Grace and Legalism from "Religion Saves"

web_cover_image2Mark Driscoll's new book, Religion Saves: And Nine Other Misconceptions, is now available.

Inspired by 1 Corinthians, in which Paul answers a series of questions posed by the people in the Corinthian church, Driscoll set out to determine the burning questions among visitors to the Mars Hill Church website. The result was 893 questions and 343,203 votes. Religion Saves contains Driscoll's answers to the top nine questions.

Download Chapter 3 on Dating or check out the sermons this book was based on.

Here's an excerpt from his chapter Grace:

Legalists see only the demands and commands of Scripture and make long lists of rules by which to judge people and enslave them to the law of duty that kills delight. They also overlook all that Jesus has done to fulfill the demands of the law in our place, so that our hope and trust is in our own efforts and not Jesus’ finished work, which is a disgrace to grace. Rebuking such erroneous teaching, Paul condemns legalists, saying, “You have fallen away from grace” to people who basically thought that they were saved by grace but kept by their own works and law-keeping so that God would love them. They wrongly believed that if they obeyed, God would love them, rather than believe the truth of grace, which is that God loves us so that we will obey. That is why Paul says that the entire domain in which true Christians live is no longer works but grace, “this grace in which we stand.”

The self-efforts of works that dominate every religion but Christianity focus legalistically on what we must do so that God will accept us, forgive us, embrace us, or, in a word, love us. Conversely, Christianity alone says that human works are antithetical to God’s grace. Romans 11:6 declares that “if [salvation] is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” Indeed, we are saved by God’s saving grace and are saved to good works. Nonetheless, those good works are also by God’s grace through us:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

The issue is not whether Christians should do good works, such as loving their city, feeding the poor, caring for single mothers and their children, loving their enemies, or telling the truth, but rather how and why. The answer is not that we do good works so that God will love us or because we have to do them. Rather, we do good works because by grace in Jesus Christ, God does love us. Furthermore, God’s saving grace has so utterly transformed us that we no longer have to do good works, but rather we get to do good works by the empowering grace of God the Holy Spirit, who is at work in our regenerated hearts.

(Religion Saves, pp 115-116)