Showing posts with label Inclusionism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Inclusionism. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Understanding Grace: Does Radical Grace encourage a belief in Universalism or Inclusionism?

18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18
  We've been in a series studying God's amazing, over the top, Radical Grace. This is too good to be true but true good news. I am always enthusiastic when it comes to studying Grace and the Finished Work. 

 So far, we have seen how it is the Blood of Christ, not our confession that brought our total forgiveness. We explored the truth that our relationship with God is rooted in the Finished Work and not our performance. We saw how shame, guilt and condemnation are removed from us through Grace, (If you missed any of these informative studies, and you would be interested in reading them, you can easily locate them through the archives section of this Blog). 

 Now we are dispelling some of the myths associated with Radical Grace. We have already seen that Radical Grace isn't advocating sinful living. We also discovered that through His Finished Work we can be fruitful, overcoming victorious believers. That This message isn't promoting laziness or unfruitful pursuits.  

 Today, I felt impressed to dispel yet another myth associated with Radical Grace. Many of our critics have lumped together what great ministers like Pastor Joseph Prince teach, and what those proclaiming a message of Universal Salvation teach. Thus, creating a straw man argument in which to criticize the message of Radical Grace even further. Is this critique fair? Does Radical Grace encourage a belief in Universalism or the various forms of Inclusion? 

 Allow me to be crystal clear. Radical Grace does NOT encourage or promote a belief in or following of the ideologies of Universalism or Inclusion.  Just because some misguided or deceived individuals have taken a portion of the message of Radical Grace and applied it to the concept of Inclusion or Universalism, doesn't mean it's become the authentic message of Radical Grace. Truth mixed with error is still an error. 

Is Jesus really narrow-minded?

 One of the major principles of Universalism is that all humanity no matter their belief, are on the right path. That in the end, all roads lead to God. If you are an Atheist, or a follower of some other religion it isn't a factor. All will eventually be saved. Is this what Jesus said? Is Universalism the gospel of Grace?

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. John 14:6 NLT

11 For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says,‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’ 12 There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:11-12 NLT
 Jesus, who is the person of Grace, obviously doesn't believe in Universalism. He seems pretty narrow when He unequivocally states there is only one way to God. He says He is the only means by which salvation is received. 
 Salvation is not found in Paganism. Salvation is not found in Mysticism. It is not found in other religions or ideologies. All the World's religious, or spiritual philosophies have something in common. They are all humanistic in nature. "Paradise", or "enlightenment" or "Nirvana" or even their understanding of salvation is all rooted in achievement and works. 
 This is why we reject legalism and Law for Believers in Christ. "Strive to arrive." "Fake it 'till you make it", or "achieve to receive"mindsets are pure humanism. Salvation is only found in Christ and His Finished Work. Righteousness, healing and peace and answered prayer is all found in the Finished Work, not our performance. 
 Salvation then is only found in Jesus Christ. He purchased redemption through His vicarious death on Calvary. All one need do is freely receive by placing all their hope and trust in Jesus alone. Salvation, eternal life, is Jesus plus nothing. 

Who is included in the Finished Work?

 When discussing a subject we should always draw the right conclusions. In light of the Finished Work, many come to the conclusion that all of Humanity are included in the death and burial and resurrection of Christ. Is the concept of inclusionism the right conclusion we draw from the Finished Work? 

When were we included?

  This is where the controversy begins. This is where so many draw the wrong conclusions. In light of the Finished Work, some have drawn a conclusion all were included the moment Christ actually rose from the dead. Is this accurate?

