Sunday, April 3, 2016

By Faith Alone ... But?


"You may receive forgiveness -- if you have sufficiently forsaken sin." 
"You may know the message of grace -- if you have experienced a sufficient degree of conviction of sin."

. . . But this was to put the cart before the horse and turn the message of the gospel on its head.  For whenever we make the warrant to believe in Christ to any degree dependent upon our subjective condition, we distort it.  Repentance, turning from sin, and degrees of conviction of sin do not constitute the grounds on which Christ is offered to us.

Neither conviction nor the forsaking of sin constitutes the warrant for the gospel offer. Christ himself is the warrant, since he is able to save all who come to him.  He is offered without conditions. We are to go straight to him!  It is not necessary to have any money in order to be able to buy Christ.

-- Sinclair Ferguson

The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters


Craig Combs said...

That sermon preaached from the outline which you copied did not make "the warrant to believe" "dependent upon our subjective condition." The sermon was a call to faith. And the phrase you highlighted was self-explanatory: it describes the nature of true faith. What Jesus said still stands and obviously does not contradict the free offer of the gospel through faith alone. Jesus said that a person who DOES believe is also a person who loses his life for Jesus' sake and for the gospel. The comments about losing your life are diagnostic, not articulating a cause and effect relationship. Union with Christ is the cause, and losing your life is the effect. Faith unites with Christ, and always results in losing your life. Why else would Jesus talk this way? Jesus talks in terms of cost all the time. But Jesus is not confused.

Stephen said...

Thank you Craig, for your edifying words.

"Union with Christ is the cause, and losing your life is the effect." A hearty amen to that to be sure! It's "not articulating a cause and effect relationship." Yes!! Amen!!!

So why the "but"? Why invite someone to put their trust in Christ, and then say, "but there's a catch." ? It makes it sound like the "cost" is a necessary preparation (cause), for a achieving a delineated kind of "true faith" (effect).

"Dear one, will you lose your life for Christ's sake?" Why are we putting the "effect" in the dear one's hands as he contemplates his need for a savior? My heart goes out to the one who thinks he has to "sufficiently forsake" his life in order to receive Christ's forgiveness.

My purpose in the post was not to comment on a sermon. I was to show an example of how words can sometimes come across in unintended ways and cast a small shadow. I simply wanted to share a quote that made sure the light poured in for anyone who might have had the slightest doubt that His salvation is "without money" and "without price".

Craig Combs said...

We have good reason to speak this way, namely, because our Lord spoke this way:
Luke 14:25-33.
"25 Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. 27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. "

I do not believe the Lord Jesus Christ was guilty of creating the slightest doubt that his salvation is without money and without cost in the sense of bing his work and not man's work. But he also did not leave the slightest doubt that coming to Him is not without cost. His word. Cost. Faith means cost. We must say what Jesus said.