I’ll Be Damned

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66 Responses

  1. em says:

    so… is grace a cover or a means to an end?

  2. Xenia says:

    I think this teaching is the ultimate reason I left the Protestant world.

  3. Michael says:


    I’m not understanding the question…

  4. Michael says:


    I believe it’s what the Scriptures teach…and it is the foundation of Protestantism.
    I’m open to being shown where I’m wrong.

    The amusing part to me is that many Protestants would be better served in Orthodoxy or the RCC according to the way they view this doctrine.

  5. Xenia says:

    It’s not exactly that words you have written are wrong- I’d be hard pressed to pick out an erroneous sentence- but the application drove me to despair.

  6. Michael says:


    What was the application you were using for the doctrine?

  7. Xenia says:

    No need to strive for personal holiness.


    That is one application of the doctrine of imputed righteousness.

    As a Christian, I did feel I should have shown some improvement in my life. A little less angry, a little less given to jealousy, a little less dishonest, a little less vain-glorious, a little more peace, a bit more faith. Just some improvement, if I was becoming conformed to the Image of God. Yet with each passing year I was becoming a bigger jerk and the people I knew seemed to be in the same boat. We were becoming more fractious, more envious, more pompous as the years passed.

    We were told we had the righteousness of Christ which meant we didn’t need to actually become righteous people. Sure, decent behavior was encouraged- we weren’t (always) complete libertines- but trying too hard? That was the path to condemnation and bondage, AKA condo-bondo. There were many little slogans to discourage us from trying too hard to be holy. “Let go and let God.”

    MLD will ask: So Xenia, aren’t you still a jerk?
    Xenia replies: Yes and now I know how big a jerk I really am.

  8. Michael says:


    I have a theory about that.
    So many Protestant churches don’t fully embrace the doctrine of imputed righteousness, they only pay lip service to it while denying infused righteousness as well.
    They leave people in between where works are scorned and demanded in the same breath.
    It can only lead to despair…

  9. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I think people are going off base and missing what someone like myself and Tullian would be saying. It’s not what we are to do or not do. It’s not on the other side that we have imputed righteousness.

    As Curley said in City Slickers – “it’s that one thing.”

    That one thing is that we are forgiven – end of story.

  10. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Xenia – I would never ask the question of any jerkhood you may have – you far surpass me in keeping in under wraps.

    It’s that same old thing – let’s jump off the pier to personal holiness. So Catalina Island is the holiness goal (26 miles away) and I jump 50 ft… far short of my holiness goal and you being twice as holy as me jump 100 feet off the pier.

    Well, we still fall short – way short and no matter how hard we try (strive as you say) we remain unholy.

    Somehow, because we are sons of the King- we have personal holiness.

  11. em says:

    perhaps we’re trying to put definitions on heavenly things that can’t be so precisely defined by us… i’m bouncing back and forth between here and formatting experiments on another project and my brain is not enjoying itself…

    i guess what i am trying to do is give a working definition to the word grace… we can’t keep the law nor are we supposed to work off of a check-list of accomplishments… so
    do we understand grace as a cover a means to hide our shortcomings or is it the means by which God reaches and teaches and instills in us the mind of Christ?

    i’m thinking that, if both justification and sanctification are done …?… what’s left? just live, do the prescribed sacraments … and smile and wait?

  12. em says:

    hmm… maybe grace is the kayak keeping us afloat as we paddle to Santa Catalina our island of joy… i’m sorry

  13. Xenia says:

    They leave people in between where works are scorned and demanded in the same breath.<<<<

    This may be the case.

    All I know is now I know how to live my life in Christ whereas before I was in a perpetual state of confusion and ultimately, despair.

    I believe in Christ’s 100 percent forgiveness too, by the way.

  14. Xenia says:

    Jump off the pier! Swim with God! You will reach Catalina eventually and have a wonderful time in His company as you either swim Olympic-style or dog-paddle. That’s our life in Christ.

  15. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Someone will need to introduce me to a Christian person who does not feel works are important or living a “proper” life is not important. I don’t know a single person.

    What I do know is people do them for different reasons / motives – some do them to please God; some do them to keep out of trouble;

    But good works no matter how you look at them are not to please god, wrangle out of trouble – they do not work in justification and they do not work towards sanctification.

    Some folks like me do them solely because my neighbor needs my good works

  16. Xenia says:

    Only One is holy and that is the Lord. We only become holy as we participate in His holiness.

    As we participate.