 Let's review the main tenets of inclusionism (with thanks to Paul Ellis)

1. Humanity has been raised, has ascended, and is now seated with Christ
“When Jesus rose, all humanity rose to new life with him; when Jesus ascended, all humanity ascended and became seated with him at the Father’s side.”
2. Humanity is righteous/justified
“Through Jesus, all humans are justified through the faith of Christ… Objectively, all people, past, present and future, are justified already …”
3. Humanity is sanctified
“All are sanctified.”
4. Humanity is reconciled/in union with Christ
“All humans—believers and non-believers—are united to God in and through Jesus… Through union with Jesus, all humanity is… reconciled to the Father…
5. Humanity is not lost but saved
“Through Jesus, all humans are… at peace with God, standing in his grace… (and) saved through Jesus’ life.”
 One last concept that has been gaining traction among the inclusion followers
6. All Humanity has been adopted into the Family of God

 Are these concepts accurate? Is this the message of Radical Grace? Absolutely not! If you are adhering to these views I urge you, I beseech you, by grace to examine your heart. I challenge you to relinquish acceptance of these ideas. Understand the Believer's heart can never again be corrupted but it can be deceived. 

 When are we included? Let's see what Paul says
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, Ephesians 1:1,12-13,15 NIV
 Paul, the Apostle of Grace says here we were included when we put our faith and trust in Christ. This is the message of Radical Grace. Undeserving man, when he places faith and trust in God alone, he finds new life. He becomes a partaker of Grace.

 When were we included in His death and burial and resurrection?
Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,  Romans 6:3-5 NKJV
 When we get born again, we are baptized in the Body of Christ. This is when we were included into the death and resurrection of Christ. 
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Galatians 3:27 NKJV
The Word is clear about when we were included.
Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. Romans 16:7 NIV
How could Paul the Apostle of Grace state some were in Christ before he was if ALL are already in Christ? Remember when we take a text out of its context all that is left is a con. Inclusionism is a preconceived concept that looks to extrapolate portions of Scripture, out of context, to promote this philosophy. 
 Inclusion seeks to become God's "PR" man. It attempts to prove the success of the Finished Work. To the inclusionist the Finished Work isn't successful unless all humanity is saved. Again, this is drawing the wrong conclusion about the Finished Work.
 The message of Radical Grace is over the top glad news. The good news is not diminished because some choose to reject Jesus. The message of Grace doesn't dim in light of the choices of mankind. 
 We need not add to or take away from the Scripture to promote erroneous views. Grace is good news without additives and mixture. Religious tradition likes to mix grace with Law. Foolishness likes to mix the gospel truth with error. The message of Radical Grace stands alone and apart from human ideas, concepts and philosophies. It is simply the good news that sets the captives free, brings the spiritually dead to life and ushers in hope, joy and fullness of life in Him.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Understanding Grace: Is Everyone Ok because of the Finished Work?

18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18

Drawing the right conclusions

 When presented with certain information and facts, inevitably we draw a conclusion from those facts. For example, what if a wife sees her husband continually begin to take calls in another room? She could come to the conclusion that he was secretly having an affair. Or, she could more positively conclude, that her husband is planning a surprise party for her. She would have to have more facts to come to a complete conclusion. 

 When it comes to the Finished Work of Jesus Christ we can draw certain conclusions. One conclusion I draw from the Cross is because it's finished I need no longer to strive to please God. Many who have experienced His grace have come to this same conclusion. Others though have drawn a different conclusion because of the Finished Work.

 Because of the finality of the Cross, some have concluded that all humanity is already saved. Some conclude that because of the Cross, "Love wins" and this means all humanity will be saved in the end. If another believer, who understands grace, doesn't draw these same conclusions then it must mean you're not "deep enough" in grace. That you are preaching "mixture". That you believe in an angry god and have no pity for the World.

 What makes the Finished Work "unfinished," or unsuccessful?

 Religious minded folk, Covenant mixing and Law mixing believers say the Finished Work is only begun in us. They teach a "gospel" where we must complete it by our performance.  Now these Universalist and Inclusionists say the work is unsuccessful if all humanity aren't redeemed and given the gift of righteousness. So, Jesus' work is only successful based upon how many respond?

 I have heard the two Adam debate and all other arguments made by the Inclusion and Universalist camps. They refute others with accusations that we who don't accept their view, are saying Adam's original sin was greater than Jesus' work. I am not here to debate and argue with those who differ with me. My primary goal is to reveal to all that God is always good. That His grace and Finished Work was enough. When received, you become a new creation, accepted, adopted, forgiven and healed. Eternally secure and forever righteous. 

