Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘The gospel of Jesus Christ

Defining the Gospel

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

– 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (NASB)

The gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16).  But what is the gospel?  I have attended many churches over the years but few ever spent much time actually breaking down what the gospel is or is not.  Some say they preach the gospel each and every week but all they mean by this is that they offer “the sinner’s prayer” for salvation at the end of their sermons.  Few really grasp the gospel.

Asking people what is the gospel is also difficult.  People just don’t know.  Depending on their church, they might define the gospel as Jesus dying for our sins, good works for people, or a host of other statements.  The gospel, biblically defined, is often not taught in many churches.

Over the past few years we have seen an influx of “gospel centered” ministries.  We now view everything as “a gospel issue.”  Whether it be work, sex, marriage, sports, entertainment, etc. everything is now said to be a “gospel issue.”  We have groups such as “The Gospel Coalition” or “Together For The Gospel” but is the gospel the main focus?  Are we really together for the gospel?  How many people even grasp what the gospel is?

In 1 Corinthians 15 we have Paul the Apostle defining the gospel.  He states in verse 1 that he wants to remind the Corinthians of the gospel which he preached to them and which they received.  He states in verse 2  that this gospel is what saved them.  In verse 3 Paul states that this gospel is of first importance meaning that this message takes preeminence above everything else that could be taught.  This gospel came not from men but from God (Galatians 1:11-12).

What then is the essence of the gospel?  Paul tells us in verses 3-5:

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

Notice Paul’s movements here.  First, Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.  This is important.  Paul is not moving beyond what has been written beforehand in the Old Testament.  The Old Testament prophesied that Christ would die.  Jesus Himself taught His disciples from the Old Testament about Himself after His resurrection (Luke 24:44-48).  The Apostles were eye-witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection and they took not just His resurrection but the Old Testament texts and began to preach the gospel.  The Book of Acts records the Apostles preaching of the work of the Lord Jesus and it is clear that they took the Master’s teaching from the Old Testament and taught about Him to the lost.

All of this, the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus is based on the Old Testament.  The foundation for solid gospel preaching is not rooted in experience but in the Scriptures.  This was the apostolic authority and is ours as well (2 Timothy 3:15-17).  Peter the Apostle states we have a more sure word (2 Peter 1:16-21) because of the Scriptures.

So our preaching should be based on the apostolic authority of the Bible.  The gospel flows from Scripture and is focused on the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The gospel focuses on the fact that Jesus died on the cross for our sins.  He was buried and He was raised for our justification (Romans 4:24-25).

Sadly this gospel is often lacking in many churches.  I download a local seeker sensitive church to hear what they are preaching these days.  Each week my iPhone downloads their Sunday service.  What do I get to hear?  The gospel?  Sadly no.  I hear positive twists on texts and I hear a lot of talk about how God wants to bless us, use us, and work through us to touch our neighbors but I don’t hear the gospel.  Sometimes sin is mentioned or repentance but little is said about the gospel.  Sometimes the “sinner’s prayer” is offered and I assume they think that is the gospel but I don’t hear anything of 1 Corinthians 15:1-11.

We must see how the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 and all through the Bible impacts our lives.  I could write for days on this one issue but on a surface level, the gospel daily reveals to me that it was my sins that Christ died for.  This is clear in verse 3.  My sins.  I see my sins all the time.  My sins scream at me like demons hiding in the shadows.  My sins torment me in my dreams.  My sins are easy to find and easy to see.  But the gospel shouts to me that Christ died for my sins (Galatians 1:4).  My sins are not erased by good works (Ephesians 2:8-9).   My sins are not washed away by penance.  My sins are not taken away by my own self-reformation.  My sins are only washed away through the blood of Jesus that He shed on the cross for my salvation (Matthew 26:28; Acts 13:38-39; Romans 3:24-25; 5:9; Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:22, 27-28; 10:4; 1 John 1:7).  The death of Jesus on the cross speaks to my sins and while my sins condemn me, the Lord Jesus saves me not because of what I have done but because of His grace alone (Titus 3:5-7).

The gospel is not just Jesus’ death for my sins.  Without the resurrection, we are still dead in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:16-17).  Paul wrote in Romans 4:24-25:

24 but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.

Without the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, there is no forgiveness of our sins.  That Christ died would prove nothing.  If Jesus is not raised from the dead then He died just like we will die.  But the Bible says that Jesus is risen from the dead.  A cursory reading of the Book of Acts shows not just the fact that Jesus died on the cross but that He was raised from the dead.  All four Gospels record the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  This is the main focus of the Christian message:  Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.

