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1 Peter 4:7-11

…whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies- in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. (v. 11)

Pentecost is the Sunday where the Church celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit that we read about in Acts 2. One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to give gifts to the church. According to 1 Peter 4, there are roughly two kinds of gifts. There are speaking gifts (e.g., teaching, preaching, knowledge). And there are serving gifts (e.g., administration, mercy, giving).

Every Christian has spiritual gifts. But if God is to be glorified through our gifts, we must rely on him, which can be hard, especially when it comes to our strengths. When you lead your Bible study, do you wing it because you are intelligent and quick on your feet, or do you commit yourself to prayer and reflection because you need God's help? When you swing a hammer in Katrina relief, is it in dependence on God for his glory or are you just another humanitarian doing a good thing for hurting people? God doesn't get the glory when we do good things on our own. He gets glory when we do good things in the strength he supplies by his Spirit.


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26 thoughts on “Glory of God: Spirit-Filled Reliance”

  1. Rose says:

    This is a wonderful passage (aren’t they all?). I am struck at how it goes on in I Peter 5:5 to say, “Clothe yourselves, all of you (both younger and elder), with humility toward one another.” Thank you for turning our thoughts to the Spirit this morning.

  2. Don Sartain says:

    Such a powerful post! I’m so easily tempted to try to address Biblical concerns and questions with quick wit and intelligence. Thanks for pressing me to prayerfully rely on God.

  3. Rosie says:

    Thank you for posting on this. I am actually at times very proud of my own accomplishments of working off my own strength. Praying and reflection on God’s strength working through me, as His child, is helpful to read and do.

  4. Rosie says:

    Thank you for posting on this. I am actually at times very proud of my own accomplishments of working off my own strength. Praying and reflection on God’s strength working through me, as His child, is helpful to read in your blogpost.

  5. “God doesn’t get the glory when we do good things on our own. He gets glory when we do good things in the strength he supplies by his Spirit.”

    Wow. So we can “block the glory of God.” hmmm. Everything we do is flawed by sin.

    Romans 2:15. The Divine Law of God is revealed in the Reason of men. So the Holy Spirit is at work, even in Pagans, with that Law making his Goodness and Mercy happen even for all the wicked .”the rain falls on the just and unjust alike”. and this happens even without our prayer or faithfulness or right thinking. Cf the preamble to the Our Father for this.

    God’s Will WILL be done. He providences it. It does not depend on what we are thinking when we are swinging a hammer. That swinging hammer is God Providenced Goodness and Mercy regardless of who swings it and whatever passes through the persons mind. God is glorified by that.

  6. Brandon E. says:

    1 Pet. 4:11 really is a great verse! And well-chosen for this topic.

    Frank,
    God’s glory does not rest in the law, in works of the law, or in common human goodness, but in Christ Jesus.

    And Christ Jesus is in the believers (2 Cor. 13:5), the many members of His Body. The apostle Paul, therefore, had the realization that Christ lived in him (Gal. 2:20), and that–through the petitions of the saints and the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ–Christ could be magnified in his body (Phil. 1:19-20, NKJV, ASV).

    So I agree with what brother Kevin had to say in this post. God is glorified in Christ through the Spirit when we depend upon Him, in a way that He is not if we merely do things independently from Him according to our own natural strength or ability.

  7. Kevin is saying that God’s Glory depend on our right thinking.

    I disagree. God’s Goodness and Mercy, and so also his Glory, come to us in two ways.. through the Law and through the Gospel.

    God works his Goodness and Mercy in both the Law and the Gospel without our prayer, worthiness, goodness or faithfulness, even for all the wicked. This is true for pagans and christians alike.

    God’s Providence does not depend upon our right thinking as we swing a hammer. What a silly thought. It does not depend on you. It is not about you or what is passing through your mind. If you refuse to do acts of mercy for others, God will find others to do his Will. Further, the Goodness and Mercy that is Gods Will to be done is not in pious thoughts that pass through your head. Also silly. It is in what you can be seen to have done for those who need help .

  8. ” that they may SEE your good works and glorify God.” From what I can tell here so far, calvinistic baptists are all about being pious in their heads. That is useless. How is that Goodness and Mercy being done as God Wills for ones neighbor.

    So was the Good Samaritan “winging it”? was he relying on the Holy Spirit? was he…. no…

    he say someone in need and he reacted as he would have wanted someone to react towards him. There is nothing there about his faith. No wait. there was. He was a samaritan. He was the jewish equivalent of a heretic such as a Jehovahs Witness! And Jesus was illustrating what?

  9. Further, this ignores the plain meaning of the text.

    We exist with things that are all donated to us by God. By gifts. Like the breath we breathe as st James puts it. By definition this means we rely on him.

    Gifts are about Gods Providence. Kevin is turning this into some Law about having our thinking somehow more holy as we swing a hammer to build a house for the homeless. You really think that homeless person cares whether you are christian or pagan or whatever?

    They will certainly give thanks to God for your work , and no, you will not get extra credit for getting your motives exactly right. And to suggest that somehow, not getting our motives right will PREVENT God from being Glorified is well… ahem.

    I am sorry. we are just not that powerful.

  10. summary: It isnt about us.

  11. Brandon E says:

    Brother, I don’t think Kevin is talking merely about “right thinking.” He’s talking about relying on the strength and supply of the Spirit. This is something real that happens, not merely a frame of mind. It is a reality in believers when they are living, walking and being led by the Spirit (Rom. 8:4; 14; Gal. 5:16; 5:25).

