The Consequence of Grace

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by rjlynam, Feb 27, 2017.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. rjlynam

    rjlynam Puritan Board Sophomore

    This is a short and to the point statement I want to throw out there for feedback:

    "The consequence of Grace is always, invariably, conformity to the Law of God."

  2. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Grace always upholds and honours the claims of divine law. Grace reigns through righteousness. Sin itself is defined as transgression of the law. In justification the righteousness of the law is fully met; perfect righteousness is imputed to the believer. In sanctification new life is commenced in which the law is written in the hearts of God's people, but sin remains and indwells the believer and causes an irreconcilable conflict within him. Invariable conformity to the law of God is sought but it cannot be obtained in this life. It will grow up unto perfection, and it will ultimately reach perfection in heaven, but there will be no perfection while the body of sin remains. For this reason we must count all things loss and dung for the excellency of knowing Christ, that we might be found in Him and have the perfect righteousness which God gives in Christ and which is received by faith alone.
    • Like Like x 5
    • Edifying Edifying x 3
    • Informative Informative x 2
    • List
  3. rjlynam

    rjlynam Puritan Board Sophomore

    Fantastic. Thanks for that. I didn't assume perfection in conformity, but tempering with reality is always beneficial.
  4. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Would it be better to say that ongoing sanctification leads invariably to conformity, or greater desire for that conformity, to God's law (i.e. as summed up in the Decalogue)...

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  5. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    I like this OT verse on progressive sanctification.

    Proverbs 4:18 (NKJV)
    But the path of the just is like the shining sun,
    That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.

    But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
    which shines brighter and brighter until full day.

    I should add that I think the answer to the OP is YES, but the progress towards obedience to God's law varies a lot from individual to individual and the time in which they find themselves living.

    Ecclesiastes 9:12 (KJV)
    For man also knoweth not his time:
    as the fishes that are taken in an evil net,
    and as the birds that are caught in the snare;
    so are the sons of men snared in an evil time,
    when it falleth suddenly upon them.

    As for robust Christianity, I think we do not live in good times.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2017
  6. rjlynam

    rjlynam Puritan Board Sophomore

    I wanted to post something here, but I keep getting internal server error. Perhaps I am limited to the length of comment?
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2017
  7. rjlynam

    rjlynam Puritan Board Sophomore

    It just really bothers me when chatting with some people regarding the perfection of The Law (I'm developing an apologetic method), they will invariably say, "But we're not under The Law, we're under Grace". It bothers me to consider that such a profound biblical concept of grace would have such an elusive understanding. And such misunderstanding, I fear, becomes the seed for disregarding The Law. In the Psalms David said the Law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul (Psalm 19:7).

    Looking at the standards, we see:

    Westminster Confession of Faith
    CHAPTER 13.1
    Of Sanctification

    "...the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified; and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord."

    [Continued below ... (Hopefully)]
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2017
  8. rjlynam

    rjlynam Puritan Board Sophomore

    [Continued from above ... (Hopefully)]


    CHAPTER 16.3
    Of Good Works

    "...yet are they not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty unless upon a special motion of the Spirit; but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them."

    So, in formulating my statement at the top of this thread, my goal was to provide a clear, concise expression that they would be able to take away from conversation and ponder over. I'm not trying to acquiesce to the snippet society we live in.

    I believe that the essence of profundity is its simplicity (I'm certainly not claiming to be profound here) and if I can make a point with someone in a manner that will gin up future quiet time reflection, I better achieve my goal of "planting seeds". I usually only get 5 minutes with someone before their eyes start glazing over.

    Last edited: Mar 1, 2017
  9. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

    The Internal Server Error popup is an ongoing issue vexing us as to a solution, given its randomness. Doing what you did, starting new posts to complete your response, seems to be one workaround for the time being.
  10. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    The reason why I brought in the element of "perfection" is due to the fact that the law itself requires "perfect, personal, and perpetual obedience," which is nothing less than full conformity to its demands in soul and body. The reality, so far as the law itself is concerned, is that the believer never conforms to its demands because of indwelling sin. The covenant of grace provides for this reality, first, in providing perfect righteousness in Christ, so that we are always compelled to look away from the law and to look to Christ alone for righteousness. Secondly, it puts the law in the hand of Christ, as something already fulfilled by Him. The believer should never deal immediately with the law. He is to take the law from the hand of Christ as his rule of righteousness, and he is to look to Christ for the grace to fulfil it with the acceptance of sincere but imperfect obedience. He is not under the law in these respects. He is under Christ and the reign of grace.
    • Edifying Edifying x 2
    • Like Like x 1
    • List
  11. rjlynam

    rjlynam Puritan Board Sophomore

    I agree with most of what you say. That being said, let me ask you

    "Do you believe the bestowal of God's grace has no moral consequences to the recipient?"

    That seems to be the flavor of what you say above.
  12. KGP

    KGP Puritan Board Freshman

    1 Corinthians 15:10 - "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me."

    For Paul, grace that was bestowed (and not in vain) made him fit for hard labor in service to Christ; but not only did it fit him for that service but grace actually labored for and with him.

