Jon and Justin talk about positional and personal righteousness. And, the guys go in on pietism and revivalism, in particular, as to how these things have resulted in confusion and have hindered us in approaching God.
Our episode on “Do John Piper and Doug Wilson Obscure Faith Alone?”
Our episode “Self + Righteousness = Rubbish (Are You Struggling With It?)”
Our episode on “Why the Gospel Terrifies Christians”
Our episodes on Lordship Salvation
Jon’s two sermons on Faith and Healing
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By Ref Cast — 1 year ago
Here’s a controversial statement: Faith never saved anybody. While that may sound shocking to many Christians, it’s true. Faith doesn’t save sinners; Jesus does. Faith is simply the means through which the merit and work of Christ are applied to us. Jon and Justin talk about the confusion that exists in the church today and how we tend to place our faith in things that don’t save.
Semper Reformanda: Jon and Justin encourage the listener who has struggled with assurance and who is now being told he/she is an antinomian or a hyper-grace advocate. The guys also talk obedience under the sufficiency of Christ.
Our podcast on “Dying with Dignity”
Justin’s sermon on Genesis 12:10-14:24
Book Giveaway: “Putting Amazing Back into Grace” by Michael Horton
Jon Moffitt: Hi, this is Jon. Today on Theocast, here’s our topic: Faith Never Saved Anyone. I know it sounds controversial and it actually is. Justin and I are going to do our best to show you from a biblical and historical perspective what actually saves you—and it’s not your faith. Stay tuned.
At times we like to pick very punchy topics, but this one is a very significant and very important topic because of how much it impacts people’s day-to-day life, their choices of churches, and how they interact with Christ. We’re going to talk about the three different ways faith has been used within the history of evangelicalism and even within Scripture, and then present for you the biblical and historically Reformed perspective as it relates to our faith.
We’re going to start with examining how, in the last 300 years more prevalently, it has influenced the United States, and now broadly, even the world, that we put our faith into our faith—the idea that we have belief in something that gives us the confidence and the assurety that God is good with me, that I can be justified, and that at the end of my life all will be fine because I have faith.
So, Justin, why is it a problem theologically and biblically to say that my faith is what saves me?
Justin Perdue: The thing that we’re really answering today is if somebody were to ask you how you know that you’re saved, how you know you’ll be finally saved, how you know that you’ll make it to heaven, or however you want to frame that question. That’s essentially what we’re trying to wrestle with today. You just highlighted one of the answers that’s given. I would say that this is probably the very common answer amongst the average evangelical Christian in America: you know you’re safe when you have faith. That’s the answer. In one sense, you are offering faith as the thing that would save you. Or if you were to stand hypothetically—and this is taking some liberty with the illustration and we’re going to do this throughout—if you’re standing before the judgment seat and you’re being asked on, what basis should you be admitted into heaven, the answer on the part of many evangelical Christians would be, “Well, I believe.” And we’re going to unpack this more throughout this episode.
Dear friends, saints who are listening to this episode, if your answer to the question on what basis should you be admitted into heaven begins in the first person, you’ve gotten it wrong. If it begins with, “I have done anything,” including, “I believe,” that’s not the right answer.
Jon, I think it might be good for us to go ahead and lay our cards on the table quickly and then continue to unpack this. So, our answer to that question, biblically speaking, of “On what basis would we be admitted into heaven? On what basis are we reconciled to God?” The answer is Jesus. Period. He is it. That’s why we’re saying faith has never saved anybody; Jesus saves sinners and faith is the means through which the work of Christ is applied to us. We’re going to think more about that throughout this episode and we’re trying to get at it in several different ways.
The issue here, Jon, as I look at this, in answering this question, not only are you placing confidence in something that is related to you that is somewhat subjective in that sense, it just does not hold even biblically. I know immediately there are objections that always get raised to this. We even get this on our social media sometimes. People say, “What about like Luke 7 when Jesus looks at the woman of the city and says, ‘Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.'” We would respond to that by saying that the woman in that account comes to Christ in a Pharisee’s home. It’s very clear that she has no confidence in anything pertaining to her. She has no righteousness on which she’s going to stand, she’s not confident in herself in any way and is casting herself completely upon Christ as the one who can save her. So, it’s clear that the one who she is trusting is the one who does the saving. It is not her faith that does that. Faith, even in that account, is simply the means through which Christ’s saving work would be applied to her.
Jon Moffitt: Throughout all of the book of John, Jesus calls people to believe in him. Literally in John 6, they say, “Make it plain that you are the Messiah.” And he says, “I’ve already given you all the evidence, but you don’t believe in me.” That was his point. It’s not faith in general. He is proving to them that he is the source of their justification, or he is the source of their hope into the Kingdom. This even goes back to the rich young ruler when he walks up to Jesus, the one he should be trusting, and asks, “What must I do to be saved?” What he’s saying is, “What can I trust to get what I want?” And Jesus says, “I’m standing right here, and the fact that you don’t know that is the answer that you need.” So, he tries to crush the man who trusts in himself. The man literally starts with, “I’m trusting this so far. What else do I need to trust? I have obeyed the law.” In the end, Jesus sends him away because he’s unwilling to trust Jesus. It’s not faith in your faith. The way I would reword this, and this is going to sound heretical, and maybe we can kind of work it out, but the way I would say it is that faith is the evidence of your salvation. Because I am saved by Jesus, therefore I believe. So, you’re resting in the sufficiency of Jesus to hold on to you; you are not resting in the sufficiency of holding on to Jesus. Because Jesus saved me, therefore I believe that he is sufficient to carry me home. This is what Paul says: he who began a good work in you will complete it. Where are we putting our faith? In Christ.
Justin Perdue: It’s good to mention where this comes from in the contemporary evangelical movement. You had a lot of people back in the eighties or so who began to articulate things like this, where there was a good motivation to emphasize the freeness of the gospel. But then what ended up happening was it was kind of a hyper Arminian, very man-centered approach to this whole thing. You had Zane Hodges from Dallas Theological Seminary, famously in his book Absolutely Free, begins to articulate what is necessary is to have this one moment where you make this decision of faith, it’s this one act of faith, and then at that point, based upon that act, a person is secure forever. That’s where you get this language of “once saved, always saved” in this mechanical sense. What is the basis of that “once saved, always saved”? It was that one act, that decision of faith that you made at that one point, and you’re looking back to that as the ground of your assurance before God. That is problematic because then in that view, what ends up happening—and where Zane Hodges went with this—is that once you’ve made that one decision of faith, it really doesn’t matter what happens after that. It doesn’t even matter if you continue believing. It’s kind of crazy the way that it goes. I think that’s the greatest example that we could give of placing faith in your faith, or placing faith in one decision that you made, as the ground of your hope before the Lord and the ground of your reconciliation to Him.
Jon Moffitt: The problem starts with—and this is where the whole Lordship thing came out—the gospel that’s being presented. The good news is not this. The good news is Jesus Christ saves sinners and presents them as righteous by his own obedience. What they’re hearing is, “If you say this prayer, you can be saved,” or, “If you dedicate yourself, you can be saved.” It’s like you’re the acting agent in salvation; the gospel is Jesus is the acting agent in salvation.
