DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> The Contemporary Relevance of the Anabaptist Faith 3

The Contemporary Relevance of the Anabaptist Faith 3

Anabaptism

The following commentary addresses the third point advanced by Myron S. Augsburger in “The Contemporary Relevance of the Anabaptist Faith” (Brethren in Christ History and Life, August 2000), which is: “Celebrating Grace as a Dynamic Relationship with the Resultant Transformation of Life.”

Augsburger writes, “For the Anabaptists a central theme was Paul’s words, “If anyone is in Christ he/she is a new creation; old things have passed away and all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). The old was the life of self-centeredness transformed into a new life of Christ-centeredness. Anabaptist theology was not focused so much on freedom from guilt as on freedom in the new life in Christ (emphasis mine).

This morning, in our church service, we discussed legalism and lethargy and how both are seriously detrimental to one’s spiritual journey. Spiritual legalism and lethargy are twin sides of the same sad religious coin. Neither will take you anywhere good. The point is to rise above both and live somewhere far beyond the serious spiritual limitations accompanying each. That said, I also spent much time emphasizing the fact that we can do nothing to make God love us more or accept us more than he already does. There is nothing we can do to that will make God love us less. This was all settled by Jesus Christ. The Gospel is a 100% free gift; we need only embrace it by faith.

Yet, that does not mean we should use this scandalous freedom to do whatever we want to do. In fact, if we are truly “in Christ” we will not want to do such a thing. Those who are “in Christ” will not want to use their freedom as an excuse to do whatever they want to do. One who is living “in Christ” has centered his/her life in Christ, and are changed/changing in covenant with the Lord. If one is using their freedom in the Gospel to do whatever they want to do, then they are not “in Christ” and have exchanged the true Gospel for a lie.

The above excerpt from Augsburger seems to be in agreement. The Anabaptist focus upon the freedom in the new life in Christ, rather than freedom from guilt, includes a deep emphasis upon discipleship. Discipleship is a maturing process, but the Christian’s relationship with God is already settled. We can do nothing to make God love us more or less, but that does not exempt us from discipleship. We must use the freedom we have in Christ to grow in maturity in Christ and with one another. Spiritual legalism and lethargy have nothing to do with this, save thwarting the whole process and marking us for spiritual failure.

So, our relationship with God is settled in Christ Jesus. We are saved. We are children of God. It is settled, but children have to mature and grow. That is what discipleship is all about; that’s what what the freedom the Gospel provides us with is for. Our new life in Christ is a life of freedom and discipleship. Those living in Christ will produce the fruit of discipleship; those who are not will produce no fruit.

4 Comments

  1. Posted February 10, 2008 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    Shawn…this is refreshingly articulate about grace and sanctification. I personally needed to read this today. Thanks.

  2. Posted February 10, 2008 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    Peace and blessing to you, brother. :)

  3. Posted February 11, 2008 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Good summation of a paradoxical truth.

    For some reason, this brings to mind a quote from Martin Luther which goes something like - “Sin, and come boldly before the throne of grace.”

  4. Posted February 11, 2008 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    @Pistol Pete: Good morning, Pete! Yeah, I actually don’t see the paradox. Take the relationship I share with my children. It’s settled; I love them. They can do nothing to make me love them more or less, but there is a maturing process going in in our relationship that very much includes doing the right things, together. So, I’m not seeing a paradox, but dynamics inherent to relationships.

    I also don’t resonate at all with Luther’s seeming call to license sin w/ our freedom. I think Paul would seriously disagree with him.

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