Bryan Chapell on Grace-Based Discipleship

Regarding his talk at the upcoming LIBERATE conference:

The great fear/accusation of grace-based discipleship is that it will lead to loose living.  The assumption is that the assurance of God’s mercy will make people unconcerned about their sin and unconscientious about obedience.  Human reason and selfishness may reasonably conclude, “Hey, if God will forgive me later, why not sin now?”

The gospel does not fail to recognize this reasoning but counters it with the affections of the heart.  The chemistry of the heart, enthralled with the wonders of Christ’s mercy toward us, overcomes the math of the mind with the logic of love: “If Jesus so loves me, then I want to express complete and loving devotion to him.” The indicatives (who we are by Christ’s mercy alone) of the gospel empower our obedience to the imperatives (what we are to do) in Scripture, rather than cancel them.

Nowhere is this more clear than in the opening verses of Colossians 3, where Paul uses the wonders of Christ’s gracious provision for his people to motivate his most strident imperative: “Kill whatever belongs to your earthly nature.” The result is not fear-based obedience, but love-compelled devotion to the Savior whose grace is so astoundingly great for sinners like us.

(paragraphing added)

My two cents: It’s normal to talk about salvation by grace alone and be a bit concerned with the possibility of “loose living.” It’s good to not want people to sin. Unfortunately, it’s very tempting to counter this possibility with something that usually goes like this, “Remember: a truly converted person has a new heart and won’t be a slave to sin anymore.” Too often this wonderful promise (new desires!) turns into a threat (keep the rules, or you’ll go to hell!).

Chapell nails it when he says the real, Biblical antidote to sin isn’t fear. Our only hope for lasting, heart-felt obedience is to be overwhelmed by the wonder and love of salvation. God became man to save mankind. Oh, that I could spend my life to love him!

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About Brian Phillips

Brian lives in Spain with Kassie and their kids.
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