Justin Perdue: I think one of the reasons why it’s so damaging is that if you’re putting faith in your faith and yeah, and faith is this one decision you made or this act of faith that you do, effectively, what you’re saying is that faith is a work that you accomplish. You’re saying that you are capable of mustering up faith, and that faith that you have produced is what is your confidence—and that’s a really big dilemma.
What I would want to say to those individuals who are going to say, “Well, I believe in Jesus, and that is the basis of my admittance into heaven,” I assume that if you’re like every other person I know in that your faith—pick your descriptor: the strength of it, the quality of it, the consistency of it, the vitality of it, the fervor of it, etc.—that ebbs and flows not only by the year or the day, but by the moment sometimes. If your confidence is based in something so subjective, like how you feel about Christ or how strong your faith is in this moment, how in the world could you ever have peace? And the answer to that is, if you’re saying and you’re objectively assessing it, you couldn’t.
Jon Moffitt: People put faith in all kinds of things that have no reality to them. I’ve met people who have all kinds of beliefs and things but there’s no reality to their faith. They believe strongly in it, but they cannot place a reality connected to their faith. You’re asking this question, Justin: how is it that you can go from condemned to child, from unrighteous to righteous? Faith is not what does that. Jesus doesn’t look at you and go, “Oh, you believe that can happen? Therefore, it’s yours.” No, there has to be a substance; there has to be a key access. For instance, just because I believe a plane can take me from point A to point B doesn’t mean that the plane actually does it until the plane actually takes me from point A to point B. Faith doesn’t make the plane fly; the plane does. So, Jesus is the one who saves and sanctifies and presents us as righteous. I know it sounds nuanced, but it is important because in the end, when I stand before God and He lets me into His Kingdom as His child, it has nothing to do with me and it has everything to do with what Christ did on my behalf. We reword faith and almost say it’s an acceptance. Do you accept the reality that without Jesus, you cannot be saved? Yes. I accept that. Do you accept the reality that without Jesus’ obedience, you cannot be seen as righteous? Yes. I accept that reality. Then you are given all the benefits of Christ; faith is acceptance, it’s not doing.
Justin Perdue: It’s not acceptance, it’s receiving. I would say it’s also trusting. The real question at the heart of the matter is who are you trusting? What are you trusting? Are you trusting in your faith? Are you trusting in something about you? Or are you trusting in Christ in his sufficiency? And that is where we’re headed with this whole thing.
I want to go ahead and introduce this now, Jon. I think people need to understand, and this is related to putting faith in faith and even faith being a work, that in the immediate aftermath of the Reformation, you had rightly a lot of people preaching and emphasizing faith over and against works to the extent that even back in the day—and I think this happens even in our context too, which is what we’re highlighting here—people made such a big deal about faith that it began to sound like faith was a work that we do that then reconciles us to God. It was even to the extent that Roman Catholic theologians responded to the Protestant Reformation. Some of them even drew the conclusion, “We see that you, like us, believe in salvation by works. You just have a different set of works. Yours is faith; ours is this other stuff,” in terms of the sacraments and the like, “but we all believe in salvation by works.” This is where Luther, Calvin, and the Reformers had to make great effort and take great pains to demonstrate that faith, first of all, was purely a gift from God, biblically speaking, and that it was not faith itself that saved anyone, but it was the object of our faith, namely Jesus, who saved us, and that faith was simply the means through which the righteousness and the suffering and the satisfaction made for sins by Christ are applied to sinners. Historically, this has happened before, and we, like the Reformers and the Protestants through history, need to be careful that we articulate this in ways that are accurate biblically and don’t turn faith into a work that we do that saves, but rather see faith as the means through which the work of Christ is applied to us.
Jon Moffitt: Quoting here Romans 10 real quick—just so you can hear it in Paul’s words. He’s talking about the legitimacy of what’s backing your faith, and he’s even using this illustration. Romans 10:6: “Righteousness based on faith.” Then he even says in verse nine, “Because, if you confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord,” where is he pointing? The object of your faith. He says you’re pointing it to the reality of who Jesus is. I believe Jesus is Lord, and he’s saying that’s the evidence or that’s what saves you. “And believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” So, the faith is in the object of Jesus and what he did. I love that about Romans 10. We always use that verse as having to say it with your mouth in order to be saved and you miss the point. Faith is in who Jesus is and what he did—that’s what saves you; not the actual faith in itself. Just having faith.
Justin Perdue: It’s very clear that the presentation of the Scriptures is that it’s the righteousness of God, it’s the righteousness of Christ that’s being counted to sinners and faith is a means. Think about Romans 1:17, think about Ephesians 2:8-10, think about Philippians 3:7-9. It’s very clear that it’s somebody else’s righteousness, namely the very righteousness of God, in Romans 3:21-22, that is received by faith. So, it’s not faith itself that God counts to us as our righteousness; it is the righteousness of Jesus counted to us.
Jon Moffitt: And it’s evidenced by faith.
Justin Perdue: Let’s move on to the next. We dealt with placing faith in faith, which is a very broad evangelical issue. Now we want to speak more to an issue that would be more prominent amongst Calvinistic or Reformed-ish evangelicals.
This would be, as you put it before we recorded, if the first one is faith in our faith, this category would be many people putting faith in our faithfulness. The answer here would be something along the lines of on what basis should you be admitted into heaven. And you would begin to point to your obedience, you would begin to point to your discipline and your faithfulness. Because I understood these things, I believe these things, I did this stuff that then demonstrated and validated my faith. That’s the argument—that you need to prove the legitimacy of your trust in Jesus through what you do.
Jon Moffitt: Yeah. This is probably a subject that we handle all the time in Theocast. It’s definitely a tricky situation. We’re going to be a little bit more pointed in and try to be very nuanced and careful here. There’s a kind of a razor’s edge here and it feels like we can get pushed off onto either side. We are going to try to be as scripturally relevant here as we can, because what people end up hearing is that obedience isn’t necessary, and that is by no means Reformed, confessional, or biblical in any shape at all.
Obedience is a consequence. It’s what’s going to happen. Even Ezekiel says, “I’ll pull out your heart of stone and I’ll put it in a heart of flesh and will cause you to walk in my ways.” Obviously, Christians who have the Spirit’s power in them are going to obey.
Justin Perdue: I’m thinking of a bunch of Scripture passages: Romans 6—union with Christ, we’ve been delivered from the dominion of sin, we become obedient from the heart; Romans 8—we’re being conformed into the image of Christ; Romans 12—we’re being renewed in our minds. All of these things are our reality as a result of union with Christ by faith. Of course, like you just said, because we have been fundamentally changed and united to Christ and his Spirit is now at work in us, he is going to change us and that is going to result in good works and obedience. And we, along with the Reformed and the orthodox of all time, see that as a necessary consequence of saving faith and a necessary consequence of salvation. The problem is—and you said this so many times, Jon, and I agree with you—the problem is this kind of “prove it” mentality that exists out there because you start to try to make the stream flow uphill and you invert the relationship by saying, “Prove that you’re saved by what you do.” You actually can’t do that; you have to be saved first and then the fruit is born. And when you invert the relationship, we got all kinds of problems.
