Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Gospel of Grace: Understanding Mixture

I am shocked over how quickly you have deserted the grace gospel and strayed away from Christ who called you to Himself by His loving mercy. I’m frankly astounded that you now embrace a distorted gospel of salvation by works! 7 That is a fake “gospel” that is simply not true! There is only one gospel—the grace gospel! Yet you have allowed those who mingle law with Christ’s grace to confuse you with lies. Galatians 1:6-7 TPT first edition

 We've been in an extended study of the Gospel of Grace, the Good News of Jesus Christ and all He's done for us in the Finished Work. We have seen already that this Gospel is not a religion. We've seen the reality of the New Covenant. The reality of our Righteousness and the New Creation. 

 Today, it seems good to address this issue of "mixture." That is the mixture of Grace and Law. The mixture of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. As one minister said the mixture of Law and Grace is a confusing cocktail.

 This issue of mixture was one the Apostles dealt with extensively at the beginning of the Church. If you read Romans, Galatians, and Acts you will see it clearly. When Peter was told by God don't call common or unclean what I've called clean, this was the Good News that this salvation wasn't just for Jewish people. 

 Showing how powerful and influencing this mixture can be, look at Peter in Galatians 2. God Almighty told him specifically that the Gentiles were not unclean and salvation was available to them. Yet, Peter refused to eat with the Gentile believers because some Jewish leaders were present and he feared them. Paul openly challenged him. 

 Even with God Himself giving one a vision and spoken confirmation, this concept of mixture overrode the truth. That shows us how powerful mixture can be. It feeds off religious fears and concerns. Paul called it hypocrisy and a misrepresentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Mixture defined

 What is meant by the phrase mixing Law and Grace? To be clear, Paul and Peter are seen in their Epistles citing some Old Covenant passages and events. It doesn't mean that the entirety of the Old Testament passages are not Scripture. Quoting the Old Testament doesn't constitute mixture in and of itself.  For we can find Christ in the Old concealed. 

This Mixture is more clearly stated as Grace and Law-keeping. That is anytime we try to earn, achieve, receive what Christ procured at the Cross for us by our own efforts, our performance, our goodness, and spiritual disciplines. One reason so many fall into this trap is they don't understand what it means to be righteous.

 Righteousness is right standing with God. That is divine acceptance and approval with God apart from our doing. If one seeks forgiveness, favor, wholeness, by doing then they are mixing Grace with Law. They are mixing their works with Christ's perfect work. 

 Look at this event in Galatians 2 between Peter and Paul and you will clearly see what mixture is. Peter knew already that we were made Righteous by Faith and not our works. He wasn't living under the yoke of burden of Law-keeping any longer. Then when some Jewish believers who were operating in mixture came Peter wanted to "fit in", he wanted their approval. He was in fear over them. 

 To identify mixture we must have a full grasp of the Good News Gospel of Grace, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Keep it centered. If your minister asks for volunteers in the Church, that is not mixture. If leaders are involved in outreach ministries to the community and they ask for help or resources that doesn't mean they are proclaiming mixture. 

 Now if they said, volunteer or you won't be healed or you will let God down, then that would be mixture. So what is Law and Grace mixture? It's when we seek acceptance and approval and favor and blessing from God based on our doing, on our performance, on our good deeds. 

 Another area that we must address is this idea of mixing the Old Covenant with the New Covenant. In Acts 15 we see a clear picture of this. The Judaizers wanted to ensure all believers were Torah observant. They wanted them to be circumcised and to keep all the Law. Look at Peter's words.

10 So why on earth would you now limit God’s grace by placing a yoke of religious duties on the shoulders of the believers that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 Don’t you believe that we are introduced to eternal life through the grace of our Lord Jesus—the same grace that has brought these people new life?” Acts 15:10-11 TPT

Peter knew the truth and that's why Paul did publicly withstand him and correct him. Look at the powerful words Peter used here. By mixing the Covenants we are limiting God's Grace. 

 Want to know what falling from Grace is? It's when we fall back into Law-keeping. When we mix the Old Covenant with the New. 

 The Old Covenant is obsolete. It is completed in Christ. This statement draws some ire from many folks. You know there is a reason for this. Perhaps, we have not been more clear in our articulation of the New Covenant. 

 When it comes to theology, men can be downright nasty. People begin to label everything and if you have a certain label now your an enemy to this person or that one. I enjoy studying theology but I am cautious about labeling everything. 

 Oh, you believe the Old is obsolete, you must be a replacement theology follower. Oh, you believe you can't lose your salvation, you must be a Calvinist. And on and on the labels are thrown around. I am no Calvinist and do not ascribe to replacement theology. 

 When we say the Law is fulfilled and the Old is complete what are we saying? Are we saying God has no more dealings with Israel? If we say yes then we are dismissing passages of Scriptural promises. If we say no, some will then say we are for Believers being Torah observant. Oh brother. Religious traditions are serious strongholds in people's minds.

 Stay with the Word and you won't be bogged down in the muddy path of religious traditions. God's Word is the truth, not tradition. God has made certain promises to the people and the Nation of Israel. God is a God who keeps His promises. I would be denying clear Scripture to say that God has no more dealings with the Nation of Israel. Look if He made promises to them to preserve them and broke that promise could we trust God with our eternal salvation? 

 Though what I just said is the truth, then this mixture crowd raise up and try to get Christians to blend Old Covenant practices with New Covenant Grace. Many are Gentiles and push the Church to be more Torah observant. They side with some Messianic Jewish leaders and wish the Church to embrace its "Jewish roots".

 I have actually heard these people teach that the Bible is fallible because the KJV doesn't use Hebrew terms to describe God, that they don't refer to Jesus as Yeshua and such. I was astounded to see a church in America declare that when the council in Acts 15 convened the Church cut away its Jewish roots and thus miracles were sporadic and the Church got weaker. 

 These Judaizers love to quote Paul in Ephesians about the one new man that comes from Jews and Gentiles. The problem is the one new man they describe is the one new Gentile who now lives more like a Torah observant Hebrew. They use poor exegesis to substantiate their claim. 

 What Paul was illustrating is the Powerful New Covenant. The One New Man is not a Torah observant Gentile. The One New Man is the man that had never existed before. That is the Born Again man. That is the one who is a New Creation in Christ Jesus. The New Man who is Righteous, forgiven, secure, accepted and approved by Christ Finished Work and not performance. 

 Some of these Judaizers advocating Covenant mixture claim they are only wanting to honor God and His Word, the Torah. I've said this before but it bears repeating. If people want to show honor then honor God's New Covenant, which is a Covenant of faith not sight. To embrace shadows and not the substance is to walk in unbelief. Under the Old, you could "see" your righteousness by how you kept the holy days, honored the Sabbath, and abstained from forbidden foods. It is not a light thing to God to try to mix the Covenants and to teach the Saints that keeping or honoring or observing holy days, feasts, manners and customs is honoring God and His Word when the substance has already appeared and fulfilled all the shadows by His redemptive Work. We are to honor the Finished Work and His New Covenant and keep it free from mixture and error.  

 In summation, rejoice in the Good News. Rejoice that Jesus procured our total salvation by His once for all sacrifice. Stay with the New Covenant and God's Grace and find lasting hope, help, and wholeness. Stay with the Gospel truth, that Christ is our Righteousness and not our doing, not our efforts and achievements.
Image by andrea candraja @Pixabay

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