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Posts Tagged ‘Cheap Grace

The Radical Demands of John’s Gospel

The following points come from the TMS Journal on the subject of repentance in the gospel of John.  Non-Lordship advocates and cheap grace advocates point to the Gospel of John as proof that one does not need to repent to be saved.  They point out that John’s Gospel was written for evangelism (John 20:31) and that belief and faith are the key points John makes in his writings.  However, an analysis of the fourth gospel reveals that John the Beloved was hard on his hearers.  While the word “repent” does not come to us in the Greek text, the Gospel of John is still a Gospel that demands a transformation to which repentance is necessary (Matthew 3:8; Acts 2:37-39).

Notice the tough demands in John’s Gospel:

(1) References to John the Baptist and baptism: 1:23–34; 3:23–29; 10:40.

(2) Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”: 1:29.

(3) The wedding at Cana: could the reference to the purification jars be a reference to repentance: 2:1–13?

(4) Born from above/anew and born of water and spirit: 3:3–7.

(5) The lifting up of the snake in the wilderness: 3:14 (see Num 21:4–9).

(6) Light and darkness motif throughout Fourth Gospel: 1:4–9; 3:19–21; 8:12; 9:5.

(7) The relationship of obedience and believing: 3:36.

(8) Jesus pointing out the Samaritan woman’s sinful life: 4:16–18.

(9) Jesus’ command to not sin: 5:14; 8:11.

(10) The motif of hearing and its relationship to obedience: 5:24; 12:47.

(11) The motif of “coming”: 5:40; 6:35.

(12) “die in sin”: 8:21.

(13) “continue to follow”: 8:31.

(14) obeying Jesus’ teaching equals never seeing death: 8:51; 17:6.

(15) “turn to me” from Isaiah: 12:40.

(16) Obedience and love: 14:15, 21, 23–24.

(17) Remain and bear fruit: 15:1–5.

(18) Peter’s restoration: 21:15–17, 19b

These are all tough.  One cannot read John’s Gospel and derive from that that he was preaching a soft gospel.  He was not asking people to “only believe.”  John, like the other Gospels, is calling for radical transformation.  Salvation is just that.  Salvation is not merely a change in minds.  It is a change in everything!  Jesus demands that we follow Him completely (Luke 9:23-25; 14:25-35) and this is no different in the fourth Gospel.  Salvation is not just looking once to Jesus but is always looking to Jesus to save us and keep us (John 8:51).  As John the Apostle show us in his Gospel, Jesus is not a plan but He is our Lord and our God (John 20:28).  He is worthy to be worshiped and followed completely and forever.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/20/2013 at 10:10 AM

Hyper-Grace Focuses

What do hyper-grace blogs and preachers and ministries focus on?  I find it easy to identify what they both focus on and what they ignore.  So let’s begin by looking at what hyper-grace folks focus on (and not all of it is wrong I remind you).

1.  Salvation by Grace Through Faith.

It seems some hyper-grace teachers want to protect the teaching of salvation by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).  They honestly believe that adding repentance to this adds works to it and destroys salvation by grace through faith.

2.  Works Righteousness.

Hyper-grace teachers want us to avoid believing that our works obtain righteousness.  They are correct of course in this regard.  Our salvation is based on Jesus Christ and His work on the cross and not our works (Titus 3:5-7).  Jesus said that the work of God is to believe in the One that He has sent (John 6:29).  Our works, writes Isaiah in Isaiah 64:6, are but filthy garments in His holy presence.  This is not to demean works but to simply put down the notion of us obtaining God’s perfect righteousness by our works (Romans 4:5).

3.  Guilt Factors in Discipleship.

We do not serve God out of guilt.  We serve Him out of love.  Some hyper-grace teachers want us to realize that we can serve God out of love and not out of guilt.  We don’t pray, fast, read our Bibles, worship, enjoy fellowship with other disciples, etc. out of guilt but out of love.  This, like above, is a good point.

4.  Seeks To Avoid Making the Christian Life All About Us.

The Christian life, writes one hyper-grace teacher, is about Jesus.  Amen!  The Christian life is all about Jesus (Colossians 3:1-4).  Our lives are to be marked by a passion for Jesus and what He has done and not our works, our desires, our passions, our goals, etc.  We are to focus on Jesus completely.

Now let us turn to the many errors of the hyper-grace teachers and what they often leave out.

