The Role of Grace in Repentance

How one views repentance can depend on how one views grace. On paper, most Christian’s view would be that grace is a gift; on paper. I say on paper because many might agree that grace is a gift but then when they hear the word repent they hear Law. They hear something that they must do. They hear “you have to repent, you have to change your mind“. Yet is that biblically accurate? Does repentance start with me? Is repentance something that I do?

What is Repentance?

Repentance has two parts: contrition and faith. This effect of God’s Law and Gospel is shown throughout Holy Scripture. The Law condemns sinners as guilty and the Gospel or Promise of Grace comforts with a declaration of not guilty for Christ’s sake.

An example of this is (Col 2:14). The record of debt is the Law and Christ cancelling that debt is the Gospel. The Law is the handwriting that condemns and the Gospel is the erasing of that handwriting. A few other examples of contrition and faith (or absolution) are(Psalm 119:28; 1 Samuel 2:6)

The Law Works Contrition

Contrition is the Laws effect on the conscience. When the Law is heard two things happen. Either someone walks away proud or guilty. If the Law is given lightly, one can say “Yeah, I’ve kept that commandment”, or “I can do that”. We can think of how some people might think of adultery or murder in this way. I’m reminded of how Jesus explained those commandments in the 5th chapter of Matthew when He explains that if you have hated or lusted that you have broken those commandments.

He revealed the Law in it’s fullness and when this happens the conscience is burdened with guilt. For all have sinned (Romans 3:23). Who then can stand? (Psalm 130:3) We become like David when he says “I have sinned against the Lord“(2 Samuel 12:13). Contrition is also shown forth in the psalms (Psalm 38: 4,8; Psalm 6:2-3).

4 For my iniquities have gone over my head.
As a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.

8 I am faint and severely bruised.
I have groaned by reason of the anguish of my heart. – Psalm 38: 4,8

2Have mercy on me, Yahweh, for I am faint.
Yahweh, heal me, for my bones are troubled.
3 My soul is also in great anguish.
But you, Yahweh—how long? Psalm 6: 2-3

Contrition is the effect of the Law. It will accuse and terrify the conscience. There is nothing here that is any work that we do for the natural man hates God (Romans 8:7) and this mirror of the Law comes from God to fix our skewed view of our conscience to show us that we are in fact not a good person.

This is contrition and the conscience won’t be quieted until it either drowns itself with it’s own works, or until it finds rest in the Gospel. This is the second part of repentance; faith.

The Gospel Works Faith

The second part of repentance is faith. Just as contrition isn’t something that we muster up from inside of ourselves apart from God’s revealed condemnation of sin though the Law, since through the law came knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20), so also faith is not our work either. Christian’s are not semi Pelagians or synergistic. Faith is a gift, not our work (Eph 2:8-9).

Holy Scripture is full of statements and examples of how God first loves, we pull away into sin, and God pulls us back to Him. This is namely the sum of repentance; we pull away, God brings us back. This cycle repeats itself because we are still sinners running after our sinful desires and God calls us back daily. (More on this later).
Faith is a gift that comes by the Gospel (Romans 10:17). This is not something that we muster up in ourselves to soothe our conscience, for how can the natural man, who hates God and fears His condemnation, love his way back to an angry God? We must be brought to God by God. In the comforting promise of Christ we believe that God loves us and is no longer angry with us over our sin. This is how God brings faith; through the Gospel. This is how a terrified conscience is soothed and comforted. Faith grasps the Promise.

The Daily Fruit of Repentance

One can hardly talk about repentance without discussing one important thing. When or how often does one repent? Some think that repentance is a one time deal; you’re saved and now it’s time to do good works. This is sadly how some people think of the Gospel; that it only gets you in the door of Christianity and is only for the conversion of unbelievers.

Yet, repentance, much like the Gospel, is a daily necessity for the Christian. We are sinners and sin is in our very nature. The Gospel and faith are not. They are alien and foreign to our nature. We must have the Gospel always refreshing our tired weary souls.

Repentance, is a daily thing. We daily see our sin, for we always have the Old Adam (our sinful nature) about our necks dragging us to follow those sinful desires. Thus, if we sin, we need forgiveness, how can forgiveness come if not by faith in the Promise that those sins are forgiven?

