Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What’s Grace Got to Do with It?

Guest Post by Jim Reitman (aka “agent4him”) Jim is an advocate of Free Grace Theology.

But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:20b-21 nkjv)
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21 nkjv)
I guess I’ve been a Free Grace kind of person since I first believed (circa 1978). Three years later Zane Hodges came out with Gospel Under Siege, while I was an MA student at Dallas Seminary, and I readily embraced Zane’s argument: Grace is truly free; I had freely accepted it for my own “salvation.” But since then (for the most part) I have been a pretty miserable person to live with - just ask Peggy, or any of my co-workers before I retired - that is, until I began taking Prozac® in 2005. What’s up with that? If Jesus couldn’t make me more like him in 28 years, how could a chemical do it now? Do I actually reveal God’s righteousness in Christ or is it just a drug-induced “high”? What, if anything, does grace have to do with it?

Now that I’ve bated you with intriguing questions - which I will not answer :-) would like to explore how two familiar verses may have huge implications for the future of FG. Do FG advocates generally look or sound all that “gracious”? (That’s rhetorical for all of us, who plead the 5th). While none of us denies the essential role of grace in justification, what role should it play in our further development as a theological “system”? Do we sell FG short in our theology of sanctification?

The gospel was meant to reveal the righteousness of God (Rom 1:17) and I would submit that God intended for those who are “saved” to then participate with Him in “revealing” it to the world. How do we do that? The word “grace” occurs only five times in Romans 1-4 (the “justification” section) but then five times in chapter 5 - four in 5:15-21 alone—the so-called “sanctification” section. Were we meant to receive grace freely - after being justified (5:17), so that his abundant grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life, revealing it in us now (5:21)? And a bonus question for the Calvinists in our “mixed multitude”: Can we “resist” his free grace after we have been regenerated and justified?

In 2 Cor 5:21 the verb is “become” (ginomai) though it can certainly be read as “be,” depending on context. Why am I getting in our faces about this? Because a vast majority of evangelicals have just assumed, along with Luther, that this transaction refers only to justification and not to sanctification. Then I asked myself why the key verses for my blog handle “agent4him” (“agent” of reconciliation, 2 Cor 5:18-20) occur after 5:17 but before 5:21? (see the entire passage posted at bottom of this post). Are we in FG really in the business of reconciliation? Was I “saved” to then be formed into a really righteous agent—not just declared—that I might reconcile others to Christ? Do I really appropriate free grace now to make that happen in me (Rom 5:17)? Could it be that is how I “reign through righteousness to eternal life”?

…Nah, I think I’ll just stick with Prozac®. :-) (see how happy I am?)
- Jim Reitman
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 (nkjv)
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

74 Comments:

  • Jim,

    Ahh! I think I'm in heaven.

    Michele

    By Blogger Sanctification, at 3/10/2009 2:57 PM  

  • Hi Jim

    You said:
    Because a vast majority of evangelicals have just assumed, along with Luther, that this transaction refers only to justification and not to sanctification.

    Jim I’m not convinced that Luther had the first part right? How can we get to the second part when we don’t agree on the first?


    The most consistent Calvinist was Augustine, who held to the damnation of “non-elect” and non-baptized infants.
    (Webb, pp. 312-313; Schaff, History, vol 8, p. 556)



    One wonders, also, how evangelicals in their praise of Luther seemingly overlook the extent to which he was still in bondage to his Roman Catholic background. This was especially evident in his view of the efficacy of the sacraments by which in his Small Catechism he declares, “God offers, gives, and seals unto us the forgiveness of sins which Christ has earned for us.” (Emphasis in original) Op. Cit., 313
    In answer to the question, “What does Baptism give or profit?” the Catechism declares, “It works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believes this, as the words and promises of God declare.” A short Explanation of Dr. Martin Luther’s Small Catechism: A Handbook of Christian Doctrine (Concordia Publishing House, 1971 ed.), 169.
    As for the Lord’s Supper or Communion, Luther states, “It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, for us Christians to eat and to drink . . . In, with, and under the bread Christ gives us His true body; in, with, and under the wine He gives us His true blood . . . in the Sacraments forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given . . .” (Emphasis in original) Op. Cit., 174.
    Here we have Rome’s false gospel of sacamentalism which survived the Reformation and is still honored in many Protestant churches. Lutherans who trust in baptism and the Lord’s Supper for their salvation are just as lost as Roman Catholics who trust in Rome’s sacraments. Recognizing Luther’s mistaken view of salvation may help some realize that his view of free will and human responsibility could be equally wrong.
    Dave Hunt “What Love Is This” page 181

    Luther goes on to argue that “ the doctrine of salvation by faith in Christ disproves ‘free-will.’”
    (Op. Cit., 288-95) Dave Hunt p.186

    Folks, this is why I will never understand why anyone would want to use Augustine or Calvin or Luther to prove “faith alone in Christ alone” because their writings contradict a free gift over and over again.

    alvin

    By Blogger alvin, at 3/10/2009 3:12 PM  

  • Jim,

    Oh wait, then my name would be "Glorification," if I were in heaven.

    :D

    I tell a bad joke, and then I go away....

    By Blogger Sanctification, at 3/10/2009 3:29 PM  

  • Jim,

    I have a serious question now. What about grace being free, through faith, for our justification, and grace being free, through faith, more, for our sanctification?

    I know I am a mess, thanks for bearing with me. I remember a pastor at the regional conference ask the question:

    "I agree with the doctrine of eternal rewards, it is the only biblical answer. God draws us by offering rewards for obedience. But quickly this can become an atmosphere of bondage, again. A to-do list. How can we incorporate grace into the discussion of driving our quest for eternal reward?"

