there is no way to separate the two. To believe is to act, and to act is to believe. This double-sidedness of faith is unavoidable.

The way I like to state it is:
We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone by a faith that is not alone but will result in action or deeds. The deeds or action have no merit, but are the results of a true born again faith.


I do not believe that action merits salvation, but then also neither do I believe that faith or belief merits salvation. Salvation is a gift, a relationship, in which we are graciously invited to participate. THerefore, as neither "belief" nor "act" merits this salvation, there is nothing that would preclude them from being what they are--a unified reality that demarcates the integrated nature of the human person and their participation within God's salvation.

Exist~Dissolve said...

bluecollar--

Finney preached that Christ's death was merely to show the world how much God hates sin, and also to show His love of the Father.

I certainly do not agree that Christ's death was a display of GOd's hatred for sin. Rather, Christ's death was the result of the sinfulness and hatred of humanity towards God.

He denied that our sins were imputed to Him to be punished on our behalf.

I would agree with this. Christ's death was not a divine punishment for someone else's sin, but was rather the consequence of CHrist's complete faithfulness to the will of God--sinful humanity cannot countenance such a condemning display, so they killed him, just the like the prophets before.

He did not think it possible that the judge would take the place of the sinner and pay the price of that sinner's sins.

Well, I would agree with this too. There are far to many philosophical problems, IMO, involved in suggesting that the cross is some kind of legal/forensic transaction between God and Christ.

bluecollar said...

Exist~disolve

"Isaiah 53
1 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.

8 By oppression [a] and judgment he was taken away.
And who can speak of his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was stricken. [b]

9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes [c] his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.

11 After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life [d] and be satisfied [e] ;
by his knowledge [f] my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, [g]
and he will divide the spoils with the strong, [h]
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors."

This speaks of Christ and His ministry.

jazzycat said...

Exist....
As Bluecollar pointed out with Isa. 53 there is so much from the Old Testament that point to a blood sacrifice as pre-figuring the work of Christ such as Abraham going to sacrifice his one and only son, the sacrifice system, scape goat, etc. (also see Hebrews)

I will include a website that has a document signed by over 100 leading evangelicals stating their position on the gospel. Scroll down to the list of affirmations and denials for the gospel according to reformation theology. I mention this in case I have missed some point. Please offer me some scripture proof on your points of disagreement.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ: An Evangelical Celebration
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2000/106/53.0.html

Jazzycat

Exist~Dissolve said...

jazzy--

As Bluecollar pointed out with Isa. 53 there is so much from the Old Testament that point to a blood sacrifice as pre-figuring the work of Christ such as Abraham going to sacrifice his one and only son, the sacrifice system, scape goat, etc. (also see Hebrews)

This may be so. However, within the OT cultus of worship, there is nothing to suggest that the sacrifice was being "punished" on behalf of the sinner. Rather, the symbolic transference of sin from the person to the sacrifice represented the deep identification with and recognition of the consequences of human sinfulness. Therefore, even if one appeals to OT cultus as being informative to the death of Christ, one can hardly suggest that they meaning of "punishment" can also be applied, being as it is absent from the very correlation that is attempting to be made.

I will include a website that has a document signed by over 100 leading evangelicals stating their position on the gospel. Scroll down to the list of affirmations and denials for the gospel according to reformation theology. I mention this in case I have missed some point. Please offer me some scripture proof on your points of disagreement.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ: An Evangelical Celebration
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2000/106/53.0.html


Some interesting nuggets I picked out of this affirmation are as follows:

"Jesus paid our penalty in our place on his cross, satisfying the retributive demands of divine justice by shedding his blood in sacrifice and so making possible justification for all who trust in him (Rom. 3:25-26)"

It's interesting that the declaration speaks of "retributive demands of justice," yet in the passage they quote in support, the very opposite conception of God's justice is represented. In Romans 3:25-26, Paul says, actually, the the death of Jesus on the cross reveals that God is just in NOT being retributive in justice. Because the powers of sinfulness and evil (those which alientate humanity from God) have been defeated in the cross, God is completely justified in having already forgiving those who have died before the historical advent of Christ.

Here's another:

"We deny that any view of the Atonement that rejects the substitutionary satisfaction of divine justice, accomplished vicariously for believers, is compatible with the teaching of the Gospel."

By this very simple statement, these evangelicals have effectively marginalized nearly 1500 years of Christians who have conceptualized the atonement in terms other than "satisfaction of divine justice." In effect, these signatories are declaring that all who have claimed to be Christians before the assumptions of Protestantism about Atonement have been teaching a false Gospel. The irony of this is that they will go on to utilize the thinking of these very same ones who have been marginalized above who have provided the language with which these Protestants describe and define the Triune nature of God and the eternal nature of Christ.