    I believe the good Samaritan signifies Christ (who in His lowliness was accused of being a Samaritan by the self-righteous Pharisees, John 8:48) in His saving us while we were in a miserable and dying condition and bringing us to the church (the inn), but the point is moot. The Lord wasn’t teaching us that “good works” done even by “pagans” or heretics glorify God in the same way that Christ Himself living, moving and being expressed in His Body does through the ministry of the Holy Spirit given to the church.

    You quoted Matt 5:16 but not the whole verse, which reads: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (ESV). The Lord’s audience in this passage is His disciples, not the unregenerate, and His word was to His disciples. His disciples are “the light of the world” (v. 14) because Christ, who is the light of the world and the glory of the Lord (John 8:12; Isa. 58:8; 60:1), is in them. So when the Lord says, “Let your light shine before men,” He is not speaking about “good works” glorifying God regardless of what kind of person does them, but of the believers expressing God in Christ in their good works and behavior, so that others may see God and be brought to Him.

    “Pagans” and heretics might to do “good works” under God’s providence, but God’s perfect will and glory is centered entirely on Christ that He would be all in all to the church. It is the believers who are being transformed by the Lord Spirit into the image of Christ “from one degree of glory to another” by turning their heart to the Lord to behold and reflect His glory (2 Cor. 3:16-18). It is the believers to whom the Father grants “according to the riches of His glory” to be strengthened with power by His Spirit into their inner being that Christ may make His home in their hearts through faith (Eph. 3:14, 16-17). It is the believers who are being “filled with the full knowledge of His will” and “empowered with all power according to the might of His glory” to “walk worthily of the Lord to please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and growing by the full knowledge of God” (Col. 1:9-11). But the Bible shows that even believers can live according to the old man and not the new (Eph. 4:17-32), hence we need the Spirit to teach us an ever-deepening reliance upon Him.

    Saying that in the matter of gift everyone “relies” on God regardless of whether they are regenerate or not, regardless of the condition of their heart, because “We exist with things that are all donated to us by God” is to conflate two exceedingly different definitions of reliance. We might as well say that the devil and his evil angels “rely” on God because they couldn’t exist without Him or wouldn’t be able to do their works of darkness if it were not for His creation. One definition of “reliance” means that faith, love, trust and intimate union (John 15:4-5) are present; in the other definition these things can be entirely absent. There’s no use mixing the two together in order to say “it isn’t about us.” If you have to emphasize the notion that “it isn’t about us” so much that you must negate the distinction between the Spirit’s work in the regenerate and unregenerate and put it all the same plane, what does that tell you about your doctrine?

    For believers to rely on the Spirit means they are living, walking and being led by the Spirit (Rom. 8:4; 14; Gal. 5:16; 5:25) in the principle of faith and love, trusting in God and not in their own ability or self-sufficiency, and abiding in Christ because apart from Him they can do nothing (John 15:4-5). This is not “the law” but a lifelong lesson taught to us by the Spirit.

  12. “Pagans” and heretics might to do “good works” under God’s providence, but God’s perfect will and glory is centered entirely on Christ that He would be all in all to the church.

    why put pagans and good works in quotes?

    God’s perfect will and glory is fully revealed in Christ. It is not just intended and aimed at the Church but it is for the entire cosmos.

    God’s Mercy and Goodness comes in two ways , through the Law written in the hearts of all sinful humans (rom 2:15) and then through the Gospel that is the fulfullment of that Law that is uniquely found in the first table of the Decalog that is faith alone, apart from works, that is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah where he states that the Law will be written in the hearts of men. This is nothing less than the new birth.

    Yet the Old Adam fully remains in Believers. It is ALL we can see and do in our bodies. Romans 7. Faith alone can “see” the reality that is Romans 8 that is invisibly in ,with and under the only life we can see and do which is romans 7.

  13. was the entire audience of 15000 or so that the sermon on the mount was addressed to Disciples? Believers in Christ as the messiah? Were they the Holy Catholic Church assembled there?

  14. brandon e

    let me put this more simply:

    kevin’s assertion is that God is not glorified and that Good Works that please God do not happen except in Believers.

    This notion is simply not supported by either apparent reason, logic and observations nor by Holy Scripture.

    Further the passage you quote says that Good Works are a result of faith. It does not say that Good Works do not happen or that God is not Glorified apart from faith as well.

    It is true that Christ is the full and final revelation of the Eternal Will of God. Amen! This too does not say that God’s Will is not also revealed and he is not also glorified in other ways as well in the world.

  15. Brandon E says:

    Brother, you’re right that God’s perfect will and glory in Christ is directed towards the entire cosmos. But how has God chosen to direct His glory towards all the cosmos? Through the church (Eph. 1:22-23; Eph 3:9-11). This is His perfect will.

    In response to your question, the Sermon on the Mount was not spoken not to the “crowds” but to the “disciples” that came to Him after He withdrew from the crowds to the mountain and sat down (Matt. 5:1). So I meant that the Lord’s word in principle was spoken to New Testament believers, the elect, the ones who have an ear to hear His word and would become part of His heavenly kingdom and the church. Those whom the Lord calls the “light of the world” (v. 14) can only be so because they are joined to Christ who is the true light of the world.