How does this impact me?  Why is this part of the gospel?  Well again if Jesus is not risen, we are still dead in our sins.  But if Jesus is alive (and He is!) then we can be saved through faith in Him just as He said (John 5:24-25).  The focal point of John 20:31 is true:  Jesus is worthy of worship and praise as the One who shed His blood for our salvation and was raised for our justification.  Because of Christ, my sins are forgiven and I have peace with God through Him (Romans 5:1).  I have One who sits at God’s mighty right hand for my salvation (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25).  Jesus is now my faithful high priest who prays for me before the Father as my intercessor, my advocate (Hebrews 4:14; 1 John 2:1-2).  1 Timothy 2:5 states that Jesus is our mediator before our holy God.

This is the gospel.  The gospel is not self-reformation.  The gospel is not about trying harder.  The gospel is about the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus all according to the Scriptures.  Jesus is the One who was prophesied about in Isaiah 53:

Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.

3 He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.

6 All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.

7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.

8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

9 His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

10 But the Lord was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.

11 As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.

Just Wondering About Atheists

I was visiting another blog that has frequently visits from atheists and I was curious at how many atheists were on this blog attacking the writers, attacking God, attacking the Christian worldview, etc.  It got me thinking about this.

First, I don’t spend my time looking for atheists blogs.  They would be pointless.  Rather than “defending” atheism, they spend their time mainly attacking the Christian God.  No doubt they hate all religion and all “gods” but they especially hate Jesus Christ.  Their “proofs” have long been proven false but they continue to spit out their lies.  The fact of Romans 1:18, 25 is true of them.

Secondly, I ponder why do atheists go searching for blogs or sites that defend theism?  If God does not exist, what is the point?  Why worry about what is not true?  Why not just preach the virtues of atheism and let the results speak for themselves?  If atheism leads to a righteous life, a moral life, a life free from guilt and shame, teachings that lead drug addicts from addiction, porn addicts to freedom, homosexuals from their bondage, liars to the truth, etc. why not preach this and let the “gospel” of atheism do the rest?

Instead, atheists spend their day hating the God that they say does not exist.  I don’t doubt that there are practical atheists out there who claim to believe in God but deny Him by their actions and their lives (Psalm 14; Titus 1:16).  Yet practical atheists would claim to be theists.  They deny God by their actions but they don’t spend their time trying to disprove God.  Their lives do.  So called true atheists spend their time hating God, despising Him, mocking Him, and seeking to tear down others belief in Him.

But again why?  I point out that I don’t go searching for atheists blogs to defend theism.  In actuality, I don’t need to do that.  They know God exists.  The Bible points this out in Romans 1:21.  All people know God exists.  They can’t know Him by this inward knowledge but they know there is a God.  Yet Romans 1:18 tells us that people love their sin and so they suppress the truth of God because they don’t want to submit to Him but instead to rebel against Him and His authority.  However, mankind cannot escape and will face God in final judgement after they die (Hebrews 9:27).  Our only hope is the gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16-17; 3:21-26; 5:1).

The fact remains that the virtues of atheism are not there.  It is not atheists who are helping the homeless in Chicago.  It is not the atheists who are helping drug addicts in Atlanta.  It is not the atheists who are providing drinking water in African villages.  It was not atheists who poured into Haiti following the disasters there.  It is not atheists who are speaking out against the slavery of women in southeast Asia to sex trades.  Where are the atheists who hate abortion and want it abolished?  Where are the atheists who turn men around who use to beat their wives into men who are righteous and good?  Where are the atheists who can take their gospel to the alcoholic and see them transformed?

This is what Christ does all the time.  He makes all things new (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/06/2014 at 11:56 AM

Jesus Bore My Sins, The Wrath of a Holy God

The gospel causes me to do two things.  First, the gospel makes me realize my utter sinfulness before a holy God.  I have no righteousness apart from that which He imputes to me (Isaiah 64:6).  I cannot earn the favor of this holy God.  My sins have buried me in despair and I see how wicked I appear before this holy and just God.  How can I approach this holy One?  How can I find peace with Him who is perfect and I a sinner?

