Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12, 13)
How do you teach these verses? One of your favorite catch phrases seems to be “trembling in the camp.” Again, let me say that I totally agree with you that men have misused the law to tyrannize the conscience of Christians and have corrupted the gospel of grace. They have made, to use Luther’s phrase, “work mongers” out of untaught and insecure believers. They have used guilt to control and manipulate weak Christians. However, what is the “fear and trembling” to which Paul is exhorting us in this text? Is there a “fear and trembling” that is the evidence (produced by the Holy Spirit and not our self effort in obeying the law) of a holy and healthy attitude towards God’s truth? Are we to seek to experience this kind of trembling, and is such trembling in anyway inconsistent with the holy joy and assurance that is found in free grace alone?
Paul clearly understood that he was both saved by faith and that he lived by faith (Gal. 2:20), but that did not hinder him from saying, “I fight…I run…I keep my body under…let us labor…let us cleanse ourselves…let us lay aside every weight” (cf. I Cor. 9:26; II Cor. 7:1; Heb. 4:11; 12:1). This is holy and conscious effort. However, the choice is not, on the one hand, to ignore these verses and lean toward antinomianism, or, on the other hand, to think that Paul is saying our obedience to the law is the means of sanctification and head toward legalism. Why not say, “The grace of God that saves us is the very same powerful grace that ‘works in us [as believers] to [both] will and to do’ His revealed will?” Why not magnify grace by insisting that it, and it alone without any help from either the law or carnal flesh, can, and must produce the fruits of true grace. The answer to legalism is not antinomianism, and the answer to antinomianism is not nomianism. The answer to both is the power of the sovereign grace of God in Jesus Christ our living Lord. The answer is to stand under the cross until the heart is melted in worship and praise. Neither a true legalist nor an antinomian can do this.
We both agree that we are not justified by faith and sanctified by works. However, the Word of God nowhere teaches that faith sanctifies us in the same sense, and in the same manner that faith justifies us. In justification, faith is a grace that “worketh not,” but simply and only trusts, rests, and leans on Christ (Romans 4:5). And we must never forget that this faith is in itself a gift of God’s grace to us. In sanctification, grace is the power of God (the Holy Spirit Himself) in us that literally enables us to both “will and obey.” The grace that alone enables us to believe the gospel is the same grace that inwardly constrains us to obey the commandments of our Lord. I grant you that Huntington’s enemies often turned the power of sanctification over to the law and greatly confused the doctrine of sanctification. However, Huntington’s response of “sanctification by faith alone” corrected one error by creating another one.
3.1. One great mystery is that the holy frame and disposition, by which our souls are furnished and enabled for immediate practice of the law, must be obtained by receiving it out of Christ’s fullness, as a thing already prepared and brought to an existence for us in Christ and treasured up in Him; and that as we are justified by a righteousness wrought out in Christ and imputed to us, so we are sanctified by such a holy frame and qualifications as are first wrought out and completed in Christ for us, and then imparted to us. And, as our natural corruption was produced originally in the first Adam, and propagated from him to us, so our new nature and holiness is first produced in Christ, and derived from Him to us, or as it were propagated. So that we are not at all to work together with Christ, in making or producing that holy frame in us, but only to take it to ourselves, and use it in our holy practice, as made ready to our hands. Thus we have fellowship with Christ, in receiving that holy frame of spirit that was originally in Him. For fellowship is when several persons have the same thing in common (1John 1: 1-3). This mystery is so great that notwithstanding all the light of the gospel, we commonly think that we must get a holy frame by producing it anew in ourselves and by forming and working it out of our own hearts. Therefore many that are seriously devout take a great deal of pains to mortify their corrupt nature and beget a holy frame of heart in themselves by striving earnestly to master their sinful lusts, and by pressing vehemently on their hearts many motives to godliness, laboring importunately to squeeze good qualifications out of them, as oil out of a flint. They account that, though they be justified by a righteousness wrought out by Christ, yet they must be sanctified by a holiness wrought out by themselves. And though, out of humility, they are willing to call it infused grace, yet they think they must get the infusion of it by the same manner of working, as if it were wholly acquired by their own endeavors. On this account they acknowledge the entrance into a godly life to be harsh and unpleasing, because it costs so much struggling with their own hearts and affections, to new frame them. If they knew that this way of entrance is not only harsh and unpleasant, but altogether impossible; and that the true way of mortifying sin and quickening themselves to holiness is by receiving a new nature, out of the fullness of Christ; and that we do no more to the production of a new nature than of original sin, though we do more to the reception of it – if they knew this, they might save themselves many a bitter agony, and a great deal of misspent burdensome labor, and employ their endeavors to enter in at the strait gate, in such a way as would be more pleasant and successful.