    You’re right that we still live with our old man in the old creation, but that doesn’t mean that the Body of Christ can only work and serve in ways that even non-regenerate persons can. As believers we have Christ in our earthen vessels (2 Cor. 4:6-7), we are “one spirit with Him” (1 Cor. 6:17) and we are the very members of His Body, having His life in us. Hence, although we are still weak and fragile vessels, we can live and express (glorify) Christ who lives in us. “Let your light shine before men” matches Paul’s word that “even now, Christ will be magnified in my body.”

    In one sense, God is “glorified” apart from faith. For instance, we can see a picture of God’s eternal power and characteristics in creation or, like you said, in the law which is written even in the consciences of sinners.

    But when it comes down to Kevin’s original statements about how we use our “strengths” or “gifts,” I don’t believe that this manner of glory–a “glory” apart from faith and the strength and supply of the Spirit–is what he had in mind. I would add that neither creation nor the law conveys to us God’s perfect will and eternal purpose in which His glory is centered, that is, the New Testament revelation concerning Christ and the church that has been hidden throughout the ages but has now been revealed through the apostles’ teaching (Eph. 1:9-11; 3:4-5, 9; Col. 1:26; Rom. 16:25).

    Note that Scripture says that “Without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Heb. 11:6). Faith is what joins us to Christ, and Christ makes His home in our heart through faith (Eph. 3:17). This is crucial, because the law is not God’s delight, Christ is (Matt. 17:3, 5, 8; 3:17). The law is not the glory of God, Christ is (Heb. 1:3; 2 Cor. 4:4). Glory is simply God expressed, Christ expressed. God’s desire is not that we would do works of the law apart from faith but that Christ would live in us. God glorifies Himself by working Christ into our being so that we may live and function as His kingdom, Body, dwelling place and bride for His expression.

  16. Brandon, again, kevin’s specific assertion is what?

    1) ….God [cannot]be glorified through our gifts, [unless] we must rely on him….

    [ILLUSTRATION][God is not glorified] When you lead your Bible study, [if]… you wing it, … [and] do you not commit yourself to prayer and reflection…

    Take home points:

    1) God is not glorified in acts of Mercy.
    2) God is only “glorified” when we make the mental Sacrifice/Effort in the form of our “committing” to a) prayer and b) thinking about things.
    3) God is only “glorified” when we succeed at doing this inner sacrifice/good work of a) prayer and b) thinking about things.

    God doesn’t get the glory when we do good things on our own.
    He [only ] gets glory when we do good things in the strength he supplies by his Spirit.

    [ILLUSTRATION] When you swing a hammer to build houses for Katrina victims [God is not glorified ] … [and I mean by that , that ] you [are in that case] just another humanitarian doing a good thing for hurting people.

    Take home points:

    1) God is not “glorified” by acts of Mercy.
    2)He is “glorified” alone by whether we successfully practice the mental exercise of “relying upon God” which is defined by Kevin as a) “committing to” a) prayer and b) thinking about things.

    I don’t disagree with the passages you threw at me Brandon. Let’s review them to see if they support brother Kevin’s conclusions shall we?:

    1)ASSERTION: “Glory” happening depends upon whether or not the church makes the correct efforts of a) prayer and b) thinking about things. I disagree. It is totally God providencing this. It does not depend upon our doing, even though, as with everything, it happens by means of the doing of sinners. See the difference?

    God directs his “glory” to the Cosmos through the Church. Eph says this is a revelation of “Glory”, which is about Christ and what HE did. Totally God’s work! Where does this say that this does or does not happen depending upon our prayer and thinking as Kevin suggests. Ain’t there Brandion.

    2)ASSERTION: The “crowd” was not the audience for the Sermon on the Mount, only the disciples. “In response to your question, the Sermon on the Mount was not spoken not to the “crowds” but to the “disciples” that came to Him after He withdrew from the crowds to the mountain and sat down (Matt. 5:1).”

    Where in matt 5:1 does it say that he “withdrew from the crowds? “He spoke to them” is what the text says. Does the greek mandate that the “them” was only the disciples or the crowd AND the disciples?

    3)ASSERTION: The works and services of a Christian, in and of themselves, are substantively different from the works and services of pagans. “You’re right that we still live with our old man in the old creation, but that doesn’t mean that the Body of Christ can only work and serve in ways that even non-regenerate persons can.”

    RESPONSE: Ok Brandon. Name 3 works and services that we could only observe a Christian doing that a pagan never could or would do.

    Here is my point: Our efforts, whether in “works and service” or that internal effort, that we do are identical in christian and pagan. The difference is not at all in the works themselves whether that is stuff we do with our hands or stuff we do with our minds and emotions. The difference is alone faith in the Works of Christ alone apart from what we can do.

    I further assert that both you and Kevin are missing that “faith” is defined two ways in the bible. One kind of faith is something God demands that we do. And it is a faith we CAN do. This the Lutherans call “historical faith”. This would be assent to propositions, for example, that the entire bible IS God’s Word, that it is inerrant, factually accurate and historically true. This is a faith that even the devil has and even pagans can have. Faith can also be trusting that God is merciful and good and relying upon those facts. Muslims can do this too.

    3)ASSERTION: The definition of “glorifying God” is about what we do. The “glory of God” depends upon our good works.

    “As believers we have Christ in our earthen vessels (2 Cor. 4:6-7), we are “one spirit with Him” (1 Cor. 6:17) and we are the very members of His Body, having His life in us. Hence, although we are still weak and fragile vessels, we can live and express (glorify) Christ who lives in us. “Let your light shine before men” matches Paul’s word that “even now, Christ will be magnified in my body.”