But the gospel also shows me the grace of God, that He would send His one and only Son to die for me, this wicked sinner.  The gospel is the goodness of God expressed in His Son.  The gospel is the love of God expressed in His Son.  The gospel does shout that I am sinful, condemned to die for my sins against this God but the gospel also shouts, “Grace to it” (Zechariah 4:7).  I see my wickedness but I see His beauty when I look at the gospel of our God (Romans 1:1).

The gospel reveals to me that Jesus has bore my sins.  He took the wrath of God in my place.  Isaiah prophesied about this Christ and His work in Isaiah 53.  I will place the entire passage here for us to mediate upon and see the wonder of the grace of God at work in His Son:

Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.

3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.

8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?

9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Notice verse 10.  It was the will of the LORD to crush Him!  The will of God was that His perfect Son would bear my sins.  2 Corinthians 5:21 reads,

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

1 Peter 2:22-24 says,

22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

Hebrews 2:9 reads,

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

The perfect, holy, blameless, righteous Son of God bore my sins on the cross.  He died in my place.  He suffered for me.  His blood was shed to wash away my sins (Matthew 26:28; Ephesians 1:7) and by His stripes I am now healed.  He bore the wrath of a holy God for me!

Romans 5:8-9 reads,

8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

1 Thessalonians 1:10 assures us that Jesus has saved us from the wrath to come.

On the cross, the Lord Jesus died so that I might live.  He offered Himself to God for my sins.  In that moment, on the cross, the holy Son bore the wrath of a holy God against me.  That is the glorious gospel!  The gospel is not a picture so that I can feel moved to obedience.  I cannot obey a holy God enough to please Him nor can I perfectly obey Him all my life (Romans 8:8).  I need forgiveness.  I need grace.  I get both in the Son.  The cross is not a mere example of a holy God honoring His Law but it is the perfect Son bearing the wrath that the condemned sinner should bear and will bear if they don’t repent.  The sole reason that I can now be saved from God is the work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I pray that we all would honor the Son for His glorious work on the cross!  Salvation is available only because of His work (Romans 3:21-26).  Jesus died for our sins (Galatians 1:4) and He was raised for our justification (Romans 4:24-25).  We can now be forgiven and justified before a holy God because of the work of Christ and the work of Christ alone (Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7).  Throughout all eternity we will worship the Lamb who bore our sins (Revelation 5:13-14).

The Gospel by Matt Chandler

Here is the gospel…

 

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/17/2013 at 1:00 AM

The Sad World of False Converts

I know there is some debate over the use of the term “false convert” here.  Some hold that since people can commit apostasy from the faith, some are not false converts but have fallen from grace.  I understand this argument.  Allow me to use the term in this post then to mean those who claimed Christ at some point and now have rejected their faith either verbally or in practice (1 John 3:4-10).  Obviously not all who professed Christ were actually followers of Him ever.  I have known many in this camp who confessed Jesus as Lord at some time but never followed Him at all.  Their hearts were never transformed by His grace.  On the other hand I have known people who seemed genuine in their walks with Christ and seemed to love God and His Word but at some point they turned away from Jesus and went back to their lives of sin (2 Peter 2:20-22).  Whether they were not saved to begin with is not for me to decide for the Lord knows the hearts of all (2 Timothy 2:19; Hebrews 4:13).

I want to address the false converts that I so often meet or hear about.  In popular media one can point to the sad lives of Miley Cyrus or Katy Perry.  Cyrus claimed to be a Christian while she was doing work on her popular Disney show, Hannah Montana.  Recently Cyrus tweeted, “You are all stardust. You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded… So forget Jesus. Stars died so you could live.”  Katy Perry actually recorded a Christian praise album in 2001 under the name Katy Hudson.  Perry was raised in an evangelical home.  She now claims that her upbringing took the joy out of life (she could not enjoy sin).  I suppose that both Cyrus and Perry heard the typical Christian “gospel” found in the United States.  Sadly, it produced these young women who now reject the faith.  No doubt both chose to rebel (as all sin is a choice of rebellion against God’s law; see 1 John 3:4).  Both women have chosen to travel down this apostate road that only leads to despair and destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).

