Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘Fear of the Lord

Brief Thoughts on the Gospel Centered Movement

The gospel centered movement has been refreshing in many ways.  I have longed to hear the Church preaching the gospel and standing for the gospel.  The word “gospel” has become popular again among Christians and I am grateful for that.  I rejoice that many books and even songs are now coming out that focus on the gospel.  The gospel has become a point that we are now agreeing is essential and is what the Church must be built upon.

That said, I do see some problems beginning to arise in the popular gospel centered movement.  We would be best to avoid these areas as we preach the gospel to the lost and I believe we should keep in mind that we are to preach the full council of the Word of God and not merely what we like.  Let me give you three main problems I now see with the gospel centered movement as it presently is taking shape.

1.  Antinomianism.

Antinomianism means “no law.”  This is becoming a major theme among gospel centered preaching.  The problem is that many want to focus all on the gospel without the law.  We need both.  The law shows us our sins (Romans 7:7) and Paul said the law was good (1 Timothy 1:8).  The law prepares the heart for the grace of God as revealed in the gospel (Galatians 3:23-24).

Furthermore, those who preach all gospel seem to not care about personal holiness (a point I will make later).  The focus is always: gospel, gospel, gospel.  But the New Testament is equally clear that God has called His people to holiness (1 Peter 1:15-16).  The gospel does not mean that we can now live in sin and be proud.  The gospel is all about Jesus setting us free from the power of sin (John 8:31-38).  The gospel is all about grace that leads to holiness (Titus 2:11-12).  We need to preach the fear of God (Proverbs 1:7) and that discipline is good and flows from the gospel (James 2:14-26).

2.  Lack of Holiness Preaching With Warnings.

Gospel centered preaching can become so full of grace that we fail to warn people to forsake sin (1 Corinthians 15:34) and to repentance (Matthew 3:8).  We can fail to preach biblical holiness (Hebrews 12:14) and that God sent His Son to save us from His wrath and from our sins.  We must also warn people to abide in Christ (Acts 14:22-23).  We must preach the so-called “warning passages” such as Romans 11:20-22 or 1 Corinthians 9:24-10:21 or 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.  We must preach Galatians 5:1-4 or Galatians 6:7-9 and many more.  Certainly preach the grace and forgiveness of the Lord but also warn people to flee sin and to keep our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2).

3.  Too Much Focus on Self and Freedom.

Todd Friel points out that many gospel centered blogs now feature blogs on beer and wine.  While I am not saying that one drink condemns a soul,  I do believe that many are taking their freedom in Christ too far.  There are many disciples who have forsaken all alcohol and we must keep this in mind in our freedom (Romans 14:13).

While I am grateful that God has given me freedom in Christ, this freedom is to serve Him (Romans 13:10).  Galatians 5:13 says that we are not to use our freedom for our flesh.  God has redeemed us to glorify Himself (Ephesians 1:6).  2 Timothy 1:9 says that God saved us and called us to a holy life.  God didn’t call me merely to the gospel so that I could be free to do what I like.  God saved me by His grace for His glory and for a holy life that I might serve Him (Ephesians 2:8-10).


I am thankful for the gospel.  It is the gospel that saved me and kept me all these years (James 1:21).  The gospel is precious to me.  Recently I was praying and I begin to thank God for the preciousness of the gospel like a pearl of great value (Matthew 13:45-46).  The gospel is wonderful and the thought that Christ gave His life for mine is a wonder in of itself (Galatians 2:20).  I rejoice that Jesus died, rose again, and now sits at God’s right hand till His enemies be made His footstool (Psalm 110:1).  I pray that the gospel will go forth.

But I also pray that the warnings I have stated will become part of our preaching.  The gospel is precious but the gospel is about Jesus saving me from both the wrath of God and from my sins.  Romans 6:1-4 is clear that those who have been baptized into Christ have been baptized into His death and His resurrection.  We now can walk in the newness of life.  Sanctification is not optional.  Sanctification flows from salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.