    RESPONSE:

    4)ASSERTION: In one sense, God is “glorified” apart from faith. For instance, we can see a picture of God’s eternal power and characteristics in creation or, like you said, in the law which is written even in the consciences of sinners.

    But when it comes down to Kevin’s original statements about how we use our “strengths” or “gifts,” I don’t believe that this manner of glory–a “glory” apart from faith and the strength and supply of the Spirit–is what he had in mind. I would add that neither creation nor the law conveys to us God’s perfect will and eternal purpose in which His glory is centered, that is, the New Testament revelation concerning Christ and the church that has been hidden throughout the ages but has now been revealed through the apostles’ teaching (Eph. 1:9-11; 3:4-5, 9; Col. 1:26; Rom. 16:25).

  17. brandon brother!

    I hit the wrong key and posted too early. To continue about the two ways the bible uses the word “faith.”

    You and Kevin, not incorrectly, talk entirely about a faith-effort that we can do, and that God demands that we and all sinners do in the Decalog. The Pharisees had this kind of faith. Muslims have this kind of faith. Even the devil has this kind of faith. The Lutheran Confessions call this faith, for lack of a better term, “historical faith”. Old Adam is chock FULL of this faith. And Old Adam, like any good Pharisee, relys on THIS faith to propitiate the demands of God he finds in his conscience that … ALWAYS accuses him. The Law always accuses.

    Then the Bible talks about another kind of Faith. This is a faith that cannot be done, not even by believers. It is a gift and not a work, that is it is not something we can get by making an effort. This faith is uniquely found in the revealed Law of God in the first table of the Decalog. This is where God demands our entire heart. He demands there that we have a faith that requires no effort whatsover. Think Christ in the Blessed Incarnation. He did not choose to have faith. He did not work at it. He had nothing BUT faith. This is what New Man looks like. And you sort of tease at this in your following response but you confuse the two kinds of faith. We simply have this faith without working at having it or more of it. The hearing of the Word of God creates and sustains it. And this does involve the effort of getting the Old Adam up in the am to get to church and all. New man beats up the old Adam with the Law to make that happen. But this is just what New Man does. He does not need to be taught or even encouraged to do this beating up of Old Adam.

    3)ASSERTION: The definition of “glorifying God” is about what we do. The “glory of God” depends upon our good works.

    “As believers we have Christ in our earthen vessels (2 Cor. 4:6-7), we are “one spirit with Him” (1 Cor. 6:17) and we are the very members of His Body, having His life in us. Hence, although we are still weak and fragile vessels, we can live and express (glorify) Christ who lives in us. “Let your light shine before men” matches Paul’s word that “even now, Christ will be magnified in my body.”

    RESPONSE: This is about works. So this is about the New Man flogging that recalcitrant ass called Old Adam with the Law and making him “submit”, “be obedient”, do “works and services”, “run the race”, “fight the good fight”. Our Lord, through St Paul is commanding us to do something that is not automatic and requires effort. So this is a direction to New Man to apply the Law to Old Adam. New Man does not need this. Old Adam does!

    4)ASSERTION: In one sense, God is “glorified” apart from faith.

    For instance, we can see a picture of God’s eternal power and characteristics in creation or, like you said, in the law which is written even in the consciences of sinners.

    RESPONSE: God is glorified and his Eternal Will is done whenever Goodness and Mercy happens. This never happens apart from works and effort here on earth. period. How could it? Yet at the same time, to those external efforts of works, services and yes, faith and right emotions, there is something added in the Christian. I am saying that that “something added” ALWAYS happens ‘in, with and under” the works of sinful human hands, hearts, minds, wills and souls! So we are to always to expect and seek that “something extra” that is alone Christian and saving faith, always , always “in, with and under” the sinful acts of sinful men. That is to say that faith will never come to us apart from works. At the same time, true, saving , Christian faith is done in us, is not at all faith in those works themselves.

    What is that “something other”? I suggest it is this that is the difference in the Christian: a) we accept the judgement of God upon all we are able to do both as to our works AND our faith and emotions. The result is that we are terrified by ALL that we can see and do with those works and faith and emotions. So we do not attempt to overcome and so flee that judgement by doing more and better works/faith/emotions. But we also fear God and also then believe that he will punish us if we do not love others willingly. And so we also study and practice that outward doing as well and we fail which drives us ever to Christ and HIS Works. And so…

    b) we then , alone, put the Works of Christ to work! We hide our own best efforts at work and right thinking and faith and emotions behind the Works of Christ is what this looks like.

    Saving or Christian Faith, is that twofold result. Saving faith is not what we can do. that is the difference between you and kevin and my thinking as a Lutheran Brandon. See that now?

    5)ASSSERTION: But when it comes down to Kevin’s original statements about how we use our “strengths” or “gifts,” I don’t believe that this manner of glory–a “glory” apart from faith and the strength and supply of the Spirit–is what he had in mind.

    RESPONSE: Kevin is speaking about a “faith” that God does indeed demand of us. It is a faith we can actually do to a great measure, and God threatens to punish with earthly and eternal punishments those who do not do it. It is important do do what Kevin says we must do I am saying. But this is not “faith” in the saving or ‘christian” meaning of that word I am suggesting dear Brandon. For example God commands us to pray. It would be wicked to not do so, and he will drive us to prayer by allowing suffering to enter our lives if we do not pray as he commands us to do. But faith prays “without ceasing”. Faith simply is like spontaneous combustion. It just happens. St James says that works are to breathing as faith is to the body. If we are aware of our breathing and it is labored, then that is Old Adam breathing. “Breath harder!” is not what a holy new Man needs to hear. This is constantly what Old adam needs to hear!

