Proper Relationship Between Faith and Obedience, Part 1

15 Oct

Entirely by God’s grace, the question I’ve been wrestling with recently (pretty severely, I might add)  – namely, What is the proper relationship between faith and obedience; Gospel and law? is becoming clearer and clearer.  Just constant prayer and research and studying and meditating and searching for answers on this subject has led me to this book by Michael Horton titled, Introducing Covenant Theology.

Now, though I continue to maintain that nobody should rely exclusively on any one theological system, I also recognize that, in many cases, systems are good for precisely that, namely, systematizing and categorizing certain theological concepts.  It just so happens that Covenant Theology seems to have the best explanation regarding this particular Law/Gospel issue.

And so, I will be posting up excerpts (in several different parts) from Horton’s book which deals with this particular issue.

If the Sinai covenant (that is, the Covenant of Works) is no longer in force and we are “under grace” – that is, under a covenant of promise rather than of law – is, any principle of law excluded for the New Testament believer?  … What is the place, if any, for the law in the Christian life?

If we are asking this question, we can be assured that we have correctly understood the gospel as good news. After several chapters of expounding the message that sinners are justified by faith apart from works, Paul asks in Romans 6:1, “What shall we say then?  Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?”

If the preaching of the gospel we have heard leads us to wonder whether we can dispense with the law altogether, then it has been  correctly heard.  But Paul’s answer to the question, of course, is a resounding “No!”  His response is not like that of a law covenant.

In other words, he does not say, “If you do continue in sin, you will suffer the consequences (loss of rewards or even loss of salvation).”  Rather, his reply is that it is impossible for those who have been baptized into Christ’s death to remain in the tomb; they have been brought forth by the Spirit into new life. The good news just keeps getting better and better, and it is enough to save us from not only the guilt but the tyranny of sins as well.

But does this new obedience just happen without our needing to follow any prescribed code?  Wouldn’t such a view of the law as normative mean a relapse to the killing letter of the law when the Spirit has made us alive in Christ?

To be continued…

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