Out of this daily killing of the Old Adam in repentant faith, good works flow forth. This is where the fruit of repentance grows; from the Gospel, by faith, that is living and active. Good works follow faith, they naturally flow from a repentant heart that has been born again by the Gospel, because we have been loved by God so now we love our neighbor. This new obedience is nothing but the Spirit working in us, this too is not our own doing. While there is some work of cooperation on our part in this new obedience it is like a gnat pulling a cart next to an Ox. If the Holy Spirit (Ox) departs we can do nothing.

Grace and Repentance; Putting it all Together.

The role of Grace in repentance should be clear. Grace comes to us by the Gospel, this is the faith part of repentance. If grace weren’t a factor we would just be left with the Law and it’s burden. It is imperative that we understand that repentance is God’s work of Law and Gospel, to create and sustain faith. This is grace, this is mercy, that you are not left with your sins and the condemnation of the Law.

The love of God, His abundant grace, is given when though the whole world were convicted of sin and damnation, Christ set aside His glory, came down from heaven, became the Godman, fulfilled the requirements of the Law that condemn you, took the punishment that is yours, and died.

Rising from the dead, having taken your unrighteousness and leaving it in the grave, gives you His righteousness by repentant faith. You are now holy, yet still sinner, justified yet sinner, simultaneously justified and sinner (simul iustus et peccator). This is why God grants us His grace in daily repentance. Though we are holy, sinless, and justified, we are still sinful and unclean until death or Christ returns.

Grace is repentance and repentance is grace. You cannot have repentance without faith. Since faith justifies and faith is a gift given by grace. Repentance, therefore, is grace and it is not of your own doing, but an act of grace by God. Without any works for you to soothe your conscience, without any debt left to pay, with your sins forgiven, you are free. Go in peace.

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23 thoughts on “The Role of Grace in Repentance

  1. No true Catholic would refute the fact that we can do absolutely nothing without grace. Scupoli says that we cannot even accomplish a single good or think of single good without grace. And indeed when we are condemned by the law (given to us by grace) we can have one of 2 reactions: imperfect contrition and sorrow (for fear of the consequence of the sins) or perfect contrition because they offend God whom we love and owe all that we have been given; His free gift of redemptive grace, our understanding and acceptance of the law, our love of God for His gifts and our sorrow for having offended the Love of all love. Love itself being a gift.

    What it shows to me is that God gives us via free will an opportunity to cooperate with grace or not, to feel sorrow (whether it is imperfect or perfect) through grace and a will that pines to reform itself in such a way that we will not sin again (a firm purpose of amendment). So we pray to amend our lives and to receive the grace to accomplish that.

    I doubt there is not much difference in the way we believe thought there may be a difference in the way we might explain it.

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  2. Pingback: Merry Christmas: What did Luke in the Gospel Mean by “Inn”? – On the Pilgrim Road

  3. “The role of Grace in repentance should be clear. Grace comes to us by the Gospel, this is the faith part of repentance.”

    Can you explain what you mean by Gospel? Are you speaking directly about the written Gospels or more of an abstraction that could mean hearing or something even infused in one’s soul? Is the Gospel, or grace for that matter, simply imputed or is their an infusion according to Lutheranism?

    For example, what do you make of St. Paul’s (I’m going to use KJV as a non-Catholic reference, feel free to quote your preferred translation) explanation in the letter to the Romans:

    14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another; Rom 2:14–15 KJV

    Right before this particular passage, it seems St. Paul qualifies the entire statement:

    “but the doers of the law shall be justified” Rom 2:13 KJV

    If they are a law unto themselves and show the law written in their hearts; how did they receive the Gospel? The text seems to imply they’ve never received Old or New covenant, could this be infused through what Augustine would call Divine Illumination and does Lutheranism have something like this in its theology?

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    1. This is a great passage because those passages (14-15) also refer to the conscience. Justified as God is partially revealed in nature so the natural conscience partially reveals the law, so all the world including the gentiles are without excuse, and have broken the Law. There are whole driving point is to strip the conscience of any self righteousness. Just as when he says “the doers of the law shall be justified”. Who has kept the law? Not I. I am convicted of sin. Only Christ has kept that Law and thus, by faith, I am justified and have been credited with keeping the Law.

      Lutherans believe the Gospel only comes externally through the Word and Sacraments (because they contain the Word). We are objective in our faith.

      Hope I answered your question. The conversion is greatly welcome. Thanks for commenting. Merry Christmas!

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      1. Minor spelling error.. the word Justified autocorrected.. that sentence nshould read “Just as God is partially revealed in nature so the natural conscience partially reveals the law, so all the world including the gentiles are without excuse, and have broken the Law.”

