Re: The Already and Not Yet

Joseph E. Keysor
Brannon Ellis
Wednesday, October 11th 2023
Handwritten letter with brown envelope and a stamp with birds on it.
Sep/Oct 2023

Dear editors:

Since your recent issue contains a request for letters from your readers, I thought I would like to make some comments on your treatment of the topic “Already” vs. “Not yet.”

This is a vital subject, and I noticed many doctrinally sound and uplifting comments on our current and future blessings in Christ.

If you want to write more about this in the future, it might be helpful to elaborate on the greatness and the reality of the blessings and consolations available to us this side of the resurrection.

For example, we read in Romans chapter 5:2–3 that by faith we have access directly into God’s grace, and that we do not merely have hope, but that we can rejoice in that hope. Moreover, we can glory in tribulations. We can be more than conquerors (Romans 8:37) and experience joy unspeakable and full of glory (I Peter 1:8). How many people in the churches have never experienced joy unspeakable and full of glory?

We also read of rejoicing in the Lord always, our hearts and minds kept by the peace of God that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:4–7).

Much more could be said by way of personal exhortation which I can only briefly indicate in 400 words with some scripture references.

Secondly, some Christians would benefit from exhortations to greater holiness. There are many common obstacles and failings that prevent us from experiencing many of the blessings we could have in our present, earthly daily lives. As it says in James, “You receive not, because you ask not.”

Moreover, there are the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches as Christ explained in the parable of the sower. There are many things in the world which, while not overtly sinful, can divert us from the riches of Christ.

We read in Philippians that there are preconditions—not for salvation, but for entering into the deeper things of the Spirit (4:5–6, 8–9). We see this in I Peter 2:1–2, 11 and in Peter 1:3–10.

I fear that many Christians have little regard for higher and deeper degrees of sanctification, obedience and holiness. Too many go trudging wearily through the world, looking to doctrinal promises which remain abstract, with salvation as a legal contract while newness of life is lame and deficient (real though it may be).

Many thanks for the biblical witness of Modern Reformation,

Joe Keysor


Thanks so much for your careful thoughts in response to our Sep/Oct issue on “The Already.” Thanks, too, for sharing these rich Bible passages. We agree with you that so much more can be said about those two essential areas: our present access to and enjoyment of spiritual blessings in Christ and our calling not to be complacent but to continue to grow in his grace, by his grace.

What a privilege to come before the throne of the Almighty and of the Lamb to find grace to help in time of need—which is pretty much all the time, if we're being honest with ourselves! And your encouragement to never let doctrine be a lifeless abstraction but a call to a deeper relationship of trust and discipleship is essential for us as MR readers: being "into" theology is no substitute for growing in faith, hope, and love. Thank God that grace alone changes us, so that grace always leads to our holiness without depending on our holiness. Thank God that faith alone justifies us and joins us to Christ, whose Spirit indwelling us guarantees that justifying faith will never be alone, but accompanied by all the Spirit's fruits.

Unfortunately, we only had space to delve a small distance into these endless depths. We encourage everyone to treat this issue of MR (and every issue) not as any final word but as a launching point for deeper reflection on these grand themes.

Brannon Ellis

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Brannon Ellis
Brannon Ellis is the executive editor of Modern Reformation.
Wednesday, October 11th 2023

“Modern Reformation has championed confessional Reformation theology in an anti-confessional and anti-theological age.”

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