My point here is not to attack Cyrus or Perry as much as to point out that these are examples of false converts and the problem with American Christianity.  Neither Cyrus or Perry could explain the gospel if you asked them.  They typify much of the modern church.  Both grew up in the American church where the “sinner’s prayer” gets you in forever.  The American church has become so focused on entertainment instead of doctrine, the average person attending an evangelical church is hard pressed to explain the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  We are quick to get people to “say the prayer” or “get baptized” without then beginning to understand even the basics of the faith.  One seeker church nearby me claimed that 600 people “got saved” this past Sunday.  In reality, 600 people “raised their hand and prayed the prayer” but none heard the law of God, the wrath of God, His anger against sin (Psalm 5:5).  Our preaching has not convicted them one bit as it did in Acts 2:37.  We don’t have people falling down begging us to show them the way of salvation (Acts 16:30-34).  We don’t have people repenting with tears (2 Corinthians 7:10).  We don’t have preaching that pierces our hearts (Luke 2:34-35).  We have been told over and over and over again that God loves us without any thought to His holiness or His wrath against sin (Romans 1:18).  Our preaching has produced nothing but people who claim Christ with their lips but not their lives (1 John 2:3-6).

So what do we get?  We get Miley Cyrus and we get Katy Perry.  And sadly, the church seeks to copy them above the Master.  Entertainers above expositors.  Flashy above faithfulness.  Products of culture rather than pilgrims of God.  Happy “saints” above holy saints.  Fads instead of fasting.  Programs instead of prayer.  Enjoyment and pleasure above evangelism and preaching.  Sinning instead of sanctification.

We must preach repentance and forgiveness of sins through Christ alone.  Away with this indulging in the flesh sermon series that never expose sin nor exalt God to His rightful place of worship and adoration.  We have made the gospel about us and about our needs above the true focus and that is the wrath of God against sin.  Our gospel must ring that people must repent of their sins and turn from their life of sinning through the power of the gospel of Christ.  Christ came to save us from the wrath of God (Romans 5:8-9).  Christ came to bring peace between us and God whom we despised and hated (Romans 5:1; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21).  Christ didn’t come to give us “our best life now” but He came because of our wickedness and our rebellion and our hatred for God and His Word.  He came to completely transform us (John 3:3-7; 5:24; 2 Corinthians 5:17).  Jesus didn’t come because He was lonely or we were lonely or He wanted to add to our lives and make them better.  He came because we are by nature children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3).  He came because He took the punishment that we deserved (Isaiah 53:4-6).

I urge you to pray for Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry and many like them.  Pray that they repent of their sins and turn from their wicked ways.  Pray that the Church would preach the true gospel and would call all to repentance (Acts 17:30-31).  Pray most of all that God is exalted among His saints and that His truth goes forth in power (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2).  May God save sinners for His glory through His gospel.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/31/2013 at 10:46 AM

God is the Gospel

Romans 1:1 uses the term, “the gospel of God.”  This is a fitting term for the gospel.  The gospel is not about rules.  The gospel is not about morality.  The gospel is not about our efforts to obtain moral perfection or to overcome our sins.  The gospel is not about Jesus saving us in the past on the cross only to leave sanctification up to us.  The gospel, from the beginning to the end, is all about God.  The focus of the gospel is not on us at all but upon the Lord Jesus Christ and what He has done in securing our salvation.

That said, I fear that some may learn to love the term “gospel” without really loving the Who (and not the band) of the gospel.  The gospel must not be reduced to mere knowledge about Jesus.  The gospel must be all about God.  When I say that I love the gospel, I want that to mean that I love God.  When I say that the gospel is what motivates me, I want that to mean that Jesus is my Lord in every area of my life.  When I say that I want to have a gospel driven approach to marriage, to raising my boys, to work, to evangelism, to theology, to how I read the Bible and apply it to my life, I want that to mean that Jesus is my passion and all that I say and do revolves around His Lordship over my life (Colossians 3:17).  I don’t want to say that I am gospel driven and mean that I love facts about Christ or that I love theology.  I want to be like Paul the Apostle and love Jesus (Philippians 3:7-11).  I want to show my love for the gospel by learning to allow the Spirit of God to move through me to obedience to the Lordship of Christ (1 John 2:3-6).

The gospel is not facts.  The gospel is not a plan.  The gospel cannot be reduced to steps.  The gospel is not something we use on the lost to bring them to repentance.  Rather the gospel is all about God.  The focus is on God.  After all, it is His laws that we have violated that caused us to need His grace for our salvation (1 John 3:4).  We humans deserve His just wrath against sin (Romans 1:18).  The gospel is focused on how God saved us in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).  The gospel is all about Christ and His saving work (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).  In short, the gospel is focused on a Person and not a plan.  I pray that I don’t view the gospel as about me, my life, my plans, or even a plan but I pray that I focus on the Lordship of Christ in all things.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/29/2013 at 11:23 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.

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