‘Do’… or ‘Done’ ?

 If Christian faith says ‘done’, and if Christian religion says ‘do’, then which one would require a guide?


But if you’re going to join the ‘done’ crowd (not much of a crowd, to look around at the American Christian landscape), you won’t need a guide. For done means… done. “It is finished” , actually means …it is finished.

“Oh, that’s just your justification.” Now you just cant’t live any way you want.”  I beg your pardon, I actually can live any way I want.

“Not as a Christian, you can’t!”

Sorry…wrong answer. You certainly can live any way you want as a Christian, and indeed you already do. (live anyway you want)

Each of us lives our lives exactly as he or she desires. We haven’t suddenly stopped our ‘sinful activity’ for a more righteous way of going about our daily lives.

You might have stopped (or cut down) cursing after you became a Christian, and that is a good thing, but you still commit a smorgasbord of sins in your daily walk with Christ.

“So what? What does that have to do with the price of eggs in Alaska, Mrs. Calabash?”

Just this… you want to walk and live in the Spirit of God? Then you don’t need a roadmap, the Spirit is the One who is driving. You want to take the wheel… then you’ll need a map, a compass, and a fuel gage. The Holy Spirit can crawl in the backseat and take a nap, while you focus on your endeavor.

If the Spirit of God cannot motivate you to live as God desires, then no guidebook will do the trick.

I’ve said this before, here on this blog and elsewhere, ‘you already know what to do’.

You know exactly what to do …you (and I) just flat out refuse to do it.

But the One who did do it…still does it!

He still works His love and forgiveness in us. He still still comes to us, does He not, in His Word and sacrament. He is not relegated to some act He did …way back there. He is not locked onto the pages of a book, with ink long ago dried.

Either the Word of God is living and active (as the book of Hebrews says)…or It is not.

If It is not, then you’d better get a hold of that guidebook for living, and you’d better get busy!


                              – Steve Martin

“Can we throw out the map, then? NO! There are clearly delineated thornbushes on the map that we ought stay out of. And we need to keep the map and refer to it often to realize that we are lost (because of  our unwillingness to trust the map maker), lest we delude ourselves that we are headed in the right direction.     


18 Responses

  1. “He still works His love and forgiveness in us.”

    Stevo……..Key word……”He” does it not you……….just accept the fact that youre not the driver.

  2. John,

    But I don’t want to except it!

    My dog wants to get into this fight! I must have something to do…or…I’ll burst! 😀

  3. “The Gospel is such wisdom that it teachers a far higher matter than that which is the wisdom, righteousness and religion in this world –
    and that is the free remission of sins through Jesus Christ. The world prefers its own righteousness – this the Gospel condemns, and so, the Gospel is viewed as a seditious doctrine against ‘god’ and emperor, which abolishes laws, corrupts good manners, and sets men at liberty to do what they please. Therefore, it is with zeal that those who see themselves as in service to ‘god’, abhor those who teach the Gospel as the greatest plague on earth”

    Dr Martin Luther on Galatians.

  4. St Steve!

    Dr Luther’s Heidelberg disputation is also a great resourse. Number 26:

    “The law says, “Do this,” and it is never done. Grace says, “believe in this,” and everything is already done.”

    Great post. We need the plague of the Gospel each and everyday.

    God’s peace. †

  5. Howard, David,

    Thanks fellas, for the awesome quotes from Dr. Luther.

    The gospel is the opposite of everything that ‘we know’ to be right and true. The gospel is right and true and yet we despise it, as we despise Him.

    But He loves us still.

    What a great God we have.

    – Steve

  6. Steve,
    Do you think it is impossible for the believer (so, with grace and divine aid) to keep the commandments?

  7. Hello John,

    I don’t think it is possible for anyone to get past the first commandment.

    And as St. Paul reminds us, if you’ve broken one…it’s as if you’ve broken them all. Game over.

    But, Christ is the end of the law for righteousness for all who believe. The 10 Commandments will not apply to Christians for their righteousness.

    That’s the ‘good news’!

    Anyway, that’s what I believe the scriptures tell us, and that is what I believe.

    What say you concerning the matter?

    Thank you, John!

    – Steve M.

  8. Hi Steve,
    Yes I can understand that perspective – it certainly seems reasonable. As for myself, I’m still mulling over the question as my previous posts have probably implied 🙂

    But I’m curious if you or any other readers know of any writers before the Reformation (aside from NT writers) who also held to such a view? Augustine in On Nature and Grace seems to believe God does not command impossibilities and so it would be possible to keep the commandments (with grace of course) – though he hesitates in asserting whether anyone actually has.

    I’m just kind of interested in the history of this view, perhaps it couldn’t really emerge until sola fide and its distinction between justification and sanctification was more systemized by the Reformers? I know the Reformers and their heirs often tried to marshall certain fathers/councils in their disputes on various doctrines so perhaps they did in this area as well?

    Really appreciating the blog and your posts, Steve – always good food for thought.

  9. John,

    I’m glad you are enjoying the ‘old Adam’ now and again.

    I appreciate you’re contributions to the some of the ideas we kick around here.