1.  Ignore Human Responsibility.

Like the hyper-Calvinists, hyper-grace teachers avoid the clear call in the Bible to our response to the gospel and to the Lordship of Christ.  True faith is never a dead faith (James 2:14-26).  True faith in Christ obeys Jesus as Lord (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46-49; 1 John 2:3-6).  Hyper-grace teachers avoid any call in the Bible to seek God, to obey God, to follow Christ, to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-17).  I even found one hyper-grace teacher attacking preaching in the open air.  He mocked this and quoted from Isaiah 42:2 as proof that we should not preach in the open air.

2.  Ignore Holiness Passages.

There are so many holiness passages.  We are to be pure in heart (Matthew 5:8).  We are to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48).  We are to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11).  We are to complete holiness out of fear for God (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1).  We are to examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 12:21-13:5).  We are to be blameless (Philippians 2:15).  We are to pursue holiness (Hebrews 12:14) and to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).  We are to forsake sin (1 John 3:4-10).  Hyper-grace teachers avoid holiness passages altogether.

3.  Ignore the Fact that We Cannot Worship God and Satan.

1 Corinthians 10:21 says that we cannot drink both the cup of Christ and the cup of demons as well.  In context (1 Corinthians 9:24-10:21), we cannot serve both God and Satan.  To serve Satan ends in death (James 1:12-15; 5:19-20).  We cannot both walk in the Spirit and in the flesh at the same time (Galatians 5:16-17).  We cannot both love Christ and hate Him at the same time.  We can, however, claim facts about Christ but not His (James 2:19).

4.  View Any Discipline as Legalism.

By discipline I mean the disciplines of prayer, worship, fasting, evangelism, Bible study.  If you say that a Christian should do these things, some hyper-grace teachers will cry, “legalism” and run for the hills.  While not of these disciplines save us, they are proofs of our salvation (Ephesians 2:10).  Jesus said we would pray (Matthew 6:5) and fast (Matthew 5:16).  Jesus said that we would do good works for His glory (Matthew 5:13-16; John 14:12).  Jesus said that His followers would remain in His Word (John 8:31-32) which is able to save our souls (James 1:21).  While we cannot obtain God’s righteousness by our disciplines, our disciplines flow from our justification.

5.  Ignore Sanctification.

I have yet to hear a hyper-grace teacher teach on 1 Thessalonians 4:3 and the need for sanctification.  Most hyper-grace teachers believe at the moment a person is saved (just once and only once is sufficient no matter how the person lives their lives), that person is now glorified in the eyes of God.  They see our glorification as already done so that progressive sanctification is completely ignored.  They see no need to stress holiness, obedience to Christ as Lord, etc. since a once saved person is forever saved and has already been glorified before God because of Christ.

6.  Despise Repentance.

Most hyper-grace teachers despise repentance.  They see it as a form of works-righteousness, of legalism, and bondage.  They see repentance as completely negative instead of seeing it as a positive (2 Corinthians 7:10; 2 Peter 3:9).

7.  Read the Bible With Dispensational Scissors.  

Many hyper-grace teachers will usually camp in the Gospel of John (he is okay) and the Epistles (except not Hebrews or James) but they avoid the other three Gospels and view them as “under law.”  For instance, one hyper-grace teacher commented on his blog, “The gospel of John never uses repentance so why should we?”  The answer is of course because the Bible uses it.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that all Scripture is breathed out by God and Paul was referring to the Old Testament.  Further Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:16, about the Old Testament mind you, that it is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.  If this true of the Old Testament, it is true of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  To divide the Scriptures up like this has no warrant other than theological bias.

8.  Ignore the Book of Acts.

The book of Acts is full of salvation and repentance and even necessary perseverance (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 4:12; 11:18; 14:22-23; 16:30-34; 17:30-31; 26:20).  Hyper-grace teachers will sometimes use Acts 15 to preach against “legalism” as they see it or sometimes will appeal to Acts 16:31 for salvation but will ignore the calls to repentance.

9.  Provide Comfort For the Sinning.

The Bible offers no assurance to the person who lives in consistent sin.  None.  1 John 3:4-10 is clear:

4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

In fact, the same John the Beloved who wrote the Gospel of John also wrote this in 1 John 2:1-6:

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

I remind you that the same John the Beloved also wrote in Revelation 21:7-8:

7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.

