This entry was posted on Thursday, October 16th, 2008 at 7:43 pm and is filed under Polls. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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We have to be careful with the wording, though.. :)
When the rich young ruler came to Christ asking what he needed to do to inherit eternal life, the first call he received from his would-be Lord was a call to repentance. Repentance from sin and faith towards Christ are two sides of the same coin of salvation. John the Baptist was the forerunner to Christ’s ministry for that purpose: repentance precedes salvation. Do we ever have full and complete repentance? No, and that is not a requirement of salvation; faith is. But where a person is cherishing sin in his/her heart — can it be said they truly came to Christ, the holy One? It is not the forsaking of sin in *entirety* which is at issue (for that is impossible — sanctification is a process): it is the *refusal* to deny self and sin to come to Christ. Such a person is deceiving themselves.
Are we speaking of the act of forsaking as a good work? Does “forsake” mean to live without committing sin?
Paul spoke about his struggle against the flesh in Romans. I believe Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was a habitual sin, probably his temper.
Only 7 people out of 24 have voted no so far. Was this the result you were expecting? and is it the answer you agree with? :)
I wonder if I could just add this in response to the points made in Holly’s comment.
The tricky part of the wording (I thought, anyway) was “forsake sin in order to come to Christ for salvation”. Strictly speaking, the claim in the poll implies that the sinner needs to achieve this thing, of forsaking sin, before they can rightly contemplate coming to Christ for salvation. Again without wanting to sound too pedantic, it’s rather more ‘sound and orthodox’ to say that a sinner should go straight to Christ for salvation, without the least regard to whether they’re ready to do so or qualified to do so in terms of their breach with sin (ie whether in their own opinion, or when they measure themselves against some externally imposed benchmark).
Needless to say, this doesn’t mean that a person should be unconcerned about their sin. After all, the primary reason why they’re wanting salvation must presumably be related to their concern about their sin and guilt (and their dawning realisation that only Christ can deal with their sin and guilt, and that he will do so completely). And I think it’s perfectly true to say that it’s the refusal to deny self and sin that prevents a person coming to Christ. But a person simply can’t overcome that self-centredness and sinfulness before they come to Christ – the new sin-hating and self-denying heart is part of the gift that he gives to those who come to him. Too many people, perhaps, stumble and hesitate in their approach to Christ for salvation simply because they don’t have a clear idea that Christ saves sinners who are helpless and hopeless in their sin (not sinners who are already forsaking their sin).
(Or at least that’s how i understand it – open to correction in everything i’ve said here.)
Not sure if it’ll help, but something that Ralph Erskine said was at the back of my mind as i was writing that last comment.
“… a soul [convinced of sin] is encouraged to see no other qualification required of him to come to Christ and receive him, but just that he is lost, which he finds himself to be; and there is no other condition or qualification required, but that you be a lost man, a sinful miserable person. Some will offer Christ on such and such terms, saying, You must be so and so humbled, so and so penitent, before Christ can be offered to you; so that a man that finds himself a lost, sinful, unhumbled, impenitent, wretched creature, can never come to their hand, or meddle with what they offer; just like a man holding out a cup of excellent wine to his friend and offering him a drink, but in the meantime he hath made the wine scalding hot upon the fire, so as the man to whom the offer is made dare not touch it with his lips; even so many offer Christ and hold forth the cup of salvation to the people, but they heat the gospel liquor as it were red hot upon the fire of the law, I mean with so many legal terms, conditions, and qualifications, that the poor soul that finds himself a lost sinner, every way sinful, destitute of all good qualifications, dare not come near, and thinks he may not, he ought not to come near with his lips to taste it. We need be at no pains to hinder sinners from coming to Christ to receive the offer, for they are unwilling enough of themselves. Besides that, they will never have a good qualification till they come to him, and receive him, and all good in him.”
(Slightly more context here.)
Absolutely agree, Cath. It is the *desire* to forsake sin which is at issue, not the lack of completeness. Christ came “to save His people from their sins” — if a person desires to come to Christ, they must by necessity have some desire to be done with sin, some sense of hatred for the sin. What person willingly forsakes something they don’t disdain, at least on some elementary level? “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die” — a death to sin, a death to self, however “baby step” that first tottering step toward Christ may be.
Dear Holly, thanks for the kind and prompt response! I’ve been offline since I posted my last comment so haven’t read yours till today.
I think there are perhaps two issues at stake here. One would be the question of how “effectual calling” is experienced by the sinner coming to Christ for salvation. Speaking in that subjective/experiential context, your last comment is very true-to-life. It is a fact that sinners who are being savingly drawn to Christ will have a new and deep-rooted desire to forsake sin (one which is never fully realised in this life but which does grow, as time goes on, as they ‘die more and more unto sin, and live more and more unto righteousness’).
But the second issue i see here, which i think is what the poll was getting at, is i think more from the point of view of what kind of encouragement, or warrant, that sinner has for daring to approach Christ for salvation at all. For example, if the concerned sinner examines themselves, and can’t come to the conclusion that they even desire to forsake sin, do they still have any grounds for approaching Christ? And equally, if they examine themselves and think they do discern a desire to forsake sin, is that really what constitutes their grounds for approaching Christ for salvation? I think the soundest and most orthodox position is to say that there is nothing to be sought in or about the sinner to give them the right or the warrant to come to Christ for salvation. Regardless of how they are related to sin (and regardless of how they view themselves as related to their sin), strictly in order to come to Christ a person needs only the warrant of the promise of the scriptures – rather than any qualification of their own.
I voted ‘no’ in the poll, just in the interests of full disclosure :)
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