At LIBERATE 2012, I sat down to talk with my two good friends Mike Horton and Rod Rosenbladt (The Rod Father) about the Gospel for Christians. Enjoy…
ROUNDTABLE ON THE GOSPEL: Tullian Tchividjian , Mike Horton, Rod Rosenbladt | LIBERATE 2012 from Coral Ridge | LIBERATE on Vimeo.
thanks for sharing this great discussion & probing questions: In order to find out what my sanctified life looks like, would you propose the "Spiritual Growth Assessments"? Eph 5:15 Pay careful attention then to how you walk. or Gal 6:14 But each person should examine his own work. Would you consider congregations becoming involved in Christian Life Profile or Monvee. There are assessments like the Christian Chracter Index, Obstacles to Growth Survey, Worldview Index,Love for God Scale or 4B Spiritual Growth Assesment 2012. These provide feedback for the Christian as well as for pastors to see how their churches are doing. Most also provide an indivdual spiritual growth plan. There are also several videos on YouTube to help you develop sp/leadership skills. Assess-yourself.org might show me what godliness looks like for me, but how is it measured for effectiveness... or is this just performance-driven church manipulation crusted over with the law making us feel guilty for not bearing more fruit?
To find out what my sanctified life looks like I just look in the mirror.
Nothing fancy. It's just me. But Christ is at work in me, so it must be good enough.
Thank you Pastor Tullian good discussion, I actually heard a pastor say now that you are saved you need to go beyond salvation.
The Gospel-for-Christians *only* finds its saving power on account of Christ-in-Christians.
The Holy Spirit is the indwelling presence of Christ's transforming resurrection-life and is the author of a robust conviction-producing-faith in the things that are not seen (2 Cor 4:18, Hebrews 11:1).
Such an assured, Spirit-wrought faith unapologetically glories in the unseen heavenly realities of the Gospel:
- Christ died for our sins
- Christ was raised from the dead for our justification
- Christ was exalted to heavenly authority
- We died with Christ to sin
- We were buried with Christ and raised with Him to newness of life
- We are completely forgiven and justified in Him
- We have the powerful presence of Christ living in us by the Spirit
- We are fully sanctified in Him
- All our sins are remembered no more
- We are saints and sons of God
- We are raised and seated with Christ in the heavenly places
- We have died to the Law in Christ's death
- There is therefore no more Law condemnation for those in Christ
- We have been completely delivered from the dominion and power of Sin
- We are new creations in Christ
- We are the Temple of the living God
- We possess every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ
Then the "yeah but" crowd comes along and insists on dwelling on the tangible earthly things that are still seen, touched, sensed, and understood by human insight and experience:
- Yeah but I only feel that I am a wretched sinner
- Yeah but I feel that my faith is so weak
- Yeah but I can't see anything good in myself
- Yeah but I can't produce any good works or fruit of the Spirit
- Yeah but I can't feel the Spirit at work in me
- Yeah but we still need to cling to the Law as a standard
- Yeah but we still need to be convicted and pursued by the Law
- Yeah but we still need to feel the sting of sin
- Yeah but my sanctification feels almost non-existent
- Yeah but I fall into repeated sin patterns over and over again
- Yeah but, but, but . . . walking by sight and not by a Spirit-empowered faith in the life-changing Indicative of the Good News.
This account of a conversation my pastor had with a young man, fits nicely into this post:
"Yeah but... I feel God in me!"
"Yeah but... I hear God witnessing to my Spirit through a still small voice."
"Yeah but... I feel my union with Christ."
"Yeah but... I feel God's presence inside of me because my hair stands on end when I have my quiet time in the spirit."
This is the language of the pietists. While true enough these truths are "known" by faith.... Trust... Belief. We all have a "but" and it's what comes after the "but" that shows our belief and doctrine.
This is the language of the Scriptures. . .
[Christ] has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
Christ in you, the hope of glory.
But the Anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his Anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.
Those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
You have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
The Spirit helps us in our weakness.
If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him.
You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you.