 As I have stated many times before, I do not agree or draw the same conclusions of Inclusion or Universal Salvation. I will list a few reasons why this is. Also, I am going to refer to others excellent points proving why we shouldn't come to the conclusions of Universalism/Inclusion.

 Trinitarian Theology/Inclusionism, (not the doctrine of the Divine Trinity, or Father, Son and Holy Ghost, I believe in the Trinity), is the label inclusionism has taken to describe their philosophy. In a nutshell they teach that all humanity is already a new creation. That all humanity possesses the gift of righteousness, is adopted into the Family of God, is seated in Heavenly places with God, and has the Spirit of God indwelling them. 

This is my issue with this. It overrides freewill. In other words, you are all in, until you are out. It alters the gospel message. It isn't believe and be saved but you're saved, now believe it. So the gospel is no longer about a heart change. It is not an exchange of natures, but rather a mental awakening to a new identity. 

 What Inclusionism/Universalism relies heavily upon is enticing words of men's wisdom to propagate it. Conclusions are based upon reasoning and emotions. It feels like this should be true so therefore it is true. With this mindset the Scriptures are no longer inerrant. 

 Those who embrace these philosophies no longer value the Scripture. They diminish them every opportunity they get. Why? Because the Word of God challenges their reasoning and philosophy.  I have seen countless times, the proponents of this message attack the Word. They express continually that the writers of the Scriptures were mistaken and confused. They didn't hear God accurately. They are expedient however, to reveal how they are accurate though. That they have the "real message" from God. 

 Another aspect I have noted in the Inclusion circles is a slow transformation into pure Universalism. When we abandon the Word and embrace other reasoning error will always abound. With this allow me to point you to other ministers who have answered the arguments of Inclusion/Universalism

"Top Reasons I think “Inclusion” is delusion
4. The many warnings in Scripture about the importance of repentance, belief, calling on the name of the Lord, and the present and eternal consequences of unbelief. This includes the many passages about a place of punishment and some who do end up there.
3. Every passage about those who believed and received the Spirit (didn’t have Him before!) in the early church, and every conversion experience in history since then. One moment they were not new creations; the next moment they were. Clearly, we do not have the Spirit at birth, or the entire book of Acts needs to be re-written!
2. Many verses like 1 John 1:9 and Acts 26:18 and 2 Corinthians 5:20 that say forgiveness from God is received only after admitting one’s sinfulness and turning from unbelief to belief (at salvation) and that reconciliation takes two parties with a response on our part being necessary. Take a minute to look those passages up and ponder them.
1. The doctrine of “Inclusion” either promotes salvation of all for eternity, no matter what, or in more cases, claims that all begin saved but not all end up saved. So either it tosses Scriptural warnings about unbelief to the wind and gives false security to all; or it ignores God’s promises to the believer and teaches loss of salvation for some in the end. Either way, it’s not the new covenant message."Grace minister from Texas

" I don’t see the Good News in the inclusionist theory, nor do I see the advantage that theory supposes when it comes grace. Theologians must ask themselves the question, “is Christ’s work finished because of its success performed in humanity, or is it finished because there is nothing left to be done for man?”  The difference is not so subtle.  I don’t believe my position of grace is less because I believe in the latter.  Namely, that Jesus’ work of redemption is in fact complete, regardless of whether one benefits from it or not.  A gift is still a gift, even though it may not be received.  The same for grace, and the same for Christ’s completed work.  All has been done to settle man’s fallen condition.  Jesus will not die again.  Yet, while the work of redemption is complete, it does not benefit man unless he believes and receives.

When faith joins with truth about Christ, a New Creation is the result, where old things are passed away and new things have come.  I have grave difficulty seeing and believing that the entire human race was in effect born again when Christ was resurrected but they just don’t know it.  I think this diminishes our view of the New Creation.  Where is the change in humanity if all are born again?

On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit fell on believers.  Why didn’t He fall on all the human race if all were born again?  Even the prophet Joel foretold that the Spirit would fall on “all flesh”.  Yet it is obvious in Acts that this did not happen.  What then did Joel see?  He saw the Spirit falling on all believers (Jews and Gentiles), which is clearly evidenced in the documentation presented by Luke in the book of Acts.

