I wish I were smart.
I wish I had something new and novel to announce to the world.
To be honest, I once had an old, wise systematic theology professor tell me, “If it is new, it is just a reworked heresy and the Truth doesn’t need defended because the new reworked heresy will die its own death.” I’ve have lived long enough to see four or five “new movements” die their own deaths.
Men like John Murray and Herman Ridderbos systemically tell the old Gospel story reworked in their generation. Augustine through the “mystics” of the Dark Ages, to Luther, Johnathan Edwards and beyond, God has not left Himself without a witness to the truthfulness of his word.
Consider the following:
We are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ plus nothing. In hymnity, we affirm that “Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe.” Theologians call this Justification. This is the half of the Gospel that all evangelicals preach: Jesus died to make us not guilty. He takes the liability for our sins.
Generally, evangelicals then preach that we should live in obedience to the Law after being justified. “You’re saved by grace so that you can live by the law.” Not much fun there. But when Jesus cried out in a loud voice near his death on the cross, “It is finished!” This was not a wimper that his difficult mission on earth was coming to an end, but that his voluntary daily obedience, and voluntary substitutionary death had ransomed back to His Father everyone for whom he had died—everyone of them…all of them…for all time.
The efficacy of his blood doesn’t just make us clean but keeps us clean.
He gives His perfect obedience to us in place of our sin—past, present and future. On the cross he makes us not guilty and holy. He has given us His holiness “as if I have never sinned or been a sinner, as if I was as perfectly obedient as he was.” We are made holy by the blood of Christ plus nothing.
Paul, the founder of the congregation at Corinth, should have been furious. A man sleeping with his own stepmother, lawsuits filed against each other, divisions and strife, and arguments over preacher preference. Paul was furious, but before he addressed the congregation by letter he remembers “who they are and Whose they are.”
“Paul called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, to the church (called out ones) in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” I Corinthians 1:1-3
These are the same people he is about to rebuke and confront.
Paul didn’t call himself to be an apostle. God’s church at Corinth did not call themselves out of that pagan city—God summoned them. They did not sanctify themselves—they were in Christ on the cross. They did not call themselves holy—God’s summons made them so.
As a result they repented and had faith like all who themselves call on the name of the Lord. As a result of the finished work of Christ on the cross, Grace and Peace are their possessions, given as gifts from a loving Father.
Paul has to remember who they are and Whose they are before, as a founding pastor, he rebukes them for their continuing sins. His anger must be tempered because they are not his, but Christ’s brothers and sisters and the Father’s adopted sons and daughters.
By the end of the chapter Paul reminds the Church at Corinth that they are not very smart, wise, rich, or noble. They have nothing to boast in except the work of Christ for them on the cross. The Father loves us!
“It is because of Him (Father) that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption,” I Corinthians 1:30
Christ is all the Wisdom I will ever have or need. Christ is all the righteousness (Justification) I will ever have or need. Christ is all the Holiness (Sanctification) I will ever have or need. In fact, He is my whole redemption!
The task of the adopted sons and daughters in Corinth as well as you and me today is to make very small humble strides toward that holiness in this lifetime. We are to strive to become who we already are. I have the good hope of small progress in progressive sanctification because of the definitive/definite/actual sanctification secured for you and me in the cross plus—NOTHING.
After all he has done for us, why would we not serve Him in gratitude?
Have you lived by the “saved by grace but live by the Law” way of thinking? Does this give you a fresh view of God’s grace? Thoughts?