Jon Moffitt: We’ve gone from one side to the other, right. We are saved by our faith, now we’re being saved by our faithfulness—which no one would say in the conservative Calvingelical world. To be fair, that is what ends up leading people down that road, because what is the basis foundation? Where are they resting? What’s fueling their assurance? And what’s fueling your assurance is the evidence of fruit in your life. Often, I would even say, it’s not fruits of the Spirit, it’s fruit of Christianism that’s been handed down to us. As crazy as this sounds, the moment you say the desire to read your Bible daily is the evidence of your salvation and the ground of your assurance, I’m sorry, but that can’t be it because your desires for anything are going to ebb and flow up and down. This is why Paul talks about the war against the flesh and the Spirit against the flesh: we are going to have our desires that go up and down. Even if you were to say you don’t desire Jesus above everything else every single moment of every single day, you should not have assurance, again, you are saying the ground of your salvation—that which justifies you before God—is based upon either your actions or your emotions or your level of dedication. This is why in the Baptist world that I grew up in, the call to rededication was so relevant because it was like they were saying, “You should question whether you’re good with God. You should question whether God is going to save you because look at your life. You’re not fully dedicated to Him.” we would have these rededication services to the point where some would even get rebaptized—Justin, you know this world—because your assurance level dropped so low that it was like they were doing a re-up on the membership here just to make sure that all things are good. And when you are looking to dedication or faithfulness as the ground of your assurance, then you have a massive problem. This is why so many people who listen to Theocast contact us and say, “For the first time in my life, I feel like I truly have assurance because I am not looking to a prayer on one side, or I’m not looking to my faithfulness on the other side because prayer and faithfulness never saved anyone.”
Justin Perdue: Certainly, this whole premise of walking the aisle, praying a prayer, and making a decision one time, saving someone—that is foreign to the Scriptures. This other thing of the emphasis on your disciplines and your faithfulness and the fruit in your life, and basically pointing people to that to know that they’re saved, is a hopeless endeavor. I’ve said this recently, I think, but I’m going to go and say it again: none of us on our deathbeds will ever be comforted by our obedience. You know why? Because all of us who have been united to Christ and who have been given a new heart and a new spirit, who are actually tender in our consciences and want to obey, we will reflect back on our lives and we will be hyper aware, I trust, of how we could’ve done so much more. We could have obeyed so much more. We could have sinned so much less. You can’t comfort someone with that because we are imperfect at best, even in our obedience, and our sincerity and how we feel about obeying ebbs and flows. So, if we’re being pointed to that, not to encourage us—we agree with the confessions and the Scriptures that we can have our assurance bolstered by being shown the change in our lives—but if you’re being pointed to that as how you know and on what basis should you be admitted into heaven? “Well, I’ve got these good works to prove that I’m legit.” That is assurance robbing and peace destroying. Many saints have been wrecked by that, even in our modern context.
This, in my mind, is bad Puritan theology where there is an overemphasis on moral transformation. The gospel is assumed. Of course, Christ is preached and all that, but that’s in the backdrop. It’s the background and really, the focus is now on the Christian’s life, disciplines, obedience, performance, and the like.
If we begin to answer the question of on, what basis should you be admitted into heaven in the first person in any way, we are wrong. If it’s our faith, our obedience, or the fact that we persevere to continue, brother, sister, you’re looking in the wrong spot.
Jon Moffitt: To be clear, I want to go back and say this. I feel like people misquote me and Theocast quite often. I think Christians should and must be very disciplined in their lives as it relates to their sin and their actions, and I would even say, as it relates to the Word of God, because God’s Word and God’s people point us to the one who is saving us, and the more disciplined and dedicated we can be to focusing our attention on the substance of our salvation, the stronger our faith and obedience can and should be.
Justin, I know you’re about to get to this here in this illustration you’re going to use: the emphasis is put on your faithfulness, but the emphasis has to be put on Christ and his faithfulness. This is 1 John when it says what we are, we are not yet. But we, in anticipation of this, we purify ourselves as he is pure. The looking to is Christ, not to our faithfulness. I know people can feel like we’re being nuanced here, but I will tell you the flip on this: the difference between rest and no rest. You can rest seeking obedience, disciplining yourself, understanding the benefits of living a godly life, and loving those and giving grace, mercy, patience, and longsuffering, resting in the reality that it’s Jesus’ sufficiency that brings me home. Or you can pursue godliness and all of these other things as they ebb and flow, go up and down; as they do, so does your assurance, and so does your emotional dryness because you’re trying to find comfort in yourself and in your self-sacrificing, and it cannot be found. This is why Paul says, “I am,” present tense, “the greatest sinner I know.” And where does he find his hope? In the sufficiency of Jesus.
Justin Perdue: He does, which is where we’re turning.
The title of the episode, Faith Never Saved Anyone, is an entirely true statement. Faith does not save sinners; Jesus does. Faith, as we’ve been saying this whole podcast, is simply a vehicle, or a conduit, or a means—whatever word you want to use. It is the object of our faith that is the one in whom we trust who saves us. Even our confession and the ways that it will outline what saving faith is—it is receiving resting and trusting in Christ alone for salvation for all of it: justification, sanctification, and glorification. It is as 11.1 in the 1689 points out with respect to justification. It’s not that God infuses righteousness into us, but He pardons our sins and accounts us as righteous. How? He does it for Christ’s sake alone, not for anything produced in us or done by us. He doesn’t count faith itself, the act of believing, or any other obedience to us as our righteousness. Instead, God credits; He imputes. Christ’s active obedience to the law and passive obedience in his death is our whole and only righteousness by faith—and that is a beautiful definition of what justification looks like, and even of what saving faith looks like, and that’s what we’re trying to outline and articulate here today.
What we want to do now is continue to unpack this Reformed answer to the question, “On what basis should we be admitted into heaven?” The answer is Jesus. Period. There’s nothing else to say. He is the one who has saved us, and we look outside of ourselves always to him as the ground of our assurance and peace before God.
Jon Moffitt: I know you mean this, but not just Jesus, the good teacher, or Jesus, the good person—it’s Jesus, the replacement for our sins; the substitute; Jesus, the righteous one; Jesus, the intermediary, the one who intercedes for us; Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah. That’s the one who saves you. Just to be clear.
Justin Perdue: Like I said, from our confession, it’s his obedience to the whole law—so his righteous life—and its obedience in his death in which he paid for our sins, took the punishment we deserve as law breakers. It’s all of that counted to us so that we are not only viewed by God as though we have never sinned, we are also viewed as having all of the obedient works of Jesus credited to our account. It’s phenomenal news—and faith is the means by which all of that is applied to wretches such as we.
A few illustrations by teachers that most people that are listening to this podcast will probably have heard of, and these are really, really good and helpful. So, the first is Tim Keller. Keller has given an illustration at multiple points to demonstrate how it is God and His promises that saves sinners, grounded in what Jesus has done. So, he says to envision the Exodus where the people of Israel are going to be crossing through the Red Sea. This is an insane event where God miraculously parts the waters. Can you imagine what it would have been like to walk through on the floor of the Red Sea with these, we presume, walls of water on either side. You’re being pursued by the Egyptian army. Keller will rightly point out that you have to assume that there would have been people in that mass of Israelites walking through the Red Sea who would have felt all kinds of different ways about this event. Some of them would have been super confident in God and in Moses, their leader: “Here we go. God is going to deliver us.” And then there would have been some, no doubt, who would have been scared out of their minds. But as Keller points out rightly, both those who were confident and those who were terrified made it through to the other side. Why? Because God was their deliverer. It was not about them and their confidence; it was about God and His faithfulness.