Good talk. I agree that the law--outward morality and dos and don’ts--does not describe the heart of Christianity, and that believers can never “graduate” from the gospel. Christ is the heart of Christianity and He is the reality of the gospel, and we can never graduate from Him or what He is to us.
I do have a question. In the talk Michael Horton summarizes the apostle Paul’s approach to the Corinthians as “Here’s what you are [in Christ], now stop it." Now for those who approach the topic of sanctification almost entirely in terms of the distinction between law and gospel, why is this not a mixing of law with gospel?
Later in the talk Rod Rosenbladt suggests a crucial difference between “being what you already are” and “trying to become what you are not,” the former trending towards the gospel and the latter trending towards the law. If this is the case, then it would imply that not all imperatives are the killing law (or else nothing more than instruction in civil morality that has nothing in particular to do with us-in-Christ-and-Christ-in-us realities). There must be another category of imperatives, ones that are based upon, rooted in and fueled by gospel realities for those who are in Christ, and--properly heard and understood--do not function in the same way as the law as commonly portrayed on pastor Tullian’s blog.
Very insightful comment. In 2 Cor. 4:6-7, the apostle Paul said: “Because the God who said, Out of darkness light shall shine, is the One who shined in our hearts to illuminate the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. / But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not out of us.” The believers have a priceless treasure--Christ Himself--in their earthen vessels.
It seems that many of those see biblical imperatives concerning growth/fruit/sanctification as self-righteous and futile attempts at law-keeping, are often ones who, when they look in the mirror, dwell on the earthen vessel and not the priceless Treasure who is not only in the heavens but in the regenerated believers. Of course, by nature we all tend to focus on the earthen vessel, whether with pride or despair. The further problem is when a system of theology reinforces this tendency by not giving place to the reality of regeneration and Christ’s indwelling and by absolutizing our sinful nature over and against such realizations as the apostle Paul’s “I can do all things through Him who empowers me” (Phil. 4:13).
I’m not sure that it’s fair to characterize all “pietists” as having an exaggerated emphasis on feelings or the analysis of feelings. I would ask, is faith, belief and trust something that happens only once a week on Sundays, and do these things not affect the heart in daily life? Does Spirit-filled faith, belief and trust not tend to motivate such realizations as Paul’s “I can do all things through Him who empowers me” (Phil. 4:13) on account of who Christ is and what He has done? If someone only sees that they are sinful, and cannot at all say in a spirit of faith such things as “I can do all things through Him who empowers me,” could we not say that although they might “believe” and “trust” such a word they don’t really see it?
Great questions Brandon. The more I've thought about my reaction to pietism the more I think... "It isn't that there is anything wrong with being a pietist." But I'm afraid that the only end in pietism is one in which they look down their noses at everyone else... a pharisee of sorts. In the grand scheme of it all I can't really see why an emphasis on feelings is of paramount importance... since they are so subjective. Are they good for private fellowship with God? Maybe. But why stop there with feelings let's go ahead and label the other "subjective experiences" being totally relevant and before you know it... everyone should be meeting certain criteria. I think it's the natural tendency... American Evangelicals have proven this time and time again. Also the Lutheran Pietists fell to the same problem. The Gospel gets lost in the end.
When our piety becomes the focus, instead of a tool to help keep faith burning, then it all goes South. Pride or despair are sure to follow.
Assurance is the problem. How are we to have it, aside from our own piety? In the things that God commanded that we do for assurance that come from outside of ourselves. That are given to us freely. That are received in faith no matter what is going on inside of us.
"This IS my body...broken for you.This IS my blood...shed for you."
There is my assurance. I don't need to look any further.And I don't need to look at myself, other than for the purpose of realing that I am not up to it, and that I am in desperate need of a Savior.
Awesome. Thanks Reverend.
If I am living the Gospel, preaching it to myself daily, learning this new mindset that it is not just for unbelievers--it is Christ in me.... how do I reconcile it with 'rewards', the judgement seat, knowing my works will be revealed, burned.... if I am living the Gospel, do I need to be concerned about the judgement day, (not the great white throne day)? Will it not take care of itself if I am living the Gospel? If I am becoming more of what I already have and am in Christ?