    Or something close to that.

    I raised my hand, back in the days I was dumb like that. I said, "Is it not faith that determines the very sanctity or right-eousness, in eternal rewards?"

    To that I would add that fear of punishment, love of God, faith in God, are all kind of different aspects of the same thing, really, they are all just faith.

    Would you mind touching on that topic, of how grace (by faith alone) drives, more, verifies or authenticates obedience?

    Thanks so much!
    Michele

    By Blogger Sanctification, at 3/10/2009 3:40 PM  

  • Alvin,

    Thanks for leaving that comment. I learned a lot!

    Michele

    By Blogger Sanctification, at 3/10/2009 3:40 PM  

  • Ah, Michele, you are the "gift that keeps on giving." I thought you'd like the topic.

    Alvin,

    You and Bobby are much more familiar with Luther than I, but the point I keep coming back to is that he was not always consistent. I honestly think Luther was tortured internally to a degree that he was never really able to reconcile the disconnects.

    One thing I hope to do in this thread is to develop the implications of these verses for our formation in Christ from "inside out," as it were, rather than trying to reconcile various existing views...if that's possible. Maybe I'm too much of an optimist, but let's see what we can come up with?

    I'll try to respond to Michele's second post separately.

    By Blogger agent4him, at 3/10/2009 3:50 PM  

  • Fair enough Jim!!!!

    If the base is pure grace meaning by faith alone in Christ alone for His free gift of eternal life then we have the right foundation to work off of!

    Hi Michele, I'm glad that helped.
    And I like your question!

    Would you mind touching on that topic, of how grace (by faith alone) drives, more, verifies or authenticates obedience?


    alvin :)

    By Blogger alvin, at 3/10/2009 4:17 PM  

  • Ah, a Free-Gracer interacting with another book of the bible besides the book of John (not that I don't highly appreciate John ;-) . . . this is refreshing!

    Jim you asked:

    And a bonus question for the Calvinists in our “mixed multitude”: Can we “resist” his free grace after we have been regenerated and justified?

    I think this is a good question, I've asked it of Calvinists myself in the past.

    The way the Calvinist frames this really does not allow for "such resistance." If grace is framed, as it should be, in relational terms (cf. Rom 5:5) then there certainly can be "rebellion." Of course this requires that we frame sin in relational terms as well . . . viz. the absence of God's righteousness (privatio or privation). The reality then becomes a struggle between God's life (in us by the Spirit), and the absence of God's life (in us by the flesh) --- cf. Gal 5:17.

    Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. ~II Cor. 3:17,18 NASBU

    By Anonymous Bobby Grow, at 3/10/2009 4:33 PM  

  • Michele, Alvin,

    Very excellent question, Michele. One of the reasons that FG gets so much opposition from certain "camps" is the misperception of the role played by "rewards" or the notion that they are just figurative for "getting into heaven" and not distinct from entry in any substantive way.

    See, for example, my dialogue with Craig Blomberg on this issue:
    http://www.denverseminary.edu/craig-blombergs-blog-new-testament-musings/how-to-cope-theologically-with-apostasy/#comments

    To answer your question: Yes, sanctification by grace through faith---and "moreso," if by that we mean that by merely "populating heaven" we never truly fulfill our created purpose as agents of reconciliation (= "moreso").

    The question of obedience as his agents can never be framed by any prescriptive checklist, which is where people get into trouble right off the bat. If, on the other hand, we see obedience as a response of faith to the Spirit's invitation to risk some aspect of our lives in this world (i.e., comfort, complacency, leisure, etc.) in order to participate in whatever restorative activity God is up to in our "patch" of the created world whenever his "invitation" comes, THEN I think we've got true freedom; and we get more life---even if we were to die.

    In this respect, I'm not sure where "fear of punishment" would fit for believers truly interested in being formed as his agents. I don't see "loss of rewards" as a punishment as much as the natural consequence of choosing to get life from the world rather than from the Spirit. While there is a sense in which the "disobedient" believer can be at risk of premature death (1 Cor 11:30; 1 John 5:16; James 5:20, etc.), I think these verses are meant more to alert those in the Body who are grieved by such disobedience than the ones disobeying, who are not likely to be thus motivated.

    I like the term "discipline" from Heb 12:3-11. When I see the Father as really my FATHER, then I want to be his favorite son, not by "polishing the apple" of some kind of prescribed works, but by going out to the fields with him to plowwhen he invites me. If we are being groomed to "take over the family business" of restoring the creation through the process of reconciliation, then how can that happen unless we get some "on the job training" in obedience to his daily invitation?

    Now, when I knowingly do something really stupid that I am fully aware is contrary to his purposes of reconciliation, I would expect my Dad to "take me to the woodshed." I would hope that I would quickly come to respond to his invitation to help him more out of fear of disappointing him as his "favorite son" (and I am seeing "sonship" as much more corporate in nature than I did before) than fear of punishment.

    Ultimately, I would want to see my greatest incentive as being "for the joy set before him" (Heb 12:2) and I can honestly say, Michele, that I am only just beginning to get my first "taste" of that! I see that joy as full fellowship with the Father and with his Son (1 John 1) and I see the rewards that await us at the Judgment seat as consisting primarily of "shared glory" (2 Cor 4:16-5:10) and a continuation of the level of responsibility for the "family business" that we have "earned" by trusting him more every day during our earthly tenure on our "patch."