    If we conceive of 'bestowed grace' as merely God's blessing; we might think of it as a commodity that we are to steward and that God scrutinizes us for. But if we think of 'bestowed grace' as Christ himself being actually and truly given to us (Here is your Lord and Savior), then that is different altogether different.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  13. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    Your conversation with these folks requires a pastoral touch rather than a purely doctrinal one. Try to learn why your talk about the law causes them to push back.

    Are they pushing back because they want to be lax about obeying God? If that's the case, your instinct may be right when you try to convince them of the goodness of the law, the way grace includes a process of conforming to the law, and the fact that God will not be mocked.

    But what if they are pushing back because your talk of the law makes them feel condemned, or they feel as if they're under pressure to perform while God watches with distain. If that is why they bring up grace, you will only harm them if you get bothered and hammer back with more law. Rather, you need to affirm that our obedience in this life is always woefully imperfect, that these imperfect good works are acceptable to God only because we are accepted in Christ, and that our efforts to obey are not a performance for a distant God but rather cooperation with a loving God who is graciously at work within us.

    Now, I agree that some talk of grace is flippant and seems to excuse lazy obedience. But before any of us pooh-pooh talk of grace, we need to make sure we are living in grace daily. We need to be at the point where we realize we have never, even for a moment, successfully come to God and enjoyed his fatherly love because we did what we were supposed to do. We have ONLY, ever, approached God through Christ—and what a blessing it is that I can come to my Father again today, despite my behavior earlier this morning! And our ONLY way of obeying God today or any other day is by the powerful, gracious work of Christ in us—and what a comfort and encouragement this is as I strive to do better this afternoon!

    So just be sure you're the sort of believer who knows and experiences such grace daily, before you correct others who want to talk about it.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2017
  14. rjlynam

    rjlynam Puritan Board Sophomore

    :amen: Great post and I agree with you completely.
    And that doesn't diminish the "consequence" of Grace, so, "Well said"! :cheers:

    I would be interested to hear your thoughts on how "common grace" fits in.
  15. rjlynam

    rjlynam Puritan Board Sophomore

    Well said, Jack. We should also pray expectantly for grace from on high, knowing it is not us who work, but Christ in us "working". And, if we have Christ in us, working, we can fully expect that He will use us as His instruments in a manner that will not contradict His Law.

    With regard to the questions you posed, my statement was more of a generalization, or cliché that is used. I would like to be able to respond to such clichés with a quick, thought provoking response the recipient will be able to recall and reflect on when they get to their "quiet spots".
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2017
  16. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    What we call "common grace" is quite different from saving grace, is it not? Offhand, I can't think of many ways it might pertain to this discussion. Did you have something in mind?
  17. rjlynam

    rjlynam Puritan Board Sophomore

    It is quite different. But, it still is grace and accomplishes God's desired impact upon the individual, most notably, the restraint of sinful behavior. The world is not as bad as it could be because of God's restraining grace bestowed upon all men (putting His Law upon their heart). And again, the consequence is less sinfulness, or, stated another way, conformity to the Law of God, regardless of the reasons for doing so.
  18. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    It clearly has moral consequences. I haven't said anything to suggest otherwise. But the moral consequences flow from being under grace as opposed to being under the law. "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace," Romans 6:14. "And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace," Romans 11:6.

    Being under grace is the heart of gospel obedience. If one is still serving the law he is not under grace; and if he is under the law all his works are cursed because they do not come up to that perfection which the law requires.
  19. rjlynam

    rjlynam Puritan Board Sophomore

    So that I'm not misunderstanding you, I guess I need to come right out and ask you if you agree with the statement:

    "The consequence of Grace is always, invariably, conformity to the Law of God".
  20. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    This is your original question which has already been answered with the necessary qualifications required by the distinction between justification and sanctification. If your question were answered in the affirmative without any qualification it would mean that grace makes no provision for a lack of conformity to the law of God. But the covenant of grace deals with us as sinners who will fail to conform to the law of God.
  21. rjlynam

    rjlynam Puritan Board Sophomore


    I just don't know that I agree with the personification of both Law and Grace.

    The Law itself doesn't require anything. It cannot. God does.

    Grace does not make provision for a lack of conformity. It cannot. Christ does.

    I humbly submit to you that these are HUGE distinctions, possibly with profound consequence with regard to discipleship.

  22. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law," Romans 3:19.

    "The grace of God ... teaching," Titus 2:11, 12.

    It is understood that law and grace refer to the law of God and the grace of God, and that these are only the instruments by which God speaks to us. The point of personifying them is to show that they are two distinct economies by which God deals with men, and men are under one or the other of these economies.
    • Informative Informative x 2
    • Like Like x 1
    • List
  23. KGP

    KGP Puritan Board Freshman

    Talking about common grace requires qualifiers because the word grace is understood and used differently by different people.

