Tuesday, October 11, 2016

What Gospel Are You Hearing? The Holiness Gospel

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. Galatians 1:6-7 NKJV

16 For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile Romans 1:16 NLT

 In the recent weeks, we've been looking at the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What it is and what it isn't. We've been asking what gospel are you hearing. I've received much positive feedback from people as they acknowledge having heard other messages claiming to be the Gospel, at some point in their life. This is super encouraging because this reveals the shackles of dead works and the lies of  religious tradition are being exposed. Today, I sense the impression to explore another "gospel" message that I'm certain many have heard in their lifetime. 

What is the Gospel?

 The English word that is translated Gospel in the New Testament is the Greek word "Euaggelion". It is defined as the glad tidings of salvation through Christ. The proclamation of the Grace of God manifest and pledged in Christ. This is the Gospel. Glad tidings of total salvation in and through Christ. Proclaiming God's Grace is the Gospel. It is not a movement or a fad, or the new buzz word. Grace is the Gospel.  With the understanding of what the true Gospel is let's look at another message masquerading as the Gospel.

The Holiness Gospel.

 The holiness gospel is not a message of glad tidings but rather sad tidings of how we often fail to measure up to God's standards. I can hear some saying to themselves, wait, didn't Jesus say if we love Him we will keep His commandments? What about without holiness no one will see God? Well, Jesus did say that. The book of Hebrews accurately stated that without holiness no man will see God. 

 We will explore all of these passages, but first, let's look at this "gospel" message. I am going to reveal eight characteristics of the holiness gospel. My prayer is the stronghold of tradition would be uprooted and removed from believers. That they would see and embrace the Grace and goodness of God.
1. The holiness gospel exalts our performance over Christ's 
Finished Work. 
Christ's work wasn't sufficient enough to warrant God's love and Favor. God still needs your performance to complete what God started in you. Salvation is started in you but you need to complete it.

2. The holiness gospel's main focus is on people's sins, shortcomings, and failures.
Why no revival in the land? Your sins. Why no breakthrough? You just can't seem to shake those bad habits. Why is your harvest of blessing being delayed? Your failure to maintain faith and remain sin free. You must be reminded often about your sinfulness and weakness.

3. The holiness gospel constantly calls for "repentance".
Every meeting is filled with continual calls for people to repent. People fill altars and if they're not shedding tears then they're not sincere. Even if you can't think of anything else to repent from, you still need to be crying and sad over your sins and shortcomings.

4. The holiness gospel creates a list of "unforgivable" sins.
Getting a divorce? That's a sin, God can't use you in ministry any longer. Been divorced and now you're going to remarry? Wow, you've really sinned. God can never grant His favor to you. You've not been tithing? Now you've done it. You will never be blessed and God's Heaven is closed to you.

5. In the holiness gospel, Christ's Finished Work is unfinished.
Jesus said the work is finished but this traditional gospel says otherwise. Under the holiness gospel preaching, your sins aren't completely forgiven. You only possess partial forgiveness. Your sins are forgiven up to the point of conversion. Your salvation isn't eternal or secure. It is temporal based upon your faithfulness.

6. The holiness gospel spreads the continual fear of loss of sonship or salvation.
Missing too many church services? Skipped a few months of tithe payments? Struggling with a particular sin? Having doubts about God? Better watch it! Your eternal salvation is at stake. Better get things straightened out.

7. The holiness gospel establishes traditional rules. Focuses on the outward appearance and performance.
Women can't cut their hair or wear makeup. Speaking of women, they are to be seen not heard, they can't preach or be ministers. Men should be wearing a suit and tie to church. They best not have long hair. Tattoos are evil so don't get one. 

8. Under the holiness gospel, believer's righteousness is temporal, not eternal.
Being in right standing begins at salvation, but how you conduct yourself afterward proves whether you remain in right standing with God. If you get into some of the "big sins", you've lost your right standing. You need to stop everything else, separate yourself and get yourself right with God. Messed up? Oh, you can't go witness to others, you need to remain silent and spend much time getting right with God.

The holiness gospel isn't the good news

 I trust you see how the holiness gospel isn't the good news. Where are the glad tidings of salvation in Christ? Where is the Grace manifest in Christ in their teachings? It is lacking God's love and Grace and leaves its followers wanting and broken. 

 Yea but didn't Jesus say if we love Him we will keep His commands? 
15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments. John 14:15 NKJV
This passage isn't some warning. Further in this chapter in John, it says if you love me you will keep my words. It is a promise that we will follow Christ when we receive Him. What are these commandments? Are they that thou shalt not be divorced? Is it thou shalt keep the Sabbath?  No. It is not about keeping the Mosaic Law or other rules. It is being obedient to the commands in the New Covenant. These commands aren't burdensome, but simple, believe in Jesus Christ and walk in the love of God, (the commandments revealed here).
 What about Hebrews chapter 12 you Hyper-Grace preacher? 
14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: Hebrews 12:14 NKJV
 This is a beautiful passage. It is not some stern and harsh warning, threatening the loss of salvation as some wish. It is a promise. When we received the Lord we received all of Him in all of us. He made us holy, once for all time. So surely if we don't receive Him we can't see Him in all His goodness and mercy and love. Also, when we walk out who we've already been made others will see Christ by our actions of love and kindness.

 The holiness gospel then is not the message of the Cross. It is not glad tidings. It is not good news but a bad news message. This message makes one continually aware of their own faults and failures. The focus isn't upon God and His great love for us but rather an inward reflection on how one fails to measure up. 

 We need to uproot this "holiness"message from our thinking. In Christ, we have received of the fullness of God. Look at what Hebrews reveals.
10 By this will of God, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all.  14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are sanctified. Hebrews 10:10,14 HCSB
 This is the glad tidings of what salvation in Christ has purchased for us. This reveals the Grace of Christ. In Christ, there is no striving, no achieving, no earning anything. This is who He has made us by virtue of the Blood of Jesus. 
 Regardless of what tradition teaches, we can't earn or work for a free gift. We aren't called to pursue holiness. We aren't called to perform our way to a place of right standing. Holiness is what He made us in the New Creation. 
 Let the riches of Christ's goodness and immeasurable love cascade over your heart and mind renewing it to the image Christ has of you. When you readily receive and understand who you are in Him, any striving to please Him or working to earn a position of favor will cease for good. You could never do enough to earn God's love or affection or to keep His attention on you. When God called upon us to receive Him it wasn't a job offer. It wasn't an agreement that we will work so much for Him in exchange for the wages of love, favor, and acceptance. The  Gospel is the good news of God's eternal love for you, and His welcome invitation to New life and wholeness. 

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