The New Creation has the nature of righteousness, holiness, and have become partakers of the divine nature.  All believers have been given a new heart, and have the mind of Christ.  Can we with boldness proclaim to all the human race that these things are true of them whether they believe or not?  I don’t see it, nor do I see that it increases the value of the Good News we preach." Grace minister from florida

Joseph Prince on Universal Salvation here

Paul Ellis on Inclusion here and here and here and here

Ed Elliott on Inclusion here

Dr. Andrew Farley on Inclusion/Universalism here

What is it I am saying in all this? I am not saying I hate the World and those without Christ. I am not advocating we tell people how wrong they are. I am saying the message is never changed. Christ died for all because all were already dead and need a savior. He paid the price all we need do is simply respond with childlike belief.

 Am I now not deep enough in grace? Have I rejected the message of grace? Am I no longer understanding grace? Of course not! The real truth is this, grace is inclusive and universal in its invitation and application. Universalism and Inclusion aren't the message of grace though.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Understanding the clear message of grace (Pt 5 of 5)

I was so filled with joy to hear stories about your children walking in truth, in the very way the Father called us to live. 2 John 4

Anyone who gets so progressive in his thinking that he walks out on the teaching of Christ, walks out on God. But whoever stays with the teaching, stays faithful to both the Father and the Son. 2 John 9 Message

Removing the error from the true and real

We've been in a five part series entitled "Will the real gospel of grace please stand up." In this series we've discovered what grace is not. Grace is not Universalism or Inclusionism (future or historic). Grace doesn't mean we should spout off curse words to prove how "free" we are. Grace also doesn't mean we no longer need the five fold ministry gifts or the local church. So now that we understand what grace is not, lets discover what the gospel of grace is!

1.) Grace defined is unearned, unmerited favor. Its Father God's extension toward us in blessing and love

Grace is not simply an empowerment. Many have attributed this definition to grace. The Greek word for grace is Charis. It literally means kindness and favor. Digging deeper in the Greek and the related Hebrew word Khane we discover grace also means dispose to show favor and blessing. To simply define grace as empowerment can lead one to believe that performance and works are still required to "earn" God's acceptance. Grace then gives you the ability to complete all these "duties". 

Nothing could be further from the truth. Our Father's extension to us in blessing and favor apart from our works or performance or self efforts produces an empowerment in our life.  So what is grace? It is God being disposed to show favor and love and kindness to His children apart from their own efforts or works or performance. 

2.) Grace means ALL our sins are forever forgiven

When we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior we partake of His finished work on the cross. We receive the complete forgiveness He purchased for us. One major question many ask is, 
"Does this mean only my past sins are forever forgiven?"
No! This perfect finished work paid the eternal price for ALL our sins! He has forgiven us our past and present and future sins. If this only covered our past what would we do about our current sins? 

Does Jesus need to come down and die again and again each time we sin after we are born again? Of course not! Jesus paid for all sin once for all time with His one time sacrifice on the cross.

Every priest stands day after day ministering and offering the same sacrifices time after time, which can never take away sins. But this man, after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God. Hebrews 10:11-12

Jesus paid for our past sins and failures. Jesus blood was a more than enough payment that also paid the complete price for our current mess ups and sins and even our future failures! The Word of God is clear. He has forgiven us all our sins.

And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, Colossians 2:13

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.  Ephesians 4:32
I write to you, little children Because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake. 1 John 2:12

This sounds too good to be true. All our sins? All of them? Allow me to give you a word picture. 

When I was a young man I accompanied my mother to a parade in my home town. We stood street level and we couldn't see the whole parade. We might have seen two or three floats down either side of us. Of course we clearly saw the float directly in front of us. No matter how hard we tried we couldn't see it all. We couldn't see it from beginning to end. All that was visible was what was near. Is this how Jesus sees our life? Only our past mess ups and failures? 

Allow me to complete this word picture. With a desire to see more of the parade, we ventured to the top floor of an open building. From this vantage point we were able to see the whole parade. From start to finish. The whole procession was clearly visible. This is how Jesus sees our life when we come to Him and receive His free gift of salvation.  

