Monday, February 19, 2024

Objection?! Answering objections to the Gospel of Grace

For the Law was given through Moses, but grace [the unearned, undeserved favor of God] and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17 AMP

 Grace and truth came through Christ. Take note that Grace and Truth are listed together. They are on the same side if you will. Some religious minded say preach Grace but we also need truth. As if Grace isn't speaking the truth. As if Grace opposes truth. 

 If Grace and truth are together, which John 1 clearly demonstrates, then Grace and truth are not opposites. It means that Grace is the truth. That truth is also Grace. They go hand in hand. With this understanding, I want to look at some serious objections some Christian leaders have concerning Grace.

 There may be many objections you have heard previously. On this site, I have spent considerable time answering concerns about the Gospel of Grace. That said I recently came across a concise list of objections to the message of Radical Grace. It was so detailed I felt a detailed response to each objection was warranted. With that let's begin.

 The biggest objection to Radical Grace is the concept of confession of our sins and 1 John 1:9 being written to believers. The Gospel of Grace has revealed that 1 John 1:9 is not to believers but rather to unbelievers. This is a strongly controversial point to some. 

 This objection must be responded to by tackling two questions.  Is 1 John 1 written to Christians or sinners? Is confession of sins (in order to be forgiven of sins) for the believer? Let's answer objection one part one, who is 1 John chapter 1 addressing? 

 Let's look at the first chapter in full context here. Take note of how John the Apostle begins the Epistle. Look how there is no greeting. Every Epistle in the New Covenant begins with a greeting. Even in the Epistle to the Hebrews though it begins with a statement, this statement is clearly addressing those in the Faith. 

 In John's other two Epistles, he specifically addresses the believer with a greeting. Looking at 1 John 2:1, we can see the standard greeting begins here. So why no greeting in the first verse or two of this Epistle? This should make us pause, and ask why there is a deviation from every Epistle in the New Testament. 

 Next, let's look at some of the passages in the first chapter. 

 3. we declare to you that which we have seen and heard, that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things to you so that our joy may be complete. 1 John 1:3-4 MEV

 Now let me take this passage and highlight some words that indicate who John is addressing. 

 3. we declare to you that which we have seen and heard, that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things to you so that our joy may be complete. 1 John 1:3-4 (emphasis mine).

  Have you noted the pronouns being used? We (those in Christ) are addressing you (those not in Christ yet), and telling you (those without Christ) about Jesus. If this first chapter is to believers why is John distinguishing himself from the audience? Who are the "we" and who is the "you?"

 I trust you are tracking with me. Tradition is such a powerful force. It creates a stronghold in the minds of believers that can be a struggle to pull down. This stronghold of tradition is so strong it makes the Word of no effect. 

 The Word being of no effect means that even when reading and seeing clear passages presented from God's Word, the clouded mind of tradition cannot see the light of it. Tradition won't allow the person to grasp the truth of the Word. In fact often times it causes them not only to reject it but to aggressively fight against it. 

 If not written to believers who is John addressing? John is addressing the Gnostics who have infiltrated the Church. Understand the Church is in its infancy growth stage when the Scriptures were given. The Scripture must address certain mindsets attitudes and issues that pose a threat and hindrance to the development of the Church. 

 This is exactly what John was doing in writing the Epistle of 1 John. The Gnostics believed flesh was evil and therefore rejected Jesus being a flesh and blood man. This is why John went to great lengths to describe Jesus in the first two verses of this Epistle. John describes perfectly both the humanity and divinity of Jesus Christ.

 When we understand that this first chapter is written to the Gnostic lost, the rest of the chapter makes more sense. Verses 5-10 have been a source of condemnation and shame to the Church for generations. Look at them again. The passages seem to suggest we can walk in and out of fellowship with God when we sin.

 This is not what this passage is saying. Think of it this way. Replace the word light with the word morality. If we walk in morality as He is morality we have fellowship with God and the blood cleanses us from sin. Wait, if we are walking morally then why would we need cleansing from sin? We would only need cleansing when we are immoral.

 Yet tradition creates a doctrine from this one passage that says if we sin we have no fellowship with God until we say I am sorry. Is this right? Again, who is this addressing? It is talking to lost Gnostics who think they are in the light because of knowledge. 

 If we think we are in the light because of our doing, and our thinking, then we are deceiving ourselves and actually walking in darkness. This passage is an invitation to accept Christ, to walk in true fellowship with Him, and to receive continual cleansing from the blood. This is not addressing the saints who have sinned.

  In Christ, we are forgiven once for all time. He declared we will never be forsaken or abandoned. He didn't say oh wait, let me add a clause here. You're only unforsaken if you don't commit sin. 

 No, we don't lose fellowship with our Father when we sin. Whenever we do sin, our Good Father draws us closer. He doesn't run from us. He doesn't distance Himself from us. He doesn't disown us. He runs to us and reminds us of who we are in Him. We are the Righteousness of God in Christ. We are forgiven of all our sins. 