220.127.116.11. The effectual causes of those four principal endowments, which in the foregoing direction were asserted as necessary to furnish us for the immediate practice of holiness, are comprehended in the fullness of Christ, and treasured up for us in Him; and the endowments themselves, together with their causes, are attained richly by union and fellowship with Christ. If we are joined to Christ, our hearts will be no longer left under the power of sinful inclinations, or in a mere indifferency of inclination to good or evil; but they will be powerfully endowed with a power, bent and propensity to the practice of holiness. By the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us, and inclining us to mind spiritual things and to lust against the flesh (Page 19
The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification by Walter Marshall) (Rom. 8:1, 4, 5 ; Gal. 5:17). And we have in Christ a full reconciliation with God, and an advancement into higher favor with Him than the first Adam had in the state of innocency, because the righteousness that Christ wrought out for us by His obedience to death is imputed to us for our justification, which is called the righteousness of God, because it is wrought by One that is God as well as man; and therefore it is of infinite value to satisfy the justice of God for all our sins, and to procure His pardon and highest favor for us (2Cor. 5:21; Rom. 5:19). And, that we may be persuaded of this reconciliation, we receive the spirit of adoption through Christ, by which we cry, ‘Abba, Father’ (Rom. 8: 15). In this way also we are persuaded of our future enjoyment of the everlasting happiness, and of sufficient strength both to will and to perform our duty acceptably, until we come to that enjoyment. For the spirit of adoption teaches us to conclude that, if we are the children of God, then we are heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; and that the law of the spirit of life that is in Christ Jesus makes us free from the law of sin and death; and that nothing shall be against us, nothing shall separate us from the love of God in Christ; but in all opposition and difficulties that we meet with, we shall be at last ‘more than conquerors through Him that loved us’ (Rom. 8:17, 23, 35, 37, 39).
Furthermore, this comfortable persuasion of our justification and future happiness and all saving privileges cannot tend to licentiousness, as it is given only in this way of union with Christ, because it is joined inseparably with the gift of sanctification, by the Spirit of Christ, so that we cannot have justification, or any saving privilege in Christ, except we receive Christ Himself and His holiness, as well as any other benefit; as the Scripture testifies that there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Rom. 8:1).
18.104.22.168. Whereas it may be doubted whether the saints that lived before the coming of Christ in the flesh could possibly be one flesh with Him, and receive a new nature by union and fellowship with Him, as prepared for them, in His fullness, we are to know that the same Christ that took our flesh was before Abraham (John 8:58), and was foreordained before the foundation of the world, to be sacrificed as a lamb without blemish, that He might redeem us from all iniquity by His precious blood (1Peter 1:18-20). He had the same Spirit then, which filled His human nature with all its fullness afterwards, and raised it from the dead; and He gave that Spirit then to the church (1Peter 1:11; 3:18, 19). Now, this Spirit was able and effectual to unite those saints to that flesh which Christ was to take to Himself in the fullness of time, because He was the same in both, and to give out to them that grace with which Christ would afterwards fill His flesh, for their salvation as well as ours. Therefore David accounts Christ’s flesh to be his, and spoke of Christ’s death and resurrection as his own, beforehand as well as any of us can do since their accomplishment: ‘My flesh also shall rest in hope; for You will not leave my soul in hell; neither will You allow Your holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life’ (Ps. 16:9-11). Yea, and saints before David’s time did all eat of the same spiritual meat and drink of the same spiritual drink, even of the same Christ, as we do, and therefore were partakers of the same privilege of union and fellowship with Christ (1Cor. 10:3, 4). And when Christ was manifested in the flesh, in the fullness of time, all things in heaven and on earth, all the saints departed, whose spirits were then made perfect in heaven, as well as the saints that then were, or should afterwards be on earth, were ‘gathered together in one,’ and comprehended in Christ as their Head (Eph. 1:10). And He was ‘the chief corner-stone, in whom the building of the whole church on the foundation’ of the prophets before, and the apostles after His coming, ‘being fitly framed together, grows to a holy temple in the Lord’ (Eph. 2:20, 21). Jesus Christ ‘is the same yesterday, and today, and forever’ (Heb. 13:8). His incarnation, death and resurrection were the cause of all the holiness that ever was, or shall be given to man, from the fall of Adam, to the end of the world – and that by the mighty power of His Spirit, by which all saints that ever were, or shall be, are joined together to be members of that one mystical body of which He is the Head.
