- Tullian Tchividjian - http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tullian -

Time To Stop Looking In And Start Looking Up

Posted By Tullian Tchividjian On January 14, 2013 @ 8:44 am In Uncategorized | 45 Comments

[1]A shift has taken place in the Evangelical church with regard to the way we think about the gospel and it’s far from simply an ivory tower conversation. This shift effects us on the ground of everyday life.

In his book Paul: An Outline of His Theology [2], famed Dutch Theologian Herman Ridderbos (1909 – 2007) summarizes this shift which took place following Calvin and Luther. It was a sizable but subtle shift which turned the focus of salvation from Christ’s external accomplishment to our internal appropriation:

While in Calvin and Luther all the emphasis fell on the redemptive event that took place with Christ’s death and resurrection, later under the influence of pietism, mysticism and moralism, the emphasis shifted to the individual appropriation of the salvation given in Christ and to it’s mystical and moral effect in the life of the believer. Accordingly, in the history of the interpretation of the epistles of Paul the center of gravity shifted more and more from the forensic to the pneumatic and ethical aspects of his preaching, and there arose an entirely different conception of the structures that lay at the foundation of Paul’s preaching.

Donald Bloesch made a similar observation when he wrote, “Among the Evangelicals, it is not the justification of the ungodly (which formed the basic motif in the Reformation) but the sanctification of the righteous that is given the most attention.”

With this shift came a renewed focus on the internal life of the individual. The subjective question, “How am I doing?” became a more dominant feature than the objective question, “What did Jesus do?” As a result, generations of Christians were taught that Christianity was primarily a life-style; that the essence of our faith centered on “how to live”; that real Christianity was demonstrated foremost in the moral change that took place inside those who had a “personal relationship with Jesus.” Our ongoing performance for Jesus, therefore, not Jesus’ finished performance for us, became the focus of sermons, books, and conferences. What I need to do and who I need to become, became the end game.

To be sure, the Bible has plenty to say about our becoming like Jesus. But our transformation is a secondary theme. The primary theme of the Bible is Christ’s substitution–the fact that Jesus became like us. The modern church has sadly reversed the order. The focus of the Christian faith has become the life of the Christian.

Believe it or not, this shift in focus from “the forensic to the pneumatic”, from the external to the internal, has enslaving practical consequences.

When you’re on the brink of despair-looking into the abyss of darkness, experiencing a dark-night of the soul–turning to the internal quality of your faith will bring you no hope, no rescue, no relief. Too often our preaching (and our counseling) is the equivalent of giving a drowning man swimming lessons: “Paddle harder, kick faster.” We assume that people possess the internal power to get things right so we turn them in to themselves. But, as too many people already know, every internal answer will collapse underneath you. Turning to the external object of your faith, namely Christ and his finished work on your behalf, is the only place to find peace, re-orientation, and help. The gospel always directs you to something, Someone, outside you instead of to something inside you for the assurance you crave and need in seasons of desperation and doubt. The surety you long for when everything seems to be falling apart won’t come from discovering the dedicated “hero within” but only from the realization that no matter how you feel or what you’re going through, you’ve already been discovered by the “Hero without.” For certainty of faith, the believer must look outside himself to that word of the gospel: “the promise of forgiveness of sins and justification because of Christ.”

As Sinclair Ferguson writes in his book The Christian Life:

True faith takes its character and quality from its object and not from itself. Faith gets a man out of himself and into Christ. Its strength therefore depends on the character of Christ. Even those of us who have weak faith have the same strong Christ as others!

By his Spirit, Christ’s continuing subjective work in me consists of his constant, daily driving me back to his completed objective work for me. Sanctification feeds on justification, not the other way around. The gospel is the good news announcing Christ’s infallible devotion to us in spite of our lack of devotion to him. The gospel is not a command to hang onto Jesus. Rather, it’s a promise that no matter how weak your faith may be in seasons of spiritual depression, God is always holding on to you.

Martin Luther had a term for the debilitating danger that comes from locating our hope in anything inside us: monstrum incertitudinis (the monster of uncertainty). It’s a danger that has always plagued Christians since the fall but especially Christians in our highly subjectivistic age. And it’s a monster that can only be destroyed by the external promises of God in Jesus.

