by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Study # 20 January 21, 1998 Harlingen, Texas
Thesis:Because enduring temptation/trial is a prerequisite to receiving the crown of life, how are grace and faith related to this endurance?
Introduction:Last week we attempted to show that being blessed means to be in a temporal, post-action condition of being in line for glory with no possibility of loss: in short, being blessed is being established by temporal action for glory. We appealed to Jesus' promise in Mark 9:41 and Matthew 10:42 of the impossibility of the loss of a properly motivated act of goodness. Now this idea introduces a tension for many because of the adamant declaration that salvation is NOT the consequence of human performance issues. How do we handle this theologically?
The text is clear, and the reasoning is solid, that the result is NOT the same for the believer who endures and the believer who capitulates. Clearly, blessedness is a promise held out to believers in order to motivate endurance. Clearly, there is something to be gained and lost by the behavior in which we engage. How do we maintain Paul's emphasis upon grace/faith apart from works and Jesus/James' emphasis upon reward as a consequence of works?
I. The Typical and Incorrect Separation of the Issues of Justification From the Issues of Sanctification and Glorification.
A. Typically this is handled by making justification a faith-without-flesh-works consequence and making sanctification and glorification a faith-plus-flesh-works consequence.
B. This cannot be true for several reasons...
1. THE major problem with all performance issues is "boasting".
a. The problem of boasting on the basis of human achievement is a sufficiently significant evil that God has determined to totally eliminate its roots by totally removing human performance from the outcome.
1) Romans 3:27 -- boasting excluded by faith-based justification. See also Romans 4:2-5.
2) 1 Corinthians 4:7 -- boasting is excluded by removal of any basis for a claim that anything is 'of oneself'.
3) Ephesians 2:8-9 -- boasting is excluded by declaration that even the faith is a gift. See also Romans 12:3 and Philippians 1:29 and 2:13.
b. The evil of boasting is its conflict-generation within relationships through competition.
2. Teaching that sanctification and glorification are the results of human performance issues simply re-inserts the foundations for boasting and its consequent conflict-generation.
II. The Biblical Solution.
A. The issue of works must be defined clearly.
1. In respect to justification.
a. There are two necessities before the slate can be wiped clean.
1) On the one side there is the issue of sins already accomplished which require forgiveness, which, in turn, requires the satisfaction of justice, which focuses upon the absorption of consequences for all concerned so that relational harmony can exist.
2) On the other side there is the positive accomplishment of total obedience to all that holiness requires so that a positive righteousness is possessed.
b. Both of these necessities are accomplished by works--those of the Son of God, the Second Adam.
1) What is excluded in Paul's "not by works" is not works altogether, but works of human flesh by energy claimed by fallen humanity in order to have a basis for self-exaltation.
2) The works which yield justification are the works of the Son of God as the Son of Man; works accomplished by energy clearly manifested to be of God where creaturely boasting is impossible.
2. In respect to sanctification and glorification
a. There are, herein, some interlocked necessities also.
1) Glorification is the positioning in glory which comes as a direct result of the temporal progress in sanctification.
2) Sanctification has to do with thoughts and actions; motives, efforts, and results.
b. As in justification, works are included -- those of the Spirit as the Indwelling God Who energizes and directs His living Temple.
1) The works which are excluded are those of the flesh in which the motives are impure and the energy is robbed of its true identity as God's.
a) Fleshliness always seeks self-exaltation, thus destroying the purity of motive.
b) Fleshliness always seeks credit, thus clouding the issue of the source of the energy to act.