Friday, June 30, 2017

Three errors that hinders the effectiveness of the gospel; Part 1

One:
One of the biggest and most debilitating errors that actually does harm to the effectiveness of the gospel message is the explanation and understanding of the transformation process. When Paul says, “and be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” he means something very different than most people believe and are taught. The most common understanding, of “be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,” is a variation on this theme and explanation. Once one is saved, i.e. regenerated, the Holy Spirit will use our reading of scripture to help us understand and supernaturally obey the Law of God. This is also known as the most popular explanation of the sanctification process. In other words, sanctification comes about by reading scripture and applying it, and the application is made possible by the Holy Ghost in a mystical way. In fact, people go so far as to judge that if one cannot see the sanctification process active, i.e., the individual applying the scripture to themselves, they can doubt that the person was really, truly regenerated and saved. This causes fear and doubt in the minds of people who are saved, and furthermore, rather than aiding sanctification, this thought process definitely hinders sanctification.

So how does the Spirit transform you ask? The answer is through the gospel. Yes, you read it correctly, the Holy Spirit uses the gospel to aid in sanctification, and provide the mechanism for “the renewing” of the mind. When Paul says, “be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,” he most assuredly means having one’s mind renewed to the gospel of grace. The transforming power that the Holy Spirit uses for sanctification is the assurance of the gospel of grace and peace. Paul explained it this way, “therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” It is peace with the Father that generates the genuine love for God that the Holy Spirit uses to transform. This is the reason that Shalom (peace) is such an important concept in Judaism. It was stressed by the Torah to prepare the understanding of the effect of the gospel of grace. Shalom with the Father automatically produces love for the Father. In fact, it is the only way that one can fulfill the first and greatest commandment… “thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” If you think about it, this is impossible to keep short of believing the gospel of grace. One can desire to do it, but one cannot perform it without the aid of the Holy Spirit in believing the gospel of grace. That the Holy Spirit enables us to believe the gospel, is precisely the source of the regeneration. Immediately upon hearing and believing the gospel, one has peace with God which in turn wells up into overwhelming love for God. One cannot hear and believe the gospel without overwhelmingly loving God. It is impossible.

So then, as long as one’s attention is focused on the gospel of grace, one’s affection for God is a prime driving force in all that is said and done. I have met so many prophets, evangelists, and self-proclaimed apostles who erroneously believe that the gospel is merely an entry point, a portal to sanctification that is entered once, and set aside for the greater purpose of conforming to the Law of God. For them, believing the gospel is the measure of a baby Christian… it is not the focus of the seasoned saint. The season saint should be focused on the sanctification process, and become more and more Christ like by living the law more and more. Come on now! You know I am speaking the truth here. It is so sad that people teach that one should grow up from that infancy. They should get passed the baptism and regeneration and should get on to the meat. This is such a grave error that it grieves me, and I know that it grieves God, and the Holy Spirit as well. This simply comes from misunderstanding the message, and occasion of the letter to the Hebrews. Getting on to the meat is actually getting on to understanding the gospel of grace in such a way that the Holy Spirit can give us confidence in the effectiveness of the gospel. How did the writer of Hebrews put it? “Hold fast to your confidence that has great recompense of reward. The meat is the NEW COVENANT! The meat is the NEW AND BETTER WAY! The meat is the way that the gospel of Christ can CLEANSE THE CONSCIENCE FROM DEAD WORKS TO SERVE THE LIVING GOD!

Why do people follow after these teachers, preachers and prophets? It is to sidestep the actual sanctification process that comes from believing the gospel. The human mind demands religious practice. The human mind cannot accept the gospel of grace. It seems too simplistic. Surely God demands religious practice to prove and establish worthiness. Surely it cannot be that simple. But that is error. That is erroneous thought. Religious practice is “the way which seems right to a man.” It is the way that leads to death. What death you ask? The death of the spirit… death of real love for the Father. It is a symptom of the killing letter. Only the Holy Spirit, through the gospel of grace gives life to an otherwise dead corpse.

Now is the time… REPENT (change your mind/renew your mind) and believe the gospel of grace!


We will look at the other two errors in subsequent posts, and quite probably will add some insight into sanctification.                

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Declaring the ungodly righteous: A fresh look at total depravity

Romans 4:5 HCSB But to the one who does not work, but believes on Him who declares the ungodly to be righteous, his faith is credited for righteousness.

In the above passage of Romans, Paul is explaining and justifying imputed righteousness. I encounter so many evangelicals who are skeptical of imputed righteousness, yet, for humanity, imputed righteousness is the only available righteousness. Paul declares in the previous chapter in Romans that by the "works of the Law" NO ONE will be justified. So then, what does it mean "but believes on Him who declares the ungodly to be righteous?" It means that people must believe what God declares. This would begin with all that is recorded that God said. Genesis 1:31 HCSB "God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. Evening came and then morning: the sixth day." All that he had made included humanity. God had declared humanity to be good. When Adam and Eve hid from God in the garden, it was because they thought that they were evil. Why did they think they were evil? It was because they did not believe God, and had partaken of the fruit. The serpent had promised Eve the fruit of the tree would make her wise. Paul explained it this way in Romans one..."claiming to be wise, they became fools." The knowledge of good and evil allowed them to doubt God. They were unwilling to accept God's way of being righteous.

Paul states that God's way is not found in having humanity be righteous by works of the law. God's way was to declare humanity righteous, simply because he was God, and he was the creator. Then, if one would simply believe God, God would in-turn credit that belief as righteousness. Words matter, and evangelical theology is so twisted that many times we make words of no effect with our traditions. John writes: John 1:29 HCSB "The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" The word for world is kosmos and it means literally the world and everything in it. This includes ALL humans. If Calvinism, and Reformed theology was correct about election, this verse would read "who takes away the sin of the elect." However, that is not what was written. Here again we have a declaration of God uttered through the Prophet John the Baptist.  Jesus was the Lamb of God that would take away the sin of the whole world. The question is, do you believe it?

Again, evangelical orthodox doctrine confuses sin and sins. Sin is unbelief. Sins are infractions of Old Covenant Law. Sins are merely a manifestation of a deeper reality. The deeper reality is SIN (unbelief.) The children of Israel of the Exodus, died in the wilderness because of un-belief. They did not believe God when promised them the land. They used the knowledge of good and evil, informed by their eyes and ears, and allowed the fear of what they saw, to prevent them from entering in, and taking the land that God had given them. I think that Total Depravity should be replaced by Total Inefficacy. The true state of the saint post fall is the inability to have faith without the aid of the Holy Spirit. One is not totally depraved, but totally in-efficacious. I think this change is demanded to accurately describe a life without the knowledge of the gospel of Christ. While I will admit that total inefficacy can lead to depraved behavior, even the best person, that tries to be positive and faithful, still has considerable doubt without the supernatural effect of the gospel assured by the Holy Spirit. I admit that the person that has believed the gospel can have doubt as well, but it is different as the Holy Spirit always wins out in the debate. At the end of the day, the one believing the gospel is confidently convinced that she/he is a child of God no matter what.

Even knowing that Jesus took away the SIN of the world, does not diminish the need for the gospel to be rehearsed and proclaimed over and over. It is the way in which the Holy Spirit supernaturally transforms. The one continually hearing the gospel of grace, develops such a deep love for God that it cannot help but transform their behavior. It saddens me so deeply that the main doctrine of evangelical Christianity, so pathetically misses the mark and so adversely misinforms the hearers.



The Spirit of Christ changed the spiritual atmosphere: Part 1

1 Peter 1:9-12 HCSB because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (10) Concerning this salvation, the proph...