    By Blogger agent4him, at 3/10/2009 4:39 PM  

  • Oh, as far as Luther, I won't get into that now; but I would like to say that he rejected scholastic methodology and conceptuality (i.e. Thomas Aquinas' and Aristotle's thinking). So as far as methodology, he was not compelled to provide mathematical coherence, or clean up dangling ends in his theology (not that this means that he was incoherent, just not mathematically so). In other words, he followed more of the Christian Humanist approach, which was okay with living with paradoxical tension (either say Yes or No, or both/and, and moving on in the theological program).

    Anyway, just some random thoughts . . . I honestly don't want to get into this discussion; unless it has bearing, conceptually on this discussion as it unfolds (and it might ;-).

    By Anonymous Bobby Grow, at 3/10/2009 4:43 PM  

  • Whoa, Bobby!!!! Did you see that in re: your first reply??

    You're freaking me out, man! I did not see your first post before I submitted my last one, above. We're totally on the same wavelength here, man.

    Thanks for weighing in!!

    On Luther, I guess I'll plead for a truce...for the time being, at least. (I concede that he wanted to shun scholastic reasoning.)

    By Blogger agent4him, at 3/10/2009 4:49 PM  

  • Blomberg said:

    In a word, context. :)

    and then Craig said:

    . . . For those who feel they haven't worked hard enough, then by all means we stress the confession, faith, grace--all of the solas. . . .

    Hmm, context? Exactly! What "context" is informing this brilliant Geek, I mean NT Greek exegete's interpretive grid . . . it's not the context of I Jn. He is reading this through his affirmation of the categories provided by Westminster Calvinism. Now is anybody going to deny the power that "interpretive traditions" have upon our interpretation and engagement of the text of scripture? Blomberg (as bright as he is) illustrates that you can know all the Greek in the world, but he still has to make interpretive decisions; and it is Calvinism that shapes his particular decisions.

    And btw, Jim, I totally agree with your thoughts on I Jn (although I might try to fill them out a little differently --- I don't want to get too friendly ;-) in that thread with Craig.

    Yes, we are on the same waive-length in many ways (exegetically) . . . I mean if we take the text as "straightforward" as possible one would never end up a "Calvinist" ;-).

    By Anonymous Bobby Grow, at 3/10/2009 4:59 PM  

  • Jim you asked:

    Can we “resist” his free grace after we have been regenerated and justified?

    That depends.

    Can a man with a functioning nose "resist" smelling things?

    I suppose even a meager intellect could easily create a scenario wherein some poor sap never smells again. Maybe he suffers nose damage, or maybe all things simultaneously stop giving off odors - or maybe he lives his life in an hypothetical odor free environment. Surely we could paints some scenario that allows us to sidestep what is simple, plain, and should be unavoidable.

    There are often times when I wish I didn't have a sense of smell - I can think of a few gag worthy moments in my life. But there are other smells that are riveted in my memory, and I wouldn't want to be without them (bailing hay on a hot fall day, the sweet smell of dust in the air... I am quite sentimental for the farm). Yet I do have a sense of smell.

    In a very literal, and real way, my sense of smell is a gift of God's grace, isn't it? I mean, I didn't make myself have a sense of smell, nor did I choose to have it - all I am is a recipient of it.

    Thus the idea that I can resist it, is rather poorly framed. I can respond to what the Lord has freely given, that is, I can respond to grace - either by ignoring it, or not, but I cannot resist it, for grace is not like a ball that is pitched to me, that I can choose to catch or not - it is something I have, whether I value it or not, whether I act upon it or not. If I could resist it, it wouldn't be grace.

    Unless I am misunderstanding your application.

    By Blogger Daniel, at 3/10/2009 5:00 PM  

  • Before Jim corrects my spelling on "waive-length," let me do my own redacting :-) :

    I meant wavelength

    By Anonymous Bobby Grow, at 3/10/2009 5:01 PM  

  • Daniel,

    You know what Jim is getting at (the "I" of the TULIP). You are talking about the "objective" reality of grace; while Jim is getting at the "subjective" appropriation of grace (which is what the "I" is getting at as well). The point is, is that grace (for the "I" people) cannot be "resisted" at the point of appropriation of justification, so if we're going to be consistent why can it be "resisted" in the process of sanctification.

    The framing, per the Calvinist framework, is to speak of grace as a "quality;" and not in relational terms as a "person." In fact your analogy on smell illustrates this "frame" perfectly. "Smell" is an "accident" or quality of being a person (it's not being a person) . . . I'll have to finish my thought later, my wife needs the computer ;-).

    By Anonymous Bobby Grow, at 3/10/2009 5:08 PM  

  • Bobby,

    On Blomberg: Yes, my way of fleshing out the 1 Jn context was framed by my being on his turf, so I would probably use different terminology and analogies in another venue.

    And, yeah, maybe we are getting a little too "touchy-feely" here.

    Daniel,

    Interesting way to frame the issue; sorry, but I lost my sense of smell a long time ago, due to chronic allergies since childhood. Sort of burned out my little nerve endings, I guess.

    But...to respond to your thoughtful rejoinder: "What he said..." (i.e., Bobby, before he succumbed to the truly superior gender.)

    By Blogger agent4him, at 3/10/2009 5:19 PM  

  • All,

    I actually posted the wrong link to Blomberg's dialogue with me on rewards. See, instead:

    http://www.denverseminary.edu/craig-blombergs-blog-new-testament-musings/do-all-teachers-go-to-hell/#comments

    Sorry!

    By Blogger agent4him, at 3/10/2009 5:29 PM  

  • To Late Jim I already read the one you first gave! And I thought it was EXCELLENT!!!!