Needless to say, it is not difficult to see why I have so many objections to the exclusivistic claims of Protestant theology.

Exist~Dissolve said...

jazzy--

As Bluecollar pointed out with Isa. 53 there is so much from the Old Testament that point to a blood sacrifice as pre-figuring the work of Christ such as Abraham going to sacrifice his one and only son, the sacrifice system, scape goat, etc. (also see Hebrews)

This may be so. However, within the OT cultus of worship, there is nothing to suggest that the sacrifice was being "punished" on behalf of the sinner. Rather, the symbolic transference of sin from the person to the sacrifice represented the deep identification with and recognition of the consequences of human sinfulness. Therefore, even if one appeals to OT cultus as being informative to the death of Christ, one can hardly suggest that they meaning of "punishment" can also be applied, being as it is absent from the very correlation that is attempting to be made.

I will include a website that has a document signed by over 100 leading evangelicals stating their position on the gospel. Scroll down to the list of affirmations and denials for the gospel according to reformation theology. I mention this in case I have missed some point. Please offer me some scripture proof on your points of disagreement.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ: An Evangelical Celebration
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2000/106/53.0.html


Some interesting nuggets I picked out of this affirmation are as follows:

"Jesus paid our penalty in our place on his cross, satisfying the retributive demands of divine justice by shedding his blood in sacrifice and so making possible justification for all who trust in him (Rom. 3:25-26)"

It's interesting that the declaration speaks of "retributive demands of justice," yet in the passage they quote in support, the very opposite conception of God's justice is represented. In Romans 3:25-26, Paul says, actually, the the death of Jesus on the cross reveals that God is just in NOT being retributive in justice. Because the powers of sinfulness and evil (those which alientate humanity from God) have been defeated in the cross, God is completely justified in having already forgiving those who have died before the historical advent of Christ.

Here's another:

"We deny that any view of the Atonement that rejects the substitutionary satisfaction of divine justice, accomplished vicariously for believers, is compatible with the teaching of the Gospel."

By this very simple statement, these evangelicals have effectively marginalized nearly 1500 years of Christians who have conceptualized the atonement in terms other than "satisfaction of divine justice." In effect, these signatories are declaring that all who have claimed to be Christians before the assumptions of Protestantism about Atonement have been teaching a false Gospel. The irony of this is that they will go on to utilize the thinking of these very same ones who have been marginalized above who have provided the language with which these Protestants describe and define the Triune nature of God and the eternal nature of Christ.

Needless to say, it is not difficult to see why I have so many objections to the exclusivistic claims of Protestant theology.

Exist~Dissolve said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
bluecollar said...

E~D,

1 John 2:2 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society


2He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for[a] the sins of the whole world.

Footnotes:

1 John 2:2 Or He is the one who turns aside God's wrath, taking away our sins, and not only ours but also"

1 Corinthians 15
The Resurrection of Christ
1Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,"

Exist~Dissolve said...

bluecollar--

I appreciate your quotation of these verses. However, I am not entirely sure what you intention for these is in response to what I have posted. To simply post verses is to place an unbelievable burden on my shoulders to attempt to interpret these verses as you would. As I do not know you and am not thoroughly informed as to your theological perspectives, there is no way in which I can engage your meaning without some accompanying commentary.

Brandon Presbyterian said...

E-D,

You state: "...Because Christ has broken their power, we are now able to live as he did, by grace, in fidelity to the will of God."

If I read you right, you seem to think God will accept you if you just follow the example of Christ (apart from any federal representation, union, imputation, etc. of Christ). Another way to put it is that you seem to be depending on a righteousness (of your own) that you can present to God.

This is to miss the whole point of the gospel. Man cannot meet the requirements of God apart from Christ, nor did Christ sacrifice himself for those who were or could be righteous in themselves. Paul speaks of this in Romans 5:6 when he says "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the UNGODLY." Another place in Scripture we read that Christ said "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick." It was upon realizing this truth that for the first time in my life I realized the grace of the gospel and the peace that God provides to those who trust not in themselves, or their own righteousness, but in his Son.

The fact is that no one can meet the standard of God on their own. Twice in Scripture we read of God's standard - "Be ye PERFECT, even as you heavenly father is perfect." "Blessed are the PURE in heart for they will see God." No one can meet this standard (apart from Christ) for we are all sinners. In fact, Scripture tells us that even our best works are like filthy rags before God. This is why Paul wrote that ""But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord..., I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ - the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith."