Sanctify thyself does not mean that man should fulfill the law. The keeping of the law and sanctification are two entirely different things. Let the sinner first be sanctified, and then he shall also fulfill the law. First sanctification, then fulfillment of the law.
It is like a harp with broken strings. The harp was made to produce music by the harmonious vibration of the strings. But the production of music is not the mending of the harp. The broken strings must be replaced, the new strings must be tuned, and then is it possible to strike the melodious chords. The human heart is like that harp: God created it pure that we might keep the law; which an impure heart can not do. Hence being profaned and unholy, it must be sanctified; then it will be able to fulfil the law.
For the sake of clearness, two acknowledged facts should be noticed:
First, if man had never been profaned by sin, it would never have entered his mind to sanctify himself; and yet the law would have been fulfilled without disturbance. This shows that sanctification and fulfillment of the law are two entirely different things.
Second, sanctification continues until a man dies and enters heaven. Then he is holy. Hence there is no sanctification in heaven. Yet the only occupation of the saints in heaven is the doing of that which is good. Hence sanctification is a matter by itself; it does not consist in the doing of good works, but must be an accomplished fact before a single good work can be done.
Since man profaned himself, he is called of God to resanctify himself. Hence the claim of sanctification contains not even the shadow of a mystery. It has nothing to do with the mysteries, therefore is no dogma. It is the simplest and most natural verdict of God’s right in the conscience. That we speak of unholiness implies that we are convinced that we ought to be holy.
Is there contradiction, then, when we say, first, that sanctification itself is a mystery, and can be confessed only in the dogma; second that the demand of sanctification has nothing to do with the dogma?
Not in the least. Sinners of whom God demands that they sanctify themselves are, individually and collectively, totally unable to satisfy that demand. To a certain extent they can withdraw from sin and worldliness, and often have done so. Many unconverted men have done many praiseworthy works. In many cases lives have been reformed, the whole tone of existence has been improved from mere impulse, without a trace of real conversion. And, conceiving sanctification to consist in the doing of less evil and of more good, and that from an improved motive, it was thought that unholy man, though unable to satisfy this divine claim perfectly, might satisfy it to some extent. But all this has nothing in common with sanctification, and can be accomplished wholly without it. With all his self-betterment he can not effect the least part of it; though told a thousand times to sanctify himself, he is both unwilling and unable.
Hence the question: How, then, is sanctification to be accomplished? And since the question never received an answer from any of the sages, but only from God in His Word, therefore not the demand, but the means, of sanctification is for us incomprehensible and mysterious. Hence the character of sanctification must be emphasized as a mystery.
And what is the reason for denying that sanctification is a mystery, ie., the content of a dogma? The supposition that it is of human origin, that man is not totally unable, and that sanctification is betterment of character and life. Hence it is tantamount to (1) a lowering of holiness to the human standpoint; (2) an opposing sanctification as a work of God. And this is a very serious matter. We should again become clearly conscious of the fact that the holiness without which no man shall see God is not attained by the departing from some evil and the habitual doing of some good.