Jon Moffitt: Again, it’s the substance of what saved them. Obviously, they had to believe. And how do we know that they believed?
Justin Perdue: They walked.
Jon Moffitt: That’s right. That’s such a good illustration.
Justin Perdue: Another one. This one’s excellent. Don Carson. So, he presents this hypothetical conversation between two Israelites the night the Passover’s going to go down. God has said He’s going to come through the land of Egypt and kill all the firstborn. He has instructed His people as to what they are to do and how they’re to make this meal, kill a lamb, make this meal and eat it in haste, put the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of their house, and God’s going to pass over that household. Carson paints this picture of two men having a conversation about all this. One of them is absolutely losing his mind. He’s like, “I just don’t know about all this. I’m scared. I don’t know how this is going to go down. What are we supposed to do? How is this going to go down for us?” And the other man responds, “What are you talking about? The Lord has told us everything that we need to know. We can have complete confidence in what He has told us. We just need to do this with the lamb, and we need to put the blood on the doorposts and all this. Everything’s going to be fine.” And he’s super confident. The other guy goes, “Oh my gosh. Yeah, I guess I’m going to go do that. But I just don’t know. I just don’t know how this is going to go down.” So that happens. The one man in confidence goes and does the thing and the other man with a lot of doubt and fear and trepidation goes and does the thing. And then this question: whose house was visited by the angel of death that night? Neither. Why? Because the issue in terms of God passing over the house did not hinge upon the quality of the faith of the people; it hinged upon the quality of the promises and the One who made the promises; it hinged on His character, that the Promise Giver is the Promise Keeper, and it is His nature and His character that carries the day. It’s not how the people felt and how much confidence they have.
This last one has been circulating around social media lately and it’s so good. So, Alistair Begg is a preacher known to some, maybe known to many. There’s a clip two minutes long of him giving a message. He begins by saying some really helpful things about that first and third person stuff, about how, if you were to die and you stand before the proverbial judgment seat, you’re asked on what basis you should be admitted into heaven. If you begin to answer in the first person, he says we’re wrong. It must be answered in the third person because he has done these things, not because I believe, not because I obey, not because I continued.
And then he gives the illustration of the thief on the cross—and he takes some liberty with these things, but the point is still made. The thief on the cross, as people know, was cursing Jesus, and Jesus said some wonderful things to him, and this man ends up trusting in Christ and clearly taking Jesus at his word, where Jesus even looks at him and says, “Today you’ll be with me in paradise.” Begg paints the picture of this man standing before the judgment seat, and there’s the angel there—again, he takes liberty—and the angel asks this man, “On what basis are you here?” And the thief says, “I don’t know.” “What do you mean you don’t know?” “It means, I don’t know.” So, this angel gets very frustrated and goes and gets his supervisor angel, who then comes to question the thief. And this supervisor angel asked the thief and he said, “Okay, tell me what you know about the doctrine of justification by faith.” And the thief says, “I’ve never heard of it in my life.” So, he says, “Okay, let’s then go to the doctrine of Scripture immediately. Let’s talk about that.” And it’s just crickets. Nothing. So even the supervisor angel is now frustrated with the thief and, and he says, “Okay, on what basis are you here?” And the thief looks at him and says, “Well, because the man on the middle cross told me I can come.” Even as he gives the message, the air is let out of the room and everybody’s like, “Amen, brother.” You know as a Christian, as someone acquainted with your own sin, you’re like, “That is right.” Because that is the only way that we could ever have peace: because Christ has told me, on the basis of his unshakeable life and on the basis of his death in my place, he has told me that I can come, and he has secured that for me. That’s good news. How did this shake out for the thief? He was cursing him one minute and now he’s in paradise. Why is he there? Because Jesus told him he could come.
Jon Moffitt: “I have come to seek and to save sinners.” And the thief on the cross is a great example of a sinner. “I’ve come to seek and to save the lost.” Not those who have found their way, but those who have lost their way. It is so counter self-righteousness so that none of us may boast.
Justin Perdue: Why is it that we can be confident? Not only because of what Jesus did for us while he was on earth, but like we talked about in a podcast recently, he has ascended to the heavens and sits at the right hand of God and intercedes for his own—all of us. He’s able to save us to the utmost. He advocates for us when we sin. His word stands. He’s telling us, “Those of you who have trusted in me, you can come. I am the one who guarantees that. I am the guarantor of the new covenant. I’m the mediator here and what I say goes.” The one in whom we trust, the object of our faith, is our confidence. It’s not our faith. It’s not our obedience. It’s Christ and what he’s done for us.
Jon Moffitt: One last illustration before we go over to our next podcast. The disciples are in a locked room. They’re afraid the Jews might find them. Mary’s already told him, “Hey, Jesus is alive,” but they still haven’t figured it out yet. These are cowards. Peter has rejected Jesus three times and knows he’s ashamed of it. Then Jesus appears in the room and the first word out of his mouth is “Peace be unto you.” And he goes back to quote Jeremiah where he says the prophets are proclaiming peace when there is no peace, because Israel is in the absolute rejection of God. And he says, “You are unwilling to repent.” These men who are in the room, not repenting, and Jesus appears before them and says, “Peace be unto you.” I love what John says: he showed them the scars on his hand and his side. The substance of their peace was Jesus’ death on the cross. My goodness. That’s something you should believe in.
Justin Perdue: Amen. It’s Christ’s gentle posture toward them as a gentle and lowly Savior. “Peace to you. Let me show you, my scars. My scars are your salvation.”
Jon Moffitt: “By his wounds, we are healed.” Not by our faithfulness, not by our faith, not by our obedience.
We’re going to continue this conversation in our family time. It’s where we gather together to talk about how we take this message and move it out into the world to encourage each other to ask hard questions. This is called Semper Reformanda. It’s a two-part ministry: we do a podcast every week right after this one to continue the conversation, and then we continue that conversation in local and online groups on our app. You could go in there and join the conversation, whether it’s in the Tavern or in a local and online group. So, if you want to learn more about that, listen to the podcast, join the group. You can go to Theocast.org, and we would love to have you there.
Justin let’s go ahead and head over to the other podcast. We’ll see you guys all next week.
