An Alien Gospel

Below is an adapted version of Rod Rosenbladt’s article, “Christ Died for the Sins of Christians, Too,” where he discusses the need to emphasize the “alien” character of the gospel—the fact that the message about Jesus is primarily something outside of us, rahter than inside of us. There is an “inside” work of God, but it is fully dependent on the “outside” work of the cross. In other words, the gospel is primarily declaration, and only secondarily transformation/renovation. Read the full article here.

This “alien” nature of the gospel is a primary theme in the New Testament: Christ’s death was outside of me and for me. It is not primarily something that changes me. After one has been declared righteous by grace through faith, this grace will begin to change us (sanctification). Nevertheless, its changing us is certainly not what justifies us. In Roman Catholicism, and in some forms of American Evangelicalism (like John Wesley’s work), however, the accent falls on actual moral transformation. In other words, what makes us acceptable to God is not his external declarationof justification, but hisinternal work of renovation within our hearts and lives…

The bellwether test as to where a person stands on this issue is what he or she does with Romans 7, particularly passages such as, “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (vv. 19, 24). Often, those who are not grounded in the Reformation say that this was Paul’s experience before he met the Lord. Those of us from a Reformation perspective, however, would probably say there is no better description of the Christian life in the entire Bible than Romans 7. The reformers really believed that the Christian life was a matter of being simul iustus et peccator-simultaneously justified and sinful-and that we would remain in this tension until death.

Any righteousness that we have, even in the Christian life, is a gift to us. It is not the result of our obedience, of our claiming God’s promises, of our “victorious Christian living,” or of our “letting go and letting God”… Instead, there must be a clear and unqualified pronouncement of the assurance of salvation on the basis of the fullness of the atonement of Christ. 

3 thoughts on “An Alien Gospel

  1. “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” Hebrews 10: 14Reading this verse this morning and thought of this post. Outside of me He has made me perfect forever. That’s done. That’s radical. Inside of me He is making me holy……that’s progressive. I get in trouble when I lose sight of what He has done outside of me and start focusing on the the sin He is dealing with inside of me. I really lack the faith to believe that it’s done! But I really, really want to believe it. I do.

  2. So what does the verse mean “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left” Hebrews 10:26 in light of this? I think the two critical words are deliberately and sinning. Does the sinning mean to go back to confidence in the Old Testament rituals to be cleansed for sin – so it was spoken to the early Christians who might have wanted to go back? And how do you reconcile deliberate with Romans 7 where Paul struggles with sin? Fill me in wise teacher.

  3. Hey, I’m just a teacher. If you want wise, better knock on another door. 🙂 But I’ll give it a shot (unwisely before checking any sources). It seems like receiving mere knowledge of the truth is not the same as receiving Jesus as Savior. Satan has knowledge about the truth. It may reveal a hardened heart, since fter we harden our hearts to God long enough and intentionally enough (especially having received the right knowledge about the gospel/grace, and are essentially unaffected by it, revealing a still-dead heart), God seals the deal by coating the final layer of hardness (see Pharaoh for example – 12 times Exodus 7-10 refers to him as having a hard heart – the first 8 indicate that he had hardened his own heart, then God came in and did his own brand of hardening, where “no sacrifice for sins is left.” In Romans 7, Paul was struggling with/against his sin nature — a good sign. A failure to struggle with/against it is not a good sign. Hope this is in the ballpark.

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