I end by also quoting from the same John the Beloved and the words from our Lord in John 8:11:

She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/08/2013 at 10:06 AM

Legalism Kills

When I first entered college at a conservative, evangelical Bible college in 1993, the school had several policies.  One, among many, was that we could not wear blue jeans.  We could wear black jeans, red jeans, green jeans, etc. but just not blue jeans.  I wore two pair of black jeans for my entire first year.  Another weird rule was that we could play sports on Sunday but not keep score.  If we kept score we would be guilty of breaking the Lord’s Day.  We kept score by using our fingers but not by saying the score out loud.  Other rules were we had to attend church on Sunday (even if you had to work, you had to find a way to attend a church service) and we had to have a mandatory “quite time” where we read our Bible and prayed.  We had to attend all chapels.  We had to keep our hair a certain length above our ears.  We had to attend specific churches otherwise we had to sign a statement acknowledging that we were attending a church that the college did not approve.

I know a guy who attended a well-known fundamentalist school in Florida and their rules were stricter than ours.  Women had to wear dresses with no makeup.  Men had to wear slacks at all times.  Ties were optional but favored.  They could only use the King James Version, could not study from any other Bible than the KJV and had to attend the local KJV only church near the college.  They could have no facial hair, no jewelry.  They could not listen to any secular radio stations.  They had to practice “biblical separation” from the world and the compromising church.

Legalism kills.  Legalism forces you to be concerned with yourself, your works, your morals.  It pays little attention to your heart.  When I was in college I quickly gained a love for Jesus as He attacked the hypocritical Pharisees.  I saw Pharisees all around me.  I saw men who could play the parts that the college expected from us but inwardly they didn’t love Christ nor His kingdom.  They did all the college asked them to do and yet they didn’t love God.  God was viewed by them (and most of us at that time) as harsh, a God who is keeping His books open, ready to convict us of the littlest infraction of His holy law.  Our outward works were our focus and not on the gospel of His grace.

Sadly, now the pendulum seems to be swinging the other way.  My old school is just like any other college these days.  The only exception would be they are still required to attend chapel, to attend a local church of their choosing, and to not be physical with the opposite sex until marriage.  Yet gone are the days of the old legalistic rules.  In part, of course, I am happy to see this.  Legalism doesn’t produce joy.  Legalism doesn’t produce righteousness.  Legalism doesn’t produce faithful disciples of Christ.  Legalism produces death.

Yet so does cheap grace!

I see cheap grace replacing legalism.  Instead of the true gospel taking the place of legalism, cheap grace that allows for sin is becoming the norm.  True holiness is not produced by works.  True holiness is not produced by emotionalism.  True holiness is produced by biblical grace but biblical grace doesn’t allow for unchecked sinning (1 John 3:7-8).  We are told in Hebrews 10:26-31 to not spurn the Son of God and to think that we can willfully go on sinning against God.  The balance of grace sees that our salvation is based on God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) and is finished by His grace (Romans 5:1-11; 1 Peter 1:3-9).  Grace enables the passionate disciple of Jesus to see just how great is His love for us (1 John 3:1-3) and to see that He saves us by His own power (Romans 11:6).  Further, true grace enables the disciple to overcome sin not by our own will-power but by His overcoming grace (Titus 2:12).  There are simply no assurances given to those who are living in sin.  In fact, Romans 6:23 makes it clear that the wages of sin is still death.

Cheap grace may give some relief to the guilty conscience but in the end, it destroys lives and destroys people.  Cheap grace is just as dangerous as legalism.  Both kill.  Both are tools of Satan (John 8:44).

My advice is simple: the gospel.  The gospel focuses on Jesus.  The gospel doesn’t focus on our abilities or our sins or our works.  The gospel focuses on the finished work of Christ.  The gospel is our defense against the enemy of our souls (Revelation 12:11).  The gospel is the truth of God that sets the sinner free to love God, enjoy God, worship God, and obey God.  When we see that Jesus is our salvation, that He is our Savior and Redeemer, our hope is not in us but in Him (1 Peter 1:5).  Our forgiveness, our righteousness, our security, our intercessor, our head, our shepherd, our Lord and Master – this is our God (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).  The gospel is not about what we do but what about what He has done for us (Galatians 3:1-5) and yet this gospel sanctifies us (Acts 15:9).  This gospel produces fruit in us by working in us and helping us become more like Jesus (Galatians 5:1, 13-15; Ephesians 5:1-2).  The gospel focuses all on Jesus and His works (Galatians 1:6-9).  The gospel truly sets us free (John 8:31-38; Romans 8:1).  But the gospel also empowers us through the Holy Spirit to be holy (Romans 8:1-4).  We are not perfect (James 3:2) but our aim is to be like Jesus (1 John 2:6) but not through blind obedience to laws of men but to submission to the Spirit of God who is making us more like Jesus.  We once were vile sinners but by grace, we are now focused on becoming more and more like Jesus our Savior (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).  The gospel recognizes that we are always in need of God’s grace.  We never get to the point where we don’t need His grace nor His forgiveness.  We daily recognize that our salvation is found only in Jesus Christ (John 15:1-11).