    By Blogger alvin, at 3/10/2009 5:36 PM  

  • Jim,

    If you can think of a way to try and clarify what I am trying to get at with Daniel w/o "succumbing to the Superior gender," then please let me know ;-). Sometimes it's not possible to "reduce" (in the comments of a blogosphere) certain concepts and things to a "popular" level . . . but I will try (it just requires a lot more time than I have available, usually).

    Daniel,

    I'll be back later to try and clarify my points (I'm just trying to describe the internal inconsistency to how Calvinists think about "grace" as a "quality," and the fall-out that can produce).

    P.S. Jim, I hope you know I was kidding about getting "too friendly."

    By Anonymous Bobby Grow, at 3/10/2009 5:38 PM  

  • Rules, people. Rules!!!

    *shaking head*

    It still is my blog... Rose of "Rose's Reasonings"

    Hi everyone!

    :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 3/10/2009 5:44 PM  

  • Bobby,

    Keine angst, mein freund, ich verstehe...(that should be mere child's play for an aspiring PhD).

    Actually, I think you are much more coherent and articulate when you are forced by the superior gender to distill your thoughts into nice little blog packages. I have nothing to add but to express my appreciation for deploying the notion of "appropriation" of grace, which is precisely where I would go. This was my purpose in alluding to Rom 5:17 in the original post.

    OMG!! :0

    HI, Rose... :) :)
    How are ya?? heh, heh...heh

    By Blogger agent4him, at 3/10/2009 5:48 PM  

  • Is this just one nose?

    Gal 5:15,16
    I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
    For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contray to one another,so that you do not do the things that you wish.

    Both of these are wanting to control of the believer. They are both REAL, and the believers free-will decides which one to feed.
    So in a sense there are TWO noses!

    I'll read your other post Jim!


    alvin :)

    By Blogger alvin, at 3/10/2009 5:49 PM  

  • Hi Mom . . .I mean Rose!!!!!hehe

    By Blogger alvin, at 3/10/2009 5:52 PM  

  • Hi Rose

    I'll be back latter! I have to go refuel . . .beans and sausage oh yah . . .sour-crout! I probably spelt that wrong? It's part of my code and I'm hungry!!!

    alvin :)

    By Blogger alvin, at 3/10/2009 5:57 PM  

  • Jim you there??? We didn't make you run for the Prozac did we??? If you need to take a nap or something that's alright!!! You know you are older then me!

    Peggy, you there? Jim's ok isn't he?

    hi Rose!!! am I in trouble?

    By Blogger alvin, at 3/10/2009 6:39 PM  

  • Did the Rapture happen?

    By Blogger alvin, at 3/10/2009 6:41 PM  

  • Hey! I think Rose left! It's alright you all can come back and play...really!

    (:/@\:)

    alvin :)

    By Blogger alvin, at 3/10/2009 6:58 PM  

  • Hi Rose

    Ok, Jim nap times over your not that old!

    you said:
    James Reitman Nov 17, 2008 1:17pm
    Being myself in this squeamish category of "judged more strictly," I too have an abiding interest in the proper referent of "judged" in Jas 3:1.


    Me too Jim!!!! squeamish, did you make that up? I thought it was squirmish? But of course yours might be in the perfect tense sense your rea~llly a teacher! But it's something to think about..>I take it all back . . .I didn't mean it!!!! I just want to be a pupil....please!!!!

    By Blogger alvin, at 3/10/2009 7:21 PM  

  • Ok, I'm going to go take my evening nap now!

    alvin :)

    Hi Rose :)

    By Blogger alvin, at 3/10/2009 7:24 PM  

  • Hey Alvin!!

    You're back! Where you been? Sounds like you had a rough neighborhood growing up bro. Glad they missed that eye! Run Forrest run!

    By Blogger goe, at 3/10/2009 8:32 PM  

  • Hi Bobby

    I’m not going to really get into this but just want to simply make an observational statement!

    You said:
    Oh, as far as Luther, I won't get into that now; but I would like to say that he rejected scholastic methodology and conceptuality (i.e. Thomas Aquinas' and Aristotle's thinking). So as far as methodology, he was not compelled to provide mathematical coherence, or clean up dangling ends in his theology (not that this means that he was incoherent, just not mathematically so). In other words, he followed more of the Christian Humanist approach, which was okay with living with paradoxical tension (either say Yes or No, or both/and, and moving on in the theological program).

    I see all this as mans systems to understand Scripture apart from the reliance on the Holy Spirit to reveal truth during progressive sanctification. The mystery of the gospel that was given by revelation to Paul concerning Jew and Gentile being One in the person Jesus Christ was not kept secret but revealed in the NT Scriptures. Paul did not come upon it by way of human reasoning the contradictions out. As far as leaving things hanging and calling it by the name of “paradoxical tension” is to hold onto ones own reasoning. It could be said that the majority of the professing Church has done this down through the centuries with books like Romans, James and 1 John. By calling it “paradoxical tension” rather then what it is false teaching that contradicts the child like Scriptures such as John 3:16. This is all man-made scholastic methodology and conceptuality Christian Humanist approach, which was okay with living with paradoxical tension (either say Yes or No, or both/and, and moving on in the theological program).

    Man’s reasoning is to be rejected when it clearly contradicts, rather then to just call it by another name and move on in the program!

    Alvin :) I’m not trying to sidetrack this tread by stating these observations, but just want to make clear “I don’t buy it!”