Jesus like this rooftop view sees all our lifetime. From our first breath to our last. When we accept Him, He receives us, all of us, our whole lifetime. So when I came to Him and surrendered my heart to Him, He saw my whole life of sins. Even the ones I hadn't committed yet. He forgave me of ALL my sins. So now I am completely forgiven. My past and present and future is cleansed by the blood. This is grace. Undeserved, unearned, unmerited favor and love.

3.) Grace provided a way so that we are now perfectly accepted and in right standing with God

to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:6

We have been perfectly accepted by His blood. Grace made the way for us to be completely acceptable by our God and Father. We are loved. We are accepted. We have perfect relationship with our Father through His grace. Through this grace we also received His righteousness. 

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21

The great exchange. He became something He never was so we could be something we never were. Now we are in perfect right standing with our Father. No longer plagued by guilt and shame we can come boldly into His presence. We received His righteousness. We traded our sin for His right standing with the Father. If it is Jesus’ righteousness and not our own we received then we are just as righteous as Jesus Christ! 

4.) Grace brings security to all those truly in Christ

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”  John 10:27-30

Grace is proof enough that our salvation is not based upon our ability or efforts to "remain" saved. We could never perform enough to earn God's favor. No amount of good works brought us close enough to meeting God's standards. His standards are absolute perfection. The alarming truth is that His standards of perfection have never changed. Even after we are born again. This is why grace is the essential element of our salvation.

Consider this. When we were unsaved and unrighteous before the Lord, what amount of effort could make us righteous? Could any one righteous act remove our unrighteousness? Was there any amount of giving or feeding the homeless that would've removed our shame and sin? Of course not. 

We received the New Birth and the free gift of righteousness by the grace of God through faith. So now that we have received His free gift of righteousness, what makes us believe one act of unrighteousness removes our right standing before the Lord? In other words our conduct didn't get us into God's family. So our conduct won't get us out of God's family. Now, of course I'm not advocating living in sin. Sin harms us and others and can lead to natural consequences and bring about corrupting influence on our minds. Christ reminds us He has better for us. He continually reveals who we already are in Him through the new birth. We are eternally secure in Him. This is the glad news of the finished work of Jesus Christ. 

But this man, after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.  He is now waiting until His enemies are made His footstool.  For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are sanctified. Hebrews 10:12-14

It states clearly we are perfected forever by the finished work of Christ. It doesn't state we are perfected only until we blow it. We are secure in Christ Jesus. This is all because of the grace of Almighty God.

In summation we can rejoice in the good gospel news of Jesus' grace. His grace supplies us with all we will ever need to fulfill all the will of God for our lives. Grace is super abounding good news. There is no need to try and alter clear Scripture. There is no need for making up strange doctrines to come up with a "new thing". His grace is our sufficiency. 

I pray this series has blessed you. Stay tuned as we go into more detail in future posts concerning eternal security, the supply of grace and our sonship. Please consider sharing if this blog post has blessed you. As always feedback is welcomed. Grace to you all.

"Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/"

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Walking in the true freedom of Grace

I was so filled with joy to hear stories about your children walking in truth, in the very way the Father called us to live. 2 John 4

Anyone who gets so progressive in his thinking that he walks out on the teaching of Christ, walks out on God. But whoever stays with the teaching, stays faithful to both the Father and the Son. 2 John 9 Message

Grace Revolution or Grace Rebellion?

We are currently in a study I’ve entitled “Will the real Gospel of Grace please stand up?” (If you’ve not read any of the other posts in this series I highly encourage you to. You will find them in the Blog Archive section of this site). In this series I’ve asked hard questions. I’ve attempted to challenge some viewpoints with clarity and love.

In quick review, we discovered the teachings of Universalism, Ultimate Reconciliation and Inclusionism, or Trinitarian Theology, to be in error. These ideas are not validated by the Word of God. 
 To abide in a Grace Revolution not a Grace Rebellion has been one of our main themes in this series. We’ve seen how a grace rebellion manifests itself in erroneous teaching. How else is this rebellion expressed? The purpose of today’s post is to reveal exactly where  this rebellion rears its head in grace circles. I see three distinct areas 

Is speaking with vulgarity and profane words, a true sign of freedom in God’s grace?

