Thursday, August 21, 2014

What We Get to Do: Tchividjian on Accusations of Antinomianism

I am sure by now you are well aware of the ongoing conversation among the reformed over sanctification. At the head of the debate is Tullian Tchividjian. Many fear his understanding of sanctification favors antinomianism and as a result, Tchividjian has repeatedly explained his position.

I have read a number of his books and have enjoyed them immensely. Yet perhaps the best paragraph in which he walks the line avoiding antinomianism, to me at least, came in the following sermon around the 31 minutes mark. Here is the quote of interests:
In the remarkable, mind-blowing, paradigm shattering, scandalously liberating words of Gerhard . . ., "so what are you going to do now that you don't have to do anything?" . . . When I pose that question to Christian people, they're like, "You can't say that. There's a whole bunch of things we have to do." And I say "No, there's not. You don't have to do anything. There are plenty of things that you get to do. But there's nothing that you have to do." Jesus paid it all. If you are a Christian, you live your life under a banner that reads, "It is finished." And the most sensible, logical question that any Christian person can ask and wrestle with is "what am I going to do now for the rest of my life that now I don't have to do anything." And when you wrestle with that question . . . you rediscover the now-power of the gospel and it sets you free to live a life of scandalous generosity and loving the people around you with wreckless abandonment. Its living a liberated life. A free life.
You can watch the entire sermon below (again, the above quote starts at the 31 minute mark)

Tullian Tchividjian | The End of To-Do List Christianity from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

The reason this explanation is so helpful to me is because of his clarification between "have to do" and "get to do." "Have to do" strikes of moralism and legalism. "Get to do" unfolds the joy of obedience and conforming to the image of Christ.

As a pastor there is an assumption among believers that "now that I'm saved, I have to do this and that." But that's not the gospel. We must be careful preaching justification by faith and sanctification by works. When we preach, "now that we're saved, look at what we get to do," is much more freeing.

In the end, the debate over sanctification is a constant balancing act between two extremes: pietism (legalism or moralism) and quietism (antinomianism). Regardless if we side more with the Gospel Coalition or Liberate (Tchividjian's organization), we must be leery of both dangers.

Perhaps at this point, we should let John MacArthur have the last word:

The quietist says, “Do nothing.”

The pietist says, “Do everything.”

In Philippians 2:12–13, Paul presents the appropriate resolution between the two. He makes no effort to rationally harmonize the believer’s part and God’s part in sanctification. He is content with the paradox and simply states both truths, saying on the one hand, sanctification is of believers (Philippians 2:12), and on the other hand, it is of God (Philippians 2:13).

The truth is that sanctification is God’s work, but He performs it through the diligent self-discipline and righteous pursuits of His people, not in spite of them. God’s sovereign work does not absolve believers from the need for obedience; it means their obedience is itself a Spirit-empowered work of God.

Today there is an intense debate within the church about this vital issue. The stakes are high—your view of sanctification informs and directs how you understand your new nature in Christ, how you evangelize others, pursue godliness, govern your heart and mind, how you raise and discipline your children, and how you understand and follow God’s commands in Scripture. For pastors and church leaders, your position on this issue will determine how you preach and teach, how you give counsel to troubled hearts, and how you engage in church discipline.

Neither quietism nor pietism represents the biblical path of sanctification. Both are spiritual ditches to steer clear of—they will impede your spiritual progress, and potentially obstruct it altogether.

For more:
Free eBook: "One Way Love" by Tullian Tchividjian
"Jesus + Nothing = Everything" by Tullian Tchividjian: A Review
Its About Christ: A Lesson on Hermeneutics
"The Tower of Babel" by Tullian Tchividjian
Tullian Tchividjian Leaves The Gospel Coalition
The Gospel Coalition Explains Recent Changes
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