Archive for October, 2012


Understanding Grace

1. We must be absolutely clear that these two can never mix. Paul declares, “…if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work” (Rom 11:6). Salvation cannot be partly by works and partly by grace.

2. We must be absolutely certain that works have nothing to do with salvation. Period. The Bible clearly states, “For by grace are ye saved…not of works” (Eph 2:8-10). True to such Scriptures, evangelicals firmly declare that we cannot earn or merit salvation in any way.  Eternal life must be received as a free gift of God’s grace, or we cannot have it.

3. Salvation cannot be purchased even in part by us, because it requires payment of the penalty for sin—a payment we can’t make. If one were to receive a speeding ticket, it wouldn’t help to say to the judge, “I’ve driven many times within the 55 mph limit. Surely my many good deeds will make up for the one bad deed.” Nor would it do to say, “If you let me off this time, I promise never to break the law again.” The judge would reply, “To never break the law again is only to do what the law demands.  You get no extra credit for that. The penalty for breaking the law is a separate matter and must be paid.”  Thus Paul writes,“…by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight…” (Rom 3:20).

4. If salvation from the penalty of breaking God’s laws cannot be earned by good deeds, then it cannot be lost by bad deeds. Our works play no part in either earning or keeping salvation. If it could, then those who reach heaven could boast that while Christ saved them they, by their good lives, kept their salvation. Thus God would be robbed of having all the glory in eternity.

5. Salvation can be given to us as a free gift only if the penalty has been fully paid. We have violated infinite Justice, requiring an infinite penalty. We are finite beings and could not pay it: we would be separated from God for eternity. God is infinite and could pay an infinite penalty, but it wouldn’t be just because He is not a member of our race. Therefore God, in love and grace, through the virgin birth, became a man so that He could pay the debt of sin for the entire human race! It is finished!”

Originally from the “Once Saved, Always Saved?” tract written by Dave Hunt  (http://www.thebereancall.org/sites/2011.thebereancall.org/files/Once%20Saved%20Always%20Saved_0.pdf)

The question of the “eternal security of the believer” has been the cause of much controversy in the church for centuries—and still creates confusion and distress for many Christians. It is too much to expect to dispel this problem completely for everyone in a brief tract, but perhaps we can at least help in that direction. Those who believe in “falling away” accuse those who believe in “eternal security” of promoting “cheap grace.”

“While it may be a convenient expression, the latter phrase is of course unbiblical. To call it “cheap” is really a denial of grace, since it implies that too small a price has been paid. Grace, however, must be absolutely free and without any price at all on man’s part; while on God’s part the price He paid was infinite. Thus for man to think that his works can play any part in either earning or keeping his salvation is what cheapens grace, devaluing this infinite gift to the level of human effort.”

“To speak of “falling from grace” involves the same error.  Since our works had nothing to do with meriting grace in the first place, there is nothing we could do that would cause us no longer to merit it and thus “fall” from it. Works determine reward or punishment—not one’s salvation, which comes by God’s grace. The crux of the problem is a confusion about grace and works.”

Originally from the “Once Saved, Always Saved?” tract written by Dave Hunt  (http://www.thebereancall.org/sites/2011.thebereancall.org/files/Once%20Saved%20Always%20Saved_0.pdf)

Interestingly, men are able to respond to a variety of invitations:  birthday parties, weddings, funerals, and even Facebook.  So why is it that so many believe that men are completely incapable of at least responding to God’s invitation of full and free forgiveness through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection?

Too often people have believed that men are so dead in their sins that they are literally unable to even receive the Gospel.  They will say that the Bible teaches that men cannot submit to God’s law. Yet submitting to God’s law is not the same as accepting the Gospel/good news that Jesus died for their sins.

An Excuse: To say that mankind is unable to do anything but sin sounds a bit like an excuse for sinning.  Yes we are bound in our sins and trespasses, and it is true that some sins have such a hold over us that we, at times, are owned by our sinful lusts and passions, but to simply say we are unable to choose anything else takes our own decisions and accountability out of the picture.

A Few Questions:

  1. If we had no other choice than to say yes to sin, then why don’t all men sin in the same ways?  If we are really nothing more than “yes men” to sin’s desires, then why do some choose not to murder, steal, etc.?
  2. Also, if men are really so dead they can choose to do nothing but sin, aren’t we forgetting that dead men don’t choose anything?  Yes, dead men are unable to choose to do good, but they would also be unable to do wrong either.
  3. If we are totally unable to receive the invitation of God’s pardon from our sins, then why did Jesus bother to spend so much time calling, inviting, declaring, and appealing to men while He was here?

To say men are unable to receive the Gospel is simply and biblically unfounded, but to say we are unwilling to hear and follow the Lord God is a another story altogether.  Many who believe in the “deadness” of man, equating it to “inability”, attempt to use Romans 8 as a chapter to validate their doctrine.