    By Blogger alvin, at 3/10/2009 9:02 PM  

  • Hi Gary

    Yes it was a pretty tough neigborhood, I lived on the Indian reservation for part of my early years. We had piles of rocks buried out in the front yard so when we would get chased home we had amunition! Ha!Ha!

    alvin :)

    By Blogger alvin, at 3/10/2009 9:06 PM  

  • I meant ammunition! That guy with the big stick, I can just feel him ready to lower the spelling boom!!!

    Jim, I'm beyond help, only the Lord can sanctify my spelling now!!! it's progressive which means it don't get any better till i get thar!

    By Blogger alvin, at 3/10/2009 9:10 PM  

  • Hello there Rose! Trusting you are getting some needed rest & recreation. Thanx for inviting bro. Jim over.

    Jim, I really like this discussion. If I have enough sense I just might contribute something soon. Buit for now, I really like your analogy of seeking to be God's "favorite" gthrough loving obedience & linking this to motivation for rewards. Man, that's gooooood! God Bless you all.

    By Blogger David Wyatt, at 3/10/2009 10:04 PM  

  • What's up brother David?

    You trying to out do my bad spelling? I notice your adding letters, is that your code?
    I'm pretty complex you know, i have a "chevy" inbedded in all my transmissions...that's real deep!

    alvin :)

    I got to get to sleep, i can see my brain has been over reved today!

    By Blogger alvin, at 3/10/2009 10:40 PM  

  • I'm glad Bro. Jim is here too!! I'm just going to sit back and learn and enjoy. Thanks for taking the time to visit us here Jim. I've got your book, but haven't had time to read it yet.

    Hi Bro.David! Hope you get back in the writing groove again! Try to keep Alvin in line here O K ? He can be hard to control sometimes!! :~)

    By Blogger goe, at 3/10/2009 10:58 PM  

  • Everytime I read the heading of this thread "What's Grace Got to Do with It?" A song comes to mind "What's Love Got to Do with It?" I think this is going to be deep...I think they came together . . .no wait a minute that was grace & truth! Wrong couple . . . i think they both came from Love . . . that's why there's grace, God is Love! I can hear Bobby in the background singing "see we all have luggage." What's up with that?

    good~night
    goodnight i didn't steal your handle, mine has a squiggle and it really does mean goodnight . . .snooze~~~~~~~~~

    By Blogger alvin, at 3/10/2009 11:05 PM  

  • I see you there Gary, I'm glad your out and about. We can all learn from you too!!!!!

    By Blogger alvin, at 3/10/2009 11:09 PM  

  • OK...everyone, and you too, Rose :-)

    I owe everyone an explanation for being AWOL for the last several hours. I worked at the Free Clinic tonight and just got back home.

    What is going on here?? Oh...yeah...Alvin. Hey, do you all remember the Three Chipmunks---Theodore, Simon, and Alvin? Alvin, you are soooo aptly named, my man. No, I didn't take a NAP; Prozac doesn't make me sleepy, it makes me juuuust right...but you know, there's another chemical on the market for hyperactivity; it's called Ritalin. I can hook you up, man, if they take Colorado prescriptions out there where you live. (Peggy saw your out-of-control rampage up above and she ordered me to tell you she thinks you're really funny; and when I get orders from the superior gender, I follow them.)

    goe and David, thanks for the kind words, and thanks to Rose for her trademark hospitality...

    ...and even though Bobby's not a 5-point Calvinist, thanks for your perseverance, Bro. Hope you're aging well.

    By Blogger agent4him, at 3/11/2009 12:04 AM  

  • Good morning Rose/Jim!

    When I went to bed last night, there were 2 comments on this page. When I woke up this morning, there were no less than 39!

    Rose: I assume that you got my email?

    Jim: You throw us Calvinists in a bonus question here: ”And a bonus question for the Calvinists in our “mixed multitude”: Can we “resist” his free grace after we have been regenerated and justified?”

    The answer is both “Yes and no”

    “No” – in the sense that we shouldn’t. The Bible calls us to a life of holiness with the needed grace continually given to enable us to live such a life.

    “Yes” – in the sense that we often do. Alas, we often quench and vex the Spirit of God within us, setting our affections on the things that are beneath instead of the things above and loving the world instead of the Word. Thankfully, we are not left alone in our rebellion, but feel the Father’s chastening hand with fresh supplies of grace that enable us to return to better days when our affections are reset to what is required of us etc.,

    Regards,

    By Blogger Colin Maxwell, at 3/11/2009 4:56 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Colin Maxwell, at 3/11/2009 4:57 AM  

  • Yo quiero Taco Bell!

    Any kind of "student" (PhD or not) can appreciate that kind of lingo ;-).

    Indeed "appropriation" fits nicely into the 'subjective' category (that means "me").

    Interestingly, if thinking of grace in "quality" terms --- or Calvinist/Arminian terms --- we actually end up with Perfectionism which is what has emerged (historically, and thus presently) in some of the Arminian camps. This isn't just coincidental, oh no . . . ideas have consequences (either good ones or bad ones --- scripture gets the last word on which is which).

    By Anonymous Bobby Grow, at 3/11/2009 7:03 AM  

  • Colin,

    The folks here at Miss Kitty's saloon went into withdrawal when she left town for a few days; so when she hired a tenderfoot barkeep to take care of business for awhile, the boys and girls were mighty thirsty. One of our "regulars" got kind of feisty there, but Marshal Dillon talked him down. Things'll settle down, but we shore do miss 'er.

    Thanks for droppin' by, pardner---much obliged ):-)

    Bobby,

    About "ideas," yes indeed...

    Not sure what you meant by "quality" terms?