    6) ASSERTION : The Law cannot convey a) Gods Eternal Will , nor b) his Eternal Purpose. c) His Glory is centered in a)b).

    “I would add that neither creation nor the law conveys to us God’s perfect will and eternal purpose in which His glory is centered, that is, the New Testament revelation concerning Christ and the church that has been hidden throughout the ages but has now been revealed through the apostles’ teaching (Eph. 1:9-11; 3:4-5, 9; Col. 1:26; Rom. 16:25).”

    RESPONSE: AMEN BRANDON!

    Question: What was the Adamic Original Righteousness and Image of God that Adam entirely Lost? Was it obedience to the Law to not eat the forbidden fruit? Was it his perfect physical state of health and that he was eternal, etc/ Was it his mental and soulful conformity to the Law-as-being-Gods-Nature?

    If this is so, then the Purpose of the Holy Gospel Brandon is really to return us to a right relation to the Law in that case isnt it? It is to Reform or Re-condition mankind to again conform to the Law. This is Law-Gospel-Law. I would suggest that this is the logical thinking that is really at the root of both Calvinism and also Rome.

    Lutherans suggest this alternative: Adamic Original Righteousness and the Image of God were alone Faith alone in Christ alone. As a fruit of this, the Law was able to be written in his Heart. jeremiah prophecies that this would again happen in New Man. Note that Romans 2:15 does not say that the Law is written in the Heart of pagans. This Law-in-heart is only possible in a heart that has faith alone, in christ alone, apart from works we can do.

    And so Original sin is then two things that are BOTH about faith!

    1) Original sin is the total lack or absence of faith in Christ alone. and … 2) it is a vicious faith-in-anything-BUT-Christ that fills that void. The most typical fruit of Original Sin then is to put faith in our faith rather than in the Works of Christ alone. Original sin puts faith in reflexive faith. This is the worst idolatry and sin! And then it imagines that original sin is instead “concupiscence” (rome) or our aristotelian ‘baser instincts” or “animal appetites” driven by emotions which are then called “the flesh” (calvinists).

    This is to deal with symtoms and not the root. The root is a faith-FULL Old Adam heart that simply will not surrender, alone to the Works of Christ and will not simply die as God’s judgement demands but instead keeps trying to summon more works and faith and right emotions.

    The most difficult and lifelong task of any christian, and alone what makes him a christian, is to surrender to the article of the Forgiveness of Sins. All the saints complained at the great difficulty of doing this and their failure to do it.

    We all experience that when our conscience troubles us and satan accuses us we do not simply respond “yes, what you say is true about me, yet Christ died for such as me, so go back to hell satan.” No. We cast about anxiously for things to do to appease our conscience and so God, and we make lists of what we should do our would do or “commit” do doing. We are lost. We must confess that we are fake christians. We need to simply surrender and drop dead to our conscience, and plea, alone , with the Works of Christ to stop our nagging and constantly accusing conscience.

    If this is so hard for us christians, imagine how lost the rest of the world is! The need to hear that they can rest from all this alone in Christ!

    Bless you Brandon! Your responses were excellent. I hope my faltering responses are helpful in some way.

  18. Brandon E. says:

    Brother, what is the biblical basis for a definition of a “historical faith” that is capable of being done by the devil and the non-elect resulting in works that please God and glorify God?

    Ok Brandon. Name 3 works and services that we could only observe a Christian doing that a pagan never could or would do.

    There’s a lot that could be said here: preaching Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:4), speaking as one who speaks oracles of God (1 Pet 4:11), longing for others in the inward parts of Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:8), prophesying for the building up of the church (1 Cor. 14:4), “through the compassions of God…present[ing] your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1), “be transformed by the renewing of the mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect” (Rom. 12:2). Basically anything that is intrinsically related to Christ, the Spirit, the kingdom of God, the Body of Christ, the new man, the life of God (1 John 5:12) and the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4) being imparted into the believers.

    For me it’s not primarily a matter of outward things, but of intrinsic relationship that results in God in Christ being expressed in and with whatever we are doing. Can a kitten express a Great Dane? Not really, because a kitten does not have the life and nature of a Great Dane. Outwardly, they can do similar things, like eat, run, fetch or yelp, but the kitten and the Great Dane have different lives and therefore different expressions (glories) of life regardless of what they are doing. Before we have saved, all we had was our fallen human life. However, now that we have received Christ we have the life of God in Christ (1 John 5:12, Eph. 4:18) and His divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4), so God and the life of God in Christ through the Spirit can be expressed in us even in mundane matters as we live and grow by His life.

    Since the believers are a new creation Christ, they can move and act with the new man as the origin, the new man as the content, and the new man as the expression. It seems that you believe that the new man is completely invisible except to the eyes of faith (which faith do you mean? Historical faith? Saving faith?). I think that this annuls the function of the new man–the Body of Christ with Christ as its life and Person–in the present age, which is to express [glorify, radiate, manifest] Christ to the rest of creation. If all I had was a head and not a body I could not express myself very well. In the same way Christ as the Head of the Body requires all the members of His Body for His full expression. This is God’s eternal plan and perfect will, and this is why I believe that if we say that God is in some sense glorified by works apart from faith and apart from the Spirit of Christ who indwells only those who have saving faith (2 Cor. 13:5), the glory of such works cannot hold a candle to the new man. In the eyes of God, the new man is infinitely brighter, because Christ is all and in all in the new man (Col. 3:10-11).