The demand of sanctification belongs to the Covenant of Works; sanctification itself to the Covenant of Grace. This makes the difference very obvious. Not as though the Covenant of Works commanded man to sanctify himself; given to holy men, it excluded sanctification. But God gave the Covenant of Grace to unholy men. And the only connection between the demand for sanctification and the Covenant of Works is, that the latter ever pursues fallen man with this demand, and with the terror of Horeb. Unholiness destroys the foundation of the Covenant of Works and renders compliance with its conditions impossible. Hence the absolute contradiction between it and the sinner’s personal life. The one must make room for the other; they can not stand together.
In this painful conflict we are often tempted to ask whether God is not unjust in His law to demand of us the impossible, and to lay the blame on Him; for did He not make us so? And from this difficulty the Arminian in our own heart seeks to escape, either by denying that there ever was a Covenant of Works, or by substituting the fulfillment of the law for sanctification.
Wherefore it is our aim, especially regarding this doctrine, to escape from this harmful confusion of ideas, and to arrive at a correct understanding and purity of expression. The preaching must not add to the chaos, but lead us to clear insight and understanding.
Instead of sweetly cradling ourselves upon the Word, we must earnestly endeavor to understand it. In city and country church the Word must be preached persistently, and with ever-increasing purity, until, convicted of personal unholiness, men begin to see that by absolute sanctification, not mere self-betterment, they must restore unto God His right; until, feeling their inability, with broken hearts they turn to God to receive the Mystery of Sanctification from the treasures of the Covenant of Grace.
Often, when we think of faith, we do not think of it as an act of righteousness. Then again, if it is not that what is it? If the pattern of discourse in John and 1 John is always that being born again precedes all acts of righteousness, and if faith is an act of righteousness, then regeneration must precede it. The alternative is too dark to consider, for how would God award a kingdom to sons as a right who in unrighteousness could only doubt him? The righteousness that is the wedding garment found in the parable of the marriage feast is important for our consideration:
It is important because without righteousness no one is allowed partake of the Supper. Any self-dressing, any self-righteousness, is as filthy rags. So we must ask again, is the act of faith righteousness? True righteousness? That is, the righteousness in which we are dressed by God, a righteousness revealed from heaven, or is it a righteousness which comes forth from the fornication of a man’s heart?
I would also encourage you to listen to the program at WHI on the Sufficiency of Scripture. Southern Baptists have in the past stalwartly fought for the Inerrancy of Scripture. But there is another part of the formula sola Scriptura- authority. It either says what it says, or it does not matter whether is it inerrant. This is where non-Calvinists first enter into error and end in heresy. They do not care to faithfully exegete the Scripture, and by that launch into the seas of uncertainty in the leaky craft of philosophical impositions upon Scripture, denying God’s power to save by overthrowing the meaning and nature of faith and wind up in a land that is anything but the Kingdom of God.
The following is taken from a paper by Matthew Barrett delivered at ETS 2010 in Atlanta Georgia. Though this subject has been handled, and the case proven for centuries, the Evangelical church is still troubled by the false teaching of the Arminians (non-Calvinists). Here Barrett marshals quite a few scholarly views of the texts and clearly demonstrates the easily understood truth. What makes this even more important for the future of true evangelicalism among Baptists, is just who Matthew is:
First, in every instance the verb ―born‖ (gennaô) is in the perfect tense, denoting an action that precedes the human actions of practicing righteousness, avoiding sin, loving, or believing. Second, no evangelical would say that before we are born again we must practice righteousness, for such a view would teach works-righteousness. Nor would we say that first we avoid sinning, and then are born of God, for such a view would suggest that human works cause us to be born of God. Nor would we say that first we show great love for God, and then he causes us to be born again. No, it is clear that practicing righteousness, avoiding sin, and loving are all the consequences or results of the new birth. But if this is the case, then we must interpret 1 John 5:1 in the same way, for the structure of the verse is the same as we find in the texts about practicing righteousness (1 John 2:29), avoiding sin (1 John 3:9), and loving God (1 John 4:7). It follows, then, that 1 John 5:1 teaches that first God grants us new life and then we believe Jesus is the Christ.