    By Blogger agent4him, at 3/11/2009 7:38 AM  

  • Hi Rose. After my previous post I was actually going to post a quick second one that apologized for failing to say hi, but, being slack and in a hurry, I let it go.

    Bobby, Thanks for your insight, I always appreciate what you have to say.

    Jim, I will post (on my blog) sometime today answering the question of God's decrees vs. man's free will. I will link back to it when I do.

    By Blogger Daniel, at 3/11/2009 8:44 AM  

  • Um... maybe not today... I am getting too busy. but soon.

    By Blogger Daniel, at 3/11/2009 2:17 PM  

  • Good evening Rose!


    Hey that's pretty good lingo there Jim, I feel right at home!
    And I was mighty thirsty and didn't even know it!
    Sorry for getting out of hand, "I just lost my head" I don't know what came over me?

    Maybe it was Miss Kitty just popping in all of a sudden like that?
    It just brought back all the memories of sitting around the table and all the motherly wisdom she would share with me. But you know Jim no matter how bad I would get out of hand she never told me too go home.
    She would just say something like "tell your wife what you’re saying here and I bet she slaps you up both sides of the head." And sure enough just like Miss Kitty said that's just what she did!
    And I haven't been the same since!
    I owe it all to Miss Kitty!

    Well partner sunrise comes pretty early around these parts, so I need to turn in.

    c~c~c~c Happy Trails c~c~c~c

    By Blogger alvin, at 3/11/2009 11:04 PM  

  • You're pretty sharp, y'ole coot!

    By Blogger agent4him, at 3/11/2009 11:17 PM  

  • You are ALL just having too much fun in Rose's neighborhood!!!

    Alvin..... I think we need to hire you to be Neighborhood Watch Guard.
    :-)

    Jim, enjoyed your article so much. Looking forward to meeting you at the GES Conference. I may buy some of that "Prozac" while I'm there!!! It might help when the blogging gets "heavy!"
    :-)

    Just had to let you all know that you made me laugh tonight. Thanks for doing that. Laughter is good for the soul~!!!

    Diane
    :-)

    By Blogger Diane, at 3/12/2009 12:34 AM  

  • Diane, Rose,

    A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones. (NKJV)

    I'm a relative newcomer to the FG "circle," but I'm sensing that a "heavy" spirit has robbed many in FG of the joy of true fellowship with one another and with his Son. I have not been spared from this, as the enemy is using strained relationships---or lack of depth in relationship---to stall further development of the theological implications of Free Grace and how we live them out as agents of reconciliation, starting with our own "community." It's not the kind of "heaviness" that can be medicated; it will require gaining the mind of Christ in the unity of the Spirit. If we truly begin to see ourselves as agents of reconciliation---actually becoming the righteousness of God---I am convinced we have to start with our own relationships.

    As it stands now, I will be taking part in a series of discussions with some key spokesmen of GES at the upcoming conference. Would you be willing to pray for me during these meetings, specifically that---even as a relative newcomer---I might serve well as an agent of reconciliation?

    By Blogger agent4him, at 3/12/2009 7:51 AM  

  • Jim, it is an interesting hting to ponder just what the phrase that we might become "the righteousness of God in Him" actually entail. Thanks for bringing that up and giving your thoughts on it.

    I will pray for you in these discussions you will be having. That sounds like a great thing to be happeneing - actually working toward reconciliation.
    God bless you.

    Thanks for providing this guest post. -Miss Kitty

    By Blogger Rose~, at 3/12/2009 8:48 AM  

  • hting = thing

    By Blogger Rose~, at 3/12/2009 8:49 AM  

  • For those who are getting comments via email - this can be your notification that a new guest post is now up. :~)

    It's one of the provacative questions.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 3/12/2009 8:53 AM  

  • provocative? (SP)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 3/12/2009 8:54 AM  

  • Thank you, Rose...you are most hospitable.

    Do ya think the Spirit could be working among us?

    By Blogger agent4him, at 3/12/2009 10:26 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    provacative

    That's just your southern bell accent.

    By Blogger Daniel, at 3/12/2009 2:54 PM  

  • Have they moved the Mason/Dixon line?

    Regards,

    By Blogger Colin Maxwell, at 3/12/2009 3:35 PM  

  • The "South" is a state of being, not necessarily a location. Kind of like being "elect."

    By Blogger agent4him, at 3/12/2009 6:02 PM  

  • Hi Rose!

    I apologize - love what you've done with the place! I'm really impressed by your grace, girl. You traded out your space for your brothers, in His love.

    :D Michele

    By Blogger Sanctification, at 3/16/2009 1:50 AM  

  • Hi Jim,

    ...to stall further development of the theological implications of Free Grace and how we live them out as agents of reconciliation, starting with our own "community." If we truly begin to see ourselves as agents of reconciliation---actually becoming the righteousness of God---I am convinced we have to start with our own relationships.

    Anatta wa, go o hanashimasu ne? *

    :D

    You said/He said:
    For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21 nkjv)

    Can you describe the steps for obedience, the kind of obedience that is by faith and not by law?

    Do you have a thought on the absoluteness in Paul saying "and everything that does not come from faith is sin" in Romans 14:23?

    I'm so sorry that I am slow, I am very dense. I am afraid I need an outline, a summary of the whole teaching?

    Thanks so much, really! Michele

    * Japanese for "You speak my language, indeed."

    By Blogger Sanctification, at 3/17/2009 2:07 AM  

  • Rose, Michele

    Ah, my two favorite "purveyors of grace"...welcome back, Michele! So glad we are speaking the same language! And I really hope your back is recuperating well, Rose.