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      2. So would you say in regards to gentiles, Paul is speaking more toward natural law (conscience: moral evil) and what you mean by Law is God’s law through Divine Revelation? The call to baptism etc. ? Am I following you correctly?

        Catholics are actually not as uniform on this point as many would believe. The difficulty that Scoop alluded to is that we use different language, so I’m trying to understand the terminology. In Catholicism, there is what’s called Molinaism, which is that God respects our radical free will and he gratuitously offers us salvation and the person moves toward God or doesn’t.

        Dominicans articulate that since God is existence—he has to exist within our will for it to be sustained—so through prevenient grace, sanctifying grace, and sacramental grace (perseverance) our souls are transformed (fused)

        The latter understanding is a development from Augustine, although
        Augustine would say that Baptism is needed for salvation in On Nature and Grace. Augustine explains “No one is excepted, not because we all believe in him and are cleansed through his baptism, but because no one is justified unless he believes in him and is cleansed by his baptism. (On Nature and Grace, 41.) I think you would agree with Augustine?

        Scoop, I’ve actually been wrestling with these points for awhile, What is interesting here is that Augustine’s position Fr. Feeney is closer than Henri De Lubac and Feeney was censured by Pius XII. In fact, Augustine repudiates the common De Lubac understanding that seems to be the Vatican II and current RCC understanding:

        “But are a free will and the natural law sufficient for us to know this? This is the “wisdom of speech” by which “the cross of Christ is made void.” (On Nature and Grace, 40)

        Balthasar and De Lubac are irreconcilable with Augustine.

        Btw. Douglas, any surprise Catholics are not in agreement on the matter? Does LCMS have any theological debates like this or is it a pretty settled tradition?

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      3. Lutherans stand apart. We do not cooperate with our justification. We distinquish between justification and sanctification in regards to our cooperation.

        Lutherans firmly believe in monergism. Even apart from most Protestants who like to attribute their salvation to thier decision for God and thier own faith. They usually fail in their consistency of doctrine of salvation by grace apart from works. They turn faith into a work.

        Lutherans on the other hand stand firm on grace and faith being a gift. We have no choice in our salvation, Word comes, makes alive, but we can choose to reject faith once regenerated.

        In short, it’s God work if we are saved, it’s our work if we be damned.

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      4. What is interesting is your last statement:

        “In short, it’s God work if we are saved, it’s our work if we be damned.”

        Most Catholic, if not all, that I’ve heard phrase it in the same way. Even though we’d hold that we cooperate with Sola Gratia.

        So, you say that Lutherans stand apart. That’s an interesting statement because it seems you separating yourself from other Sola Scriptura Protestants. So, where did this standing apart come from/develop? Does it explain somewhere in Luther’s Small Catechism, Augsburg Confessions, or something Melanchthon wrote? I guess I’d like to see development of the position. Is this something they pulled from Scripture or a synthesis from a Church Father like Athanasius Ambrose or Augustine—all of which I’ve heard LCMS pastors speak highly.

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      5. Lutherans believe, teach, and confess that it is God’s work that we are saved and we do not merit grace of any kind. We don’t have a doctrinal statement of grace by faith but then preach and believe something different; like my examples of the Protestants.

        Where lutherans stand apart is that we don’t limit Christ’s atonement for sins.

        If one sins and repents; no works make up for those sins… This is holy absolution; no works, no satisfactions, only the pure forgiveness of Christ.

        This can be found all over the book of Concord, I recommend the apology of the Augsburg confession. I post on this as well.

        Lutherans stand apart in our interpretation of Scripture as well. Scripture interprets Scripture and where Protestants believe in Sola Scriptura on paper, in practice it is different. Pieper calls this the ego interpretation. They assert reason over Scripture. I will be posting on this in the future but Piepers dogmatics vol 1 is an excellent read on this.

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      6. Thanks for the comments. I’m learning a lot here. Hope others are or will too.

        So, do you have any posts or can have future posts here about how your synod works? Do you confess the Augsburg or something? I know that there’s an elder system set up at your churches and there’s your president Matthew Harrison(I think I have that right) but I suppose that’s where my knowledge ends.

        I listen to Issues Etc. It’s probably the best news source, for small “o” orthodox Christians around. It’s usually pretty fair to all traditions of Christianity and I really like Terry Mattingly’s work. So you guys do good work there, my hat off to you.

