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The Gospel Part 4: The Issue of All Issues

"A law-driver insists with threats and penalties; a preacher of grace lures and incites with divine goodness and compassion shown to us; for He wants no unwilling works and reluctant services, He wants joyful and delightful services of God."

- Martin Luther, Father of the Reformation


Nowadays it has become popular in the Catholic Church and among many works-righteousness proponents to label stalwart preachers of the Gospel such as Joseph Prince, Tony Evans, Paul Ellis, and even Louie Giglio as "hyper-grace", as if somehow the Bible teaches that there can be too much mercy, too much forgiveness, or too much grace.

The charge is that these preachers are antinomians.  That is heretics who are "against law".  Yet the Gospel of Grace and antinomianism are two entirely different things.

If you actually ask the Gospel preachers themselves what they believe, they would say they are simply preaching what the original reformers Luther and Melancthon preached, who in turn were preaching Paul and the Apostles' message: we are saved by grace through faith apart from works (Ephesians 2:89, Romans 3:28).

Too much grace isn't "hyper-grace", just as too much love isn't "hyper-love".  It's just grace.  It's just love.

Antinomianism, however, is fundamentally different.  It is the utterly empty profession of faith that James warned about in James 2.  It is open and continuous rebellion to God's will.  It is the denigration of the law, and thus the denigration of the need for a Savior.

Elyse Fitzpatrick who has been ruthlessly attacked for preaching salvation by grace apart from works (just as Paul did) addresses the charge here.

As C.S. Lewis points out, it is this very issue (grace vs works) that separates true Biblical Christianity from all other religions.  When you depart from the simple message of the Gospel (that Jesus died for your sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day), you necessarily get lumped in with every other vain doctrine and religion out there.

The danger for the antinomians and the works-righteousness crowd is the same: trying to get into the wedding feast without the clothing of Christ.  The former think the things Christ died for are not really sin (a contemporary example would be Rob Bell in regards to homosexuality and gay marriage) and thus lack repentance.  The latter don't think Christ's death is sufficient for all of their sins (try as they might to explain otherwise)... they think on one level or another that salvation is a mixture of grace and works.

Antinomianism teaches a grace that isn't needed or a grace that makes immoral things moral.  The works-righteousness of the RCC and a growing number of Protestants teach that grace is merely fuel in your tank (sometimes called "sanctifying grace"), which is a mere motivator rather than actual unmerited pardon.

The Gospel, in contrast to antinomianism, teaches that the law is the actual will and unchanging standard of God.  It is our schoolmaster to lead us to repentance and the recognition of our need for the Savior (Galatians 3:19, Romans 5:20, Romans 7:7).  How will the blood of Christ cover and atone for sins which you refuse to acknowledge are in need of atonement?  This is the great danger for those supposed Christians who say homosexuality, gay marriage, abortion, and watching vile things are not really "sins".  If you do not permit Christ's blood to clean you (perhaps because of pride or because you don't want to admit what you are doing is wrong) then you will not be clean (see also John 8:24).

On the other hand, the Gospel, in contrast to works-righteousness, teaches that the penalty for our sins was fully paid on the Cross.  Nothing can be added to His finished work.  For those who truly trust (that is not merely profess a belief) in Jesus' finished work to the end, forgiveness of sins is total and complete.  You are not unsaved each time you mess up.  Abiding is not trying to earn your way, it is trusting in the One who earned it for you.

It is my understanding that the works-righteousness crowd may in fact be the true Laodiceans that Christ warned about:  See here.  Not only do they reject blatantly or in practice the finished work of Christ, but they "dumb down" the extreme holiness of the law so that they can "measure up" (see point #3 here).

The Gospel is very offensive. It offends the lawless by telling them that they need forgiveness for their lawless deeds and it offends the self-righteous by telling them their efforts to earn salvation and “keep” salvation are useless.

Please prayerfully consider if you have your wedding garments on.  Are you ready for the coming of the LORD?

This series continues in Part Five here.

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2 comments :

  1. Thank you!

    Preach on!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for your encouragement, God Bless!

    ReplyDelete


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