  17. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I think you may be confusing behavior modification with “participation in holiness”

    I find it odd that you strive for personal holiness and I strive for vocation. Between the 2 my “personal” holiness ranks quite a few rungs down the ladder.

    God has set me apart to do a work … no matter how messy I am doing it.

  18. Am I fully justified and reconciled to God through Christ, or am I simply on parole? Is the propitiation of Christ complete or conditional?

    Saved by grace, sanctified by grace. All the glory goes to God.

  19. Xenia says:

    Participation with God in doing good works does not chalk up brownie points for us in heaven. This is not bean-counting: I fed five old ladies and gave a homeless person five dollars today, that’s six points for me on the celestial score-board.


    It’s more: As I fed the old ladies and helped the homeless person I was being Christ to these people and becoming more like Christ myself in the process. I am joining with Christ. To me, this is the entire point of doing good works: union with Christ. This is the basis of Orthodox soteriology: union with Christ and recovering the Image. Being the truly human people God created us to be before the image was marred by sin. We are only as holy as we participate in the life of the only One Who is truly holy.

  20. Xenia says:

    This is what “Be ye holy as I am holy ” means!

  21. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Actually, according to Jesus, we are really only doing good works when we don’t even think about them as being special or worthy of anything. In fact it should be so ordinary and unnoticed, that we would actually be surprise if someone brought them up.

  22. Xenia says:

    MLD, I agree with that.

    As we live our life in Christ and become more and more conformed to His Image good works become as common, ordinary and effortless as breathing.

    The more we are like Him, the more we are like Him.

    (Not a typo. πŸ™‚ )

  23. Xenia says:

    But he also said:

    Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

    Matt 5:16

  24. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I don’t see the progression – I think you do with what you got. If 20 yrs ago I only did 10% of what I do today – I was just as holy then as I am now. I don’t think more makes a difference.

  25. Xenia says:

    I think you do with what you got. <<<

    True. That's what the parable of the Talents is all about.

  26. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “Let your light so shine before men,”

    I think my light shines whether I know it or not. My light probably needs to shine because most cannot see my miniscule attempts at good works without a flood lamp shinning down

  27. em says:

    i just have to chime in here once more on sanctification… i am convinced that this is an on going process working out in a Believer (not in his mortal corrupted flesh, but the overcoming of it) – by grace, it can and will develop in us the mind of Christ, literally a controller of our thinking processes and affections – not an on-off switch, rather it grows

    the result is increasing sanctification thinking more as Christ thinks… remember the fruit thing? fruit is not just doing good deeds IMHO

    i am not a teacher, just sayin’… πŸ™‚

  28. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    so are we instructed to strive to use someone else’s talent -or do the best with what we have. I still don’t understand the striving for personal holiness when you backtrack and say it is only God’s holiness.

  29. Xenia says:

    It takes effort to participate in God’s holiness.

  30. Xenia says:

    Well, I did not intend to hog the thread with my own ideas.

    See you all later.

  31. Philippe says:


    The other side of it is that even when you do participate, it’s not really to your merit but it’s Christ in you and through the Holy Spirit.

    The big difference is that you see this as cooperation with the Holy Spirit, whereas, as Tullian says, the only thing we contribute to our sanctification is our sin.

    So while you may see sanctification as a secondary cause from God’s prevenient grace, we see sanctification as authored by God from start to finish.

    I agree with Michael’s comment on “They leave people in between where works are scorned and demanded in the same breath.”

    You also said “All I know is now I know how to live my life in Christ whereas before I was in a perpetual state of confusion and ultimately, despair.” That’s what we call the Third Use of the Law. And yes, by the way, Tullian does not emphasize the third use much in his sermons, but he also does not deny it. The law tells us how to live as we respond to God’s grace in gratitude; not how to live in order to earn God’s grace.

  32. Xenia says:

    Hi Philippe, nice to meet you!

    I am half-way out the door but before I go I would like to say that under no circumstances do I believe we can in any way earn God’s grace.

  33. Philippe says:

    Hi Xenia, likewise.

    Right, sorry about that. I contemplated on clarifying myself and then just left it. That’s more of a “jab” towards general american evangelicalism (to your point of how before you were under confusion and despair; ex-CC here). No one would ever say it out loud, but it is implied at bible studies and it is what people believe in practice.

    What I really wanted to say to you is more like following the law doesn’t really help our sanctification β€” or shall I say, theosis β€” because we don’t ever follow the law as closely or perfectly as the law demands. Sure we can become “better” human beings as we love our neighbor, but God still sees us as holy as we were the day Christ redeemed us.