    So if someone will define grace as I often heard it defined growing up: "receiving something that was not deserved" (as opposed to mercy which is not receiving that which was deserved) then we can certainly say that grace is common to all men and that God shows grace to all men without exception as everything they receive and experience in this life is far better and well beyond what was merited. In this, it can be practically demonstrated to anyone that God is by nature a good God, and that his goodness is not contingent on any created thing but has its source within himself.

    If grace is being defined as Gods favor or blessing; then I cannot say it is common to all men, because the NT explicitly connects God's favor and blessing to being "in Christ", and that state is not common to all men. God has many many a good promise in the Bible; but they are every one Yes and Amen exclusively in Christ.

    So when working with some definitions, one can speak rightly of God's common grace to all men; and yet I really think it critical to be explicit that the grace that forgives, justifies, adopts, seals with the Spirit, raises unto eternal life is not common at all, but has been bound up in Christ and will be enjoyed by exactly as many as are found "in Him."

    Many people though unsettled in their heart of hearts may be lulled into believing that as God has shown goodness and kindness and general blessings to them, and bailed them out of some dire circumstances, or prevented some evil from befalling them (hashtag blessed!) that he will always treat them that way; God is love, after all. This is dangerous. We need to be ready to blow that haze from their eyes with a clear declaration that real assurance of God's blessing and favor and forgiveness comes from knowing what God has done in Christ.

    I have more to say on common grace regarding moral obligations but it must wait until later, I'll type more tonight.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 2, 2017
  24. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member


    It's not that Matthew is denying that Christ is conforming us more and more to the Law of God it's that he is upholding the Biblical (and Reformed principle) that sanctification is, in this life, incomplete.

    The Puritans used an analogy of being hooked to Adam's belt in the Fall. In Adam we are guilty before the Law and corrupt in our nature.

    Salvation in Christ involves justification in that we are now hooked to Christ's belt so that we are reckoned with Him as righteous but our original corruption remains. This is why Matthew talked about the struggle with indwelling sin. Christ does not leave us thoroughly corrupted but sanctifies us so that we are more and more conformed to the Law of Christ. It's not different in its content but our position to it is different because we are now in Christ's possession.

    Positionally, then, we are not conformed to the Law outside of Christ but in Christ. We are also not able to perfectly conform ourselves to the Law of Christ but we are progressively sanctified toward that end in Christ.

    The point is that the statement is true, as far as it goes, but it needs to be qualified that a believer is positionally in a different relationship to the Law than the unbeliever. It's not that we are justified and then responsible to the Law directly but conformed to it in Christ. All evangelical graces are fruits of our union with Him.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Edifying Edifying x 1
    • List
  25. rjlynam

    rjlynam Puritan Board Sophomore

    Everyone, please note that I did not say "complete conformity to the Law of God". I understand the consequences of indwelling sin and that there is no such thing as perfection this side of glory.

    That being said, don't the church standards clearly identify the consequences of grace?

    Westminster Larger Catechism (emphasis added)
    Q. 75. What is sanctification?
    A. Sanctification is a work of God's grace, whereby they whom God hath, before the foundation of the world, chosen to be holy, are in time, through the powerful operation of his Spirit applying the death and resurrection of Christ unto them, renewed in their whole man after the image of God; having the seeds of repentance unto life, and all other saving graces, put into their hearts, and those graces so stirred up, increased, and strengthened, as that they more and more die unto sin, and rise unto newness of life.

    Q. 76. What is repentance unto life?
    A. Repentance unto life is a saving grace, wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit and Word of God, whereby, out of the sight and sense, not only of the danger, but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins, and upon the apprehension of God's mercy in Christ to such as are penitent, he so grieves for and hates his sins, as that he turns from them all to God, purposing and endeavoring constantly to walk with him in all the ways of new obedience.

    I'm not trying to scrutinize the mechanisms of grace, I'm focusing on the outcome, or "consequence" of the reception of that grace.

    Wouldn't it be reasonable to assume that the receipt of grace, due to its sourcing, always have conformity to the perfect Law of God as the outcome?

    I thought this was going to be easy. Sigh....
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2017
  26. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    What is imperfection? Failure to conform to a perfect standard. "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, is guilty of all." James 2:10. You agree there is no perfection; but then you want to press this idea of conformity. Believers cannot conform to the law precisely because the law is perfect and they are imperfect; and this imperfection will characterise them in this life no matter how far they advance in holiness. "For in many things we offend all." James 3:2. It is by grace that their imperfect but sincere obedience is accepted by God -- "acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 2:5.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2017
    • Like Like x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  27. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Bob, I wonder if you're looking in vain for an effective, pithy statement for friends who pit grace against God's commands in that way. Maybe some Christians who have that trouble are ones who have bigger troubles (like with their grasp of covenant theology)...
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2017
  28. TheologiaCrucis

    TheologiaCrucis Puritan Board Freshman

    Not exactly the same... But it reminds me of a Luther quote: "Everyone must be conformed to Christ's image in suffering. If not in this life, then in hell."
  29. rjlynam

    rjlynam Puritan Board Sophomore

    You certainly have given me much to think about.

    Imperfectly Sincere,
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page