    Michele, I hear your questions coming from a heart of devotion, a sincere desire to please God (2 Cor 5:9). But having been an "armchair theologian" for most of my Christian life, I am now pursuing a "theology of invitation" (see my post of 3/10, 4:39 PM) which confounds my best efforts to delineate the "steps" of obedience in the Christian life. For about 4 years I have been working on a "visual" that has really helped me (and my men) to picture how we were meant to "fit" into God's Kingdom purposes. It is a 3-dimensional construct I'd be happy to share with you at GES, if you like. I've found it very helpful to carry around a "picture" in my head that helps to free me from the lock-step "linearity" so typical of western rubrics of sanctification. (Bring a thumb drive, and I can transfer the file for you.)

    Regarding Romans 14:23, the context of this "principle" is the believer's freedom versus the expediency of exercising that freedom in light of conscience. While our conscience is the locus of our conviction by law it is also the locus of our prompting by the Spirit. Law alerts us to the risk of rebelling from God in willful disobedience, yet until we are fully free of the law we will not be fully free to receive the daily invitation of the Spirit (Romans 7:5-6).

    So, "What's grace got to do with it?" Part of the process of sanctification is our progressive emancipation from the law that we haven't yet fully "realized." So love (in one sense) means we take heed of each other's level of maturity of conscience so we do not cause them to sin against their conscience until they are fully free. Full freedom comes when we leave behind the "risk" of going our own way under "law" and begin to freely accept the new "risk" of following the Spirit's whispered invitation rather than laboring under pangs of conscience. God offers grace along with his daily invitations through the Spirit in order to give more life when we deny our own self-serving desires in the interests of love.

    I sincerely hope I haven't confused more than helped here. I just love the idea of having more freedom in the Spirit, and when we obey his whispered invitation, that is "the obedience that is by faith and not by law."

    God bless you, Michele.

    By Blogger agent4him, at 3/17/2009 9:09 AM  

  • Hi Rose!

    Jim,

    This was great:

    Michele, I hear your questions coming from a heart of devotion, a sincere desire to please God (2 Cor 5:9). But having been an "armchair theologian" for most of my Christian life, I am now pursuing a "theology of invitation" (see my post of 3/10, 4:39 PM) which confounds my best efforts to delineate the "steps" of obedience in the Christian life.

    What you are saying is that grace is meant to be lived, and spread by contact, not merely taught. Genius. In fact by intellectualizing it, would you say that it can almost be detrimental... because unfortunately Christians don't do Christianity from the inside-out but so often by the outside-in?

    This is a core problem/temptation of the human nature, do you think?

    First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. matt 23:26

    We must have relationship with God (vertically) in order to be fit for service. I've always wondered how to biblically express the critical context of relationship with men (horizontally) to manifest the gospel of God as well.

    I love the motto of my own congregation: "Bringing people into an ever-deepening relationship with God and with each other."

    I have more comments off of the other things you said just in that last comment and I'm holding back a little.

    Thanks for putting up with this hit and miss commitment to discussion I've been demonstrating.

    -Michele

    By Blogger Sanctification, at 3/18/2009 12:58 AM  

  • Rose, Michele,

    Michele, you said:
    "...this hit and miss commitment to discussion..."

    I say: It's much better than McDonald's "drive-thru" theology; I'd rather have something that is tempered over time and durable---formation from the "inside out" as you said. (James 1:2-4)

    You said:
    "...[intellectualizing it is] a core problem/temptation of the human nature..."

    Yeah, like the "original" sin of Gen 3:5---the heady allure of knowledge is power? (I know whereof I speak.)

    You said:
    "I've always wondered how to biblically express the critical context of relationship with men (horizontally) to manifest the gospel of God as well."

    I say:
    Yes, yes, yes! "Manifesting the gospel of God" = "revealing the righteousness of God"!!!! (Rom 1:16-17; cf. 2 Cor 5:21)

    I spend some of my time on another blogsite for people who have "shed religion," and I am sympathetic to the wounds they have incurred. But we've still got to address the high Biblical priority of Body life (e.g., John 17). Personally, I believe we're headed back into first century "apostolic"-style Christianity. And boy, is that messy!! Hence, the Spirit of God...our only ongoing empowerment by God's grace.

    By Blogger agent4him, at 3/18/2009 6:57 AM  

  • Hi Rose! I prayed for a verse for you. I'll get it later on today, hopefully it will bless you.

    Hi Jim,

    It is the grace of God that makes me want to open the cover of my bible.

    I'm looking forward to seeing this non-linear model of sanctification. Reminds me greatly of my blog! I'm so sorry, that was rather stupid to say I know. But really, I look forward to learning a lot.

    How important is relationship to comprehend grace?

    How important is relationship to understand forgiveness?

    How important is relationship to glorify God?

    "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world." john 17:6

    We follow His model too,

    "...we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict. For our exhortation did not come from error or uncleanness, nor was it in deceit. But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.
    You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory."
    1 thess 2:2-12

    Is it possible to glorify God in preaching while consciously forsaking both godliness, and love, witnessed through relationship?

    Thanks, Michele

    By Blogger Sanctification, at 3/18/2009 8:46 PM  

  • Hello Rose, Michele

    How important is relationship to comprehend grace?

    How important is relationship to understand forgiveness?

    How important is relationship to glorify God?

    I'm thinking these are rhetorical questions? You quoted John 17:6. I guess my best answer would be to quote the entire rest of John 17 (full of "glorify" language and relationship) and then 1 John 1:1-2:2 (full of "forgiveness" language and relationship). The whole thing is wrapped in grace.