[3]Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is a bonafide peace that’s built on a real change in status before God—from standing guilty before God the judge to standing righteous before God our Father. This is the objective custody of even the weakest believer. It’s a peace that rests squarely on the fact that we’ve already been “reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (v. 10), justified before God once and for all through faith in Christ’s finished work. It will surely produce real feelings and robust action, but this peace with God that Paul describes rests securely on the work of Christ for us, outside us. The truth is, that the more I look into my own heart for peace, the less I find. On the other hand, the more I look to Christ and his promises for peace, the more I find.

So, when pressed in on every side, look up. In God’s economy, the only way out is always up, not in.

45 Comments (Open | Close)

45 Comments To "Time To Stop Looking In And Start Looking Up"

#1 Comment By Roger Wilkening On January 14, 2013 @ 11:42 am

As I proceed therefore I am.

#2 Comment By bruce mercer On January 14, 2013 @ 1:13 pm

thank you. we tend to forget and want to establish our own righteousness & the end result is either legalism or saints leaving

#3 Comment By John Thomson On January 14, 2013 @ 2:17 pm

Both are a work of grace. We should not make them in competition. Sanctification is predicated on justification and rises naturally from it and justification is with a view to sanctification and its end, glorification. Neither justification nor sanctification is the goal or end… this is glorification.

Romans 5, makes this clear:

Rom 5:1-5 (HCSB)
Rom 5:1; Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.Rom 5:2; We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.Rom 5:3; And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance,Rom 5:4; endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.Rom 5:5; This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.Rom 5:1-5 (HCSB)
Rom 5:1; Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Justification has as its end glorification by the route of sanctification. Where we make justification everything or sanctification everything we have truncated the gospel.

‘So, when pressed in on every side, look up. In God’s economy, the only way out is always up, not in.’

With this I largely agree (especially in the context of pressed in on every side). There is a time to look in, however, the chief method of sanctification is not to look in but to look out and up with that I totally agree.

#4 Comment By Scott Leonard On January 14, 2013 @ 2:30 pm

There is a very interesting subtlety here. While we can never get enough of the objective fact that it is all of grace, all of faith in the finished work of the cross, much reformed teaching falls short of what Paul hammers away at in Romans. Once he has established our justification, he drills down, in great detail, to the liberating truth of our union with Christ, and specifically to what he summarizes in Romans 8:13, where he says, “…if YOU, by the SPIRIT, are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, you will live!” He goes into great detail all through Romans 6&7, to establish the basis for walking in newness of life, which only began at justification, when our sins were dealt with at the cross and we were forever declared righteous. But Paul moves to showing in chs 6&7 how WE also died at the cross, having been placed in UNION with Christ, so that we are no longer legally bound to continue sinning and are able to mine the riches of the glorious mystery, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col 1:27) Both Gal 2:20 and Galatians 5 show that WE are to learn to WALK by depending TOTALLY on the Holy Spirit WITHIN us: “But I say, WALK BY the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:16-18, 25 ESV)

Paul makes staggering statements to show the extent to which grace has gone: He not only says twice in Romans 7 that “it is no longer I who sins”, but in Romans 8:9, he says “you are NO LONGER in the flesh, but are IN the Spirit.” Talk about taking a believer out of the doldrums!!

#5 Comment By Scott Leonard On January 14, 2013 @ 2:44 pm

Here is the key: All of it was done by Christ, none of it was done by me, none of it has to earned or worked for. It is why Paul asks the Galatians this very specific question, that points both to the very issue of legalism AND the means to sanctification: “Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? “(Galatians 3:2, 3 ESV)

#6 Comment By theoldadam On January 14, 2013 @ 3:30 pm

Nice one, Scott!

#7 Comment By Brad On January 14, 2013 @ 6:42 pm

Hi Tullian,

This is a random question: Could you point me to anything that you have written on evangelism and declaring the gospel to non-believers?


#8 Comment By Scott Leonard On January 14, 2013 @ 7:55 pm

I I think there is some great stuff in Jesus + Nothing, though it is not specifically evangelism instructions.

