Grace Relationship

Posted: September 13, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Sanctification, The Christian Life

“Grace stands in direct opposition to any supposed worthiness on our part. To say it another way: Grace and works are mutually exclusive. As Paul said in Romans 11:6, “And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” Our relationship with God is based on either works or grace. There is never a works-plus-grace relationship with Him.”

Jerry Bridges:(Transforming Grace, 22)

  1. kim/nannykim says:

    I don’t think his application is quite on target. Grace and works are not mutually exclusive. I think he could have said that in a better way than he did. Works come from grace so they are not mutually exclusive. This can also be seen in Revelation 3 where it says:

    1b …I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, and you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain , which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. 3 Remember therefore what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. If therefore you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you. 4 But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled thier garments; and they will walk with me in white; for they are worthy.

  2. doulos tou Theou says:

    Isaiah 64.6 could show us doing works of righteousness that doesn’t begin with Grace but seeks to earn Grace.

    Also, there are plenty of religious systems that are works based. So, in defending the quote in the broad sense I think he is spot on.

  3. boydmonster says:

    While I generally agree with Jerry Bridges statement, I do think it’s problematic to state that grace and works are mutually exclusive. I would say that grace and works are mutually exclusive in terms of our justification. We are either saved by grace or by works, the two cannot be mixed. If we are saved mostly by Jesus and a little by our works, then we are saved by works. That being said (and I hate to harp on this), Calvin is correct “Faith alone saves, but saving faith is never alone.” That’s exactly the point of the Revelation quote. Jesus knows that the church in Sardis is defective in their faith because they are defective in their works. It would be meaningless for the church to respond to this warning by trying to do more works, since their real problem is that although they “have a name that [they] are alive, [they] are dead.” They must be made alive in order to do the works, and we are made alive through faith.

  4. kim/nannykim says:

    Ok, so you feel he is talking only about the ground of our justification in this quote.

    It seems to me he is expanding this further, however, when he states: “Our relationship with God is based on either works or grace. There is never a works-plus-grace relationship with Him.” I just can’t see this EITHER OR mentality in regards to our continuing relationship [if he only means our initial justification that would be another matter, but when he uses the word relationship it seems to infer a broader ongoing thing—-however I don’t have the context of the quote].. In John 14:23 Jesus says, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep my word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him.” This passage is dealing with our relationship with God. The keeping the word is talking about obedience—earlier he stated in verse 21 , “He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me and he who loves Me, shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” So our relationship with God is more than just a point in time. Our relationship has to have grace which includes–produces, faith, love , hope, works—not an exclusive grace without works relationship . Again I feel he is overstating it—-yes grace is the basis OR actually perhaps the love of God is the basis and that is why he provides the grace which enables us to love etc.

    So I guess I would say our relationships with God is based on love. His love towards us which provides grace. But I would not say our relationship can be separated from works because clearly that is not taught in these passages in John.

    As far as the Is. passage you mentioned. There again the context is important. Just prior to that statement is verse 5 which says, “Thou dost meet him who rejoices in doing righteousness, Who remembers Thee in Thy ways.” That is talking about people doing righteousness (yes by grace) but the doing of the righteousness relates to God meeting him—-so again a relationship with God that does include works. Grace and works not being exclusive of one another. It is then that he states that God was angry , “for we sinned, We continued in them a long time…….” then comes the quote that we have” become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment…..and there is no one who calls on Thy name.” So I AGREE with you if the deeds we do are done from an unrepentant heart that it not calling on God that would be a different story.

    As far as the Revelation passage my point was just that the works and grace are not exclusive things in our relationship with God. I agree with your point that we are saved by grace.I agree with Calvin that works are a necessary part of saving faith. I just do not agree with Bridges that Grace and works are exclusive in regards to our relationship with God. Works directly correspond to Grace and have a key role to play in our relationship with God as John states.

    Blah, blah, blah—I know you are getting tired of me harping on this. 😉 Peace, my friend.

  5. boydmonster says:

    Sorry Kim, for some reason WordPress doesn’t inform me when comments are made. Alas. I think we agree. Actually, Jerry Bridges deals with the works/grace relationship marvelously (I think) in a little book called “The Bookends of the Christian Life”. In it, he clearly states that works and faith/grace are not exclusive to one another in the Christian’s life. More than that, I think Bridges does a great service in the debate by developing the concept of ‘qualified monergism’ in regards to our sanctification. That’s all I’ve got for now.

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