Thursday, January 24, 2013

Rehabilitating “Evangelical Obedience”

“Evangelical obedience” is a grand old phrase, which has sadly faded from use & familiarity in Reformation circles. It captures the old, Reformed orthodoxy regarding sanctification and its source – not the Law, but the Gospel....

(By the way, the Greek verb “to justify” means “to declare righteous,” not simply “innocent,” so the imputation of righteousness is implied in the very definition of the word. That’s free, no charge, for anyone who thinks the imputation of Christ’s righteousness is not essential to justification.)...

I like this quaint old phrase. I think we should revive its use. It clarifies where Christian obedience – imperfect as it is – comes from. It is not from the Law, but from the evangel, the Gospel. The Law guides and defines that obedience. But only the Gospel produces it. But stay humble, kids. Even your “evangelical obedience” has only a “small beginning” in this life – Heidelberg 114 (based on Romans 7:14-15). Your good works could never stand the severity of God’s judgment apart from Christ – Westminster Confession 16.5 (Is 64:6, Gal 5:17, etc). You still need Jesus, to mediate your “evangelical obedience” which is defiled by your sin (1 Pet 2:5). But He makes it a beautiful thing in the sight of the Father, and graciously rewards it.

That’s why evangelical obedience is not a burden, but a joy...


  1. AMEN! TOO!!

    I think you are onto something here John and I suppose these Priests got there before you?

    Act 6:7 And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

  2. I believe the Gal. 5:17 passage distinguishes between a believer and a non-believer rather than two positions of a believer.