    I agree with what you said about effort, but the fact remains that believers can still be either in the old man or the new in experience and practice(Eph. 4:17-31). If a believer is currently working and serving in their own strength and sufficiency rather than in the Spirit, the scenario Kevin mentioned, experientially they are in the old man with his nature and works rather than the new man with His nature and works. Whether we are in the old or the new is not a matter of effort but of where our heart is turned. The old man has been crucified already (Gal. 2:20, Rom. 6:6) and believers have died to the law and been discharged from it (Gal. 2:19; Rom. 7:4, 6; Gal. 3:24-25) so it’s a matter of recognizing this fact by the faith that has already been granted to us and simply turning our heart to Christ to fellowship with Him and enjoy Him and His all-sufficient grace. This is not something that happens only while listening to sermons on Sunday, but something we can practice in our daily living as we are strengthened and enriched through prayerful reading of Scripture, private times of fellowship with the Lord and fellowship with other members of His Body.

    If this is so, then the Purpose of the Holy Gospel Brandon is really to return us to a right relation to the Law in that case isnt it? It is to Reform or Re-condition mankind to again conform to the Law. This is Law-Gospel-Law. I would suggest that this is the logical thinking that is really at the root of both Calvinism and also Rome.

    I agree with what you said here, and I this is why I believe it’s important to see that Christ (the living Person) not the law (a thing as a kind of rule of life) is the very image and glory of God to whom we are being conformed (Rom. 8:29).

    But even if I disagree with Reformed theology for turning people back to the law for their rule of life after the law brings them to Christ, it doesn’t mean that I must agree with the Lutheran way of categorizing all clear imperatives in the New Testament as “the Law.”

    I note that Kevin didn’t say “try really hard to keep the law and if you fail try even harder” but “serve in the strength and supply of the Spirit” which is basically a quotation of 1 Pet. 4:11. Why is this not an appeal to the law already-written in the hearts of regenerate persons? Because he said something about the subject outwardly? This is something believers can practice according to the faith already given to them–not perfectly in this life but partially, really and truly–without being condemned or belittled for failure. I may be mistaken, but I simply did not detect a legal spirit in what was written. If we are already enjoying Christ and His grace when we hear such a word, or if we quickly turn to Him, it won’t seem like a legal matter or a heavy burden to us.

    Anyway, blessings to you, too, brother. Thank you for taking the time to interact. I understand some of the points you’re making, but I hope you can see why I don’t believe that works done apart from faith and the Spirit of Jesus Christ can be called a “glory” or “pleasing” to God according to the crucial and intrinsic definition of the words as found in God’s eternal purpose and perfect will, or that everything in the Bible can only be understood in terms of law and gospel.

  19. Thanks for your response Brandon. I will need to delay in getting back.

    The Law always accuses. If what Kevin tells us , correctly, we ought to do does not accuse you Brandon because you are doing those things always and perfectly then congratulations. In the case that you are not, why are you not feeling accused? Dont you deserve hell for that apart from Christ? So what Kevin is saying is not Law? Is the decalog then the “10 suggestions” or “10 encouragements”?

    When we are told in the Bible that we must do something that always accuses us. We do not do it as we ought do we?

    But the Holy Gospel always comes, in, with and under the Law Brandon. God always places the Promise only in, with and under things that he commands to be done by sinful human hands.

    So I am not denying that we are commanded to Pray and think about things as Kevin says. But if this is not Law what is it?

    But here is really my point. We dont ever do it as we ought. So shouldn’t that fact terrify us? “the soul that sins, it shall die.” And in addition, God threatens to punish us for failure to pray and for lack of faith in Christ alone and His works alone.

    You seem to be taking Law and trying to turn it into Gospel by saying that Gospel is something that we have infused into us that is a quality that is other than simply what Christ did for us and completely outside of us.

    This feels alot like the infused grace model of Rome. Excuse me for saying that. I say excuse me, because I am pretty certain you dont believe in infused grace.

    the infuse grace model looks like this. We are a baseball, God the HS pulls his arm back, puts his force into that ball, throws it, and then… releases the ball. The idea is that the vector and force is all of the HS and not of us. But this force is “imparted” or “infused” into us.

    The Law always accuses. What kevin says is a Law of God is exactly right. God demands our prayer and our right thinking and right believing and right emotions. And this accuses each of us. We dont do it. there is no Gospel in this. This is Law law law. If it is not Law what is it Brandon? what is that other category you imagine besides Law and Gospel? Infused faith? what IS that? or is it something else you are suggesting that I am to dense to catch?

    And the Gospel is alone the Works of Christ “extra nos” outside of us and for us. What happens inside of us matters. but what is that inside of us work that alone faith can do?

    again:

    1) accept the judgement of God about all our best works and be terrified rather than flee that judgement by trying harder.

    2) put the works of Christ to work to cover our own works.

    3)fear God when he says he will punish those who disobey his Law and so practice doing love for our neighbor.

    4) Love God. God cannot be an Object of Love as long as we are always accused. The Law can no longer accuse us in Christ. So we are free to do acts that are aimed at Mercy to neighbor rather than sacrifice to God’s Glory by doing stuff that has no usefulness to our neighbor at all but is all about us and God. Jesus did ALL that is necessary to glorify God in our relationship to Him.