I too, once thought that Christ died for me and I simply needed to be good, but I was mistaken, for I was still trusting in a righteousness found in me. Salvation came as I trusted not in a supposed righteousness I could offer to God, but when I trusted and embraced in the righteousness God provides for me ... as Paul writes in Romans 3 "But now a righteousness FROM God, apart from law, has been make known... This righeousness from God COMES THROUGH FAITH in Jesus Christ to all who believe."

While many look to Christ as only an example to us, he is much more. He IS our life, and through him we are counted as righteous and receive justification.

This is the gospel that results in justification and provides true and lasting peace.

Trust not in your own works/gifts, but look beyond them to the gift God offers, that in Christ, you may have life and life eternal.

Brandon Presbyterian said...

E-D,

It strikes me as well that you might be trusting that God accepts offerings from sinners (equipped by God's grace)... as if to say that Christ simply provided that God's grace might be offered so that you then could meet the standard yourself.

Two problems with this:
1. It conflicts with Heb 10:5 "Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: 'Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me.'" Again, in verse 10 of this chapter, we read read that "... we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all"... and not through our own righteous works.

2. If you are depending on your keeping the law, you must note what Paul says in Galatians 3 "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the book of the Law."

The better wisdom is to trust in Christ and his righteousness, rather than one's own lawkeeping.

jazzycat said...

Exist....
(It's interesting that the declaration speaks of "retributive demands of justice," yet in the passage they quote in support, the very opposite conception of God's justice is represented. In Romans 3:25-26,.......)

The animal sacrifices pointed toward the future when Christ would actually atone for these sins. They were not forgiven without Christ.

(By this very simple statement, these evangelicals have effectively marginalized nearly 1500 years of Christians who have conceptualized............)

I have complete disdain for one of our political parties as it is now. Does that mean that I can't affirm principles that they used to have and have gotten away from?

Point to consider: It is inconceivable to me that the creator of the universe would die the death he did on the cross, if it were not totally necessary to satisfy 100% of the requirements for salvation. Also, it is inconceivable that it merely made salvation possible without saving anyone. Put another way, I think the atonement of Jesus secures salvation for those that God has chosen to apply it to. It is called grace.

BTW, Mr. Bluecollar and I are both Calvinists in our theology.

Jazzycat

Exist~Dissolve said...

brandon presb.--

If I read you right, you seem to think God will accept you if you just follow the example of Christ (apart from any federal representation, union, imputation, etc. of Christ).

Obviously you have not read me right. Only those led by the Spirit of God can follow the example of Christ. However, all who follow the example of Christ are led by the Spirit of God. All of the other theological fluff (federal representation, imputation, mystical union) is superfluous and irrelevant to the kingdom in which Christ has called us to live. Moreover, they are often the greatest barriers to people actually participating within God's kingdom, IMO.

Another way to put it is that you seem to be depending on a righteousness (of your own) that you can present to God.

Obviously I am not saying this.

This is to miss the whole point of the gospel.

I would agree. However, as this is not what I am advocating, I hardly see that it is relevant to discuss this point.

Man cannot meet the requirements of God apart from Christ, nor did Christ sacrifice himself for those who were or could be righteous in themselves. Paul speaks of this in Romans 5:6 when he says "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the UNGODLY." Another place in Scripture we read that Christ said "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick." It was upon realizing this truth that for the first time in my life I realized the grace of the gospel and the peace that God provides to those who trust not in themselves, or their own righteousness, but in his Son.

Yes, and that is why I said that the Incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ are absolutely necessary, for apart from his triumph over the powers of sinfulness, we would be unable to lives lives that are faithful to the will of God.

The fact is that no one can meet the standard of God on their own. Twice in Scripture we read of God's standard - "Be ye PERFECT, even as you heavenly father is perfect." "Blessed are the PURE in heart for they will see God." No one can meet this standard (apart from Christ) for we are all sinners. In fact, Scripture tells us that even our best works are like filthy rags before God. This is why Paul wrote that ""But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord..., I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ - the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith."

I am getting the feeling that you are posting, not to respond to my points, but rather to sermonize. While you are certainly welcome to do such, I hope that you will not be offended if I miss the point of your discussion as a response to what I have written.

I too, once thought that Christ died for me and I simply needed to be good,

"Too?" I have never said that this is what I believe and I think it is a bit presumptuous for you to characterize my thought in this way, given the fact that you are a newcomer to a discussion that has been going on for weeks between myself and jazzycat (and, more recently, bluecollar).

