the next most important doctrine for us to get our head around is…

‘…a doctrine of the Christian life in which a doctrine of obedience lives within a true doctrine of grace.’

This was Andrew Katay’s final proposal to our combined La Trobe Uni CU and Sydney Uni EU mission team on the weekend.

On the one side, we’ll need to do the kind of job people like Tim Keller call for when they argue that our progress in the Christian life is a matter of ‘going deeper’ with God’s grace in Christ.

We don’t start with grace before moving on to something ‘higher’ (like ascetic techniques for defeating sin).

On the other side, we’ll need to carefully articulate a doctrine of grace that guards against any suggestion that salvation is about God ‘letting us off the hook’ — e.g., that our forgiveness means that we can safely have nothing to do with God!

In short, we need to tease out how the appearing of God’s grace, which brings salvation to all, trains us ‘to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ’ (Titus 2.12-13).

Do you agree?

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2 comments

  1. In many ways, i think we’re doing pretty good in this regard. I largely agreed with what Andrew said about the weakness of our doctrine of the Church (though i’m still not sure i’d want to say “you have to go to church to be a Christian” although to be honest i wouldn’t have much hope that Christians would continue to grow and mature without intentional, Gospel focused, Christian fellowship. I guess i’d probably lean more towards saying something like “if you want to hold firm as a Christian to the end, participation and active engagement in the community of believers in a local church is very nearly, almost completely necessary (as Andrew also said, there are exceptions to every rule, after all)”

    But in regard to holding to Christian obedience firmly, yet within a context of Grace: surely relational language is really the only way to do it. We are saved for a relationship with God, and like all relationships there are conditions and expectations. But a loving relationship is also marked by grace and forgiveness, patience and forbearance. To grow in obedience to Christ, is to know him better, to know and experience more fully his love poured out for us supremely in the Cross. Surely the Christian life is about growing to love and trust and know God more. And surely obedience is explicitly a part of this, as we know ourselves restored to relationship with the living God who is perfect and holy and who we desire, through the Holy Spirit’s work renewing our hearts and minds, to be like. It is all grace, from first to last, all relationships must be after all. “Going deeper into God’s grace” only awakens more fully our need to listen to him, to trust him, as it grows our love for him.

    1. “Going deeper into God’s grace” only awakens more fully our need to listen to him, to trust him, as it grows our love for him.

      Nice one, Brett!

      Your emphasis on the relational language of Scripture is really helpful. I’d even want to give it more specificity — e.g., by using the explicit descriptors of the kind of relationship Jesus gives us with God: dearly-loved child of our loving Heavenly Father (and therefore adopted member of the family of God), servant of Christ, etc.

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