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  4. Phillip & Douglas.
    “St. Augustine said, “What have you that you did not receive” from God? ( 1 Cor. 4:7). Nothing, of course. St. Augustine said, “When God crowns our merits, He crowns nothing other than His own gifts.” So merits, or a good life, are gifts of God. How then could He use as a basis of predestination something we will not have unless He gives it? Again, impossible.”

    “. . . To sum it up, predestination is determined without consideration of merits or good living; reprobation is decided with or because of consideration of demerits, resistance of grace.”

    ” . . . How much resistance to grace will bring reprobation? We can hazard a guess. It is the amount which will bring spiritual blindness that makes us incapable of even perceiving that God is calling us by His grace, at a particular moment, to do His will. If we cannot even perceive His call, the rest of the process cannot happen either. Such blindness comes from repeated sinning, especially from sinning in presumption, in the attitude that says, “I will get my fill of evil, and then later tell God that I wish I had not done it.” But would there be a real repentance, that is, a real wish not to have done it, when it was all planned that way?125 Further, it is conceivable that God might send death and the resultant Hell, after one mortal sin, to a man whom He foresees would sin even to blindness if allowed to live a full lifespan. That would be mercy to the man himself, for his eternal ruin would be less after one sin, and also to others, who would not be corrupted by him.”

    “. . . We now return to the Doctrinal Position of the Missouri Synod of Lutherans, “As to the question why nat all men are converted and saved, seeing that God’s grace is universal and all men are equally corrupt, we confess that we cannot answer it.”

    “. . . We hope that they may be pleased with the alternative solution that God does indeed save us without our earning it (predestination without merits). But He never reprobates blindly; He does it only because of, and in consideration of our great existence to His grace.

    These are simply some experts from a much longer chapter on Predestination and God’s Grace from Fr. Wm. Most’s book, Catholic Apologetics Today.

    It is a mystery to me that in light of the above that God would be a tyrant and know whom He will save and whom He will reprobate without looking at a mans cooperation with the Grace that He gives all men to be saved; desiring them to be saved. What criteria, other than our actions, and our own demerits (or non-cooperation with Grace) does God judge a soul?

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    1. I think that the willful act of living in sin, refusing repentance, is one of a non-believer. Scripture warns in many places of falling away. It is imperative and essential that justification be kept separate from sanctification or any works.

      Faith produces works, fruit of repentance comes from the seed of faith from the Gospel. Fruit doesn’t produce the seed the seed produces the fruit.

      Staying in faith, reaching out to God, meriting grace, from our works is to claim that I have done something and now God owes me. I shutter to think of the poor soul who thinks his works have merited more favor than that of Christ Crucified. Who would claim that they have more righteousness and favor than God in the flesh? If we could merit grace then Christ is useless.

      As for the last paragraph, I dare not try to pry into the mind of God further than what He has revealed in His Holy word. I must say that He desires all to be saved this salvation is his alone, and that those who perish do so because God allows them to have what they want.

      How does God judge a soul? All are damned apart from faith in Christ. To reject faith is to commit the unforgivable sin, to sin against the Spirit. Unbelief, a rejection of the gift of faith, is the only thing we can do; and this is only AFTER one has been given faith. We are all dead in sins. Faith is a gift given, the person is alive, that person had nothing to do with coming to life but one can decide to end that spiritual life. Much like our human life, you had no say in your creation but you can take it away.

      My stance on justification is that one cannot merit grace from God. This is where Christianity stands apart from all other religions; God owes us nothing for our works. God isn’t moved to merit grace because of our love or work. Apart from faith it is impossible to please Him because Christ is meditator. This is why the Gospel is so sweet to the soul. The conscience isn’t in turnmoil trying to mediate to God, but that God has done all. The new works, the fruit, comes from this not the Fruit trying to create or sustain the seed.

      Hope this helps. I am unsure if we are talking about the same thing because sometimes, when we use the same words but define them differently, it can sow confusion. For example, nothing is more aggravating than witnessing to a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness; many things said have agreement but what is behind the words there is disagreement.

      I like the discussion, it is nice to meet you Scoop.

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  5. Nice to meet you as well Douglas. Yes, it is difficult at times perhaps because of language and terms to fully understand one another.

    For instance, you state: “Staying in faith, reaching out to God, meriting grace, from our works is to claim that I have done something and now God owes me.” Yet no Catholic would say that he ever merits grace as we merit nothing: God’s grace is a free gift but with a stipulation that we cooperate with grace via our free will. God will not violate out free will anymore than he did with Christ’s mother. He asked her for a “yes” and she cooperated with this Grace via Her famous fiat.
    Without that fiat, God would not be “asking” but demanding as a tyrant; making the Holy Spirit’s overshadowing no better than a forced rape in human terms.