Usage of curse words in our everyday speech. Is this an expression of our freedom in Christ? Is this a sign to the World that grace produces liberty? Do you want the real truth? Using profanity, curse words, “off color” expressions don’t “prove” how free you are. It only shows others how actually crude you are.
Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. Ephesians 4:30 NKJV
Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. Ephesians 5:4 NLT
Of course, none of us are perfect and I am not condemning those who are maturing in the Lord. I have seen those, who had a profane mouth, continually follow the Lord and abide in His grace. Those “F” “bombs” fell away without effort or the pointing of fingers by religion. What I am pointing out as rebellion, is this idea by those who claim to be mature in Him who feel that profanity is somehow acceptable. Or is also a sign of liberty through grace. To those I’d say wake up to who you already are inside. We want to be a light to the World. We don’t need to send the wrong message.

End Time Events.

Allow me to make a quick note concerning Eschatology. Whatever particular view you hold to is up to you and the Lord. Your belief in the Rapture is not a prerequisite to receiving the Lord and becoming a New Creation in Him. In the same manner someone NOT believing in a Preterist view of the End Times doesn’t prove they haven’t received the “full” “revelation” of Grace. Folk need to stop promoting an elitist view concerning the gospel of grace. That is an area of grace rebellion many fail to recognize. Let me clarify. The notion that other believers and churches aren’t “with” it because they don’t agree with your particular view point concerning grace and the end times is an elitist attitude. Let’s walk in love with one another. Grace builds us up in Him, it doesn't tear down. 

Is belonging to a local church or attending church a bondage to religious tradition or a law mindset?

This is the main focus of this blog post. I want to shout this from the mountaintops. The local church is NOT a symbol of law or Old Covenant mindsets. Belonging to a local church does not equate one being in bondage to religious tradition. Now before we continue I know there are some who will immediately oppose me or just quit reading altogether. Let me first address those who oppose the local church.

He binds their wounds, heals the sorrows of their hearts. Psalm 147:3 Voice
He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3 NKJV

We who have received this beautiful message of grace believe wholly that Jesus finished the work on the cross. He completely purchased our healing. Our complete total healing. Any hurts we have received through the leadership of a particular church He has paid the price for. Jesus heals the wounds. He makes all things new. We can move on instead of wallowing in self pity, bitterness, and angry rebellion. The institution of the local church isn't the problem. It's religious, law minded, controlling leadership that is the issue. We don't have to neglect church altogether. We just need not align ourselves with insecure leadership. Now allow me to elaborate why the local church is a gift from God.

1.) Love and Unity

We don't attend church weekly to get something out of it. Church gives us an opportunity to express our love to other believers.

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! Psalm 133:1 KJV

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:10 NKJV
He joins and holds together the whole body with its ligaments providing the support needed so each part works to its proper design to form a healthy, growing, and mature body that builds itself up in love.  Ephesians 4:16 
Being a part of a church allows us to abide in unity with each other. We build each other up in love there. Belonging to a local church affords us the opportunity to be a blessing to our fellow believers. Sure you can love others in your living room. You can be a blessing anywhere. So why not leave your four walls and bring your love to a group of believers who have set aside time each week to worship Jesus? 

2.) Ministry of the Holy Ghost and His gifts.

Being joined to a local church brings about a solid foundation where we can be encouraged through the gifts of the Spirit. It offers us opportunities to grow in exercising and flowing in these gifts ourselves. It allows us to encourage other believers.

Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. 1 Corinthians 14:1-4 KJV

Belonging to a local church allows for more of the corporate anointing to flow and bring about these gifts more and more. Again we can learn to flow more in these gifts and therefore build up others.