By Theocast - Reformed Theology — 3 months ago
Jon and Justin put a bow on the conversation about 1 John. The guys rejoice in the goodness of the letter and contrast that with …
By Ref Cast — 1 year ago
Listening to many preachers and teachers, it sounds like God, deep down, hates the world. Yes, he sent his Son to save sinners, but he does that only for his own glory–and even then, reluctantly. Jesus, too, really didn’t care for sinners. He came holding his nose and was really on earth to rebuke everyone. This presentation of God has produced a lot of fear, or perhaps even hatred of him. But, the question is, is this presentation biblical? Jon and Justin consider that on this episode.Semper Reformanda: Jon and Justin talk about adoption–how God has brought us into his own family through the blood of his Son. We now call God, “Father.” The guys also get into some law/gospel stuff and a biblical understanding of God’s holiness.Giveaway: “The Bruised Reed” by Richard SibbesScripture References:John 2:13-17Mark 2:23-27Luke 6:6-11Luke 13:1-5Mark 7:1-23Luke 18:18-27Luke 15Matthew 9:12-13Matthew 11:28-30Matthew 12:18-21John 10:14-18John 14:1-3John 17:24Luke 12:32Luke 7:36-50Romans 8:151 John 3:1https://youtu.be/xoeBfWWICdAPodcast TranscriptJustin Perdue: Hi, this is Justin. Today on Theocast, we’re going to be talking about God; in particular, we’re going to be talking about God’s posture towards us. If you listen to many preachers and many theologians talk, it seems like God deep down hates the world and hates us. He redeems us and He saves some sinners, but He does that purely for His own glory, but He doesn’t really want to do that. Then even Jesus himself came into the world kind of holding his nose and not very happy about the mission that he was on, and all of his interactions with sinners was really just to rebuke and yell at people. God is presented as harsh and Jesus is presented the same way. What this has produced in so many Christians, and so many of us, is fear, where the thought of standing before Christ or being with the Lord is a terrifying prospect. So the question is, is that presentation of God biblical? Is it accurate? Is that presentation of Jesus accurate? That’s what Jon and I are going to be talking about on today’s episode. If this interests you, which we assume it does, stay tuned.This is a good conversation we’re going to have. This has been prompted by a number of things, even by some posts that we’ve seen recently, but I think this is more of just an ongoing observation.I think a lot of times, the way that God is depicted in general, is that deep down, God really just hates us: He hates sin, He hates sinners, and He is just completely and altogether displeased with us. The only reason that he would ever save sinners like us is because it brings Him glory somehow—but He reluctantly does that. Even Jesus, the second Person of the Trinity, God the Son, took on flesh and entered into this world—and he really did it while holding his nose, not wanting to be here, not wanting to come and do what he did. He interacted with sinners on earth and hated it the entire time. He came to yell at the Jews because they had misunderstood true religion. He also came to spend time with tax collectors and sinners, but he only did that so that he could effectively rebuke them and yell at them too.It is just this depiction of Christ as a very harsh and exacting, threatening, and even frightening person; the last thing in the world you’d want to do is be near him. It’s very clearly a misrepresentation of him because sinners, in particular people who knew that they had no righteousness, could not stay away from him. The people that thought they were righteous had a problem with him, but those who knew that they were bankrupt and devoid of righteousness seemed to flock to him in droves and wanted to be near him and hear what he had to say.Not to bury the lead here. The title of this episode is one of the punchier titles we’ve come up with in a while: For God So Hated the World. What we’re trying to depict here is that far from God just hating all of us, hating everything, and reluctantly saving us, and Jesus coming into the world, hating his mission, hating us, and just coming to rebuke every week, the Scripture actually bears witness to the fact that Jesus willingly did this and that God loves us. God delights to save us. He is gracious and merciful and compassionate and tender. Jesus says these things about himself: “He came the first time, not to judge us, but to save us.” This is the testimony of the Scripture.The reason why this matters a lot to me is I know for myself personally, because of the kind of teaching that I was exposed to for years combined with my natural constitution and an anxious conscience, what this means is that in my low moments, when I’m melancholy and struggling, feeling flat and dry spiritually, I do not have naturally good feelings in those moments about standing before Christ at the end of time. I think for many people, they feel the same thing: the thought of standing before Christ at the end of it all is a frightening and terrifying prospect. The last thing in the world that you think would be good for you is to be near him because the only picture you’ve really ever been given of him is that he is holy and terrifying and hates sinners.Today in this podcast, we want to be able to unpack the biblical representation and presentation of Jesus in his earthly ministry, and then connect that to God, because Jesus says, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.” I hope that this conversation is really comforting for people and encouraging. I trust that I’m going to be comforted as we keep talking about this stuff. I already have been comforted in my own mind as I was thinking about some of these things this morning, and then certainly talking with Jon before we recorded.Let me throw a quick disclaimer out before we go any further, because we don’t like being misunderstood, and we don’t want to be in this episode.Nothing that we’re about to say should be understood to mean that Jesus came into the world indifferent about sin. God hates sin and there’s a reason why He sent His son so that we could be delivered and rescued from it, and so that we could be given a righteousness that we don’t have. So it’s not that Jesus was indifferent about sin or that Jesus came with all this compassion, gentleness, and meekness, and he never told anybody they were wrong, or that he’s just affirming people in their sin and is saying, “Hey, do whatever you want. It really doesn’t matter. All we want to do is just celebrate everybody and we ought not judge each other.” That’s not at all what we understand Jesus to have done. So we’re not communicating that in any way. But what we want to do is use a little bit of law-gospel and some other tools that are in our tool belt and approach the ministry of Jesus from an accurate perspective and chop it up a little.Jon Moffitt: This is where law-gospel distinction is very important. (If you’re new to this, in our notes, we will provide a couple of podcasts. We have a specific one on law-gospel.) What we like to do is then use that paradigm to explain Scripture, explain the nature of God, the nature of Jesus, and the nature of men.We believe firmly that in the Reformed tradition that we have been handed, that we do use a law-gospel distinction—law being that which only condemns and gospel being that which brings to life good news.What you’re describing, Justin, in the introduction, the way I had it in my mind is Jesus, the righteous Son, walks around and says, “Hey, you peasants. If you don’t repent of your evil ways, I shall boot you out of the Kingdom. I’m here to deal with you peasants. It’s annoying to me that I have to come here because y’all can’t obey.” This is not the Jesus we’re talking about.We don’t understand the position versus the disposition of God. So it is clear in Scripture that the position that we have in relationship to God is child of wrath. Enemy. We can use passages like Psalm 7:11, where it says God is a righteous judge and He has indignation all of the time. You and I had mentioned Nahum 1:2 and the following. Let me just read you a couple of verses and we’ll jump down, but it says, “The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord is avenging and wrathful; the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies.” Jump down to verse 6: “Who can stand before the indignation? Who can endure the heat of his anger? His wrath is poured out like fire and the rocks are broken into pieces by him.”So we will uphold, with firm foundations, the absolute indignation and righteous holiness of God. Under the law, that is true. This is why you can’t lower the law or make the law achievable, otherwise, you are saying that you can endure God’s wrath. The point of the law is that you see the law and you see the requirements of the law.Let’s just do one command of the law: love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, above all other gods or anything. We don’t even need to look at the rest of the Old Testament. Don’t even look at the rest of it. Just do that one law, and you should say, “Yeah, I am condemned. And then the conclusion should be now what Nahum was saying about you.Justin Perdue: If that’s the greatest commandment, I have so failed to keep it that I am ruined.Jon Moffitt: By God’s nature, which is hard for us as humans to understand, we somehow categorize God into emotions or we categorize Him into responses. Some describe God as an angry God, and then you have