devotional

15APR
2020

Let’s Talk About Grace and Grace Alone in Reformed Theology

Christians. Genuinely saved individuals disagree on what I’m about to say. I know. And there are more than just two sides to this argument today. That doesn’t make all the sides right, and some sides may be more right than others while some remain altogether wrong, but noble minded Berean-like Christians can disagree sharply on this and still dig into their Bible’s together for their betterment with true Spirit-minded love as their guide. I hope to be able to demonstrate this this weekend in a talk with an old friend.

 

A key difference between Reformed theology and others is in its definition of, and answer to, the realities of SIN and death. And perhaps this is the best way to approach the matter for most of us. It’s foundational.

 

Reformed exegetes, I think, rightly appraise the effects of SIN as insurmountable by the one affected. They see The Fall of man rightly as from the 100th story of a bldg. As a death which leaves one incapacitated. If you get this theology right, you’ll get many other things right. Others, non-Reformed exegetes, see SIN as little to no obstacle ultimately, and see The Fall of man as only from the first or maybe second floor of a bldg. Not a death. Painful maybe, but not ever deadly. No one is truly incapacitated by it.

 

One’s views on this touch maybe everything else.

 

For me, one reason that I’m soundly of the Reformed camp is because I say that I was dead in my sin. From the 100th floor type fallen…dead. And there was no life alert necklace for me to press then to God and yell, “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” (Some of you remember those commercials.) I needed life, not just medicine, a splint, some band-aids or maybe even a surgery. A miracle (the giving of life) had to occur for my Christian life to ever begin because I, like every other Gentile or Jew, was born in the grim SIN and death reality of the 100 story Fall. I have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Reformed exegetes rightly understand this. Romans 1-3, I think, lays this grim reality out for us purposefully without question- we are all of us dead in SIN unless God… Death is an insurmountable problem for us. We are helpless and unprofitable in death by nature and will not (cannot Jesus said) seek out God rightly because of it. Our wills are broken hellward and need fixing. We do not therefore (as empirically demonstrated by Paul in Romans) seek after God…unless we’re set free from our sins by God. This is the miracle of regeneration (AKA new birth). We learn this from Abraham on, Paul says going into Romans 4.

 

And God does not give this life to everyone. He doesn’t have to. He didn’t intend to. And no therefore, he doesn’t want to. He does not love everyone the same. Eat your vegetables. If you believe, thank God for it. You didn’t deserve it. No one does.

 

God alone through Christ saves people out from death by giving them life. This leads to their willing repentance and viable believing and multiplied assurances. (Avoiding just posting 50 verses). The individual who affirms this can boast in Christ alone and in what Christ has done on the Cross for them consistently. Other views that present sin in the Bible as a wounding problem not therefore solvable only by God, but really only by a person’s own alleged free will (something never argued for by God in Scripture once) I’m sorry simply cannot boast in Christ alone, but must boast also, by ultimate inescapable necessity, in themselves. And all of this from only a 1st floor Fall view. Dead men made alive don’t boast in themselves or in their sovereign wills; men who imagine themselves merely wounded by SIN might be misled to. The proponents of theologies of alleged freedom overcame their sin problem with Jesus’ help. Yikes! They’re ultimately only able to be thankful for his loving assistance. I know they hate it when you say this, but it’s inescapable. Jesus actually saves no one in this view. He only makes it possible for the wounded to save themselves. This is only a ?% of the glory going to God. That’s not enough for me today. Maybe 15 years ago, but not now.

 

Free will is really a blasphemous idea because it teaches, against the Bible’s clear testimony, that men, by nature, aren’t actually evil. (See again Romans 1-3). Not fallen. Not dead and helpless. They’re at worst only neutral to God. Not hostile. Not opposed. Not suppressing the truth at every turn. They’re able to turn to any way they wish whenever they choose by the inherent power of their own slightly wounded by the Fall natures. That’s blasphemy, friend. Synergism is blasphemy. And even Christians can blaspheme.

 

It’s when we abandon all but Christ that can we find him, in us, most loved, valued and honored. To God alone be the glory. This matters a lot to me. That’s my boast and my goal in this argument. When we see it, it produces assurance and joy in our lives.

 

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

To all those who believe in Jesus today as truly God, and as he who lived, died and rose again, God bless you! Grace to you who call on Jesus’ name for salvation. I’m just another one like you. I believe this Gospel too, and I work in life so that all I can might know it too. My answer for why I believe it may differ from yours, but ask yourself if giving God alone all of the credit really matters to you in your faith? Is it the un-merited grace of God you truly love, or is it a merited one? Ask yourself if you truly can say consistently that you believe you were made alive by him from death?

 

“But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14.

 

Suggested further reading:

  1. https://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/sdg/packer_deathintro.html. The paragraph which begins with: “And when we come to preach the gospel, our false preconceptions make us say just the opposite of what we intend” has affected me greatly for many years.
  2. AW Pink book: “The Doctrine of Election.”
  3. RC Sproul book: “Chosen by God.”
  4. James White book: “The God Who Justifies.”
  5. Letter from me (Joseph Pittano): “The Logical Sovereignty of God. On the Notion of Freedom.” http://biblecia.com/article/2549/.

 

 

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