Concerning these passages in 1 John, John Murray also concludes,
It should be specially noted that even faith that Jesus is the Christ is the effect of regeneration. This is, of course, a clear implication of John 3: 3-8. But John the apostle here takes pains to make that plain. Regeneration is the beginning of all saving grace in us, and all saving grace in exercise on our part proceeds from the fountain of regeneration. We are not born again by faith or repentance or conversion; we repent and believe because we have been regenerated. No one can say in truth that Jesus is the Christ except by regeneration of the Spirit and that is one of the ways by which the Holy Spirit glorifies Christ. The embrace of Christ in faith is the first evidence of regeneration and only thus may we know that we have been regenerated.
Schreiner and Murray are exactly right and consequently these texts in 1 John not only support the Calvinists position regarding the ordo salutis but equally exclude the Arminian position.
Had the climate models been equilibrated to more realistic conditions—after all, big climatologically important volcanic eruption are a fairly common part of the earth’s natural environment and not just a phenomenon of the pat 120 years—Krakatoa and subsequent volcanoes would not have induced a large, long-term warming-offsetting cooling tendency. And in that case, the apparent match between climate models and reality would fall apart as models would be warming their oceans far more rapidly than observations show the real oceans are (i.e., the models don’t work so well after all).
Reading it, I was reminded of these words. ‘Even scientific men are sometimes led to suppress or to pervert facts which militate against their favorite theories; but the temptation to this form of dishonesty is far less in their case, than in that of the theologian. The truths of religion are far more important than those of natural science. They come home to the heart and conscience. They may alarm the fears or threaten the hopes of men, so that they are under strong temptation to overlook or pervert them.’
Whose words? Why, those of Charles Hodge, of course. (Systematic Theology 1.12)
Albert Mohler writes in The Glory of God and the Life of the Mind,
All too many Christians ignore the intellectual component of discipleship. This tragic reality betrays a misunderstanding of the gospel, for the gospel of Jesus Christ requires cognitive understanding. In other words, there is a knowledge that is central to the Christian faith. As the apostle Paul makes clear in Romans 10, faith comes by hearing, and that faith is established upon truth claims that are nonnegotiable and necessary for salvation.
Christian faithfulness requires the development of the believer’s intellectual capacities in order that we may understand the Christian faith, develop habits of Christian thought, form intuitions that are based upon biblical truth, and live in faithfulness to all that Christ teaches. This is no easy task, to be sure. Just as Christian discipleship requires growth and development, intellectual faithfulness requires a lifetime of devoted study, consecrated thinking, and analytical reflection.
The SBC’s Baptist Faith and Message, calls for education as part of the missions responsibility of The Great Commission:
Christianity is the faith of enlightenment and intelligence. In Jesus Christ abide all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. All sound learning is, therefore, a part of our Christian heritage. The new birth opens all human faculties and creates a thirst for knowledge. Moreover, the cause of education in the Kingdom of Christ is co-ordinate with the causes of missions and general benevolence, and should receive along with these the liberal support of the churches. An adequate system of Christian education is necessary to a complete spiritual program for Christ’s people.
In Christian education there should be a proper balance between academic freedom and academic responsibility. Freedom in any orderly relationship of human life is always limited and never absolute. The freedom of a teacher in a Christian school, college, or seminary is limited by the pre-eminence of Jesus Christ, by the authoritative nature of the Scriptures, and by the distinct purpose for which the school exists.
Unfortunately, the reality is that very few SBC churches, local associations or state associations provide a school, or means to go to a school that truly equips individuals to practice the first commandment, opting instead to dump their children in the cess-pools of the government-run schools wherein inevitably the children will be dumbed down and propagandized, receiving only the world-view, of… well, the world. This portion of the Great commission is not part of the SBC at large, and has often been denounced by many within the ranks of the SBC. Doesn’t it strike one as odd that two paragraphs were adopted, and no one seems to really have given it any thought to what was meant by them?
As you can see by the BFM’s “doctrinal” position, academic education is commensurate with missions. And rightly so. In other words, it is the requirement of the Great Commission to provide such schools as equip academically so that the minds of the disciples are sharpen to comprehend Scripture. Christians cannot, as history has taught, entrust the core emphasis of the GC to the world- making disciplined followers of Christ. What that obviously entails, as the paragraphs conclude, is a rigorous, academic program equipping each disciple to understand for themselves the correct teaching of Scripture.
