It Is All Sola Gratia, Sola Fide

From first to last, the Christian life is a life of faith. At no point can fleshly works do anything to move the soul one inch closer to God. Do you believe this? I am not sure that all of us do. I think that instinctively, we all believe that while we are saved by faith alone, we are sanctified by the dint of our own hard work, grit, and gumption. Read more»

Neil C Stewart, “Every Step by Faith,” Tabletalk (February 24, 2021)


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  1. …From the moment you become a member they’ve got plenty of jobs (“ministries”) to plug you into. Oh, they aren’t just jobs to keep you busy, that wouldn’t be spiritual. These are all “ministries”. If you can believe it, they requested that someone take over the “coffee ministry” to provide coffee between worship and Sunday school because the previous person left. Only the fruit of good works directed by the church seems to count for anything. The seemingly invisible good works you do outside the church ministries don’t seem to be related to your sanctification. If there is such a thing as a sabbath where you rest from your works to gain God’s favor it hasn’t reached the pew where I sit. I finally have refused to be a prop in someone else’s grand vision of things which mostly don’t need to be done in the first place.

    • If they are presenting these activities as uniquely important for your sanctification then that is a problem. Though asking people if they would consider doing small menial tasks for the benefit of the fellowship of the congregation seems well within bounds. Also bemoaning the use of the word “ministry” in this context seems unnecessarily divisive. Does the disgruntled nature of your comment come from any deeper issues you have with your church?

    • Dr. Clark,

      I appreciate all the work have done in showing why the correct use of words matter. So I will concede that the phrase “coffee ministry” displays a misunderstanding of the word ministry.

      I worry that the poor use of the word ministry and asking members to consider doing menial tasks in relation to congressional fellowship is being equated with a wrong understanding and teaching of sanctification. That seems like an inappropriate inference or even accusation.

      • Benjamin,

        I think one reason why practically everything anyone does in and for the church (e.g., driving the bus) is a “ministry” is that it is a way to get people to do things. It might be, in some cases, to recognize their service and sometimes it’s a substitute for a salary but too often it’s a way to manipulate people to do things.

    • Dr. Clark,

      All of that strikes me as most likely true.

      The original comment in this thread that I am concerned with said, “ It would be nice if this message got to my local PCA church which I attend.” They appear to be indicting this church with not understanding or believing that sanctification is by faith alone (this message). That seems to be fairly serious charge. I do not believe the evidence presented support that indictment.

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