  20. I note that Kevin didn’t say “try really hard to keep the law and if you fail try even harder” but “serve in the strength and supply of the Spirit” which is basically a quotation of 1 Pet. 4:11.

    that is a command brandon. And every command implies a threat. It says “do that!” implied is “or else!” That is always how the Law works. What Kevin says is Law. The Law always accuses Brandon.

    you disagree it is Law. what is it then? “gospel encouragement”?

  21. Brandon E. says:

    Brother,

    Believers are not under the law. They have died to the law and have been discharged from it.

    Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.

    But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.
    -Romans 7:4, 6

    For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
    -Rom. 10:4

    For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God
    -Gal. 2:19

    Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…
    -Gal. 3:13a

    Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.
    So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian,
    -Gal. 3:23-25

    But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
    -Gal. 5:18

    As you said: “the Law can no longer accuse us in Christ.” Apart from Christ I deserve eternal punishment according to the law, but I am not apart from Christ (Rom. 8:33-39). The law has already fulfilled its task in bringing us to Christ and now its accusing and condemning power is annulled. Yes, we put ourselves under the law in our experience, but and it doesn’t mean that the new covenant commands are “the law.” God doesn’t threaten and punish redeemed believers with the law’s curse of eternal death and condemnation for, say, praying sometimes but not perfectly all the time.

    This is Law law law. If it is not Law what is it Brandon? what is that other category you imagine besides Law and Gospel? Infused faith? what IS that? or is it something else you are suggesting that I am to dense to catch?

    I don’t think you are dense, I think you are an intelligent and sincere brother in the Lord.

    Let me see if I can explain it to in this way.

    Luther was very strong against the Roman Catholic church in stressing the matter of law and gospel in order to see clearly the matter of justification. I believe he was absolutely right to do so, because this was the real need at the time of the Reformation. Justification is by grace through faith, not faith plus any works we do through infused grace.

    The problem is that the law and gospel hermeneutic really only applies to the judicial or legal side of salvation–our justification, reconciliation, propitiation, redemption, forgiveness for sins–but this alone is not the complete revelation of the Bible. The law and gospel hermeneutic is rooted in a strictly legal or judicial realization of salvation that revolves around man’s sinfulness–what God does to expose man’s sinfulness and inability to justify himself, what God has done to solve the problem of man’s sinfulness in Christ for the forgiveness of sins. But God’s full salvation as revealed in Scripture is not centered on man’s sinfulness but on God’s life.

    God’s intention in His full salvation is not just that we would be justified and receive the forgiveness for our sins (and go to heaven instead of hell), but that He would dispense Christ as life into us, thereby sanctifying, renewing, transforming, conforming, and glorifying us and building us up together corporately as His kingdom, Body, dwelling place and bride that expresses (glorifies) Him, the final state of which is the New Jerusalem in the new heavens and new earth.

    God’s intention is to add Christ–who is the divine, eternal life of God–into us to be our life and life-supply, that He would grow in us and we would grow in all things into Him to be His kingdom, Body, dwelling place and bride.
    (See: 2 Cor. 13:5; 2 Cor. 4:6-7; Rom. 8:9-11; Gal. 2:20; Gal. 4:19; Eph. 3:17; John 14:20; Col. 3:4; John 6:57; Phil. 1:21; Col. 1:27; Eph. 4:15-16; Eph. 2:20-22; Col. 2:19).

    Hence, the new covenant speaks new commands in another realm, such as “Look to Christ for Him to live in you and with you.” This is a matter of God’s eternal purpose, good pleasure, and perfect will, but not of the law, because the law does not convey such a thought to us. This is not the law, because turning to Christ for Him to live in us and supply us is no more difficult than turning to Christ for Him to forgive us our sins. This is not the law, because the law cannot give life but these words supply us with life to meet the demand. This is not the law, because the penalty for failure is not condemnation, eternal perdition, or anything that in any way jeopardizes our justification by grace through faith alone. This is not the law, but gospel, the gospel of the kingdom, in which the kingdom of God is Christ as the seed of life is sown into the human heart (Matt. 13:1-21) that He may rule us not outwardly by commands with threatenings but inwardly by His life-supplying, grace-giving presence.

  22. Brandon, you are overwhelming me with words brother.

    What I get from what you write is that the main purpose of the atonement was to plant jesus/hs power inside of us , and the purpose of that is to empower us to be able to DO stuff. mostly think and emote correctly.

    and the argument you are making is that none of this doing in a christian is law driven stuff. it is all about being juiced up on Jesus. so we are not sinner/saints. we are saints really.

    occasionally you concede that we dont do what we should do perfectly and so we need to practice so we grow into perfection. but that is not about our being pagan old adam sinners really…

    that is what I am hearing you say.

  23. Brandon E says:

    Dear brother,
    I don’t want to overwhelm or bombard you. If I had more time, I would try to trim down the number of words and use the simplest terms possible. I’m apologize if my comments are difficult to read and respond to, and I appreciate your willingness to bear with me.