That helps to secure and protect freedom of conscience:
God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word or not contained in it. Church and state should be separate. The state owes to every church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends. In providing for such freedom no ecclesiastical group or denomination should be favored by the state more than others. Civil government being ordained of God, it is the duty of Christians to render loyal obedience thereto in all things not contrary to the revealed will of God. The church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work. The gospel of Christ contemplates spiritual means alone for the pursuit of its ends. The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind. The state has no right to impose taxes for the support of any form of religion. A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal, and this implies the right of free and unhindered access to God on the part of all men, and the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power.
Note how, even here, the exclusiveness of the churches’ responsibilities of discipleship and all that it entails.
Rarely will you find an SBC church or group of churches not resorting to the civil power to carry on its own work. In fact, you will rarely find anyone in the SBC who will rightly explain what liberty of conscience truly means. As becomes clear in this chapter of the BFM, it appears that it is mostly understood in a political sense. But that is not the primary meaning, nor is it often understood for what the reformers believed it to be. The main emphasis in centuries past was alway on setting the mind free and that to obey what could surely be known in Scripture.
True enough, even if the SBC did what they said they believe they should do, there is the temptation for skewed history and doctrine as if often found in Fundamentalist obscurantism. That is always the risk. However, when education is so poorly delivered as it is with the government system, the resistance to worldly influences and defense of the Gospel is weakened by proportion. At least within the folds of the church, even where it “shelters its own,” there is the church who is held to account. A rich education, can, and should include all the BFM speaks of, and by that, much would be done in protecting the political and the religious freedoms and acuities necessary for the defense of the Gospel and its reach in the world.
Yes, Doctor Mohler is right, a sound education is fundamental to establishing a defense against competing world views. And more, it is essential to missions. It is the Great Commission. Now, what remains is for the SBC to get off its self approbation, and get to the work of a true Great Commission resurgence, at least as is envisioned by the SBC’s own statement of beliefs.
So that no one thinks that I am just picking on the SBC, Christian education, academic and doctrinal, is the responsibility of all the churches of Christ. Christians in America have only themselves to blame for the woeful state that the country is in and for their marginalized existence in it. The church, by and large, sold the farm, now it eats what is produced by strangers and at prices it cannot afford.
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; who does good, not even one…
For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.
He entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small of stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
One interesting side note is that Zack was rich. But he wasn’t the only rich man that Jesus sought out. There is Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and others unnamed. Since Jesus quoted out of Isaiah, and blessed the poor and said the sign of his coming was that: “and the poor have good news preached to them,” it makes one wonder just who are the poor among us? If Christ has no discernible categorical preference, then why should we? When someone says that Jesus came especially for the poor, it is really a display of the Pharisaism. Both rich and poor rejected him alike and the only ones he revealed himself to were those he chose of both the rich and the poor: “You did not choose me, but I have chosen you.” It seems, the rich become poor, the poor become rich, the first are last and the last are first, and those who are seeking are those who are not seeking, and those who do not seek are sought out and found. The rich young ruler was much like Zack and just like Zack, in all appearances was a God fearer. But, the rich young ruler couldn’t bring himself to Christ, and it was not Zack who brought salvation into his house. Rather, in the words of Jesus we find that all Zack was doing to seek God, just as the rich young ruler kept all the commandments, only proved him lost and not a seeker of God at all. Jesus said he was a son of Abraham, not a son of the works of a man’s own hands. As Abraham, he was chosen out of his people and country even though, as Abraham, he was a worshipper of his own household gods. He was chosen to be one who by faith would receive the promised One to come. He was one who, neither by bloods, or by man’s works, or man’s will, was made by God to receive Jesus and rejoice in the right to be come a son of God.
Dr. Sprinkle kindly invites me “to come and see what I see in the hearts and lives of people in the BioLogos community.” I am willing and eager to enter into any conversation that serves the cause of the gospel. But a conversation that serves the cause of the gospel cannot avoid talking about what the gospel is — and that requires theology.