If You Love Me, Keep My Commandments

Reformation teaching about justification and subsequent obedience hasn’t changed.

The only obedience that God accepts is that which comes from the work of the Spirit within the believer. It is, therefore, both the fruit of the Spirit and the work of the Christian. To position one of these aspects of biblical obedience over against the other is the error of those who believe that sanctification hardly, if at all, necessitates the efforts of one who is converted. But that work—and it is work—is the effort of the believer spurred on, and assisted, by the Holy Spirit.

When Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments,” He made it clear that these two elements are juxtaposed, not placed in opposition to one another. It’s foolish—not only unbiblical, therefore—to think or teach otherwise. Those who do so, serve only to confuse believers about a matter that was cleared up early in Reformation theology. Why do they now think they are wiser than the Reformers?

This seems to me to be an unsuccessful effort, of people who have nothing new in biblical interpretation, to discover something anyway. If a matter has been settled by the church, it is wrong to stir up the thinking of the general population of Christians about any change in such long-settled theology unless it is clearly an exegetically-supported change that can be demonstrated to be a genuine advance in thought that improves upon accepted Reformation doctrine.

And, in particular, it’s dangerous to play around with the Gospel, which is good news to be believed: it is the news that Jesus died to save His people, bearing their punishment for their sins, and that He rose again from the dead. When one by grace, through faith, trusts Jesus as Savior, all His sins are forever forgiven, His righteousness, now placed on the books, is that perfect righteousness of the Lord, and He now possesses the Spirit Who enables Him to please God by obedience (as he could not beforehand: Romans 5:5).

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