#9 Comment By Kyle On January 14, 2013 @ 10:52 pm

“But our transformation is a secondary theme…” Really? Maybe I’m not reading you correctly, but redemption applied is a “secondary theme”?

#10 Comment By MofKREMP On January 15, 2013 @ 2:46 am

“It will surely produce real feelings and robust action, but this peace with God that Paul describes rests securely on the work of Christ for us, outside us.”

So, if one doesn’t show forth any robust actions, then??
Is one a weed then?

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#12 Comment By Mario On January 15, 2013 @ 6:44 am

“The gospel always directs you to something, Someone, outside you instead of to something inside you for the assurance you crave and need in seasons of desperation and doubt. The surety you long for when everything seems to be falling apart won’t come from discovering the dedicated “hero within” but only from the realization that no matter how you feel or what you’re going through, you’ve already been discovered by the “Hero without.”

Facing a period of darkness and existential doubt i have to ask myself and you Tullian (although i think the article is great): how does that work? It was John Bunyan who was writing in his “Grace abounding to the chief of sinners” that to himself the existential doubts about Gods existence and the truth of the Gospel took away the ground his feet were standing on.
So how is it possible to gain trust in something you actually doubt, although you don´t want to doubt it?

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#14 Comment By Mitchell Hammonds On January 15, 2013 @ 11:04 am

Great question! I have for several years thought about the exchange between Jesus and Thomas, specifically where Thomas doubts unless he sees and touches the risen Christ. Then Christ shows up for Thomas’ sake but says something I have been intrigued by… “…have you believed because you have seen? Blessed are those who believe and have not seen.” I completely understand the struggle with doubt. This is why I champion what Tullian is attempting to do at TGC. It is also the reason I find much comfort in the Sacramental nature of the church… the gospel in tangible forms. I think Calvin was much more sacramental than most Calvinist today and much more so than many of his critics give him credit for (just my opinion from reading him). I think “belief” is hard on good days… sometimes impossible on others. Thank God it isn’t dependent on my abilities to even do that. My life boils down to this: “God exists… I’m convinced of it. He has promised to be merciful… I need it.” His promise of mercy is all I’ve got and he proved it by dying and rising. How do I know it’s applied to me on those “impossible days?” I would say now by baptism… communion… hearing the words from someone else “You are forgiven for Christ’s sake.” Not because I earned it or performed some proof-giving act for it. It’s kind of like being married in that I don’t have to go to my marriage license to prove (even to myself) that I’m married… I simply live. All analogies fail at some point I realize but I think in the end one gets to actually live. Good works, faith, fruit in keeping with repentance? It’s all gift… promised to be there because God said it would be. I really think those verses were given to encourage rather than cause us to go introspective to find it so we could really know. We can know because God always keeps His word. It’s that easy… if I can say out of the other corner of my mouth. In fact it’s so easy that on that day none of us will have an excuse!

#15 Comment By Serene On January 15, 2013 @ 11:35 am

This is the issue that I have, a theme I keep hearing over and over. How to KNOW if you’re saved. “Can a person truly be saved and do _____?” “Well they got saved and baptized and were consistent for a while but then they just stopped, I guess they really weren’t saved to begin with” All the “evidence” that we look to of salvation is ultimately what we are trusting in, is it not? If I have to DO anything to PROVE I’m saved, then it’s THOSE things that have saved me. If my life is to show and prove that I’m saved, there’s no hope!! When people say that there has to be some change in your life if you’re REALLY saved, I’m always thinking, “Okay, then WHAT exactly do I need to do?” And if there’s an answer to that, then salvation is Jesus + those things. Jesus himself even answered this question when his disciples came and asked him what works did they need to be doing to do the works God requires. And Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” We love our check lists and our PROOF, but faith is believing WITHOUT proof. Our proof is that Christ died for us. It really truly is finished! Serene

#16 Comment By Ken Garrett On January 15, 2013 @ 12:45 pm

Encouraging reminder! When I began to see the distinctions between viewing the gospel as “God saved me, and is making me better” and “God saved me, saves me, and will save me–no matter what” it was a real game-changer for me in every aspect of my life. THANK YOU, Tullian!