Romans 8: Two Laws

The contrast in Romans 8 is the two laws – the law of the Spirit of God and the law of sin and death (verse 2). The law of God is death to the carnal minded man, but brought to life by the Spirit of God for those who receive God’s forgiveness in Christ alone. Once men are born again, they receive the power to become submissive to the law of God. The carnal man who is under the law of sin is clearly not willing to be “subject” to the law of God since he has not been born again.

Romans 8:7, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” isn’t dealing with salvation, rather it’s laying the foundation for the spiritual reality of the old, carnal man which then sets a precedent for the necessity of the new birth in Christ Jesus.

Interestingly, one of the only insights in Romans 8 as to “how” a man is born again is found in verse 15, “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” (Emphasis mine)

Just because the carnal mind is at enmity with God doesn’t mean he is incapable of at least receiving the Gospel of God.  If we are capable of rebelling, we are also capable of asking God for forgiveness. This is plainly revealed throughout the entire Word of God.

(This is part of a larger overview of some of the major Calvinistic teachings being presented today.  For a more in depth look at Calvinism and its unbiblical teachings, go to:  “Calvinism in Light of God’s Word: A Variety of Resources” 

There are many young pastors and congregations that continue to be influenced by the doctrines of Calvinism from many of today’s most popular pulpit teachers. It is crucial that we guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus! One way of doing this is to understand some of the major lies attempting to be fed to the flock of God.  See below for more in depth resources examining Calvinism in light of God’s Word.

 

Jesus said to them, “If any man wills [desires] do [God’s] will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” John 7:17

Articles:

Video:

Website Resource Pages on Calvinism:

Three Great Book Resources:

“Dead, alive, bound, then free. If all Christians that were bound [from sin] would get freed of their graves clothes, the world would sit up and listen. Don’t be an enslaved Christian. The One who has the power to raise the dead also has the power to free us from sin.”

~Alan Redpath (Referring to Lazarus being freed from his grave clothes in John 11:43)

Should Christians be thinkers?  Sadly, too many have hijacked the phrase “Be still and know that I’m God” (Psalm 46:10), in hopes of teaching a method of learning about God that involves letting the mind go blank, but simply stated, Psalm 46:10 does not mean “stop thinking”.  

The person selling a false bill of goods might want someone to stop thinking, but no where in the Bible does God want people to be ignorant. Instead, we are commanded to let Jesus be our new mind by yield to the Holy Spirit’s teaching through His Word so that our minds can become renewed after Him. “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:16 (Also: Romans 6:13Colossians 3:10)

To let our personal ideas and vain philosophies dictate our understanding of God and actions towards those around us is what we are commanded to cease.  Instead of believing that we should be still from thinking, we should:

  • “Be still from trusting our own ways of doing things,”  
  • “Cease from approaching the Lord on our own terms,”  
  • “Be still from worry and from the love of this world,”
  • “Be still from loving ourselves!”
  • “Be still from selfish pride, arrogance, and vain conversation.”
  • Simply said, “We should be still (dead) to self and alive in Christ.” (Romans 6:11)

People who are alive don’t stop thinking, rather they start thinking correctly. Too many professing Christian authors, musicians, and even film-makers have embraced contemplative (non-thinking) forms of prayer, i.e. breath prayers, etc. as the biblical manner in which God’s people are to “be still”.  Not only will these eastern mystic practices lead to ignorant sheep, they may also open dangerous doors of deception from the enemy of our souls.

Instead of not thinking, may we start letting God’s Word plainly and clearly teach our hearts and minds in hopes of producing in us and through us the glorious light and love of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ!

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:1-2

Jesus Christ did not simply call His followers to go make a difference. He said to go out to preach the Gospel and make disciples of all nations. (Matthew 28:19-20)  The overshadowed drive of church organizations for social agendas of world PEACE plans, hunger drives, helping the needy, etc. only serves at best as a social band-aid, but in the end lead to eternal darkness. Mankind, and sadly much of today’s “Christianity”, has demonstrated an overwhelming desire to join together in godless unity in hopes of turning this fallen world back into the Garden of Eden.

Sadly, it is foolish arrogance that has clouded the fact that it was there in the perfect Garden that sinful pride was planted in the heart of man. Making the world a perfect place will NEVER change the condition of our sinful hearts. Jesus Christ did NOT come to “make the world right” as taught by Eugene Peterson his book The Message. “He [Jesus] came to help, to put the world right again.” John 3:17 (The Message). Jesus came to call men out of this world, redeeming lost sinners and translating them from this world’s kingdom of darkness into His marvelous Light! (1 Peter 2:9)

Dear strangers and pilgrims, may all those who have been cleansed by the precious blood of the Lamb simply choose to understand and know Jesus, grow in His knowledge and grace, and faithfully go in His power to make disciples of all nations, all for the glory of our great God and Savior!

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