3.) Ability to bring your supply of the Spirit

For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ Philippians 1:19 NKJV

How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification 1 Corinthians 14:26 NKJV

Belonging to a local church offers us the chance to bring our supply to the Body of Christ. When we come together we can share insights, prayers, victories with others. We are corporately built up. We can help the hurting and downtrodden. Instead of keeping our gifts and insights to ourselves we can give to others. 

4.) Belonging to a local Church provides fellowship for the Saints

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25 NKJV

Belonging to a local Body of believers provides us with the essential fellowship we all need as Christians. Contrary to popular opinions, Christians aren't "lone wolves" or "mavericks". We all need one another. Let me touch on one subject that is of great importance. 

Concerning fellowship whom exactly do we fellowship with in our Church? Do we only have Caucasians in our midsts? Or do we only have Hispanics among us? Or do we only have African Americans in our house of worship? Brethren this ought not be so! We ALL need each other. There is no "white" church or "black" church. There is only ONE blood bought Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Racism is how the World system operates. Not so for the believers in Christ Jesus! We are ALL brothers and sisters in Christ. Belonging to a local church allows us to fellowship across cultural lines if you will. 

Keeping ourselves out of church and because of bitterness or hurts creating "house" churches may not give us the opportunity to interact will all the Body. I refuse to go to a church that is only one "color" and others aren't welcomed. I want to fellowship with ALL my brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. You know each culture has something worthwhile to bring to the house of worship. While I'm on this subject let me just go all the way. This brotherhood and fellowship we have through Christ means there is no such thing as a "mixed" marriage. There is only one true color for Christians. It is red. Blood red! The blood of Jesus, amen! Let me make this as clear as I can. All cultures and "colors" are included in the Family of God if they have received Jesus as Lord. Therefore, I love all my brethren in Christ regardless of their skin color. If you're from Africa, or Russia, or China, or even Saudi Arabia and have received the Lord you are my family. I love you in Jesus Christ.

5.) The local church offers us a place to exhort one another

not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25 NKJV 

Do you know the definition of exhort? It means to comfort. It means to strengthen. It means to encourage. It also means to summon others to one's side. This is proof enough why we need the local church. We need each other! Again, church membership is not just so we can get something out of it. It is opportunity for us to encourage and build up our fellow believer. We can be used by the Lord to stir up our fellow believers. What a great blessing to be a blessing!

6.) The gift of the five fold ministry

God gave the Body of Christ a gift package. We haven't always received this gift package. Some have abused their gift that is sadly true. It doesn't negate that a gift package has been given.

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,  to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up  until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV

God gave us the gift of the Pastor in the New Covenant. How can some deduct because of grace that the Pastor is no longer needed? The office or gift of Pastor is a New Covenant gift. How can one come to the conclusion it is a legalistic office or Old Covenant mindset? This is the apex of rebellious thinking. Yes, many leaders have abused their position. That doesn't diminish the true leaders in the Body of Christ. Let me say this. It is not bondage or control to honor a Pastor or Teacher. I honor Pastor Joseph Prince because of the revelation of grace God has given him to share with the Body of Christ. The only time honor is out of order is when we must dishonor ourselves to honor a minister. We don't place anyone on a pedestal, or a status of "celebrity". A minister isn't "better" than anyone if you will. He does however, have a gift from God for the Body of Christ. We should gladly receive it from God.

Simply put, if God gave us the office of Pastor then this is proof enough we need the local church. Let go of all the hurts and misdeeds of others against you. Let the peace of God flow within you. Let His healing remove all shame and hurts from poor leadership. So in closing I say emphatically we need the local church. Grace revelation doesn't do away with the local church. Find a loving, Bible believing fellowship and bring your gifts to be a blessing there. Allow me end by expressing my heart.

My passion is to maintain a pure gospel of grace. So we can proclaim a clear gospel message to the lost. That we be able with the truth set those captive to legalism and performance based faith free! In order to accomplish this we need an error free message.

This is why I keep referring to this phrase, a Grace Revolution not a Grace Rebellion. We don’t want to turn our liberty and freedom in grace into an opportunity for error or wrong thinking to prevail. When wrong thinking prevails wrong living is prevalent. We desire to walk in the true freedom of grace.