other people describing God as a loving God as if it’s two separate beings. And yet in the complexity, God can be both. We don’t understand that His anger and love can be something that is true of both statements. Outside of Christ, He is angry at me; inside of Christ, He’s not—but that doesn’t work with how Paul describes things. The difference between our position, a lot of times the Old Testament prophets, and even Paul when he says there is none righteous, we’re all under God’s condemnation, that is your position but that doesn’t mean that’s God’s disposition towards you. While we were yet sinners, what does it say? Christ died for us. We can acknowledge our position as sinners and being underneath the wrath of God, but we have to also acknowledge the rest of Scripture that describes the disposition of God towards sinners.Justin Perdue: That he’s a Redeemer. And it’s not just that He saves people because it brings Him glory—of course it does—but it is His nature that He delights to pour out grace and mercy on people who, by definition, don’t deserve those things.Jon Moffitt: Can I read verse seven in continuation? Nahum 1:7: “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.” So those are the kinds of things that we understand law and gospel to be. That passage from Nahum is a great example of a law and gospel passage.Justin Perdue: His indignation and wrath are so intense. What is the only hope for sinners? It’s to take refuge in the Rock of Ages where we can hide ourselves.Jon Moffitt: So there’s our introduction. So Justin, let’s go ahead and get into the meat of what we wanted to talk about today: Jesus’ disposition towards sinners. What does Jesus want us to know about him?Justin Perdue: Last preliminary statement: I don’t want to impugn anybody’s motivations. I assume that when people are preaching holiness and wrath and some of the things that I described in a punchy way where Christ is depicted as a frightening figure, I assume that they mean well, and that what they’re meaning to do is give legitimate credence to the holiness of God, the righteousness of God, and like you said, God’s indignation rightly against evil and sin. But rather than producing reverence and awe before God, all it ends up doing is producing a fear of Him that causes us either to hate Him or to be absolutely terrified of being near Him. Rather than the right preaching of law and gospel and of holding Christ out—as he has described himself and as his ministry would depict him—when you preach law and gospel and hold Christ out to people, I think what you do end up producing is reverence and awe before the Lord. That holy God loves me, He is graciously inclined toward me, He has given me mercy, and He has done so much for me that He has provided me with all the righteousness and holiness that I need, and He just gives that to me. He has dealt with my sin because He is righteous, but He has done it in such a way where he took the punishment that I deserve. Now I want to be near Him and worship Him. I’m in reverence. I’m in awe.Jon Moffitt: And I would say the greater the authority, the greater the mercy means. For instance, if my neighbor gives me mercy because I accidentally mowed over onto his side of the lawn too far versus a judge who gives me mercy because I murdered somebody, the level of authority and the level of intensity… When it says, “fear of the Lord,” it’s one of those things that says understand His authority, understand His position, understand His power, but yet you don’t walk in trembling as far as you’re waiting for the hammer to pounce you. That’s the exact opposite description we get from Jesus.Justin Perdue: The way that I might start this conversation about Jesus in his earthly ministry is with this (I hope) clarifying comment: if you were to survey the gospel accounts—and again, those are not always the best names for them, but it’s the life and ministry of Jesus according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—I think that we will notice that Jesus and his disposition towards different groups of people is different. There are times when Christ does act and speak in a way that is very direct—breathtakingly direct at times; it comes across as harsh and even condemnatory—and then there are other times where he speaks and carries himself in a way that is very gentle, compassionate, tender, lowly, and meek even. People have a hard time parsing this out because in some measure, they don’t have a good distinction of law and gospel in view in terms of what Christ is meaning to do. There may be other things associated with this. But I would suggest, as I’ve studied these passages and these books of the Bible, that pretty much without exception, the times when Jesus is harsh and breathtakingly direct and condemnatory are when he is interacting with people that think that they’re righteous, are trusting in themselves that they’re righteous, or think that they can achieve righteousness through the law. Then on the flip side, pretty much without exception, whenever he is around people who know that they’re sinners, or who are not claiming to be righteous, or understand that they’re in a position of need and they are coming with no confidence whatsoever, he is compassionate and gentle and tender and forgives sins. I think that’s incredibly instructive for us if we’re going to rightly understand Christ.So I don’t know which one you want to start with, Jon. Maybe we start with the direct harsher stuff first and unpack some of that so that we can then land on the sweeter stuff?The first one that often comes to people’s minds is when Jesus is flipping tables over, fashioning a whip, and is basically wrecking shop and turning the temple court inside out and is rebuking people. “My Father’s house is meant to be a house of prayer for all nations and you have turned it into a den of robbers.” You and I were talking about this passage before we recorded. The way that you and I both understand it, and Reformed Christians have for centuries have understood this, is that all of this hoopla is not the sale of animals itself. It’s not that that is so wicked—it was necessary actually because of the sacrificial system and people coming from a long way away and couldn’t have brought animals with them. The reason Christ is upset and is indignant is because where all of this hoopla and this circus was taking place is in the court of the Gentiles. It’s the only place in the temple complex where the nations could come and have access to God, and in particular, have access to the forgiveness of sins in the Lord’s name. Christ is indignant that this whole enterprise and this fiasco that’s going on is hindering people; it’s hindering the nations in coming to God for the forgiveness of their sins. And so he is indignant about that, rightly, and that’s why he turns the place inside out. But a lot of times we just see that as a blanket indictment on everyone—that Jesus is upset about false worship wholesale and that basically, every one of us is in the cross hairs here and Jesus is generally telling all of us that our worship is illegitimate.Jon Moffitt: If I were to summarize, I’d say Jesus is upset about people who are blocking the gospel. They are blocking grace from the nations, and so he gets upset saying they need to get out of the way. What breaks my heart about the interpretation of some people is that they immediately turn it into some kind of repentance of sinners. He’s not upset at the Gentiles; he’s upset at the Jews. It’s the religious system that blocked grace from people. Justin and I often, on this podcast, get very upset when people block the gospel or block grace from people, requiring something of them or putting a hurdle in their way, and almost making it impossible to believe or follow Jesus.Justin Perdue: It’s not that Jesus is just indignant at sinners in general. He is indignant, like you just said, about barriers that are being erected between people and redemption, forgiveness of sins, and salvation. That needs to be said.Next example that we came up with was Luke 13. This is where Jesus is talking again to a Jewish audience and people bring to his attention the Galileans who were slaughtered by Pilate, mingled with these other pagan sacrifices. Jesus says to this group of people, “Do you think that these people were any worse than you? Well, they weren’t. You need to repent or you too will likewise perish.” Jesus continues, “What about those 18 people in Siloam on whom the tower fell and they died? Do you think that they were worse than you? No, they weren’t. You too need to repent.” it’s very clear in the context. He’s talking to people that think they are better than other people. Their base mentality is, “We’re not like those people are and thereby are not as sinful or not in the same kind of need, or maybe not even worthy of the same kind of judgment or bad things happening to them. And Christ is meaning to blow up that kind of stupidity and let people see themselves for what they are.”Jon Moffitt: The word “repent” there. We have to ask ourselves what Jesus means by repent. What are they repenting of? We just throw that word out there as if it always means repent of immorality of some sort.Justin Perdue: I think you’re exactly right. I think what Jesus is most often aiming the gun at when it comes to repenting is he is telling them to repent of self-righteousness. Repent of all of these things that you’re trusting in that are not going to save you. And in fact, you’re trusting and stuff that is at best filthy rags. Stop.Jon Moffitt: There are some