    Someone (on one of the blogs) compiled quite a list of quotes from the Church Fathers that had to do with Reformation theology (before the Reformation).
    I can’t remember who it was. I’ll do some asking around and see if I can come up with it and get it to you. It was pretty interesting stuff.

    Thanks very much, John!

    – Steve

  10. Right, Steve. I am aware of some of the citations used to try to find traces of sola fide in the fathers, such as in Buchanan’s work and the ones produced at http://www.apuritansmind.com/Justification/EarlyChurchJustification.htm which perhaps is what you had in mind, but maybe not since you broadened to “reformation theology” and not just sola fide.

    Whether those citations can really be used in support of sola fide is a different question, but I was driving more at the law/gospel view expressed on this blog and by other Lutherans mainly (I suppose some Calvinists share the same hermeneutic) about the impossibility of keeping the commandments and viewing such urgings in the NT as primarily law-driven. For instance, I wonder if anyone exegeted the Rich Young Ruler parable or the Sermon on the Mount or “if you love me, keep my commandments”, etc. etc. in such a way.

    Anyways, thanks for at least trying to find out – maybe we’ll find something interesting 🙂 Cheers.

  11. Just another thought – as you said, “I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to get past the first commandment”. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I presume the understanding is that anytime we sin (no matter the degree), we are essentially committing self-idolatry in a sense. Or, that since the 2 Great Commandments sum up the whole law, and all of the commandments stem from the First Commandment , anytime we fail to perfectly keep the 2GC, we are thus violating the 1C.

    Given that view, why do you think Paul lists explicit/specific sins in 1Cor 6:9-10 or Gal 5:19-20? Also, if we can perform good works that are accepted by God and not burned through fire, doesn’t that mean some of our acts are therefore not tainted by sin and so we can actually obey some commandments to a certain extent at least (progressing as we do in holiness/sanctification)?

  12. John,

    Thanks or the link to ‘A Puritan’s Mind’ (it’s about as close as I’ll ever come).

    I’m not sure wheher any of the Church Fathers exegeted the RYR or the SOM using the law/gospel paradigm. I’ll ask around and see if I can get some info. on that.

    On the not getting past square 1 (1st commandment) question, I do think you correctly understand the Lutheran view.

    I think those laundry lists of sins that Paul sites are just a way of showing what the life of the unbeliever (in the groups he was addressing) does indeed look like. Not that the believer does not commit one or all these sins after he is converted, but that He does not live in them. He does not give himself over to them, the way that an unbeliever does. Also, Paul uses the law in such a fashion as to kill off the ‘old Adam’, so that the gospel might be heard.

    In Romans 7 Paul lays it on the line and tells us exactly how well he is doing at keeping the law. I don’t really think he would call for other believers to do what he fully knew he could not.

    The works we perform that are accepted by God as truly ‘good’ are not our works. They are the works of the Spirit in us. ” He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.” The gifts of the Spirit are just that, gifts that come from Him. “All our righteous deeds are as filthy rags.” Any good work done apart from the Holy Spirit is a mortal sin…for it is tainted by ‘the self’ (even if it is imperceptable).

    Our progression (and we really have no way of judging it) is really the work of the Spirit and not our doing whatsoever.

    Anyway, that’s my take on it. It’s what I’ve learned in Bible study. I may be totally off base (it certainly wouldn’t be the first time…today!)

    Thank you John!

    – Steve

  13. stevo

    “And we need to keep the map and refer to it often to realize that we are lost (because of our unwillingness to trust the map maker), lest we delude ourselves that we are headed in the right direction.”

    Obviously if you really believe Christ is the driver, then you dont need your map. Now on the other hand, if your faith is not that strong, by all means get yours out.

  14. Hi John,

    I think you’ve got something there.

    When it comes to His forgiveness and His acceptance of us…you are absolutely right. We need no map.

    When it comes to our being able to get along in this world…we do. And I think we need the map to show us how lost we are.

    I really love your comment though, when looking at how we can be ‘good enough’ for God. No map will work on that score for we wouldn’t follow it anyway. Because Christ is the driver when it comes to our righteousness…we do not need the map.

    Nice one, John!

    – Steve

  15. “When it comes to our being able to get along in this world…we do. And I think we need the map to show us how lost we are.”

    Follow your logic Steve. If Christ took care of it, and this world isnt what its about, then it doesnt matter how I “get along” in it. If it is not based on my actions then it doesnt matter what I do here. Now if you are saying that what I do here affects my outcome then were talking a different ball game. So which is it, my doing, or Christs.

  16. John T.,

    You could commit murder 1,000 times each day, and adultery 5,000 a day, a kick puppies all day long…and still be forgiven by Christ.

    Does that answer your question?

    Now my question to you is, does what you do in this life make any difference at all?

  17. steve

    “Now my question to you is, does what you do in this life make any difference at all?”

    Obviously not.

  18. John T.,

    Too bad. What I do, does make a difference. Not for my righteousness sake (we’ve already beaten that horse to death), but for my neighbor.

    After all, that is why God put me here on earth…to serve my neighbor.

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