I pray that this short post will encourage you to love Jesus, to appreciate just a little more what He has done for us.  Jesus alone is worthy to be praised for saving us (Revelation 5:9-10).  I pray that we will faithfully preach the gospel of Christ and not the lies of flesh through legalism or cheap grace.  The true gospel saves (Romans 1:16-17).  The true gospel sets us free.

What Is Behind the Non-Lordship View of Salvation

I am convinced that behind the non-Lordship view of salvation is not a desire to protect the gospel from good works being the cause of salvation but rather a love for sin.  People who embrace a radical view of eternal security that denies that Jesus must be Lord of a person’s life or that a person must repent of their sins or that a person need not advance toward sanctification love sin.  They love to sin and they want to sin without anyone saying that they should not sin nor should they stop sinning.  They love sin and desire to continue in sin all while believing that their one time hearing of the gospel and believing the gospel is sufficient for heaven.  How wrong they are.

I once had a friend who embraced the radical non-Lordship, eternal security view.  Theology does lead to how we live.  What we believe does affect how we live our lives.  My former friend stopped preaching holiness, stopped calling people to repentance, stopped avoiding sin himself including indulging in pornography.  Eventually he left his wife for another woman and is today a shell of the man he use to be.  In college this man was passionate for Jesus, would fast and pray, would go out on the streets preaching the gospel to the lost, and when he preached to teenagers, he would call them to repent and embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ which included Jesus’ absolute Lordship over their lives.  Yet he begin to wonder down the road of non-Lordship when he begin to read books by non-Lordship authors such as Charles Ryrie (which he used his study Bible at the time), Bob George (who eventually convinced him that sin was not an issue at all), and Zane Hodges.  When I countered with both Scripture and with books from John MacArthur or Michael Horton, he called their view “works righteousness” which I thought only applied to Arminians like me.

Scripture makes it clear that we can’t have Jesus as Savior and not Lord.  Such bizarre teaching is not found in any of the writings of the early Church Fathers down to the 19th century.  Such teaching is not found in the book of Acts.  We never find the Apostles preaching that one could have Jesus as Savior and later make Him Lord.  The entire New Testament points to Jesus as both Savior and Lord (Luke 6:46-49).  Even the confession of Jesus as Lord in Romans 10:9 is more than just confessing that He is God (as Ryrie says in his study Bible) but involves the declaration that He reigns over us.  1 John 2:3-6 makes it clear that to say we know Jesus and not obey Him shows we are liars and His truth is not in us.  1 John 3:6-9 makes it clear that to practice sin shows that we are children of Satan and not God.  1 Peter 1:15-16 calls us to be holy as God is holy.  The call of Matthew 5:48 is to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect.

Furthermore, we find nothing in the New Testament that presents sanctification as optional.  Sanctification flows from salvation in Jesus (Romans 6:22-23).  Even in Romans 7 after discussing the problem of the flesh, Paul says that we have victory through the Lord Jesus Christ (v. 25).  In Romans 8 Paul clearly shows us that sanctification is involved in the Christian experience as we walk in the Spirit.  In fact, Romans 8:13 says that if we live in the flesh, we will die.  That is tough but true.

Non-Lordship teachers like to say that they are protecting the gospel from works.  They say that the only thing a person must do to be saved is believe in Jesus.  They point to passages such as John 3:16 or John 5:24 or John 6:29 or Acts 16:31 or Ephesians 2:8-9.  They ignore repentance passages.  They ignore baptism passages.  Why?  Because they believe that such verses, if added with faith passages, would lead to works salvation which is denied (Titus 3:5-7).  They believe, correctly by the way, that salvation is not a work of man but of God (John 1:12-13).  They say that to teach that Jesus must be Lord leads to people obeying commands instead of being saved by grace through faith.

I disagree of course but even deeper, I believe that such a view always leads to a life of sin.  While it might be true that some of their teachers are seeking to deny works salvation, their view leads to ignoring the holiness of God, the wrath of God against sin, and the power of sin (Jude 4).  People who love sin will always love the non-Lordship teaching because it allows for continued sinning without repentance (Hebrews 10:19-39).

I pray that we would be biblical in preaching the gospel and would also preach the gospel to ourselves.  Jesus came to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).  How can we call ourselves His people yet not desire to be saved from our sins?

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/26/2012 at 2:25 PM

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