sections where Jesus is dealing with the immorality of a woman. He says, “Go sin no more.” Put an Excel spreadsheet together of who Jesus tells to repent of self-righteousness versus who he tells to repent of sin, and he’s always poking a finger in the self-righteous’ eye, because without the righteousness of Christ, you have no righteousness. And so he’s always telling them to repent of their own righteousness.Justin Perdue: But even that account that you just mentioned in John 8—and I understand that that’s a disputed text but still the point is made; it’s in our Bibles—and Jesus tells the woman to go and sin no more. What has he done in that circumstance? He has protected her, he has defended her, he has protected her in particular from Pharisees who wanted to stone her. Then he says, “Woman, who is left to condemn you?” And she says, “Nobody.” He says, “Well, neither do I condemn you. Now go and sin no more.” He is gentle and encouraging. You’ve just been forgiven, clearly, now go and sin no more—to which we say praise be to God.Jon Moffitt: Which, as an exegetical note, I don’t believe was a part of the original text, but I don’t think it’s inconsistent with the nature of Jesus.Justin Perdue: There’s a reason why it’s been included in the canon.Other examples are how Jesus is very, very confrontational with the Jewish religious leadership regarding the Sabbath Day. There are a number of passages we could point to where they are trying to either trap Jesus or Jesus will raise things in their presence, whether it’s over healing a man with a withered hand or plucking a head of grain on the Sabbath. Jesus makes it very clear that these people—this is one example of many of how they have codified a godly life to death and how they are trusting in living a codified life to earn them something before God. They clearly think they are crushing it and doing what the Lord would require and desire of them in the ways that they have put this fence around the Sabbath. Jesus, again, is blowing up that kind of system and that sort of a schema of religion that, “No, you have not understood this at all. In fact, you think that man was made for the Sabbath when in reality, the Sabbath was made for you. It’s for your benefit. I am Lord of the Sabbath and my word stands.”Jon Moffitt: One of the things I’m teaching my church is to look at all the Scripture before you make conclusions about one particular section of Scripture or a doctrine. We did this last time at men’s group. Someone was mentioning a section of Romans 10. And I said, “Yes, but let’s read that in light of what all of Scripture has to say about justification.” What ends up happening is that someone’s disposition towards a particular theological bent, like angry Puritan preachers or even modern day street preachers, is they tend to emphasize one aspect of the nature of God or of the nature of redemption, which is the law .Part of redemption is the law. We have to do it in balance. When we look at Jesus, you see the balance in what Jesus goes after. I think we have to use the posture and the nature and the purpose of Jesus. Jesus literally says, “I have come to do the will of my Father.” And what was the will of his Father? It wasn’t to bring a sword; he brought redemption. He laid down his life. That was his purpose and will.Justin Perdue: You’re alluding to John 6 amongst other places where Jesus says that basically, he came to do the will of his Father, which is to save sinners and that he would actually lose none of any who come to him. And any who come to him, he will never cast them out. “It is the will of my Father that anybody who believes in me should not perish, but be raised on the last day. And I will do that.”Jon Moffitt: I love the descriptors the New Testament gives Jesus: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” He is the Shepherd. He is our brother. For sinners, he is living water. For sinners, he is living bread.Justin Perdue: He is the bread of life that came down from heaven.Jon Moffitt: Right. For sinners. That’s the thing about it. We somehow think it’s for those who have made this transition. It’s, “While we were in sin, Christ died for us,” not, “When we repented, Christ died for us.”Justin Perdue: Or, “Once we have repented adequately and feel the way we should about our sin and are fighting hard enough, then God is pleased to sustain, bless us, and show us grace.” It’s crazy.Jon Moffitt: And a lot of this is rooted out of a comment that we had read recently. This is not an uncommon statement within some areas of Christianity: “Jesus is with sinners and the reason he is with them is to call them to repentance.” Let’s just do an analysis again.Jesus is described as a friend of sinners. Jesus spends time with sinners so much that he’s being described as a drunkard, being criticized for letting prostitutes touch him—and just to be clear, touch not in an inappropriate way. “She’s a dirty woman. How could you let her touch your feet?” And yet, when he’s dealing with sinners, he describes himself as gentle and lowly. When he’s dealing with the self-righteous, he is angry. John the Baptist called them a brood of vipers.Justin Perdue: Jesus calls the Pharisees “whitewashed tombs” because on the outside they look good, they’re doing the right stuff, they’re checking the boxes, and they’ve got all these codes that they follow, but inside they’re dead.Jon Moffitt: So what’s the difference between a Pharisee, a whitewashed tomb, and a sinner? Jesus says he has come to save the lost or find the lost. So as a sinner, it makes sense. If Jesus is saying, “These people understand why I’m here—they have no righteousness, they have nothing to cling to, and the Pharisees or the self-righteous are clinging to their own sin.” So he’s calling them to repent.Justin Perdue: They’re clinging to their own righteousness.Jon Moffitt: That’s right. He calls the self-righteous to repent and he tells those who are beat down by the law and by their sin. He says, “Come to me.”Justin Perdue: So we’ve already kind of naturally made the transition. There are many other passages we could go to where Jesus is like dropping bombs and setting grenades on the table and pulling the pin. We’re already transitioning naturally to some of the other things that he says.What you just said, Jon, is exactly right. For example, Matthew 9:12-13, where the Pharisees have challenged Jesus. They say to Christ’s disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And then what does Christ say? “When Jesus heard it, he said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.” For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.'” To your point, this is why he came. He didn’t come for those who think that they’re righteous already; he came for those who are sinners, and this is why he’s here. And what’s his posture toward those people? Matthew 11:28-30—which is where we got our tagline from—where he says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden…” With what? The demands of the law. Perhaps even the code that had been thrown on top of the law by the Pharisees. “And I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I’m gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” That is the invitation of Jesus to sinners.Jon Moffitt: Gentle and lowly.Justin Perdue: Yes. “And I will give you rest. If you’re weary and you’re burdened, and you’re weighed down and getting crushed, I’m who and what you need. Come to me.”Jon Moffitt: I will say this again, and it needs to be said a thousand times: if the invitation of Jesus does not lead you to rest, you have got the wrong invitation from the wrong Bible. How can you miss the point? Weary sinners who feel the weight of the law—which is the purpose of the law. We need the law. The law must be preached. Jesus was the greatest preacher of the law. Bar none. Period. He executed that position clearly because without the law, Jesus cannot be the Redeemer. He presses the law on people, to the point where the disciples say, “Well then, who can be saved?” the rich young ruler also asked, “Who can be saved?” And he says, “With man, it’s impossible. But with God, all things are possible.” That’s what the law should do to you. You should say, “Well, that’s impossible.”And I love how the modern day American will say, “Well, everybody is a sinner.” that’s not what you should say. What you should say is who can be good—and the problem is nobody can be good.Justin Perdue: I’m just struck by the way that Jesus came and did ministry. Did he call people to repentance? But just to reiterate, what we often mean when we say that is to repent of your immorality—and that’s really it. Whereas what Christ means is repent of your immorality, yes, but repent of your own virtue in and your own righteousness in your own eyes and effectively come to him. That’s what he’s calling people to do. “Come to me and trust me. Find your righteousness here and find your rest here.”Jon Moffitt: As crazy as this sounds—and we probably need to do another podcast on this—but I think it’s impossible to repent of all sin.Justin Perdue: Of course it is.Jon Moffitt: Because I can’t love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, even though it’s my ambition.Justin Perdue: There’s a million sins that we commit that we’re not aware of.Jon Moffitt: Which is why you have to repent of the one sin, which is your self-righteousness. Don’t hold onto that.Justin Perdue: These are not the words of Christ, but this is Matthew’s description of Jesus, citing the prophet Isaiah—which is where Richard Sibbes got the title