 With this truth established of who the audience is, we can know that 1 John 1:9 does not address Christians but unbelievers. If we rightly divide the Word apart from tradition we can clearly see it. If we allow the Scriptures themselves to establish precedence, we can see how this Epistle is distinct. 1 John 1 is not addressing believers it is speaking to the Gnostic lost. 

 In summation, relinquish tradition and embrace truth. If we embrace Grace we embrace truth. Let's not man's understanding lead us astray from this Gospel of Grace. Next time we will address part two of this objection. Must we confess our sins? 




Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Radical Grace or Radical works?

 We have all received from His fullness grace upon grace. John 1:16 MEV

For from · his fulness we have all received · one gracious gift after another. John 1:16 MOUNCE

 The announcement of salvation found in Christ alone is glad tidings. The proclamation of the Good News of the Gospel of Christ brings fullness of Joy. The Gospel is the Good News of the Grace of God pledged through Jesus Christ. In short, it's supposed to be the most amazing news you've ever heard.

 As of this writing, we just came out of the Christmas season. This is the season of glad tidings, peace, and goodwill toward men. This is the season of giving gifts freely to the ones we love and care for. It's gift-giving season, did you then have to earn the gift you received?

 If you did, then you really didn't receive a gift but wages earned by your doing. When you go to a job and put in a work week, you aren't receiving a gift from the employer when you get your paycheck. It is a culmination of the wages earned by your efforts, your performance, and your doing. It is therefore not a gift.

 God our Father is not an employer. He is not a taskmaster. He is not a manager. He is not the chief executive. He is not assigning tasks to complete and then rewarding us based on the success or failure of our assigned tasks. If He is then He is not a God of Grace but of performance. 

 If God is not a God of Grace, then His standard is performance. If it's all about performance with God, then that means He is focused on our performance. If He is focused on our performance, then Jesus' performance isn't paramount. Jesus' performance wouldn't be enough and it would mean we are dependent on Jesus plus our works. This would also mean in one sense, Jesus' performance in the Finished Work, is pointless and meaningless because God still requires our good performance.

 Now to the one who works, his wages are not credited as a gift, but as an obligation. But to the one who does not work, but entrusts himself to the one who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited · as righteousness Romans 4:4-5 MOUNCE

This is so clear it is by Grace, a gift, not of works. Look at this same passage in another translation;

When people work, their pay is not regarded as a gift but something they have earned. However, when people don’t work but believe God, the one who approves ungodly people, their faith is regarded as the basis of God’s approval. Romans 4:4-5 NOG

 The Word of God, the will of God clearly revealed to us, is quite clear on this matter. It is either all work or it is all Grace. There is no mixture or middle ground. This is the essential Gospel message. Paul declared anyone preaching another message than this is not of God and said let them be accursed.

 Now to be merciful, some well-meaning ministries and churches do not preach the message of Grace but a mixture of works and Grace. Am I declaring these are all cursed and going to hell when they die? No of course not. It's just that there is no blessing or goodness associated with this "mixture messaging."

 I said all of this, affirming and reaffirming the Gospel, to kick over a sacred cow if you will. I said all this to establish the true Gospel and to expose the perversion of man. We can't contaminate, corrupt, or cast aside the pure message of the Grace Gospel to make way for man's performance or make way for a place for good works.

 This week, I came across a message from an internationally known mega-church. The speaker there was quoting and thus also affirming, the words of a very well-known minister and missionary who has long since passed away. This quote was so astounding to me. It was the words of a man, and even good men can miss it.

 In essence, this is what the minister quoted;

"If you want to go to Heaven then just do these three things. Read your Bible daily, pray every day, and go to church."

 The speaker of course affirmed this same message to the people present and those watching online. In fairness, this was done as an appeal for people to come to church. That said, the words are still problematic. The reason is they cut cross-grain to the Gospel. 

 What happens if we don't go to church one Sunday? What happens if we forget to pray? How much of the Bible are we to read daily? One verse? Three verses? A chapter? This is the problem with the works and performance-centered gospel of man. How much is enough? How do we know if we've done enough?

 The most concerning point about this quote is it diminishes the Cross and Finished Work in favor of man's performance. It says it's not by Grace alone through Faith alone we are saved and eternally secure it's our doing that saves us. Jesus once for all sacrifice and trusting in that alone isn't enough. We must add to it by our spiritual disciplines. 

 Now is reading the Word daily, praying every day, and consistent church attendance bad? No, it is highly beneficial and will result in spiritual growth and a better understanding of who God is and is part of a fruitful relationship with our Father. It is a fruit, not a root of our salvation and relationship with our Father above.

 Radical Grace or radical works? I believe the Gospel message is simple. I believe the Word is clear. It is all by Grace and never of our works. If anything from God is received by works, then it is not actually received it is achieved! If it's achieved it's not a gift received it's wages earned. That's not Grace.