    Is it possible to glorify God in preaching while consciously forsaking both godliness, and love, witnessed through relationship?

    In reply to your question I would have to cite Paul (Phil 1:15-18) and say "Yes," but why would anyone want to forfeit their share of that glory by an attitude of envy and selfish ambition (Phil 2:3, 14-16; 1 Pet 2:12; 2 Cor 4:16-18)?

    By Blogger agent4him, at 3/18/2009 10:45 PM  

  • I've only had a chance to quickly read these comments and I intend to go over them again. I will say this though, Jim and Alvin remind me of the proverb that "iron sharpens iron." ! Alvin IS kind of like a "pit-bull" isn't he Jim?:~)

    Jim, you might have already noticed, but Kaiser has a section where he discusses whether OT saints understood eternal life. He believes they did and his comments on a passage from Job was especially interesting to me but I can't recall the exact passage. I'm sure you're familiar with it since you wrote a book on Job!

    Alvin, I'll buy you a plane ticket to Denver if you will let me come! And I'll buy a ticket to see you and Jim go at some more too!! I bet it would be a sell-out crowd!

    I do think you and Jim (and others here) have provided us with a good model for how these blog discussions should be conducted by brothers and sisters in Christ! I love the gracious tone of it!

    By Blogger goe, at 3/23/2009 11:58 AM  

  • I meant to post my previous comment on the "deserted island" post, but my comments would apply here as well because Michele is ALWAYS gracious and the others here seem to be as well!

    By Blogger goe, at 3/23/2009 12:04 PM  

  • Gary,

    Would you believe I opened Kaiser to a random page I hadn't read yet and found your exact citation on that very page in a section entitled "Immortality and the Resurrection of the Body"? The passages you are alluding to are Job 19:23-27 and 14:7, 14. (You surmised correctly, Gary, I have an awkwardly large footnote in my book about OT notions of resurrection in Job 19:23-27.) Kaiser makes the point that Job looked forward to a bodily resurrection after death, and then he cites Ecclesiastes 3:17 and 12:14 as other texts supporting life after death, though not necessarily bodily resurrection. I would also include Eccl 8:12-13 and 12:7.

    Yore sharp as a razor blade, Gary ole buddy.

    An' thanks for yer kind comments 'bout me an' the pit bull.

    Hiya Rose. Sure miss you.

    By Blogger agent4him, at 3/23/2009 1:44 PM  

  • Did I hear my name mentioned?

    Did some critter say "Pit Bull?"

    I do declare it's Bad and good, notice good that is not a captial "G"

    good, I thinkin you went an tamed me a bit . . . . that bit that Dillon put in my mouth I just spit out! Yah seemed to of, sernaded me into being kind and gentle like a little lamb :)

    when i be sleeping that is heeheee!

    the best advice i could give those folks out thar . . . . . don't let yor babies grow up to be cowboys because they might turn out like Me . . . .Ugly :~}

    By Blogger alvin, at 3/23/2009 3:44 PM  

  • That be for sure Miss Kitty we be miss’in Yah!!!!!!!!

    Not matter how ugly I would get, yah would still let me sit at the table with yah!

    Ugly :~}

    By Blogger alvin, at 3/23/2009 4:33 PM  

  • Hi Rose and all interested in the "What's Grace Got to Do With It?" thread:

    I have just been invited to give a workshop at GES next week entitled "Let Righteousness Reign: Going Deeper into Free Grace." The talk will be closely related to the topic we have been discussing and will evaluate the implications of Rom 5:12-21 on the role of "Free Grace" in the sanctification process. There will be a PPT slide presentation, and handouts available.

    For those who will be coming to the conference and would like to get a preview of the talk, you can listen at the following website to a sermon I delivered on the exact same topic in July, 2008:

    http://www.fbccs.org/resources/messages/080727.asp

    I would appreciate prayers for a "gracious" workshop and discussion.

    By Blogger agent4him, at 3/25/2009 4:39 PM  

  • Jim (good-small g)

    I just downloaded and listened to your message. At this point in my life I'm trying to "go deeper into FG" and learn more about letting "grace reign through righteousness". I have a lot to learn, so I appreciated your message very much--it was great!

    God bless you at the conference and I will be praying as you requested!

    Bad

    By Blogger goe, at 3/25/2009 6:06 PM  

  • Hey, Bad

    Glad it was helpful, if it gets people thinkin' about taking grace deeper. Thanks for your prayer.

    Too "bad" we can't see you next week!! We probably need a "reunion" at Miss Kitty's saloon for all the folks on the blog. I'd love to see Ugly's kisser up close an' compare it to the "Wanted" poster.

    By Blogger agent4him, at 3/25/2009 7:58 PM  

  • Rose,

    You have some intelligent and creative guests! What a good idea this has been. Hope you are recovering?

    Gary,

    Thank you my friend.

    Jim,

    So glad to hear of this new opportunity! I plan to listen to the sermon perhaps tomorrow.

    -Michele

    By Blogger Sanctification, at 3/26/2009 3:15 AM  

  • g~ood said:
    Too "bad" we can't see you next week!! We probably need a "reunion" at Miss Kitty's saloon for all the folks on the blog. I'd love to see Ugly's kisser up close an' compare it to the "Wanted" poster.



    Why g~ood if you was ta see my kisser up close you would be sure to hightail it right out of town fur good! Yah aut to know I be too Ugly to be on any one wanted poster . . . . heeheeee

    Ugly has been here again :~}

    By Blogger alvin, at 3/29/2009 9:39 PM  

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