#17 Comment By John Dunn On January 15, 2013 @ 1:25 pm

Since Christ is the Last Adam (1 Cor 15:45) and the fulfillment of of Adam’s type (Rom 5:14) we must see Jesus as the one who has come to reverse the Fall. And what was the Fall? Adam fell from the perfect Sabbath rest that God had entered into after finishing his “very good” creation on the 7th day. Adam was a partaker of God’s Rest. And though he tended the Garden of Rest, all his works were easy and light. All was provided for him in super abundance.

But Adam wasn’t satisfied in his Rest. He covetously put forth his hand to become as God. To work as God worked. To possess God’s wisdom. To know “good and evil”. He wanted to become the God-Man!!! He despised and forsook God’s Rest, by partaking of the Law-Tree. So Adam got exactly what he desired. Law-work, Law-knowledge became Adam’s curse. Discovering he was naked, he proudly began to labour under the Law, sewing his self-righteous fig leaf coverings together. He hid in the Garden as God approached, despising God, afraid that God’s piercing gaze would discover his self-sufficient hypocrisy and creaturely inability to vindicate (cover) himself.

O Adam! Forsaking your rest in God to pursue a law-righteousness of your own futile creation . . . you did not submit yourself to God’s righteousness . . . to the Living Word who was with God in the beginning . . . to Him who held the only right to become the God-Man. The Law opened your eyes to discover your own nakedness and to manifest your own God-rejecting self righteousness, but it blinded your eyes to Him!

But through Jesus Christ, our faithful Last Adam and true God-Man, we have been redeemed by the blood of his cursed Law Tree. He became nakedness in our place. The curse of the Law is now removed and reversed forever, for those who are *in* Him. His work was fully completed when He cried, “It is finished.”

Therefore, if we are *in* this new Adam by faith, then we have entered into his finished works, into Him. Jesus is the Sabbath Rest of our redemption, of this glorious New Creation that he has established in us (2 Cor 5:17, Gal 6:15).

Our only work then is to Rest in Him, in his finished works. And being *in* Him by faith, and His resurrection-life working powerfully in us (by the Spirit), means that we begin to partake in the delightful *new* work of tending to his redeemed Garden (His Body/Kingdom).

Our Rest is Jesus. And all our labours for Him are now the easy toils of Eden restored. No more labouring with hard toil under the Law, seeking to tailor our own fig-leaf coverings! His crucified nakedness became our covering!

Let us now walk by the Spirit, allowing Jesus to live and work in us/through us for the building of His Body. To the praise and glory of His grace alone.

Walk in the new life of the Spirit!

#18 Comment By Scott Leonard On January 15, 2013 @ 2:15 pm

Amen, John Dunn! We have just one thing to do, and that is to believe, which is resting in faith, and that enables us to “walk in the Spirit.” This then, is tied to Paul’s injunction in Romans 6 to “let not sin reign in your mortal BODY, but present yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead, and your members (of your BODY) as instruments of righteousness.” That is summarized in Paul’s simple statement in 8:13, “…If you, by the Spirit, put to death the deeds of the body, YOU will live!” We are new creatures, in which there is no condemnation (the Fall made us sinners, the cross and resurrection made us righteous). We live in yet unredeemed bodies, waiting for that day when Jesus returns and our bodies will then match our spirits–”the redemption of our BODY” (Romans 8:23)

The amazing phenomenon/meaning of our union with Christ is grossly underestimated in even the best of circles, I suspect! (How could we fully comprehend that?)

#19 Comment By Aaron On January 15, 2013 @ 8:39 pm

Serene, the issue is not that we have to do works to be saved. The issue is what does true saving faith produce. Yes, we trust in Jesus Christ alone to be saved but to imply that we are never to look to the works that Christ does through us as evidence of our salvation is a misconception according to 1 John 2:3 which says that we KNOW that we have come to know Him IF we keep His commandments. So the idea that our works play no role at all in our assurance is to completely ignore the promise of this passage. This in no way suggests or means that we are trusting in our works at all. It means that we are trusting in Christ who produces the works in us and through us.(Philippians 2:12-13)

Also, you take issue with someone who has a concern over someone who makes a profession of faith and believes for a while but then turns away from Christ? Well, if you read the parable of the soils in Matthew 13, Mark 4 and/or Luke 8 you will see that Jesus addressed the fact that there are going to be people who believe for a while but then fall away and the implication is that they were not saved to begin with and 1 John 2:19 clearly illustrates and interprets these types of people so the concern is definitely justified in those circumstances. See also Hebrews 3:6 and 14.

