Monday, June 24, 2013

The Law & The Gospel

Lutherans and Calvinists have an approach to the relationship between the moral law and the gospel. With all deference to the subtlety of differences of opinion between them, the three uses of the (10 commandments) law as they see it are:
  1. As a non salvific restraint on human behavior
  2. As a means to turn sinners toward Christ
  3. As a standard of Christian living
Before 1888, Seventh Day Adventists were focused on the law as a standard of Christian living with a shout out to the Holy Spirit's "help!" For a brief period after the 1888 Minneapolis General Conference, we were redirected to "the matchless charms of Christ." But the subtle, insidious thought that Satan sewed in heaven and then Eden continues to come back like a bad check. So, while we increasingly hear about grace, grace, our emphasis remains overwhelmingly law and behavior (modified self-righteousness). We are seeing the fruit of that emphasis played out in the lives of our members, too many of whom have no victory.

Points 2 and 3 of the Lutheran/Calvinist understanding roughly corresponds to a certain view of justification and sanctification; once you're saved, you gotta live right. Doesn't this thought take us right back to a performance based approach? If this isn't true for Lutherans and Calvinists, it's certainly true for a lot of Seventh Day Adventists. The Good News Paul describes, in my reading, is that Christ in me, is the hope of glory, not my effort to abide by what we all agree is good, even after I'm justified.

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