Thursday, August 7, 2014

Does God reward good works with temporal blessings?

Joel Osteen is obviously a clown and a hack. You can't pry riches out of God's hands or make Him your debtor with the power of positive thinking. But here Gerhard reminds us that every strong lie has some kernel of truth buried in there somewhere. This is from the volume I'm still editing, On the Gospel and On Repentance - but right now you can pick up his work On Sin & Free Choice, which is a very good volume indeed and certainly cleared up some muddled thinking in my head.

+HRC

We respond. The fruit of salutary repentance is reconciliation with God and the turning away or certainly the easing of punishments, not by reason of contrition but with respect to faith in Christ by which alone we who are justified have peace with God (Rom. 5:1). Therefore this passage [Jonah 3] is describing the quality of those on whom the Lord has compassion: that they were of a contrite and humble heart, that they turned from their wicked way. It is describing the order which God observes in showing mercy and in healing but does not describe the merit or reason because of which God is merciful and forgives sin. “For it is grace and not of works; otherwise, grace would not be grace” (Rom. 11:6). Nonetheless it must be added that one can receive an easing of temporal punishments through contrition even if it lacks faith, as the example of Ahab teaches (1 Kings 21:27). In the same way God rewards the good works of those who have not been born again with temporal rewards, but no one receives the gracious remission of sins and God-pleasing righteousness without true faith in Christ.

3 comments:

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  2. Pr. Curtis, you had me at "Joel Osteen is obviously a clown and a hack."

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  3. "In the same way God rewards the good works of those who have not been born again with temporal rewards, but no one receives the gracious remission of sins and God-pleasing righteousness without true faith in Christ." -- Johann Gerhard

    Those "not born again" can never do "good," in the strictest sense of the word. Good is simply not in them, unlike the "born again" who possess the indwelling Christ. The ground may be cursed with thorns from fallen Eden, yes, but that ground in many places can still yield a harvest to the good and the evil alike, just as the non-sentient sun can shine on both infidel and Christian indiscriminately ... because (and this is crucial) the Father is indeed merciful.

    Does God "reward" the evil-doer? Really? Is the continuing sunshine a "reward" to the infidel farmer, one which generates the crops to feed the hungry (and thereby to put more coins in his pocket); or is the sun just a fact ... albeit an essential and necessary fact ... which drives this created material world?

    What is being asserted here is that God "rewards" the filthy rags of the infidel's so-called righteousness. Reward for what? Any blessing that comes about from the infidel's "good" isn't a reward. Examined closely, there's nothing done to merit a reward as such. The good accomplished is largely happenstance or epiphenomenonal; but whatever it is, it is altogether attributable to God's abiding grace alone, not that of man. Dig down deeply enough, and one discovers that the works of the "born once" are designed to benefit vainglory or feel-good emotion, and to lay a sacrifice at the altar of Self.

    Speaking about the suns of God, I'm not entirely convinced that this is blessed Gerhard's most shining moment, rhetorically or spiritually.

    Your (unworthy) servant,
    Herr Doktor

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