Motivation(s) for Obedience

12 Aug

As one who unashamedly confesses to being sincerely helped and guided by the ministry of those who use such phrases like “The only effort a Christian should make is to continually look back to our acceptance by God in Christ (i.e., our justification),” I have, as of late, been having a “paradigm-shift,” for lack of a better word.

To be sure, this is not to say that the Gospel – and the doctrine of justification by faith – no longer enjoys a foundational place in my theology of sanctification (i.e. the process of being made holy). It still – and will continue – to do so.

However, especially with the posting of these two blogposts by Kevin DeYoung over at The Gospel Coalition, I can’t help but be pushed back on my “The only effort we need is to look back on our justification” presupposition.

DeYoung makes a strong case that though he agrees with the fact that sanctification “requires the fight of faith to believe this scandalous good news of the gospel of justification…” it is not the “only kind of effort required in sanctification” (emphasis mine). He writes that the motivation to obedience includes much more than simply gratitude (e.g., “a sense of duty… by threats, by promises, and by the fear of the Lord”).

Then, today, I came across this post over at the Reformation21 blog written by William B. Evans, Younts Professor of Bible and Religion at Erskine College. He approaches this subject of sanctification from an historical (and interesting!) perspective.

For all two of you who read this much (congratulations, by the way), and this subject interests you, then this article is very helpful in framing the issue historically. Here’s a quick excerpt from the article (which, by the way, gives you a hint as to where he stands in all of this):

The biblical picture of sanctification… is much more comprehensive, and it is adequate to the task.  To be sure, gratitude for one’s justification plays a role, but even more prominent in Scripture are the warnings of the law, regular dependence upon the means of grace, and mutual accountability within the context of the body of Christ.  This biblical model of sanctification is not novel.  It may not be particularly exciting.  It is also unlikely to be the next big thing on the Christian seminar circuit or at the Christian bookseller’s convention.  But it is biblical, and it does work.

Happy readings.

[HT: Ref21]

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