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.

Benefits and the Benefactor

When the benefits are seen as abstractable from the Benefactor the issue becomes: 1) For the preacher: “How can I offer these benefits?”   and 2) For the hearer: “How can I get these benefits into my life?” But when it is seen that Christ and his benefits are inseparable and that the latter are not abstractable commodities, the primary question becomes: 1) For the preacher: “How do I preach Christ himself?”   and 2) For the hearer: “How do I get into Christ?”

 

Ferguson, Sinclair B.. The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters (pp. 48-49). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

Totus Christus

This, to use an Augustinian term, is totus Christus, the whole Christ, the person in whom incarnation has been accomplished and in whom atonement, resurrection, ascension, and heavenly reign are now realized. While we can distinguish Christ’s person and his work in analytical theological categories, they are inseparable from each other. Since there is no “work of Christ” that takes place abstracted from, and in that sense outside of, his person, the blessings of his work cannot be appropriated apart from receiving Christ himself with all his benefits. What God has joined together, we must not put asunder.

 

Ferguson, Sinclair B.. The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters (pp. 46-47). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

Extent of the Offer

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.

Fullness of Grace

in Jesus Christ there is a fullness of grace for all who will come to him.

 

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

Indwelling by Christ

Not only are believers in Christ, he is in them, and “the hope of glory” for the church is “Christ in you” (Col. 1:27). Such union, then, is inherently vital. Christ indwelling by the Spirit is the very life of the believer: “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20); “your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:4).

 

Richard B. Gaffin, By Faith, Not by Sight: Paul and the Order of Salvation (Paternoster, 2006), 39.