#20 Comment By Justin Garcia On January 16, 2013 @ 3:13 pm

Great post Tulian! I completely agree. I once had a history professor in college who explained Calvinism as a works theology (He had grown up Presbyterian). As he understood it, the Puritans believed that in order to get to heaven one had to “prove” their salvation by their works, hence their Puritan work ethic. He did not see a distinction between Puritan theology and Roman Catholic. One faith had to earn salvation and another had to “prove” salvation.

While I do not think that my professor correctly understood Protestant theology I think he brought out the point that a Reformed understanding of salvation has to be very careful to sufficiently explain and understand the relationship between justification and sanctification. And I think Martin Luther shared this concern in his concept of “simmul justus et peccator” which means at the same time both justified and sinner.

#21 Comment By John Dunn On January 16, 2013 @ 8:16 pm

If I were a defense lawyer I would name my practice:
“Fig-Leaf ~ Tailor ~ Extraordinaire & Associates”.


Because guilty persons, when standing justly condemned by the full weight of the Law’s condemnation, will never own it, never repent, never seek God. Instead, they run from God. Their hardened hearts seek to justify themselves under the “fig-leaf” covering of their own self-righteous law-efforts. Pressed even further, they blame Eve. Who then in turn blames the Serpent.

Sinners don’t need to be chased with more Law. This just leads them deeper into their own hard-hearted self-righteousness and self-deception.

Instead, sinners need to be confronted and stunned . . . utterly broken and humbled with God’s dazzling, condemnation-destroying, substitutionary, emancipating, free and lavish Grace in Christ Jesus that issues forth out of the unsearchable depths of His love and mercy!

#22 Comment By Scott Leonard On January 17, 2013 @ 7:44 am

John, I love those words! But I must ask:Are you saying that there is no need for an evangelist to preach the law before he zeros in on the grace? Both are actually part of the gospel, right?

#23 Comment By Jim McNeely On January 17, 2013 @ 10:42 am

@Serene, you nailed it. Great insight. It is the blood of Christ plus nothing, or else the something is the real justifier, and the blood He shed was to no avail. Once you enter that place, you live from an entirely different dynamic than the fear of the punishment of the law. Thanks.

#24 Comment By John Dunn On January 17, 2013 @ 3:47 pm

@ Scott,

My short answer to that is no. I do not beleive we must preach law code to sinners, as something we “ought to have done”, “should have done”, “or should still strive to do”. But we do need to preach the law’s just condemnation and death, especially as it finds its horror displayed in the cross.

Adamic Israel was under the Law, representing the entire Gentile world in her fall under that covenant. But the Gentiles were never under obligation to obey that covenant. Nor are they (or Jews)today. For that covenant has been abolished in Christ.

But Adamic Israel sealed the whole world to a covenantal arraignment of Adam’s sin. Through Adam, sin entered into the world. But that sin was not covenantally counted and codified until Sinai (Rom 5).

So just as we are no under obligation to keep the boundaries of the Tree of Knowledge, so it is with the Old (Law) Covenant. Yet the wrath that was earned and covenantally sealed by the Adamic representatives has passed to all men, irrespective of their place under that covenantal regime of death and condemnation.

Preach the terrors of law-condemnation through the cross.

Preach the glories of law-emancipation through the cross.

#25 Comment By J Kirk Donovan On January 19, 2013 @ 1:45 pm

Unfortunately theology( and reformed at that) does not address the real issue, the reason for our salvation. Believers have no “reason” for the walk and warfare and hence turn into them selves, building up the “relationship” teaching of the modern church. It fails every time and resorts to “theology” to address issues which it cannot address. It leads to covenant thinking and amillennialism, the illegitimate offspring of the greatest heresy of all, Lordship salvation.

