The exchanges below follow those that took place in an earlier posting titled "Are Christians Sinners?": http://livelearnloveleavealegacy.blogspot.com/2009/11/are-christians-sinners-discussion.html
Thank you, Lip Kee. You summed it up very well. The emphasis on the all-sufficiency of Christ’s righteousness, his saving work for us and the assurance of our salvation is indeed commendable. Like wise, I agree that we should address and describe believers in more affirming, encouraging and assuring ways.
However, it seems that those who advocate this approach has the tendency to ignore Christian discipleship which is a legitimate aspect of holiness. I may be wrong, but they hardly mention if ever, sanctification, obedience, feeling remorse for one’s sins, the pursuit of righteousness, training in righteousness, holiness, good works, the mortification of sin, endurance and sufferings.
Instead there is ambiguous language in terms like sonship, resting in faith, you're as righteous as Christ is, the good news about Jesus Christ (making the gospel synonymous with the whole counsel of God) and so on. They teach that God is no longer angry with believers when they sin and fails to distinguish between juridical and filial displeasure. They allude that if a believer is concerned about sin, obedience, or ongoing repentance, or good works, then he has not fully grasp the all sufficiency of God’s grace.
“Yet what we SUFFER NOW is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also GROAN, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from SIN and SUFFERING. We, too, WAIT with EAGER HOPE for the day when God will give us our FULL RIGHTS as his adopted children including the new bodies he has promised us.” (Romans 8:15-23)
Lip Kee replied:
Having read your latest comment, I felt it would be appropriate for me to provide some response.
I believe I understand where you are coming from when you wrote: "it seems that those who advocate this approach (of emphasising on the all-sufficiency of Christ’s righteousness, his saving work for us and the assurance of our salvation) has the tendency to ignore Christian discipleship which is a legitimate aspect of holiness."... Read more
First of all, I agree with you wholeheartedly that Christian discipleship is a legitimate aspect of our walk of faith.
I acknowledge that there are some among us who may be less mature in the faith, and whose understanding of Biblical truths may be somewhat superficial, and as a result, we may appear to be ignorant or even dismissive of certain so-called "traditions" and "traditional ideas". Nonethelss, I believe most of us agree that discipleship and discipline are necessary and important.
I believe a Christian who ignores discipleship is neglecting his spiritual health and impeding his personal growth. A church deficient in the aspect of discipleship must be, in my opinion, a church that is (or will be) unstable and unsustainable.
As to how Christian discipleship is taught or inculcated, I believe each church has its own unique approach. For instance, in the Presbyterian church I grew up in, "discipleship" and "discipline" were words I frequently read and heard in the church, and the related conepts of which I was systematically taught in the Sunday schools, Bible study classes and training seminars I attended; whereas in my current church (which I've been a member of for the past seven years), I have been subject to what I felt were relevant and impactful teachings on discipleship and discipline, even though the words "discipleship" and "discipline" are not as frequently and explicitly read and heard.
It is not for me to say which is the better approach. Suffice to say, I have learned much from both and am thankful.
C, you wrote: "they hardly mention if ever, sanctification, obedience, feeling remorse for one’s sins, the pursuit of righteousness, training in righteousness, holiness, good works, the mortification of sin, endurance and sufferings...They allude that if a believer is concerned about sin, obedience, or ongoing repentance, or good works, then he has not fully grasp the all sufficiency of God’s grace..."
Similar to my comment on "Christian discipleship" above, I believe even though we may differ in the way and the frequency we use those exact words, most, if not all of us are agreed that sanctification, obedience, the pursuit of righteousness, training in righteousness, endurance, ongoing repentance, and good works etc. are all important aspects of our Christian life, our faith walk.
We are not negligent in reminding and encouraging one another: to set ourselves apart in Christ and be blameless before men in the world (sanctification); to constantly renew our mind with the Word of God and live a Spirit-led life (obedience); to fix our eyes on our Lord Jesus Christ and be transformed into His image (the pursuit of righteousness); to understand our utter deprivation and helplessness without Him and our total dependence on Him for the ability and willingness to live right (training in righteousness); to perservere and not give up hoping because of His faithfulness (endurance); to continually turn our mind away from the world and its sins to the Lord and His saving grace (ongoing repentance); to respond to God's love and gifts by loving and giving to others (good works).
I observe the leaders and friends whom I worship together, serve, pray and fellowship with in church, I see how they live their lives (both inside and outside of the church). They endeavor their best to walk out lives that are Christ-centered, church-edifying and God-glorying.
Like I said before, there are (and there will probably always be) some among us who are somewhat superficial and not so mature. But I pray and trust that we will grow up and grow well.
As for "sin" and "suffering", my view is that these themes are being covered regularly, extensively and repeatedly in the church, when we receive in-depth teachings on:
- our Saviour (who saves us from sin); and
- the Cross (on which our Lord endured sufferings unimaginable, and by which we have hope to endure through and triumph over our own sufferings).
I hope this helps to address some of your concerns. Shalom. :-)