Where is the Fear of the Lord?

One of the troubling aspects of eternal security, in my estimation, is that it causes people to lose the fear of the Lord among many other things that the teaching does to rob people of God’s presence in their lives.  Since a person is “once saved, always saved” then antinomianism is bound to set in since God doesn’t see them but He sees only Jesus and His perfect righteousness and obedience credited to the believer.  How can this not lead to an abuse of grace?  One Calvinist writer wrote that he would hope that people do accuse him of abusing grace.  Chuck Swindoll says equally the same, that if we are preaching true grace as Paul preached grace then they will accuse us of abusing grace (Romans 6:1).  When a person believes that they have eternal life apart from continued faith in Jesus and when they are taught that they can live as they want to live and are still guaranteed heaven, this can only lead to a loss of fearing the Lord.

Yet the Scriptures exhort us to fear God.  Proverbs 1:7 says that the beginning of wisdom is to fear the Lord.  Jesus taught in Luke  12:4-5 that we are to fear God.  Paul said in Romans 11:20 that we are not to be haughty (which is where eternal security often  leads) but fearful.  In 2 Corinthians 5:11 Paul even said, “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (NKJV).

In my estimation we need a godly dose of fear.  Where is the fear of God among believers today?  Most see God as their therapeutic counselor above Almighty God.  Most don’t concern much with the commands of the Lord since they need not fear Him anymore.  I had a guy even tell me one time, “I despise hearing people talking about fearing God.  That was the Old Testament.  I am now a friend of God.”  Few seem to want to sit and gleam wisdom from God since they don’t fear Him.  Why fear Him if in fact He no longer convicts of sin (John 16:8-11) or if He no longer is the source for eternal life since we have received eternal life as a gift from Him even if we deny Jesus Christ?

I pray I always fear God.  I often pray 1 Corinthians 10:12-13.  I don’t want to boast in my salvation while watching others around me give in to sin and think that I am so secure in my salvation that I would never turn to a life of sin.  I need Jesus to help me overcome sin.  I fear that I would turn from Him who alone gives eternal life so I cling to Him (2 Corinthians 1:24).  I fear His holiness.  I fear His wrath.  I stand in awe of His salvation and grace.  I don’t want to grow cold toward Him or lose my fear of Him.  I want to always seek to exalt Him in all that I say or do (1 Peter 1:15-16).

How many countless souls have turned away from following the Lord because they were incorrectly taught that they need not fear God.  Even if they were told to fear God, in practice they need not fear Him since His wrath is satisfied with Jesus and they are forever imputed with Jesus’ righteousness even apart from obedience to Him as Lord (1 John 3:6-9).  They have been taught that nothing can separate them from God’s love (which is true; Romans 8:38-39) but then told incorrectly that that includes their sins and unbelief (Hebrews 3:6-19).  Eternal life is found in an eternal Jesus (John 5:24).  If we are in Jesus by faith, we are secure in our faith (1 Peter 1:5).  We need not fear sin or Satan or the world if we are in Jesus (Colossians 3:1-3).  If we are in Jesus, we have the confidence that He is praying for us (Hebrews 7:25).  But where is the fear of the Lord?  Where are those who would preach Hebrews 10:19-39?  Where are those who would preach hard against sin and call disciples of Jesus to kill sin in their lives through God’s grace (Titus 2:11-12)?

I urge you to pray for the fear of the Lord.  Psalm 36:1 says that there is no fear of the Lord among the ungodly.  May that not be true of us.  1 Peter 2:17 commands us to fear God.  Even Jesus had fear of God according to Hebrews 5:7 (NKJV).  Should not we?  Are we somehow above Psalm 36:1 or 1 Peter 2:17?  Oh fear God you His saints!  There is a godly fear that is much needed even by those who have been washed in the blood of Jesus (Romans 5:8-9).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/10/2012 at 10:30 AM

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