    I think you are understanding me partially. The main thing I want make clear is that Christ being in not mainly about empowering us to “do” something. The point is not that I want to “do” something and because God is so nice that He gives me the power to do it. Rather, the point is that God is making us into something that glorifies Him, that is, His glorious church. By dispensing His divine, eternal life (Christ Himself) into us after we have been redeemed by Him, He is transforming us unto Christ’s glorious image. Moreover, He is building us together in Him corporately into His kingdom, Body, dwelling place and bride that is saturated with His glory (which glory is the expression of His life wrought into us), the final state of which is the New Jerusalem (see Rev. 21:2, 9-11). This is something much greater and more glorious than what God had in the garden of Eden. In Genesis, Adam and Eve were created in the image of God and could converse with God and fellowship with Him outwardly, but they did not have God in them inwardly. They were like a glove that had been created in the image of a hand that had yet to be filled with a hand. They were perfect but empty because Christ had not been put into them to be their life and content. But at the end of the Bible in Revelation we see that God has worked Himself in Christ by the Spirit into millions of His chosen and redeemed people and built together into the New Jerusalem that is overflowing with His His glory. This is so that “to the rulers and authorities in the heavenlies the multifarious wisdom of God might be made known through the church, according to the eternal purpose which He made in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:9-11).

    Scripture shows in many ways that our being filled with Christ is not merely something we are waiting for but rather a process of growth and maturity that is taking place in us (the believers in Christ) today, both individually and corporately, according to the Triune God’s operation in us:
    1 Pet. 2:2-3; Col. 1:6; Col. 1:10; 2 Pet. 3:18; Rom. 6:5; Col. 1:28; Heb. 6:1; Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:23; 2 Cor. 4:16; Rom. 6:19-20, Heb. 2:11, Heb. 12:10, 14; 1 Pet. 1:15-16; Gal. 4:19; Eph. 3:17; 2 Cor. 3:18; Phil. 3:10; Col. 1:24; Phil. 2:12-13
    Eph. 5:26-27; Eph. 2:20-22, 1 Pet. 2:5; Eph. 4:12-16; Col. 2:7; Col. 2:19; Col. 3:10; Eph. 1:22-23; Eph. 3:14-21; Matt. 16:18; 1 Cor. 3:6-9

    Moreover, Scripture shows us that this process has visible fruits and manifestations on earth as a result of this process is taking place in us, and I believe a careful reading of these verses will reveal that this is something far beyond old Adam’s nature:
    Matt. 5:16, John 15:8; 16; Eph. 5:8-9; Gal. 5:22-24; John 7:37-39; Phil. 1:19-21; 2 Cor. 4:10-11; 2 Pet. 1:3-11; John 17:22-23; 1 Cor. 14:24-25

    Scripture also shows how we cooperate with this process, that is, how we work out our own salvation (Phil. 2:12-13) and all of these are fully centered on Christ through the Spirit:
    eating Christ (John 6:57; 1 Pet. 2:2-3), drinking from Christ (John 7:37-39; 1 Cor 12:13), partaking of the divine nature in Christ (2 Pet 1:4), living Christ (Gal. 2:20; Phil. 1:21), walking in the Spirit (Gal. 6:15-16; Gal. 5:16; Gal. 5:25; Phil. 2:16; Rom. 8:4; 1 John 1:7; Col. 1:10; Col. 2:6; Eph. 2:10), learning Christ (Eph. 4:20-21), exercising unto godliness (2 Tim. 4:8, 10), pursuing and gaining Christ (Phil. 3:12-16; Heb. 12:14; 1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:22; 1 Cor. 14:1), running the Christian race (1 Cor. 9:6, Gal. 2:2; 2 Tim. 4:7), abiding in Christ (John 15:4-5, 1 John 2:29; John 6:56), beholding Christ (2 Cor. 3:18), etc.

    Note that in my posts my emphasis was not on our “doing,” but on our depending. None of the items listed above is a matter of trying to do good or keep the law. And most of them do not sound like hard work. “Eating” is not hard work, “beholding” is not hard work. Turning to Christ to “eat” or to “behold” is no more difficult than turning to Him for the forgiveness of our sins. I do not have so much space to describe what this may look like outwardly and practically, but some examples may include spending time with Him in the shining of His presence (2 Cor. 3:16-18) as a matter of our prayer life, being nourished by the words of Scripture by praying over what we read in order to contact Him (Matt 4:4; 1 Pet. 2:2-3; Eph. 6:17-18) or calling on the name of the Lord Jesus in every place (Rom. 10:12-13; 1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Tim. 2:22).

    To conclude, this is all Christ centered, not law-centered.

    The more we grow in these matters the more we express Him. For example, when we behold Him we are being transformed into His glory from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18). Another example is eating: “As the living Father has sent Me and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me” (John 6:57). There’s the common phrase “you are what you eat.” I know of someone who had very pale skin until he went on a carrot diet and his skin took on a very orangish tone. In the same way, the more we “eat” Christ, the more Christ will live in us, be formed in us, make His home in our heart through faith and be magnified in our mortal bodies so that we express Him in our daily living. This doesn’t mean that we cease to have the flesh in this lifetime (that will only happen when our bodies are glorified at the Lord’s coming) or that we will cease to be vulnerable to sin. In fact, the more Christ makes His home in our heart through faith and the more ground He has in our being, the more we will realize how defiled and corrupt we are apart from Him and how weak and utterly helpless we are without Him.

    Anyway, my words are imperfect and I would encourage you to look at the Bible verses concerning these matters to see for yourself.

  24. jackie says:

    i read this just before walking out the door to visit a woman in jail who had been a member of my jail Bible study some years ago. As usual, my plan was to “wing it” as i am an intelligent person. i was convicted of my arrogance and bowed my head to ask the Father’s guidance and help in this important endeavour. Thank you for the timely reminder.

  25. Mary Kaye McDonald says:

    Our pastor has just been talking about this too. Things come in 3’s. I’m sure God will give me another reminder. Some of us are slow learners…thank you for your wisdom.

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (PCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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