  34. em says:

    i think that “following the law” with our limitations would compare to trying to driving a car down the road while reading a road map

  35. em says:

    “trying to driving” …?… X out the ‘trying to’ part

  36. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I still see the problem as talking of a progressive sanctification as a stand alone phase 2, as in first you are justified, then you work on getting sanctified and then one day you will be glorified.

    Our sanctification is all in our justification.God did not save us to make us better people. He saved us to… well to save us.

  37. Xenia says:

    Philippe, we are having the classic synergism vs monergism discussion.

  38. Xenia says:

    MLD, we would not see sanctification as a stand alone, secondary project. Like you, we don’t separate justification and sanctification, we see them as the same process. We are being justified and sanctified. It all starts at baptism and continues to the end of a Christian’s earthly life.

  39. Xenia says:

    I think when I was an evangelical, I did see justification and sanctification as two separate things.

    1. Justification was when I first became a Christian. At this time I acquired the Holy Spirit and a guarantee of heaven.

    2. Sanctification was whatever improvements I was able to effect afterwards. (But as Michael pointed out, this was confusing because of the reasons he gave.)

    I don’t agree with this anymore, either.

  40. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Xenia, a conversation I just had with a client reminds me of your type of synergism. I need paperwork and information out of this guy to close our transaction and he is slow, and a bit of a passive aggressive type – thinking he knows best what I need vs what I tell him I need.

    Since he is the client I must go to him and said “let me help you help me.”

    I picture synergism working that way. God wants to save you, has already put his son to death for that very purpose, but he must come to you and say “Xenia, please let me help you to help me.” Perhaps an oversimplification πŸ˜‰

  41. Xenia says:

    Actually MLD, that’s not a bad description.

  42. em says:

    we’ve got too many variations on “strive” resulting in conflicting applications – or so it seems to me

    MLD, “stand alone?” – “a phase?”
    my understanding of sanctification is that it is an ongoing *process* over time, not an *event* in time…

    justification sets sanctification in motion… we don’t manufacture anything, but we can grow by grace, in grace and knowledge and i call that sanctification at work in us… developing the mind of Christ… spiritual growth as it were

    but you, Michael and Xenia are best at precision skating… me, i just go around the outside in circles πŸ™‚

  43. Bob says:

    I tend to agree with Xenia on this one.

    One thing I find interesting is many seem to think “justification” begins the day they believe. This isn’t what Jesus said at all nor does the the text ever allude to such an idea. Justification began with the first breath of life blown into God’s creation. The creation either accepts what has been done for it or walks away on their own; good old middle finger salute.

    Some even say God turned from Adam and Eve when the text seems to tell a completely different story, He came to them in their nakedness. Even after Cain kills Able it is Cain who leaves God and not the other way around.

    Oh, the “Law” or “Torah” (God’s instructions or “tutor” as Paul calls them) was never meant to save anyone and only a deluded person could even imagine they could live it out perfectly and completely.

    Damn on!

  44. Bob says:


    I can’t stay and wrangle but statements like the one below make me go hmmm…

    “…developing the mind of Christ…”

    How does one develop the “mind of Christ” (the anointed one)?


  45. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “One thing I find interesting is many seem to think β€œjustification” begins the day they believe.”

    Not me – I think with most it is the day they are baptized … like the Bible says – but that is probably a different discussion πŸ˜‰

  46. Ixtlan says:

    “Since he is the client I must go to him and said β€œlet me help you help me.””

    No wonder why you are so aggressive here! LOL!!!!

    Head to Chavez Ravine, have a Dodger dog and enjoy the game….. πŸ˜‰

  47. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Hey, I’m like God – I have to close the deal πŸ˜‰

  48. Xenia says:

    …he is slow, and a bit of a passive aggressive type – thinking he knows best what I need vs what I tell him I need.<<<

    This is pretty much how God sees me, I think.

    God doesn't need anyone or anything, of course.

    Yet He, Who needs no one, created us all. For what purpose? Could it be that He actually enjoys our company?

  49. em says:

    #44 – “mind” is another word that is used to express many concepts… but the mind of Christ is one of the Believer’s biggest operating assets… folk here are developing the mind of Christ as God’s Truth is discussed and affirmed (Spiritually discerned, i think)… the study of Scripture builds a spiritual frame of reference – strength, no matter whether we are sweet people or cantankerous – we all have nowhere to go, but up… πŸ™‚
    in both senses of the word

    growing in, and developing the mind of, Christ are pretty much expressing the same thing, i believe

    there are a raft of verses that encourage us to do this… 1Cor. 2 & 3 are good food for thought IMHO and there are more and better

  50. em says:

    does anyone else here feel the urge to remind Michael that NO, he won’t be damned? … ? … i don’t think

  51. dusty says:

    Good words Michael. Humbling but good. Great discussion as well

  52. dusty says:

    Hi em. Michael KNOWS he is saved. We all know he is.

