Monday, October 31, 2011

A reform in deeds as well as in doctrine

Dave Black weighs in on Reformation Day and has some excellent thoughts...
In a nutshell, the way of salvation is just that: a way of living. This does not mean that the Gospel is not worthy of our best theological thinking. It is worthy of the best of everything. But the genius of Christianity, as far as world religions go, consists in the fact that its beauty lies in another direction altogether. Its glory lies not in clever phrases but in the Spirit and in power. There is no simpler way to state it than in the words of the apostle Paul: "The only thing that matters is faith working through love" (Gal. 5:6).
If we reform our thinking but not our living, we haven't really reformed a thing. That is the great danger of a reformation only half done and it is far too apparent that we often seem content to be "halfway men" like Luther and his fellow magisterial reformers.


Zach said...

The way of salvation: our living it out.

I am not sure we are even able to reform our way of living. If any part of our living brings about salvation, then did Jesus die in vain?

I want to share an excerpt from an article by Dr. Michael Horton (from Modern Reformation- the article is 'Justification and Justice'):

At their simplest levels, the Great Commandment and the Great Commission follow the distinction between law and gospel. A young lawyer asked Jesus, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets" (Matt. 22:36-40). Jesus was simply repeating Moses (Lev. 19:18; Deut. 6:5). The second is like the first not only because it summarizes the second table of the law (love for neighbor), but because love for God is inextricable from love of fellow image-bearers.

Horton goes on to say:
Collapsing the gospel into the law and the Great Commission into the Great Commandment, many Christians today speak of our "living the gospel," even "being the gospel," with gratuitous appeals to participate with God in his redeeming and reconciling activity through their good works. However, this rhetoric is in danger of advancing another gospel, which is no gospel but rather the summary of the law.

And finally:

The gospel does not relieve us of the duty to love God and neighbor. Again, "distinction without separation" is our rule. From eternity to eternity, the moral law reveals God's will for our lives. The law, however, cannot save. Far from reconciling sinners to God and to one another, the law condemns us before God; and even though it may restrain injustice and violence to some extent between sinners through ordained coercion, it cannot create that city whose builder and maker is God. Our good works as believers receive their direction from the law, but can draw their strength only from the gospel. Confusing these good works with God's work of reconciliation and redemption comes as close as anything could to Paul's famous anathema in Galatians 1:6-9. After all, "if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose" (Gal. 2:21).

My point in sharing is that we should be careful how we define the gospel. It is Christ and meritorious work. Not ours. Any true good work that we do is fruit of the Holy Spirit. It does not originate with us. If we judge our status with God based on well we live, we will never live up to His perfect standard. We must rely only on Christ and Him crucified. I agree that doctrine does not save. Nor does our 'living the gospel.' It is Christ and the faith He alone gives us that saves.

My $0.08. :)

Aussie John said...


Your last paragraph is excellent!

I know some who are offended when one suggests that the reformers were less than perfect.