#26 Comment By Aaron On January 19, 2013 @ 2:23 pm

J. Kirk, I’d really like to know what your definition of “Lordship Salvation” is because when I look at what some people call “Lordship Salvation” I see biblical soteriology. At its core, what it teaches is that repentance of sin and submission to the Lordship of Christ are inherent in saving faith or belief which is clearly biblical. What is so heretical about that?!?!

#27 Comment By Scott Leonard On January 19, 2013 @ 4:47 pm

Two thoughts:
John Dunn, that was an awesome collection of words used to describe the work of the Law and its limits!

Second: Aaron, you nailed it. Many who object to that level the accusation of legalism, and yet the reality is, it is a total gift of God. And when He wakes a soul up and gives them sight and salvation, it is full salvation that recognizes Christ as Lord of all, full of repentance, joy and a heart to obey!

#28 Comment By Mitchell Hammonds On January 20, 2013 @ 8:58 pm

Ah yes! The old “I surrender all” motif. I remember those days all too well (thankfully they’re behind me). We all simply “obey” to the fullest measure (sarcasm note) (while I watch the Ravens and Patriots battle it out for the AFC Championship).

#29 Comment By Aaron On January 20, 2013 @ 10:33 pm

We in know way suggested that we all obey perfectly or “to the fullest measure” as you said. Of course we all still sin. However, Jesus did say that those who belong to Him do have a life that is directed toward obedience and surrender to His Lordship and that demonstrates their love for Him.(John 14:21) You may not want to accept this but that is what the Scriptures teach.

#30 Comment By Scott Leonard On January 20, 2013 @ 10:59 pm

Yes, Aaron, and the amazing thing is, you really don’t need to go into a lot of detail with a person about the in’s and out’s of Christ’s Lordship as you evangelize, because when God sovereignly saves them, the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ comes inside them, and their new heart cries “Abba” and “Master” at the same time. It is the sovereign gift of God, and they are like, “Duh! Of course He is Lord! What’s the controversy?” They will fall short of perfection the rest of their life, but if they were genuinely saved, the course of their life will take a new direction. This is the only salvation the New Testament knows anything about.

#31 Comment By Mitchell Hammonds On January 21, 2013 @ 8:46 am

Right guys. And I bet “He walks with you and talks with you and tells you you are his own. And the joy you share as you tarry there… none other has ever known.” Or if I ask you how you know he lives you’d answer “He lives within my heart.” Lordship salvation only utilizes the same terms but they are defined very differently.

#32 Comment By John Thomson On January 21, 2013 @ 10:34 am


I’ve been eavesdropping on this conversation and I had to butt in. I do know he lives because he lives within my heart (he dwells after all in my heart by faith). Yes, I have other firm ground to know he lives. He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve etc but I does the witness outside of me become a witness inside of me, that is how does it become a personal assurance. The answer is by faith which we may also say is ‘he lives within my heart’. Faith makes external realities mine; it gives substance to things hoped for and evidence to things not seen. There is no conflict between external facts and internal experience.

And so he does ‘walk with me and talk with me, and tell me I am his own’and there is ‘a joy we share’. This is what fellowship with Christ and God is; it is the enjoyment of a relationship. Though to be sure the garden and scent of the roses is all sentimental hogwash.

Take care Mitchell that in railing against experience you are not railing against God.

#33 Comment By Matthew Morizio On January 21, 2013 @ 12:38 pm

Well put, John Dunn! Good stuff. Christ, our justification, sanctification and glorification. Amen!

#34 Comment By Scott Leonard On January 21, 2013 @ 12:53 pm

John Dunn, I am wondering about one point of possible clarification: Paul says in Romans five that we all sinned when Adam sinned. In fact, we were in his loins, and that is why death prevailed from that very moment, before the law was ever given to Israel. Mankind’s fate was sealed in the garden by him “who was a type of Him who was to come,” and the law was given, both in our conscience and at Sinai, to stir up sin and make it obvious that we are sinners in need of a Savior. Do you agree?