    We speak of “merit” of men as a grace given to men by God in order to reconcile with him. We feel shame like we would if I disobey my earthly father when I should “merit” his favor by obedience for love of him. It is like the two brothers; one who says he will not do as his father wishes but then does it and the one who says that he will o as his father wishes and does not do it. We know which one did the will of God and they both knew that they should be obedient and honor their father. That is why the law itself is God, speaking grace and delivering that grace to those of “good will”. There will be those who are tempted to disobey even though they have faith. Thus comes shame and remorse and the possibility of using the grace or merit that God has given us to reconcile. We can trip while carrying our crosses as Christ tripped. But the grace is always there to help us pick ourselves up and continue on. This is what a Catholic calls merit. It is a grace given to us by God to reach our final destination and happiness as God intended.

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    1. You had also mentioned free will. If we are dead in tresspasses and sins then we have no free will in spiritual matters. We do have free will in earthly matters, who to marry, where to live, what career to choose, what car to buy etc. But the carnal mind is an enemy of God. Original sin places us in spiritual death and there is no free will in spiritual matters. There are many passages on this matter as well as condemned heresy’s such as Palagianism. For a solid biblical Lutheran view on this the bookofconcord.org is a good place as well as Luther’s Bondage of the Will. Our spiritual will is bound to sin, death, and the devil until made alive in Christ by the Gospel. Good stuff.

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  6. A Lutheran hears “God’s grace is a free gift gift BUT with a stipulation that we cooperate with grace via our free will”as meriting grace. If salvation is based on your cooperation then it is no longer grace but merited.

    Blessed Mary was already alive in faith(justified) before her faith was shown in works (new obedience/sanctification)

    This is why I said it is imperative that we keep those doctrines separate. Works come from a person already justified.

    For a lutheran, the only work nor merit for justification, is that of Christ. This comes by the Spirit through the Word and Sacraments (because the Word is attached) and it is not our acceptace. You had no acceptance on your earthy life, you have none with your spiritual life.

    This is where Lutherans truly stand out from everyone else. Many other Protestants attribute their salvation by their choice of acceptance, turning the gift of faith into a work that they do and must sustain by themselves.

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  7. Douglas, not being a theologian or highly educated in such things (the most pedestrian of fallen men) I think that if my understanding of your thought is correct then the following might follow:

    After Christ accomplished our redemption by securing redemptive grace for all men through His sacrifice on the Holy Cross (not His Will but His Father’s Will be done) all was accomplished. And if all is accomplished and man has nothing to do with his salvific role by cooperation, then there is no reason to be given life on earth or supernatural life in the sense of Faith. Should we not simply have regained Heaven (a new heaven and a new earth) at that moment forward in history?

    For if I have not use of my natural human will (upon which lies the fact that everything I accomplish or do relies on my willing it) then why not in spiritual life as well? I did nothing to gain life, as you rightly state, and nothing to gain redemption in the supernatural life then your position as to the uselessness of our human will makes no sense and it makes no sense why God would give us a free will to make choices (which are good or bad . . . meritorious or demeritorious). Why hide Himself from us now that our salvation is sure? Now that our resistance to His Holy Will is not necessary?

    In such a case we are all forever saved. Or the other solution is that God has predestined that some of us will go to Heaven and others to hell. It seems, in the order of Grace that we MUST accept the gift rather than use our will to accept it. So God could simply give life to us in Heaven who are the elect and save the others from eternal torment by denying them life.

    I’m a simple man, as were most of the apostles until Saul was converted. I think common sense has to appeal to men of little to no education . . . just as they honor their natural fathers and mothers or are supposed to and as written in our hearts and in the Law. Natural law it seems to me appeals to mankind for it is necessary to reach every great goal in our life (or end for which we think we were made) and is accomplished and accepted according to the grace of our free will. In that case we can cooperate with grace or deny grace according to the use of our will. Our knowledge and understanding are only given to us to inform and habituate the use of this will. But our will must be the final word as to whether or not we persevere or fall away from the faith or even come to faith in the first place. Some will not ever hear the gospel in this world. I wonder why they should be so handicapped and what their purpose is in being given life only to denied the Gospels and the inescapable Grace that God has given all men? Such things are a conundrum unless the will or the use of those without faith is somehow useful to us in attaining the Grace of salvation.

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    1. I hope I am understanding correctly, I will do my best to try to answer.

