Thursday, January 27, 2011

The "Defiant and Free" Gospel

A recent article by Jason Hood in Christianity Today presented a thesis that there is too much grace preaching today, and not enough emphasis on morality and obedience. Yes, I know that is a gross over-simplification of the article, but you can follow the link above to read it and judge for yourself.

I love Dane Ortlund's response to that article in his post entitled The Radical Gospel, Defiant and Free.
The gospel of grace is so radical, so free, so counterintuitive, so defiant of all the entrenched expectations of our law-marinated hearts, that it would be surprising indeed if our preaching of this gospel is not met with the objection anticipated by Paul—“are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace?” (Rom 6:15; cf. 3:8; 2 Pet 3:15–17)...

....The next and most important question, then, is how this radical obedience and personal holiness are to be encouraged. And here we come to the real crux.
You wrote that we live “in a restraint-free culture dominated by Eat, Pray, Love spirituality and Joel Osteen-grade theology.” I am as averse to such things as you are. But there are two ways to seek to redress this.
One way is to balance gospel grace with exhortations to holiness, as if both need equal air time lest we fall into legalism on one side (neglecting grace) or antinomianism on the other (neglecting holiness).
The other way, which I believe is the right and biblical way, is so to startle this restraint-free culture with the gospel of free justification that the functional justifications of human approval, moral performance, sexual indulgence, or big bank accounts begin to lose their vice-like grip on human hearts and their emptiness is exposed in all its fraudulence. It sounds backward, but the path to holiness is through (not beyond) the grace of the gospel, because only undeserved grace can truly melt and transform the heart. The solution to restraint-free immorality is not morality. The solution to immorality is the free grace of God—grace so free that it will be (mis)heard by some as a license to sin with impunity. The route by which the New Testament exhorts radical obedience is not by tempering grace but by driving it home all the more deeply.
Let’s pursue holiness. (Without it we won’t see God: Matt 5:8; Heb 12:14.) And let’s pursue it centrally through enjoying the gospel, the same gospel that got us in and the same gospel that liberates us afresh each day (1 Cor 15:1–2; Gal 2:14; Col 1:23; 2:6). As G. C. Berkouwer wisely remarked, “The heart of sanctification is the life which feeds on justification.”
Right on, Dane! Read his entire article - it rocks!

Hat Tip: Vitamin Z

Update:  Some additional comments on the original CT article from Tullian Tchividjian.