#35 Comment By Mitchell Hammonds On January 21, 2013 @ 5:31 pm

Experience is subjective John while the external realities of the faith (the promises of God, sacraments) are constant. This is why Paul tells Timothy to hold fast to the doctrine given to him. I really don’t care if you think God speaks to you in your “inner experience”…all well and good for you. What I (nor you) can do is confirm it to be true… unless it is what is spoken of in the written word which really isn’t anything new so you might as well have read it or had it preached or taught. Experience can and does many times lead away from the truth… so I would disagree with you.

#36 Comment By Aaron On January 21, 2013 @ 8:29 pm

Mitchell, you can write it off as merely subjective but that doesn’t deal with 1 John 2:3 which plainly states that “we know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commandments.” This passage is a promise as well. When it comes to our assurance of salvation there is subjective ground(experiencing the works that Christ does through us) as well as objective ground(our faith in who Christ is and what He did for us). Real faith will produce the works. It is inevitable according to Scripture.

#37 Comment By John Thomson On January 22, 2013 @ 12:08 am


How do you know the written word is true?

#38 Comment By Scott Leonard On January 22, 2013 @ 12:08 pm

Good, John, and also, Aaron, John says in I John 4:13, ” By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of his Spirit.” That also appeals directly to the subjective, the inner witness of the Holy Spirit!

#39 Comment By Mitchell Hammonds On January 22, 2013 @ 5:09 pm

You guys are in a class of your own. My only consolation is I’m much better than you are in Christ… by faith alone. I’m out…

#40 Comment By Aaron On January 22, 2013 @ 10:50 pm

Scott, great point on your last comment! With regards to an earlier comment you made, I would somewhat disagree that we don’t need tell people what it truly means to acknowledge Christ as Lord. How else are they going to know that true faith is more than just believing the facts of the gospel, that it is a humble submission to Christ? I’m not saying that they have to know a ton of theology or expect them to become an expert on theology in order to get saved but making sure that they are aware that true faith involves repentance and humbly submitting to Christ as Lord is not expecting them to become a theologian.

Mitchell, read James 2:14-26. We are saved by faith alone and none of us were disagreeing with you on this point. However, this does not mean that our faith is non-efficacious in our lives. True faith alone that saves will cause us to walk in His ways.(Ezekiel 36:27)

#41 Comment By Scott Leonard On January 23, 2013 @ 8:21 am

Yes, Aaron, my comment was a bit ill-formed. I always clarify repentance and who He is. My emphasis was on the work Christ does quickly in the heart of everyone to whom He grants repentance and faith.

#42 Comment By Aaron On January 24, 2013 @ 9:55 pm

I understand what you are saying. Thanks for clarifying Scott!

#43 Pingback By Quote: Look Up, Not In « quinaishidden On February 26, 2013 @ 9:28 pm

[...] - Tullian Tchividjian [...]

#44 Pingback By Faith and Doubt (A Worthwhile Quote) | Collin Coats On September 4, 2013 @ 7:36 am

[...] faith may be in seasons of spiritual depression, God is always holding on to you.” – Tullian Tchividjian Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like [...]

#45 Pingback By Good Reads from 2013 – Far Better Things On December 18, 2013 @ 2:02 pm

[…] Time to Stop Looking In and Start Looking Up – Tullian Tchividjian To be sure, the Bible has plenty to say about our becoming like Jesus. But our transformation is a secondary theme. The primary theme of the Bible is Christ’s substitution–the fact that Jesus became like us. The modern church has sadly reversed the order. The focus of the Christian faith has become the life of the Christian. […]

Article printed from Tullian Tchividjian: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tullian

URL to article: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tullian/2013/01/14/time-to-stop-looking-in-and-start-looking-up/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tullian/files/2012/12/introspection.jpg

[2] Paul: An Outline of His Theology: http://www.amazon.com/Paul-An-Outline-His-Theology/dp/0802844693/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1356371936&sr=8-1&keywords=herman+ridderbos

[3] Image: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tullian/files/2012/12/tumblr_lea3utGABj1qzb7gjo1_500_large.jpg