for his book, The Bruised Reeds.So Matthew is talking about Jesus and he’s healing people and he’s doing these things. Matthew says this was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah because Jesus is telling people not to make him known yet. “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”So again, you have this posture of this servant of God who is Christ, who will not break a bruised reed, he will not snuff out the wick that is just flickering and barely hanging on, but instead he will bring judgment to victory for all those who trust in him. What a marvelous presentation of Christ and his mission. At least the tone and the tenor of that sounds very different than how Christ is often preached.Jon Moffitt: One more illustration to throw in there. I remember preaching John 4 on the woman at the well. Jesus knows who this woman is, knows what this woman has done, and completely engages with her, which is a surprise to the woman. ” How is it that you, being a teacher, are asking me for water?” What does he offer her out of the gate? Living water, not repentance. She’s trying to quench her thirst by the flesh, and Jesus says, “Are you tired of that yet? How about I give you water so that you will never thirst again?” And she says, “Give me that water,” which she don’t doesn’t really understand. And when he finally reveals it to her, she loses her mind and runs back into the city to tell people, “Do you know who I just found?”What I love is that Jesus always has these missionaries that are the broken of the community. They’re the scum of the earth. Thinking about Zacchaeus too, right? And in John 20, when Jesus walks into the room and the disciples are there, they have abandoned Jesus, the doors are locked. Luke describes them as screeching like little girls when Jesus appears to them. And he says to them, “Peace be with you.” And he shows them his scars in his hands and on his sides. And then he commissions them to complete the Father’s mission.Paul finally makes the description. Not many of us are wise. Not many of us are strong. He describes those whom Jesus saves and he saves the weak, rejected, no-name people, and that’s who God uses. Why? Because in the end, Jesus gets all the glory, and we don’t want any because we don’t have anything to be happy about. Because we’re nobody.Justin Perdue: To be clear about what I said at the outset, God most certainly is glorified in the work of redemption. That is not up for debate. But we totally misrepresent him when we do not say—Luke 15, the parables of Christ—that God delights, finds great joy, and actually celebrates over sinners who repent. God is brought joy in this whole enterprise of salvation. It is not just that He’s going to be renowned and praised—of course He will be, but He in His person delights to do this. That to me is one of the biggest mind blows in the universe. The holy God who made us, against Him, we have committed cosmic treason—to use the words of RC Sproul—loves us so much and delights to save us in such a way that He is effectively throwing a party in heaven every time a sinner repents. It’s astonishing love, mercy, and grace.Another passage. Jesus, in John 10, calls himself the Good Shepherd. This is picking up on the language of Ezekiel 34 where the Lord says that He will be the Shepherd of His people, He’s going to seek them out, and He’s going to save them and bring them to pasture and gather them from where they’ve been scattered. It’s been dark and scary, but He’s going to get them and they’re going to be safe, and He’s going to set up over them his servant, David. By the time Ezekiel was alive, David’s been dead for a minute. He’s talking about the Christ, the greater David who would come, and Jesus says, “I’m him. I’m the Good Shepherd. I have come, not like a hired hand. I have actually come. I know my own sheep and they know me, and I have come to lay my life down for them. The Father has given me this mission, but I do this of my own accord. I lay my life down willingly. Nobody takes it from me.” He’s not reluctant in this.A few chapters later in John’s gospel, when he’s talking to the disciples during the last night that he’s on earth, what is all of that from John 13 on through the high priestly prayer? It’s all words of comfort. Because we’re told that Jesus had loved his disciples while he was on earth, and then he loved them to the end, and he gives them all these words of comfort, including the beginning of chapter 14: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, what I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” And he prays for us in John 17:24. “I desire that you’ll be with me where I am to see the glory that the Father gave me before the foundation of the world.” Jesus wants us with him.Jon Moffitt: One last illustration. What does Jesus say to the woman who’s washing his feet in the Pharisee’s home? Her sins have been forgiven, so she has shown him much love. The point of it is this woman understands her position and understands Jesus’ disposition towards her. She feels the freedom and the right to be with Jesus. Think about this. She feels the freedom and the right to wash his feet, not out of fear, but because she knows he loves her. Unreal.Justin Perdue: The posture that she’s coming with is one of humility and meekness. She’s not arrogant. She’s not trusting in herself. She’s a prostitute of the city, for crying out loud.Jon Moffitt: She’s crying over her forgiveness.Justin Perdue: Exactly. Simon the Pharisee is wigging out and is thinking to himself, “If Jesus knew, if this man was a prophet, he wouldn’t have anything to do with it.” And Jesus, of course, knows the thoughts of man and confronts the Pharisee. But where that all ends up is, to your point, Luke 7:47 and following, these words are incredible to me: Jesus says to Simon the Pharisee, “Therefore, I tell you, her sins—which are many—are forgiven, for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little loves little.” How does Jesus treat this woman who is a prostitute of the city? Does he drop the hammer on her? What are his first words to her? He just said in her presence to the Pharisee that she’s forgiven. But then he looks at her and he says, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who are at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Because only God can do that. And then verse 50, to conclude the account, Jesus says to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” Not her faith in and of itself, but her faith in what? In Jesus. “It has saved you, now go in peace.” That is Christ’s word to wretched sinners such as us who come to him, knowing that we need him.Jon Moffitt: What’s waiting on the other side of when we come to Jesus is peace. When Jesus tells the disciples, “Peace be to you,” and he shows him the scars in his hands, if the Jesus that’s being presented to you—which we’ll get into in SR—is not one that you can run to with your sin, you’ve been given the wrong Jesus. He is gentle and lowly, he draws sinners to himself, he has already taken on your sin, and you can run to him boldly, according to Hebrews, and to receive mercy and grace, and it’s promised to you every single time you ask for it. That’s the Jesus of the Bible.Justin Perdue: Amen, brother. What an encouraging thought, what an encouraging, incredible message that this is the God of the universe, and this is what He’s done for us. Jesus, what a friend for sinners. Just talking about it has been good for my heart. I’m encouraged by God’s Word and talking about this and just thinking about the life and ministry of our Savior. I hope, for those of you who have listened to the conversation today, that you too have been encouraged and comforted, and your takeaway from this is that Jesus loves you and offers you peace and rest, and you can go to him because of that.So Jon and I are about to continue the conversation. We’re going to talk more about the posture of Christ and even the disposition of God toward us, even in thinking about how God has adopted sinners into his own family. He has not given us a spirit of fear, but rather a spirit of adoption through which we call Him Father now—which is mind blowing in and of itself. That podcast that we’re about to record as an additional podcast we do each week called Semper Reformanda. That is for people who have become Semper Reformanda members who have partnered with Theocast to see this message of the sufficiency of Christ spread as far and wide as possible. If you’re curious about that podcast and you want to know how you can get access to it, you could go over to our website, theocast.org, and find out more there about Semper Reformanda and what that means. We’ve got an app, a community that’s being built of people, just like you, who are learning; just like Jon and I are still learning about what it means to rest in Christ. We can lock arms together virtually or in geographical groups and all these kinds of fun things that are going on. So go over to the website and check that out.Jon Moffitt: I just want to add, if you want to have a conversation like Justin and I just had about this, then that’s what the app is for. It allows you to connect with other people and talk like Justin and I just did.Justin Perdue: So avail yourselves of all of that, and you can get that information at the website, theocast.org. For those of you who may not be heading over to SR, Jon and I will talk to you again, Lord willing, next week in this format. For the SR members, we will have another conversation with you in just a moment. See you.