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No More Repentance

From God Who Is There, The: Finding Your Place in God’s Story by D. A. Carson, on Rev. 22:11

Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.

and what this verse tells us about those whose final destination is hell:

Hell is full of people who do not want to be there but who still do not want to bend the knee. For all eternity they still hate God. They still despise the cross. They still nurture sin; they still hate others in this endless cycle of self-chosen sin, iniquity, thanklessness, idolatry, and their consequences. The prospect is horrendous. This ongoing sin is so much a part of their stamp and makeup that is they were suddenly transported to heaven, they would hate it. In exactly the same way as we [see] in John 3 in the passage on God’s love, when the light comes, people love darkness rather than light because their deed are evil. That is the horrible awfulness of it: ongoing punishment and still—God help us—no repentance. Not ever. That’s why the Bible tells us to “flee from the coming wrath” (Matt. 3:7).

Carson goes on to remind us that any Christian who teaches on these things without tears is betraying Jesus:

Christian faith and thought are not helped by angry preachers whose tone almost suggests that they take a kind of vicious glee from the tragic end of others For a start, we Christians will be the first to acknowledge, as Paul understands in Ephesians 2, that we are all by nature children of wrath—starting with us who have become Christians. If we have come to experience the forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with the living God, it is only because of the grace of the gospel. We are never more than condemned prisoners who have found pardon and who want others to enjoy the same.

Related Theological Term posts:

A few recent posts elsewhere:

And of course, the flurry of post on hell, universalism, etc. comes because of Rob Bell’s new book, which Tim Challies reviews here.


Theological Term of the Week

The tendency to rely on self-effort—doing good deeds or following certain rules and regulations—as a way to gain God’s favor; the belief that a sinner can do some work to obtain salvation or fellowship with God; the inclination to regard things that Scripture has not commanded or prohibited as moral precepts.

  • Scripture that argues against legalism:
    O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by  the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? (Galatians 3:1-6 ESV)
  • From the Heidelberg Catechism, 1563:

    Question 60. How are thou righteous before God?

    Answer: Only by a true faith in Jesus Christ;  so that, though my conscience accuse me, that I have grossly transgressed all the commandments of God, and kept none of them, and am still inclined to all evil; notwithstanding, God, without any merit of mine, but only of mere grace, grants and imputes to me, the perfect satisfaction,  righteousness and holiness of Christ; even so, as if I never had had, nor committed any sin: yea, as if I had fully accomplished all that obedience which Christ has accomplished for me; inasmuch as I embrace such benefit with a believing heart. 

    Question 61. Why sayest thou, that thou art righteous by faith only?

    Answer: Not that I am acceptable to God, on account of the worthiness of my faith; but because only the satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ, is my righteousness before God;  and that I cannot receive and apply the same to myself any other way than by faith only.

    Question 62. But why cannot our good works be the whole, or part of our righteousness before God?

    Answer: Because, that the righteousness, which can be approved of before the tribunal of God, must be absolutely perfect, and in all respects conformable to the divine law; and also, that our best works in this life are all imperfect and defiled with sin.

    Question 63. What! do not our good works merit, which yet God will reward in this and in a future life?

    Answer: This reward is not of merit, but of grace.

  • From Concise Theology by J. I. Packer:

    Legalism is a distortion of obedience that can never produce truly good works. Its first fault is that it skews motive and purpose, seeing good deeds as essentially ways to earn more of God’s favor than one has at the moment. Its second fault is arrogance. Belief that one’s labor earns God’s favor begets contempt for those who do not labor in the same way. Its third fault is lovelessness in that its self-advancing purpose squeezes humble kindness and creative compassion out of the heart.

    …[F]ar … from enriching our relationship with God, as it seeks to do, legalism in all its forms does the opposite. It puts that relationship in jeopardy and, by stopping us focusing on Christ, it starves our souls while feeding our pride. Legalistic religion in all its forms should be avoided like the plague.

Learn more:

  1. Reformation Theology: What Is Legalism?
  2. J. I. Packer: Legalism
  3. Sam Storms: Legalism Can Be Lethal
  4. Jared Wilson: What Legalism Isn’t (and Is)
  5. Erik Raymond: What Is Legalism and Why Is It So Bad?
  6. Fred Zaspel: Legalism or Obedience?
  7. Mark Dever: Legalism (mp3)

Related terms:

Filed under Isms.

Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.


Round the Sphere Again: Bruce Ware for Your Kids


A Catechism for Girls and Boys

Part I: Questions about God, Man, and Sin

24. Q. What was the sin of our first parents?
      A. Eating the forbidden fruit.

(Click through to read scriptural proofs.)

Click to read more ...


Status Report: March


Sitting…at my dining room table, looking out the window at the bright March morning sunshine, watching the vapour rise as the sun touches the frost on the car parked in front of the house. It’s enough of a plume to make it look like the car is running, but it’s not.

Eating…a bowl of Brown Sugar Mini-Wheats, my new favorite breakfast cereal. I just finished my morning coffee, black.

Realizing…that it’s already March 7 and I haven’t done a March status report. I should have done this last week, but maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t because the tone would have been much darker way back then.

Cleaning…nothing at the moment, but wanting to start the spring cleaning of my bedroom. Question: Do you think dustballs are a result of the fall? I need to know whether to stop hating them or not.

Thinking…that I’m way past due on a blogroll update. It’s so hard to write frequent posts and maintain a blog at the same time.

Loving…the sunshine. The longer daylight hours. The new blinds in the living room.

Reading…Nancy Pearcey’s Saving Leonardo. Yes, still. And considering which other books from the unread ones I’ve collected to read now, too.

Enjoying…my daughter’s puppy, Trapper. He’s half the size of the big pup and has to work really hard to keep up, but he loves every minute of it. He’s a great little dog, with all the right instincts except one: He got in an actual dog-fight last week. Since he usually gets along with the other dogs he meets, the problem may have been with the other dog more than Trapper. Nevertheless, it’s a good thing he’ll be getting neutered on Thursday.

Welcoming…daughter home from Costa Rica late this afternoon. She went there because one of her good friends had a “destination wedding” and she was in the wedding party. Her verdict on Costa Rica as a travel destination? Big waste of her money! Very touristy and very expensive to do anything. If she wanted a spot on the beach, she had to claim it by 6:30 AM. (Not that anyone in this family is big on beach sitting anyway.) So she spent much of her time there in her hotel feeling bored and restless.

Still waiting…for spring.