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. 4 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. 4 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?