It seems like everyone I know who has a passionate interest in the grace message has had an absolutely rubbish week!! Even the wonderful guys in Hong Kong. Is that coincidence? I guess it may be. But what's worried me is the vicious attacks of long-term Christians against the message of grace and righteousness - in short the Gospel itself. The accusation is quite common that Rob Rufus is "inventing a new gospel" and of course the tired "concern"; "It will give people a license to sin". I was intrigued therefore to be stuck at a family function and happened to pick up a copy of John Stott's BST commentary on the Book of Romans.
I have copied a large amount of John Stott quotes onto the "Pentecostal/Charismatic Post-it Notes" blog and they can be found here.
Some of the quotes sound remarkably like Rob himself!
"The antithesis between grace and law, mercy and merit, faith and works, God's salvation and self-salvation is absolute. No compromising mish-mash is possible. We are obliged to choose".
"Some scholars maintain that 'justification' and 'pardon' are synonymous ... But surely this cannot be so. Pardon is negative, the remission of a penalty or debt; justification is positive, the bestowal of a righteous status, the sinner's reinstatement in the favour and fellowship of God".
And Stott made a number of comments on why Paul mentioned Abraham in Romans 4;
"The promise in mind must still be Genesis 15:5 that Abraham's posterity would be as numerous as the stars. It was a promise without any conditions or requirements attached to it. God's Word came to Abraham as a gratitutious promise - not as law. He simply believed God and was justified".
There was one extended piece of the commentary where John Stott dealt with the issue of whether we can talk about "being clothed in the spotless robe of Christ's righteousness". Now I must confess I took instant interest in this because I have heard Rob Rufus speak a number of times about "being clothed in Christ's righteousness". John Stott wrote this;
"A further question is whether the righteousness which God graciously imputes to us may be said to be the righteousness of Christ whether we may legitimately speak of "being clothed in the spotless robe of Christ's righteousness" and whether Zindendorf was correct to write in John Wesley's translation, of 'Jesus Thy Blood and Righteousness - My beauty are, my glorious dress'.
This kind of language even in devotional hymns is unfashionable today and is declared by some theologically inadmissable. Nevertheless on at least 3 occasions Paul comes close to this picture. I for one believe it is biblically permissive to use it. We are told that He was made sin for us, 'So that in Him we might become the righteousness of God', that "He has become for us ... our righteousness".
And that if we "gain Christ and are found in Him then the righteousness we have is not our own, but the righteousness that comes from God through faith in Christ" ... "Be clothed" with the righteousness of God or of Christ is not even mentioned. We are given even greater privilidge of "having it" and even "becoming it".
Once the reality of imputed righteousness is accepted, there can be little objection to the clothing metaphor".
Now I know that there is little value in quoting Christian "celebrities" because we can all find a quote to back up one's personal view. Maybe someone would dredge up a John MacArthur quote to disagree with all this ... I don't know. The point I was simply trying to make was - a plea for a little calm. Rob Rufus isn't preaching a false gospel. Much of what he says on the righteousness of God would concur with many respected commentators such as John Stott himself. Let us calm down and truly become Berean-like - examining these things for ourselves to see if they are so.