I trust this post has blessed you. I pray you will continue reading even if you don't ever see yourself going to church again. Prayerfully consider being apart of a local fellowship. Let's love one another in Christ. As always feedback is welcomed and consider sharing with others. Grace to you all. 


Monday, April 7, 2014

Walking in Pure Grace

Will the Real Gospel of Grace please stand up pt.2

Grace, mercy, and peace, which come from God the Father and from Jesus Christ—the Son of the Father—will continue to be with us who live in truth and love. How happy I was to meet some of your children and find them living according to the truth, just as the Father commanded. 2 John 3-4 NLT

 Anyone who gets so progressive in his thinking that he walks out on the teaching of Christ, walks out on God. But whoever stays with the teaching, stays faithful to both the Father and the Son. 
2 John 9 Message

 Dearly loved friends, I had been planning to write you some thoughts about the salvation God has given us, but now I find I must write of something else instead, urging you to stoutly defend the truth that God gave once for all to his people to keep without change through the years. I say this because some godless teachers have wormed their way in among you, saying that after we become Christians we can do just as we like without fear of God’s punishment. The fate of such people was written long ago, for they have turned against our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Jude 3-4 TLB

 We are currently in a series on the gospel of grace. In this five part series I am endeavoring to examine all the emergent voices in the "grace movement" or "grace camp". Before you object I know grace is not a movement or camp.  Grace IS the gospel of Jesus Christ. While we know grace is the gospel it is still imperative to take a close look at the different voices arising in the proclamation of grace. Is every voice in the wind something we should be following? 

 Again I must reiterate that examining an idea or philosophy does not equal bitterness. It does not mean it is unloving or legalistic. Paul himself is a great example of this. He is the Apostle of grace. He is also the Apostle of love. God through the Apostle Paul brought forth the major doctrines in the life of the believer. The truths of love, faith, righteousness and grace and peace all can be traced to the Pauline revelation. Now how did Paul deal with error?

But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong.  When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile Christians, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision.  As a result, other Jewish Christians followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. When I saw that they were not following the truth of the gospel message, I said to Peter in front of all the others,“Since you, a Jew by birth, have discarded the Jewish laws and are living like a Gentile, why are you now trying to make these Gentiles follow the Jewish traditions? “You and I are Jews by birth, not ‘sinners’ like the Gentiles. Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.” Galatians 2:11-15 NLT

 Paul confronted Peter because he did not want the gospel to be polluted with legalism or traditions of men. This is the same motive I have in writing. I desire to see a pure gospel. A pure grace gospel presented to the World. So lets examine some of these "additives" to the pure gospel.

 Ultimate reconciliation, is this part of the gospel of grace? Is this idea Biblical? Is God so loving He would never send anyone to hell? Let the Word be final authority.

And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. Mark 16:15-16 NLT

For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law Romans 2:12 NKJV

It will not be so for the cowards, the faithless, the sacrilegious, the murderers, the sexually immoral, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all those who deal in deception. They will inherit an eternity in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. Revelation 21:8 Voice

 If you note these Scriptures are clear. Those who are unbelieving or rather reject the grace of God choose this option. An eternity apart from God who loves them. Nowhere do the Scriptures teach a "restorative" justice. Folks who reject the grace will not have their "sentence" commuted. God is merciful and gracious and long suffering. God is all these things but He is also just. When we proclaim the message of grace we must agree with God. We must not pollute the stream with false teaching. This is doctrine is a lie and will harm those who hear it. 

 Now what about Inclusionism? Is this Biblical grace? We have just addressed future Inclusionism. It is unBiblical to accept this view as truth. So what about historic Inclusionism? This idea that all mankind was included in the death and resurrection of Jesus. That all are already born again and righteous before God and possess the new nature within but just don't know it. Is the gospel message a "revelation" of who you already are? 

 We will continue in the next blog examining historic Inclusionism or Trinitaran Inclusionism. I pray that this message today has helped you in your walk with the Lord. I pray you consider what has been stated today and see if what you believe is Bible truth or man made ideology. Feel free to leave feedback. Consider sharing if this has stirred you within. Blessings on you as you consider these truths.