Christocentrism and Christotelism

For purposes of introduction, it is best to understand Christocentrism as the tenet that Christ is the central redemptive subject matter of the Old Testament, understood on its own terms, quite apart from the New Testament Scriptures. Christotelism is best understood to entail that Christ is the consummate telos of what the Old Testament Scriptures promise, namely, a crucified and resurrected Messiah.

 

Lane Tipton, Jesus in the Old Testament, No Uncertain Sound: Reformed Doctrine and Life (Kindle Locations 197-199). Reformed Forum. Kindle Edition.

Moral Shape That Salvation Takes

True, the law is not the means of justification, except in the sense that Christ has kept it for us. But its substance is the moral shape that salvation takes. It is, after all, through the gospel-gift of the Spirit that “the law” is written in the heart— not as a “covenant of works,” but as a “rule of life.” Even if we are unfamiliar with this terminology, we need to become familiar with the biblical truth it seeks to express.

 

Ferguson, Sinclair B.. The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters (pp. 120-121). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

Epochal Increase

If one may venture an illustration from personal experience: when I was in elementary school, those were the happiest days of my life until I progressed to high school. Those days really were the happiest days of my life until I went to university. Now we are really talking about the happiest days of my life— until graduation. Then, free from classwork, exams, professors— this is freedom at last! Thus, from the perspective of the age of fulfillment, elementary school, high school, yes, even university, all seem like imprisonment with teachers as the jailers. But at the time, it was possible to find joy and pleasure in each epoch. Here, then, a fuller understanding of a prior epoch is possible only from within a later epoch. In the same way, the Old Testament believer tasted rich blessings within the context of the Mosaic administration. But by comparison with the fullness of grace in Christ, they pale into insignificance. 37 Grasp this, and we come to see that Paul does not deny that there is divine glory in the law. His language is not pejorative but comparative.

 

Ferguson, Sinclair B.. The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters (pp. 148-149). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

Law and Grace Relative Contrast

What is intended to be seen within a comparative context should not be read in absolutist terms. The law came by Moses; grace and truth came through Christ. 26 This contrast is not absolute. Apart from other considerations, if it were, Christians would never admire the piety of the psalmist in Psalm 1: 2 (“ His delight is in the law of the Lord”) or of Psalm 119: 97 (“ Oh how I love your law”). But the truth is that Christians instinctively desire to rise to this, 27 because they recognize— at least at a subliminal level— that the law was the gracious gift of a loving Father, even if, in itself, it does not provide the power to keep   it.

 

Ferguson, Sinclair B.. The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters (pp. 166-167). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

Reformed Diversity

...within generic Reformed theology there has always been a diversity of viewpoint on various issues. Being aware of this saves us from naïvely (but dogmatically!) saying, “The Reformed view is  .  .  .  ,” when all we are entitled to say is, “The view held by a number of Reformed writers with whom I agree is  .  .  .”!

 

Ferguson, Sinclair B.. The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters (p. 117). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

The parable of the Dis-Graced Legalist

What Jesus unmasks here is a legalistic heart, one that has imbibed the poison of Eden. 20 Such a heart sees the Lord as a slave master and not a gracious Father, as restrictive rather than generous. Everything the Father has is available to him. But the elder son’s heart is closed, and as far as he is concerned nothing is his. He was at home, but he was in a more distant place than his younger brother. He thought he had to earn by right what he could only enjoy by grace.

 

Ferguson, Sinclair B.. The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters (p. 107). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

Faith and Repentance

At the end of the day we cannot divide faith and repentance chronologically. The true Christian believes penitently, and he repents believingly.

 

Ferguson, Sinclair B.. The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters (p. 104). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

Repentance

Repentance is not a discrete external act; it is the turning round of the whole life in faith in Christ.

 

Ferguson, Sinclair B.. The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters (p. 100). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

Christ without Conditions

For whenever we make the warrant to believe in Christ to any degree dependent upon our subjective condition, we distort it. Repentance, turning from sin, and degrees of conviction of sin do not constitute the grounds on which Christ is offered to us. They may constitute ways in which the Spirit works as the gospel makes its impact on us. But they never form the warrant for repentance and faith.

 

Ferguson, Sinclair B.. The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters (p. 58). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

Good News for All

The offer of the gospel is to be made not to the righteous or even the repentant, but to all. There are no conditions that need to be met in order for the gospel offer to be made.

 

Ferguson, Sinclair B.. The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters (p. 42). Crossway. Kindle Edition.