While many look to Christ as only an example to us, he is much more. He IS our life, and through him we are counted as righteous and receive justification.

I do not disagree. Moreover, I am a little confused how you could draw this out of what I have posted.

It strikes me as well that you might be trusting that God accepts offerings from sinners (equipped by God's grace)... as if to say that Christ simply provided that God's grace might be offered so that you then could meet the standard yourself.

As I do not conceive of the relationship between humanity and God as one of "meeting standards," this characterization of my thinking is definitely not accurate.

1. It conflicts with Heb 10:5 "Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: 'Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me.'" Again, in verse 10 of this chapter, we read read that "... we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all"... and not through our own righteous works.

2. If you are depending on your keeping the law, you must note what Paul says in Galatians 3 "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the book of the Law."

The better wisdom is to trust in Christ and his righteousness, rather than one's own lawkeeping.


This is fine. However, what does it have to do with what I have posted?

Exist~Dissolve said...

jazzy--

First of all, let me say that I have really appreciated our dialogue over the last several weeks. I hope that it can continue well into the future. You have been an very interesting conversation partner, and I respect your willingness to engage my ideas, ideas which are clearly different than your own (even as yours are to mine).

The animal sacrifices pointed toward the future when Christ would actually atone for these sins. They were not forgiven without Christ.

I would disagree with this. God does not need sacrifices to forgive; God's forgiveness is a free gift that cannot be earned nor compelled through any amount of sacrifice. Therefore, the sacrifices in the OT, IMO, were a means of identification for the Israelites of the deep consequences of sinfulness, the need for God's forgiveness and the necessity of continuing in faithful relationship to Yahweh. In this way, I think Christ's sacrifice becomes very intelligible, for not only does he absord within his person the whole consequences of sin, but moreover in himself he offers the perfect "sacrifice" of faithfulness to God even in the face of the full power of sinfulness.

I have complete disdain for one of our political parties as it is now. Does that mean that I can't affirm principles that they used to have and have gotten away from?

Not at all. However, by saying that a failure to affirm Atonement as "satisfaction" is tantamount to denying the gospel, these evangelicals have condemned the vast majority of Christians throughout history, for atonement as "satisfaction" was not a fully developed theory until after the splitting of the East and West.

Point to consider: It is inconceivable to me that the creator of the universe would die the death he did on the cross, if it were not totally necessary to satisfy 100% of the requirements for salvation.

Personally, I think you are pointing the trajectory of the cross in the wrong direction. By saying that the cross is the "satisfaction" of requirements, it appears to me that the problem of salvation is God's withholding of it. In this way, the cross is the means by which Christ convinces God to forgive (for without the cross God was not willing).

However, as I see it, this misses the crisis of the cross. The problem of salvation is not that God needs to be convinced to forgive, or that "requirements" for forgiveness have to be fulfilled. Rather, the problem of atonement is that sinful humans are separated by the own sinfulness from the omni-benevolent God. Therefore, when speaking of the cross, our theology must tell how the problem of human sinfulness is finally overcome. To end the discussion at how God is changed from unwilling to forgive to forgiveness in Christ, IMO, is to miss the real meaning of the cross.

Also, it is inconceivable that it merely made salvation possible without saving anyone. Put another way, I think the atonement of Jesus secures salvation for those that God has chosen to apply it to. It is called grace.

If one looks at the cross as a forensic transaction between Christ and God, I can see how one would arrive at this conclusion. However, if the cross is viewed as the solution to the relational problem between humanity and God, I think that much different conclusions will be reached. After all, if atonement is finally about "reconciliation," it would be quite curious to assert that God "compels" reconciliation (being as reconciliation is a reciprocal relationship that occurs between persons).

BTW, Mr. Bluecollar and I are both Calvinists in our theology.

I will take that into account.

jazzycat said...

Exist....
Your views are interesting and quite different from any I have ever heard. I am not sure I grasp it yet.

While I believe you are denying clear Biblical revelation on salvation, I am unclear about exactly what you are affirming, but
I will keep trying. I have also enjoyed our exchange.

Jazzycat

Marc said...

Very interesting conversatin all. Thank you for the read!

Jazzy..I followed your link from your comments to Return to Righteousness.

If any of you are interested, I have been expounding as the Lord leads on the very subject at:

http://marc-byhisgrace.blogspot.com/

I am at 6 posts on the subject and am not quiet half-way. It is meant to bring believers to a practical understanding of Grace and how Grace operates in and through our lives. You are invited to visit.

"Your work for Christ must be Christ's work in you, or else it will be good for nothing." Spurgeon

By His Grace,

Marc