c) 2012' name='copyright'/>Michael DeShane Hinton: July 2014

Saturday, July 5, 2014


The benefits of Jesus’ atoning work on the cross accrue to those that faithfully follow him in the sanctifying way of the cross.  Otherwise, we have a double-minded God and bifurcated Gospel in which our duties and responsibilities are a mere option tacked on and not an essential part of the covenant in Jesus’ blood.  The work and the way of the cross must become in us one saving reality, the place where we meet the Lord.

“And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.’” (Luke 9:23-24 ESV)

For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. (Romans 3:22-25 ESV)

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:13-17 ESV)

For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:19-20 ESV)

Now, to the typical Reformed thinker the ultimate death to self is to give up any human effort to save oneself, which is interpreted as “works righteousness.”  The preferred state, then, is a passive one, lest any supposed obedience on our part would somehow detract from Jesus’ “finished work on the cross.”  Ironically, if God commands a thing, like trusting Christ to save us, and we do it, it is a work.  So, seeing the flaw in Lutheran theology, Calvinists say that even believing in Jesus is the gift of God, lest any man should boast, yielding double pre-destination.  No boasting, no pride, no merit, no work but what God does – that is the sum total of Protestant piety with Quakers and Shakers being the ultimate logical expression of it.

But there is tremendous pride in that posture because it means that God saved one and not the other.  It is too easy self-righteously to think or say, “I must be special because God moved upon me to be saved, gave to me saving knowledge of Christ and the gift of faith, but not to you.”

The only way out of this dilemma is to die in the way that Jesus demonstrated, not merely doctrinally or even psychologically, but in continual personal deference to God’s will over our own, in the Spirit’s moment-by-moment leading in the way of the cross, in death to sin and self, “presenting ourselves, our souls and bodies, as a living sacrifice,” trusting God to make us alive again, that is, alive to God and to others in self-less love, making us like Jesus, truly Christ-ian.