  53. Xenia says:

    The Church has given many ways to develop the Mind of Christ within us.

    1. The Sacraments
    2. Prayer
    3. Good works
    4. Scripture reading
    5. Reading other worth-while literature
    6. Good works
    7. Attending Liturgy
    8. Fasting

    And probably more, if done with a sincerity of heart and love for God and neighbor, it goes without saying.

  54. I agree every bit, God enjoys our company. Our company for who we are – God is not like the bride / groom who marries and then wants to change everything about the spouse.

    This is what I don’t understand – God loves you, but boy will he REALLY love you as he molds you into a different person than who he saved.

    When the Bible says that he has created you a new creation, that happened at your baptism (or fill in the blank of when you were saved) – it’s not a lifelong journey … as Jenner is on getting recreated. πŸ˜‰

  55. Paul A. Lytton says:


    Jenner is not a RE-creation, he is as DE-creation.

  56. Xenia says:

    MLD, the Lord cannot love us more than He already does. There is nothing I can do that will cause Him to love me more or to love me less.

    If a good man takes in a delinquent child off the streets and adopts him as his son, he would help him learn to stop stealing, to clean up his language and in short, to become more like him. So it is with God and us.

  57. Linnea says:

    Bob…you’ve challenged me with this one…”Justification began with the first breath of life blown into God’s creation. The creation either accepts what has been done for it or walks away on their own”

    Hmmm…the scripture does say we’ve been chosen since the foundations of the earth…

    Food for thought!

  58. em says:

    as the risk of belaboring the point, i will do so because for me it has always been a comfort… God’s love is an absolute – immutable – it doesn’t ebb and flow – period…

    however, i can displease (and please) my Father by what i’m doing… that’s just logic and sound doctrine πŸ™‚ yet, He doesn’t say, if you’re going to act like that don’t call me “Father” anymore…

    but, that said, shouldn’t we make some effort to not embarrass the family? … any more than we can help it? … that’s not good English, is it…

    hi Dusty, yes, i know Michael knows he’s saved… i just keep seeing that title up there…

  59. dusty says:

    Linnea hi, still with you in prayer.

  60. dusty says:

    Em i’m with you on the title…gets to me to.

  61. The Dude says:

    Good post…. your much appreciated. Wesleyan Holiness teachings like atheism just left me exhausted. I’ve found much of Tullians preaching to be very refreshing to listen to.

  62. Linnea says:

    Dusty…great to “see” you and thank you so much for your prayers!

  63. Nonnie says:

    Does it make sense to anyone else that I am tracking with BOTH MLD and Xenia.

    I believe Jesus did it all, is doing it all, and will do it all…complete that which HE began in me. After years of living a Christian life of believing all my sins were forgiven, but really, I now (that I am saved) had to tow a hard line to “walk worthy” of that forgiveness.

    It is the grace of God that has set me free and the grace of God that I respond to with a heart that desires to please Him, that wants to obey Him, that wants to be like Jesus, that wants to be a sweet fragrance of Christ to a broken world. I know I don’t have to work my way into God’s favor, but every child of a loving Father wants to please her daddy and bring Him joy. I believe that even in my failures, the love of God sings over me with joy.

  64. Steve says:

    I don’t know if this is biblically accurate, but it’s an analogy that has helped me understand:

    I’m on the soccer team. I was surprised the coach put me on the team list, actually, because I’m not actually very good at soccer even though it’s my favourite sport. And so I’m out there everyday on the pitch, training as best I can. I’m pretty slow, my passes are too often inaccurate and my shots are weak. I don’t jump for headers very well and the opposition dribbles past me most times. But I’m still out there practicing because I just love soccer. And even though I’m terrible at it, I’m still on the team, because for some reason the coach put me on the list.

    There’s guys who are way better at me in soccer, but never showed up for tryouts and don’t want to play. There are others who seemed like they were going to be on the team but just never come out to practice anymore. I’m still out here practicing, though. I think I may have even gotten an assist in yesterday’s scrimmage.

  65. Nonnie says:

    Hugs to Dusty!! You are loved!!

  66. em says:

    Steve, your analogy is spot on, i think … although it is hard to visualize the Gospel as a soccer ball … well … maybe not πŸ™‚

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