The issue is not whether we’re ‘grace’ people or ‘obedience’ people. It’s not one or the other. We need both the indicative (what God has done) and the imperative (what we must do). But where do we put the accent? Jack Miller:
But now I want to make an attempt to state the most serious problem that I have with your thinking. I am thinking of the up-front emphasis on covenant faithfulness or obedience. Like you I do not think anyone is saved without obedience to Christ issuing from his faith. But the drumbeat of the new covenant is not covenant obedience. The accent is rather on the forgiveness of sins. In His inauguration of the new covenant in the giving of the Lord’s Supper, Jesus does not say anything about obedience but rather: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins.” In the new covenant, the heart of things consists in “redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Eph 1:7).
The obedience which flows from this state and experience of forgiveness through Christ’s atonement is not a kind of generalized or vague “lawkeeping” but a being “kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God is Christ forgave you” (Eph 4:34). Thus the covenant drumbeat of “forgiveness” carries right on through into a life of forgiveness and kindness.
Our obedience is charged with the power to forgive and bless and serve others because we have been captured by God’s own pardon and acceptance of us by free grace… You cannot have the kind of family tenderness you seek if covenant obedience is the primary focus. Here I think you are putting the accent in the wrong place and in doing so have really undermined your fine emphasis on the covenant concept as a family relationship.
– Jack Miller, The Heart of a Servant Leader, p.168-169.
Enjoyment of grace and a life of obedience. In the long run, the sure way to have both depends on figuring out where to put the accent.