Vol.XIII No.II Pg.4
April 1976

What Must I Do?

Robert F. Turner

Is this a legitimate question, in keeping with the divine scheme of redemption, having a divine answer? The infidel says, Do nothing, there is no salvation. The universalist says, Nothing, all will be saved anyhow. True Calvinists reply, Nothing, only the elect will be saved, unconditionally. And currently, well-meaning advocates of Grace have so far accepted Calvinistic or faith-only concepts as to equate all doing with human righteousness — in effect saying, Do nothing. All efforts to divorce saving faith from doing make for a confused jumble of terms, and lead to an unscriptural theology.

Calvinism which has permeated most denominations and popular commentaries, begins with a concept of God which can not tolerate true free will on the part of man. That man could act so as to alter his destiny, could implement or affect his salvation, is unthinkable. This philosophy is back of classic statements re. grace, imputation of Christs righteousness, and labeling all obedience as trying to lift yourself by your boot-straps. I believe some of our brethren, in a commendable desire to give glory to God for our salvation, have adopted Calvinistic terminology and thought.

Christ is the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him (Heb. 5:9). He will take vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thes. 1:8). We may write books explaining that this doing is an expression of faith-- and Ill buy that-- but the fact remains that we must do something. Our doing will be imperfect, and therefore can not justify (make free from guilt) on a legalistic basis. It will not merit (by virtue of incompleteness) a free from guilt appraisal. But one can not deny the need for obedience without ignoring many plain scriptures.

There is a big difference in works as the expression of faith in our Savior, and works as the means of redemption. When Paul contrasted works and grace (Rom. 4:2-5) the context makes works refer to a system of law, demanding perfect obedience or freedom from sin (3:19-f. Gal. 3:10-f). If one should live a guilt-free life, his doing would be the means of his justification (declared guilt-free). But none of us live such lives (Rom. 3:23). Having sinned, no doing can be the means of satisfying the Justice of God against whom we have sinned. Justice demands the penalty for sin, and the means of our redemption is Jesus Christ, who died in our stead (Isa. 53: Rom. 5:6-9). There is little excuse for a careful student to confuse the meritorious works of Rom. 4 with acts of obedience which manifest our trust in the blood of the Christ.

As we have said, back of the denial of human implementation is the rejection of free will. If we seriously consider the implications of man as a free agent we can see consistency in a scheme of redemption which provides the means of justification on a universal scale, but makes the application of Christs blood depend upon the individuals response to the gospel invitation. The gospel which God gave, is carefully suited to the man which God made. (continued on next page)