Each chapter in The Romance of Grace has a few questions for discussion at the end. I’m going to post them individually with a few of my thoughts so that over time some online discussion might develop. Asking the right questions is an important key to developing a robust and sound understanding of our faith.
And He [Jesus] said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:23–24 ESV). How does that work in conjunction with the message of this chapter? Does it invalidate it?
Here is an ancillary question that goes along with this. Is this verse at odds with the idea that we are justified by the blood of Jesus plus nothing? Is taking up our cross daily and following Jesus part of our salvation? If we don’t, will we lose our life? In other words, are we justified through faith in the love which God has towards us (1 John 4:10,16) which He has demonstrated in Christ and Him crucified, or are we justified through taking up our cross daily and following and losing our life for His sake? Are these at odds or in harmony?
The connection I was trying to make is this: what is the connection between the parable of the treasure, the parable of the pearl, and taking up our cross daily? Is there a connection?
Here is a possible thought: belief in Christ is denying ourselves and taking up our cross and following Him. We give up on our own self-justification schemes and our ability to love successfully, and completely rely upon His strength and love and justification. Now I’m hoping to hear your thoughts!
Jim – good question
I think at the bottom, it is the question that all of us have…is simple faith in Christ enough or do I have to be sanctified to a ceratin level before I can have assurance? I struggle with this constantly. I have read things on assurance from Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon and others that state the only way to have assuarnce is to look to Christ, not to the hand that holds Him. I think it was Gerhard Forde who wrote something similar to your statement that justification is taking up our cross – dying to self, the self that wants so deperately to find reason for assurance within. As Steve Brown said, “if this grace thing isn’t true, I’m in trouble. And so are you”. That is where I hang my hat at the end of the day.
I think that it is important to know that if the Word made flesh had any main message, it was that He came to die for sinners. His blood is central to our faith, and we dare not say it is insufficient to justify us. As the writer of Hebrews says, we must pay much closer attention to so great a salvation. The more our attention is drawn away from our sanctification and our hope is placed squarely upon our justification, the more we take up our cross and die, and Christ lives through us. We enter our rest. So, you’re right on!
Grace in Christ is foolish and beautiful and of very great power! Amen!