How Do We Grow in Grace?
In Soul Physicians, I allot a good deal of space (8 chapters) to sanctification—how do we grow in grace. I address the relationship between our complete salvation (justification, reconciliation, regeneration, and redemption) and our ongoing sanctification.
Many writers today are describing this connection as Gospel indicatives (who we are in Christ through our salvation) and Gospel imperatives (how we live out our newness in Christ). Two pastors who I have great respect for have been blogging about this topic this week: Kevin DeYoung and Tullian Tchividjian. Their conversations and interactions are the proverbial “can’t miss.”
Make Every Effort
Read Kevin’s initial post Make Every Effort. Here’s how Kevin summarizes this first blog post:
“Justification is wholly dependent on faith apart from works of the law. But sanctification–born of faith, dependent on faith, powered by faith–requires moral exertion. ‘Mortify and vivify’ is how the theologians used to put it. When it comes to growth in godliness, trusting does not put an end to trying.”
Work Hard! But in Which Direction?
The next day, Pastor Tullian responded with some gracious push-back. Read his thoughts in Work Hard! But in Which Direction? The following sentence captures the essence of Tullian’s blog post.
“Remembering, revisiting, and rediscovering the reality of our justification every day is the hard work we’re called to do if we’re going to grow.”
Yesterday, Pastor Kevin responded to Pastor Tullian’s response. Read his gracious push-back to the push-back in Gospel-Driven Effort. Kevin summarizes his thinking as follows:
“I agree sanctification requires the fight of faith to believe this scandalous good news of the gospel of justification. I disagree that this is the only kind of effort required in sanctification.
Growing in godliness is a fight of faith—a fight to believe the truth about our justification, our adoption, a fight to believe all that God says about us by virtue of our union with Christ. But growing in godliness is more than trusting; it is also trusting enough to obey. The New Testament gives us commands, and these commands involve more than remembering, revisiting, and rediscovering the reality of our justification. We must also put on, put off, put to death, strive, and make every effort.”
The Rest of the Story
By the time you read this post, there will likely be more posts to follow—not only on Kevin and Tullian’s blogs, but elsewhere in the Christian blogosphere. This is a huge issue for everyone committed to Gospel-Centered ministry: what is the relationship between our salvation in Christ (the Gospel indicative) and our sanctification in Christ (the Gospel imperative)?
Join the Conversation
How do you answer the question: “What is the relationship between our salvation in Christ (the Gospel indicative) and our sanctification in Christ (the Gospel imperative)?