When Justification Is Marginalized

Check this powerful excerpt describing nominal Christianity evidenced when “the dynamic of justification” is marginalized:

“The ultimate concern of most church members is not the worship and service of Christ in evangelistic mission and social compassion, but rather survival and success in their secular vocation.  The church is a spoke on the wheel of life connected to a secular hub.  It is a departmental subconcern, not the organizing center of all other concerns.  Church members who have been conditioned all their lives to devote themselves to building their own kingdom and whose flesh naturally gravitates in that direction anyway find it hard to invest much energy in the kingdom of God.  They go to church once or twice a week and punch the clock, so to speak, fulfilling their ‘church obligation’ by sitting passively and listening critically or approvingly to the pastor’s teaching.

[ . . .] Since their understanding of justification is marginal or unreal–anchored not to Christ, but to some conversion experience in the past or to an imagined present state of goodness in their lives–they know little of the dynamic of justification.  Their understanding of sin focuses on behavioral externals which they can eliminate from their lives by a little will power and ignores the great submerged continents of pride, covetousness and hostility beneath the surface.  Thus their pharisaism defends them both against full involvement in the church’s mission and against full subjection of their inner lives to the authority of Christ.”

– Richard F. Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life: An Evangelical Theology of Renewal, 204-05 (emphasis mine).

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6 Comments on “When Justification Is Marginalized”

  1. J.D. Hawg Says:

    …and in all likelihood, they are not true Christians. They are the product of a modern gospel that tells them that they just need to walk an aisle and “ask Jesus into their heart” and they’ll be on their way to heaven.

    True conversion brings about a real change in behavior, not a forced change, but a willing change. The job isn’t that important anymore. You realize that golf every Saturday is robbing time from your wife and kids. The Word of God is alive and it becomes richer and richer as you study it. You want to hang out with other true believers and talk about things of eternal significance.

    It’s not that they don’t have a right understanding of justification. It’s that they haven’t been JUSTIFIED.


  2. […] Brister | Leave a Comment  The following is from Timmy Brister’s blog, originally posted here, that really struck me this week. I would encourage you to read and consider if any of these […]

  3. Petra Hefner Says:

    Have been directed here by Kowalker. I very much agree that “some conversion experience in the past or an imagined present state of goodness” does not equate justification.

    Justification IS anchored in CHRIST alone and what HE HAS DONE, and thus can’t really be marginal. It is a finished work! People are either justified or they are not, but cannot become more or less so by good works or experiences.

    Sanctification on the other hand is a process and differs with each ‘justified’ person as they each learn to cooperate with God’s Holy Spirit.

    Thank you for sharing this thought-provoking piece. God bless!

  4. Jim Masters Says:

    Thanks for the quote, Tim. This is a ‘kick your booty’ statement.


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