Monday, February 8, 2016

Two Tracks

Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of ministry on Christian living. The first will take you as far as Romans 7, the other will take you into Romans 8.

Romans 7 ministry is light on Christ, light on the Holy Spirit, and heavy on "I". Romans 8 ministry is not terribly caught up with "I", but perhaps talks about "me". That is, it's not what I am for Christ, but what Christ is for me.

I was listening to a preacher on my commute this morning who said something like, "Christ died for you, the least you could do is live for Him." What an appalling statement! Obedience out of gratitude is law. It is exactly the principle of Exodus 20:

I am Jehovah thy God, who have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. (Exodus 20:2)

Law after forgiveness is what 2 Corinthians 3:7–16 describes as "the ministry of death". Consider J. N. Darby's remarks on Exodus 34 in the light of 2 Corinthians 3:

[T]he people, though spared by grace, were put back under law; and this was the ministration of death and condemnation of which the apostle speaks. For, in fact, if atonement be not made, grace only makes transgression worse, at any rate in the revelation of God; even in partial glory, with law it must be condemnation to a sinner. Law after grace, in a word, is what the apostle teaches us is condemnation; law after atonement is worse than absurd. It is putting away the sin, and then putting under it, or making the law of no authority and no effect. But vague grace - sparing, and then law, is the state of multitudes of souls; and that is what the apostle tells us is death and condemnation in its nature, and indeed the veil is soon over the reflection of grace to the soul (that is, the perception that exists of grace is soon lost). ("Show me now thy way", Collected Writings, Volume 19, p. 181)

What the New Testament teaches is not obedience out of gratitude, but obedience out of new life. That's the teaching of John 15:1–5, Romans 6–8, and Colossians 3:1–5.