When Grace Ceases to be Grace

bridges quo storms

“Grace ceases to be grace if God is compelled to bestow it in the presence of human merit.… Grace ceases to be grace if God is compelled to withdraw it in the presence of human demerit.… [Grace] is treating a person without the slightest reference to demerit whatsoever, but solely according to the infinite goodness and sovereign purpose of God.”

Jerry Bridges, Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in God’s Unfailing Love (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2008), 35, quoting C. Samuel Storms. read more

Blameless In Your Lifetime

Luke describes the parents of John the Baptist, Zechariah and Elizabeth, as “righteous before God, walking blamelessly (ἄμεμπτος) in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.” (Luke 1:6)

Paul, describing himself before his conversion, describes himself likewise: “as to righteousness under the law, blameless (ἄμεμπτος) (Philippians 3:6). Prior to the cross, that is, before Christ’s death and resurrection, Zechariah and Elizabeth are commended for their righteousness. After the cross (the historical death and resurrection of Christ), but yet before he is converted, Paul’s blamelessness under the law serves as a foundation, a reason, for his rejecting Christ and for his persecution of the church. Then, after his conversion, Paul counts it all as loss: 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-11). Before a man is converted to Christ, his blamelessness under the Law is fuel for his hatred of the church; following the cross, his blamelessness under the Law is understood as an impossibility, and a loss. Following his conversion to Christ, a man in Christ knows his blamelessness before God has a different foundation. Paul still claims that to be blameless is a Christian’s virtue (Philippians 2:15; 1 Thessalonians 3:13). It is expected that the Christian will be “blameless,” but not under the Law. No one alive today can, be in Elizabeth’s and Zechariah’s position. If we are to be blameless, it is by grace, and not by Law. The Law will show us what righteousness looks like, but, because of our weakness, cannot get us there. Only God’s grace can: Romans 8:3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh

We are still accountable and expected to be blameless. Are you? How are you?

The Cure for Legalism is not Antinomianism.

I respond to a tweet from Richard Rohr, OFM, whose take on the Law fails to maintain its proper use. His full article here.

I appreciate the sentiments in this article, and I agree that legalism is a problem for many. To be a legalist, though, is not to affirm the moral truth of the Law. Legalism is not the careful keeping of God’s Law. What legalism is, is to rely upon the Law a means to salvation. The problem with this article is that Rohr treats the Law as the problem, rather than sin (breaking the Law) as the problem. His concern over legalism leads him to deny the proper place of the Law. Rohr says that the Law is only “. . . to get you seriously engaged with the need for grace and mercy; they were never an end in themselves (read Romans 7:7ff).” This is missing the point of the Law. read more