By Greg Gibson

GG: Some wise words on how to motivate disciples to obey Christ…

“Many of you already know that on various blogs, including The Gospel Coalition, there has been a discussion concerning gospel indicatives and gospel imperatives in the sanctification process. It is not difficult to see how this debate has significant influence in the realm of biblical counseling…The crux of the debate seems to be the relative balance given to the communication of these two concepts in the sanctification process…allow the imbalances to drive you back to the text and find out what kind of balance the text of Scripture has…

I think the balance found is Scripture is an interesting one. There are some books, like the gospel of John, which have very few commands given to the readers (most of the commands take place between the various persons in the various accounts). John’s purpose is very clear according to John 20:30-31 – he wrote so that the reader would believe that the Messiah is Jesus and that by believing the reader would have life. So the whole book is given to prove two points and those two points would encourage belief. If I take my theology from John I would have to conclude that you give truth 90% of the time. Why focus on application? Why focus on command? Give truth and the rest will come.

In the book of James, however, imperatives are found in 1 out of every 3 verses. Apparently, James did not feel the same need to give long discussions of gospel indicatives before giving numerous commands. Admittedly, gospel indicatives still form the foundation of the command, but the way that James commands is a bit different than we find in many other books.

The book of Hebrews includes commands in about 1 out of every 10 verses. However, one must admit that the imperatives found in Hebrews are some of the most potent in the entire NT. What Hebrews lacks in quantity is more than made up for in potency. The ratio in Colossians is almost 1 in 3 verses (slightly less in Ephesians and 2 Timothy), while 2 Corinthians has an imperative to verse ratio of 1 to 15. Why the diversity? Why is the balance in one of Paul’s book so high and in a different book it is very low?

While these stats do not tell the whole story, they do give us a clue into how Scripture might encourage us to strike the balance. Maybe the Scripture demonstrates that there were different needs among the various peoples in various locations. Some folks needed to be reminded of all that Christ had done, while others needed a bit more exhortation. Maybe the wise biblical counselor will do the same. The wise counselor will not only exegete the meaning of the text, but they will also exegete the people they are trying to help. The balance of indicative to imperative is different depending on context.” Gospel Indicatives And Imperatives: Where Is The Debate Anyway? By Rob Green

GG: Here are 2 ways to maintain the Holy Spirit’s inspired balance:
1. Consecutive expository preaching through whole books of the Bible.
2. Avoid pet doctrines by emphasizing the explicit more than the alleged implicit.

Indicative-Imperative Balance Depends on Hearers’ Needs | 2011 | Sanctification | Tags: | Comments (1)

One Response to “Indicative-Imperative Balance Depends on Hearers’ Needs”

  1. John Thomson says:

    Good post Greg with good final advice. I am concerned about imbalance on this issue. Thanks for post.

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