 If it's wages earned it is not a free gift. If it's not a free gift then it's Jesus plus something else. The truth is God deals with us based on Grace not works. He has accepted Jesus' works and not ours. 

 We don't want God to relate to us based on our works or doings. For His standard is absolute perfection. If we come to God trusting in our performance then we are coming to an employer expecting a wage. We aren't coming to our Father to freely receive from His loving hands. It's Grace from beginning to eternity. 

 In summation, let's affirm the true Gospel. Let's receive from God based solely on what Jesus has done, what He has Finished, what He has procured and purchased for us. Remember it's from His fullness we receive one good thing after another after another, endless Grace. 



Image courtesy of iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

The Spirit of life in Christ has made you free!

 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. Romans 8:2 MOUNCE

 

 Did you know that you have freedom in Christ? This is not a mere Christian cliche or hyperbolic rhetoric designed to garner an emotional response. The spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed those who simply believed. 

 The question then is what exactly are we freed from? Many only scratch the surface of this freedom we have in Christ. Many only see this freedom as no longer a requirement to observe the ceremonial and sacrificial aspects of the Mosaic Law. 

 Yet, some still believe we must observe the Saturday sabbath and that much of the Old Covenant is still applicable to the Church. Then others will agree we aren't under the Old Covenant any longer and this is the freedom Paul speaks of. So what is this freedom Paul speaks of?

 In answering this, let me elaborate briefly. This portion of Scripture had been coming up in my spirit and I found myself periodically meditating on what Paul said in verse 2. The more this passage rose up within me, I finally decided to really examine this passage using the original Greek text, as well as various translations and lexicons I was quite astonished at this amazing freedom we have in Christ.

 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. Romans 8:2 MOUNCE

 This powerful passage unlocks for us who believe, the staggering, and extraordinarily phenomenal freedom the life in Christ has procured for us. The depth of this triumphant freedom has been scarcely understood and fathomed in the Body of Christ. The implications of this freedom will rock the religious boat of man's traditions and shake the foundation of faulty theology. 

 When we simply define the terms of this freedom the light of His Radical Grace will enlighten the darkened caverns and crevices of our thinking left unexplored because of man-made tradition. We are made free from the Law of sin and death. What is sin?

 The word sin here means to miss the mark. To miss or wander from the path. Going deeper, it also means the propensity to sin, guilt, and the imputation of sin. Think of it the spirit of life in Christ Jesus frees us from sin! It gets better.

 The word death here is the Greek word Thanatos. Comic book fans don't lose focus because you recognize that name. Now in defining this word death, the depths of God's Grace became even more clearer and also reveal the immeasurable depths of His Love, Grace, and all the time Goodness!   

 The word death is not merely defined as the cessation of life. This word is defined as the separation of the spirit from the body with the implication of future misery in hell. Now this is only the tip of the full definition of this word.

 This word also includes all the miseries associated with sin, that is the fall, the lost state of the sinner apart from Christ, this would include all the effects of the fall. Shame, guilt, unrighteousness, as well as the curse. This has to include death, disaster, depression, desolation, disease, and despair. All the attributes associated with the full effects of spiritual death, that is separation from God. 

 Lastly and most powerfully, the word death means the forfeiture of salvation. Can you now see and understand just how triumphant this freedom we have in Christ actually is? It is truly astounding and astonishing when we grasp the full magnitude of this perfect Redemption we have through Jesus.

 The Law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the Law of sin and death! This truth is so powerful and so comforting. Through the life we have in Christ Jesus, there is no longer any guilt or shame. Not even if we sin! Through Jesus, our sins are no longer imputed to us! Instead, we have the life of Christ and we are made perfectly Righteous and therefore we are free! 

 Through the life we have in Christ, we are freed from sin and death. This life in Christ frees us from the effects of sin and death. The despair and misery associated with sin and separation cannot exist in our lives. The fall, the curse, and the fractured creation are around us but we can have victory and peace in their midst. In other words, they are on the outside but not on the inside. 

 The spirit of life in Christ Jesus frees us from eternal insecurity! We have hope and full assurance through Christ. He is our anchor in this fallen world. Fear, anxiety, and insecurity need not burden our thinking and emotions. We have full freedom from them in Christ. We are fully accepted and approved in Christ. We have hope, we are loved, we are cherished by our Father because of Jesus.

 This life in Christ Jesus means we are unconditionally and eternally secure! We are free from death, that is freedom from forfeiture of salvation. We are prisoners of hope and Righteousness. Nothing can cause us to fall away, be found wanting and unaccepted, and be lost again. This life in Christ makes us His forever and nothing can change that.

 In summation, this powerful passage reveals a redemption that only Grace could procure and provide for all. Apart from Christ, the way of life is if we sin just once we die. Hence what we are freed from, is the law of sin and death. That is if you sin, you die. In Christ, even if you sin you will not die or be separated. This is Radical Grace, this is the life we have in Christ Jesus! 


Image by Nadine DoerlĂ© from Pixabay