Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Why current evangelical doctrine is off the mark; looking at law and grace; part II

Have you ever told some fellow believer about the extent of  God’s grace only to have them tell you that no one should think that they could take advantage of God’s grace and get away with it?  It seems to me that there is a fear of encouraging sin by most Christians when it comes to acknowledging grace. On the other hand, D. Martyn Lloyd Jones, a Welsh preacher of the twentieth century, once made the comment that if one is not accused of being too easy on sin they are not preaching the gospel. I personally agree wholeheartedly with D. Martyn Lloyd Jones and I think that there is a misunderstanding of law and grace by most evangelicals.

In all this fear and caution about being too liberal with grace, the real point of the gospel is missed. One of the main problems with current evangelical dogma is the importance the law holds  in the life of a believer. Here is the most common view that evangelicals teach and believe.  Once a person is truly converted by faith in Christ, they then receive, supernatural power to become more law abiding or live closer to the commandments. Further, they believe that law obedience demonstrates that a person is truly converted. Martin Luther, the great defender of grace said it this way; “faith alone saves but, faith that saves is never alone”--- meaning that one will see law obedience form a truly converted person. This has been the “party line,”  if you will allow me to use the phrase, for most of the history of the Christian Church.

Actually, I think the New Testament teaches something very different from this.  Now this difference may sound like it is without distinction but, let me assure you that it is not and, that it is a very important distinction in the growth of a believer toward being conformed into the image of Jesus Christ. That… being formed into the image of Christ… ought to be the goal.

So then, here is the reality of the situation as I read the New and Old Testaments.  Jesus Christ paid the price for *all* sin… one time…  for all. That is past, present and future sin. Truly believing this fact brings peace with God, that is, all enmity is gone! The peace is the result of not having to worry about judgment. In Christ all have been adjudicated righteous. By faith, one must apprehend this peace, hold on to it and persevere. That is what brings about the peace. Peace with God is the catalyst for love for God. The love for God that is generated by having peace with God is the catalyst for obeying God. If the peace is broken for any reason the love automatically breaks and obedience stops as fear ensues. Fear is the opposite of peace. One cannot have peace with God when fear is present. The law brings fear. When one is forced to find acceptability to God through law they immediately loose the peaceful effect of grace.

Resting in the finished work of Jesus no matter what is the only thing that over time brings and sustains peace with God in the mind of the believer. Renewing the mind is a constant shifting of focus to God’s grace in Christ and the peace that it brings. The peace as stated earlier brings love for God and the love for God brings love to others and love does not easily violate God’s law. In this state of love the believer is slowly but ever so surely being conformed into the image of Jesus which is apape/love.

Here is why the false system has worked for so long. Some people’s sin is easier to see, more socially unacceptable than others. People can separate themselves from the big issues, sex, drugs, alcohol… they can change their manner of speaking…. They can easily look converted to the eye of another but, down in their heart they are full of fear and hatred. No matter how much they say they love they cannot really truly love. You know this is speaking to you don’t you?

Only peace with God from unlimited grace can truly produce love!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why current evangelical doctrine is off the mark; looking at law and grace

While there are a multitude of differing doctrinal positions within evangelical Christianity, there are essentially two positions that are always at odds, and result in most of the overwhelming confusion that besets would be saints. The two mutual exclusive views can best be defined by asking the following two questions. What is the position taken on the tension between law and grace and which is the over-riding concept? To further define the two positions, it offers clarity, to explain the view they hold for law and/or grace. The positions in these two divisions are simply put… (1) those who emphasize law and (2) those who emphasize grace. 

The ones who emphasize law, at the end of the day, are called legalists by those who emphasize grace, and the ones who emphasize grace are called easy believers and their doctrine is called easy believism or anti-nomianism by those who emphasize law. So, which position is right? The answer is really quite simple when you sit back and look at it. 

In the New Covenant, the only covenant that Gentiles are under GRACE is the driving force. Grace is the motor that runs Christian doctrine. Grace has the first and foremost position. Here are three biblical reasons: 

  1. The law was given through Moses… but… grace and *truth* came through Jesus Christ
  2. Where sin abounds…. Grace abounds all the more 
  3. You are *not* under law… you are under *grace* 

First off, John 1:17 tells this. The law is neither grace nor truth. Grace and truth was something that had to come later and it came through Jesus. This alone should assure one that grace is the prime mover, grace drives the gospel train. Grace has priority over law and that is just a fact. Many do not want to hear it but just because they have plugged their ears does not mean that they are right. The opposite is true they are plain wrong and it is a woefully sad truth. The reason is that in their law emphasis, they damage those who have been set free from guilt by grace. This is precisely why the law kills and the Spirit gives life. 

Secondly, Romans 5:20 further explains that grace is the prime mover, that *grace*… not law… drives the gospel train metaphorically speaking. Here is the fact plain and simple. One cannot out-sin grace! This may offend the sensibilities of the legalist camp but it still remains an indisputable truth. Even when Paul goes on to ask if one should sin so that grace can abound… even that… does not overthrow the simple truth that one cannot out-sin grace. 

Finally, Romans 6:14 states it so plainly that anyone with the slightest command of language can understand that grace… not law… is the prime mover; it is driving the gospel train so to speak. Paul’s admonition in Romans 6:15 notwithstanding, grace is the catalyst. It is the ground. It is the foundation for faith and trust in Jesus Christ. 

This all goes to establish peace with God and love for God. Faith in the grace message is the catalyst for loving God and truly loving God is the prime mover in transformation. It will NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, ever be the law. The Law will not ever provide peace with God and it therefore CANNOT produce the fruit of the Spirit.

The two overriding messages of the scripture

While this blog is dedicated to my paradigm shift it is also about the way in which evangelical Christianity is off the mark in doctrine and...