A long while ago I began a journey blogging through the Together for the Gospel Statement. I am sure that anyone who remotely remembers that I once did this would have been convinced that I would never get back to it. Today I surprised even myself by deciding that I really am determined to finish this. Perhaps ironically, their third conference—T4G 2010—has recently begun accepting bookings. What has happened to the last three and a bit years since this statement was penned? One thing is for sure—the statement is definitely as timely as it was when it was first published back in April 2006.
On my last attempt I got as far as Article Seven, which launched me into an entire series on the atonement, which you can review here. I do feel passionately about that subject. I also posted a number of times on Articles 1-3, and also Article 4, which also led to a long series on expository preaching, as well as a number of posts on Articles 5 and 6.
I need to pick up the pace considerably if I am going to complete my blogging through all these articles before the next conference begins! So my aim is to do this fairly quickly and ensure that by the time I finish it hasn’t taken me four years! Still, when blogging about the Bible there is never a shortage of things to say.
So, let’s take a look at the next article in their list.
We affirm that salvation is all of grace, and that the Gospel is revealed to us in doctrines that most faithfully exalt God’s sovereign purpose to save sinners and in His determination to save his redeemed people by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to His glory alone.
We deny that any teaching, theological system, or means of presenting the Gospel that denies the centrality of God’s grace as His gift of unmerited favor to sinners in Christ can be considered true doctrine.
These glorious couple of paragraphs are a great litmus test for all doctrine. While the statement does not go so far as to insist that all readers uphold the five points of Calvinism, instead, they do urge us to test all doctrine by its ability to bring praise to the grace of God.
God chooses to save us because he wants to, and because of his great grace. Do we really believe that we have NOTHING to offer to God except our sin and our utter dependence on him? Or do we think, even just a little bit, we have something to contribute to our own salvation? Ephesians 2 tells us that we were dead in our sins. They must depend upon a Savior to resurrect them!
Whenever we succeed in life, do we truly recognize that it is only because of what Jesus has done in us? I love the way Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 4:7, “For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?”
Whatever you hear in preaching, ask yourself—“Does this make me praise God more, and be more thankful to him that he should save me despite my sin? Or does it make me feel good— as if I have contributed something worthwhile to my own salvation?”
It is because of the implications of these two paragraphs that many of us find ourselves wholly unable to joyfully welcome some of the so-called new perspectives on justification. If we make justification dependent on our effort, then we rob Christ of his glory and deny the wonder of his grace that “saved a wretch like me.”
I need this wonderful sovereign, unmovable, unfailing, irresistible grace. If I was depending on my own will power to get me to heaven and a future glorified body then I would have no hope at all! My will is weak. My God is strong. My sin is horrible. His unmerited grace becomes mine, even as my sin becomes Christ’s! I just have to stop striving to make it to heaven under my own steam. Wonderful, wonderful news! Call it old fashioned and schismatic if you want, but I am not interested in any other gospel that fails to emphasize this wonderful glorious truth.
May God receive all the praise for our salvation!