      If all is done why isnt there a new heaven and new earth? We ought not to confuse Christ’s first coming with his second coming. He will come again to judge. Why hasn’t He done this? He is merciful and patient, He is still creating life. If His first coming were a child of Eve then heaven wouldn’t be very large, His will was for mankind to multiply. I cannot answer more than this without abandoning Scripture as the source and norm and placing my sinful reasoning above what God has said.

      Your life is lived for God’s will. He wills you to follow the 10 commandments in faith, as is also echoed in the Lord’s Prayer. Love and serve your neighbor, baptize and teach. This again, doesn’t merit your justification, but because you are justified with Christ’s righteousness, and God has no need of your works, you are free to serve your neighbor Now that you are now free from meriting anything from God, you can love and serve everyone else because you have been loved by God.

      As you continue into some Calvinist ideas of predestination, this is a good example of how our sinful nature wants to speak for God. There are things He hasn’t revealed and I cannot speak for God for His thoughts are not mine, and I need not to blaspheme His name by asserting my ideas as His Word.

      If our will were the final word of attaining and preserving our faith; we would all will our way to hell.

      The will is bound, Jesus says we are children of Satan, and gives many examples of this in binding the strong man to rob the house, and Romans 1-3 is clear, as well as all of Scripture.

      The Spirit brings and keeps us in the faith, as Scripture, and the third article of the Creed’s attest to.

      Theological discussion is one thing but I do not think that is what brings clarity to works apart from faith. The Gospel is what makes faith alive, it is what gives the “Aha moment” of I am so lost and condemned that God had to die in order to justify me and I was so bound to Satan that I wouldn’t know God doesn’t hate me if it weren’t for His Word telling me what He did for me and that He loves me.

      The natural state of man is spiritual death, it knows there is a God, knows it has wronged God, and trys to run from God or make it’s own merits to appease God; the will is spiritually bound and dead.

      Only through the Gospel is their life and salvation, God didn’t go through the trouble of dying so that you could add some work to it, even if that work is a decision, a circumcision, or anything that would try to set itself up in Christ’s place as mediatior between God and man.

      I too am a simple man, and that is why I only share what God has revealed in His word and not my own ideas or reasoning.

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  8. “God didn’t go through the trouble of dying so that you could add some work to it, even if that work is a decision, a circumcision, or anything that would try to set itself up in Christ’s place as mediator between God and man.”

    Nobody is ‘adding some work” to the Action of Christ . . . I guess that is what I am trying to understand within our conversation. The work is to believe in the face of an unbelieving world and to love Him through faith to weep when we have failed to live up to His expectations of His desire for our lives . . . an eternity of happiness lived with Him forever. The use of will is required to live in a certain way. Everyday we can choose to do evil or good. Even good people are tempted to evil and must rely on the grace of God to withstand the tests sent our way. Without these tests we would never know if we are gaining in holiness or falling away . . . which we all do. But the will can overcome our passions and our desires if we accept the grace and we can succumb if we do now use our wills as God intended . . . to choose Him as He knows us better than we know ourselves and what is good for us. That is trust and our will is attracted to truth though the mind is willing but the body is not weak. We often take the easy way. When we make the wrong choice God does not give up on us and we are left with the opportunity to pick up our lives and get back on track. It is a matter of denying oneself, taking up your cross and following Him. It is harder than it sounds and we make mistakes but hopefully we keep improving in holiness and make fewer and fewer mistakes. It is a process. It is the training of the will to be in concert with the Will of God. Nobody in heaven has a will that differs from God. The fallen angels that did were swept from heaven long ago.

    At least that is what I understand.

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  9. Brother Scoop. As I have gone back to re read the entirely of our conversation it seems that what has started as a discussion of cooperation in conversion has now changed into cooperation in sanctification. These nare two different and distinct doctrines where cooperation differs.

    My stance has been discussing meriting grace in anything, we don’t merit grace in any doctrine of God. We do not cooperate in our conversion, or justification.

    We do have some small cooperation in our sanctification but only as far as a gnat helps an ox pull a cart. Without the Spirits work we can’t budge. So, the grace given in our daily repentance is not merited either but given as a gift flowing from the Gospel.

    I hope this has helped us clear up our conversation. Conversations can become very confusing when topics are interchanged. I hope I’ve summarized better as to what I was discussing.

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  10. I think so Douglas, though I may still be confused . . . as I say, I am simple man of simple faith. Some of these things almost strike me like questions of how many angels can sit on the head of a pin, 🙂

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