Posts Tagged ‘Paul’

Correction: I made a mistake in the last article…PLUS let’s discuss father confusion…

Father confusion: We cannot presume what it is to be a good father based on our human understanding.

First: TONIGHT! I’ll be teaching on the orphan spirit and a fatherless generation! 7pm at Revival Church!

Revival Church is located at 26091 Sherwood, Warren, MI 48091.


Correction: I was bouncing between two thoughts when I wrote a certain point in the last article, and used the wrong passage to make my point, which made my point incorrect. Thanks to my friend Mark for pointing it out!

The two passages I was bouncing between were:

Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him.  But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.  And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”  But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him.  Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. Acts 7:54-58

And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.' Acts 22:20

In my original post I mentioned that Jesus was standing and giving his approval, but I based it on Acts 22:20, which was the wrong verse. That was actually Saul. Big difference!

But, in the appropriate passage, Acts 7:54-58, we do see Jesus standing in honor of Stephen’s martyrdom. That was the point I meant to make!

Here’s the corrected version:

Rejection of call to martyrdom—Martyrdom is the pinnacle of negative experiences for the Christian. Of course, the truth is that it’s not negative at all. It’s glorious!

Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him.  But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.  And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”  But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him.  Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. Acts 7:54-58

How powerful is it that Jesus stood as Stephen died! Not only that, but did you notice what young man was mentioned in the story? A young man who would end up turning the world upside down. Saul. Paul. We need Stephen’s to arise and lay down their lives in such a way that a new company of Saul’s are awakened into their destinies.

FATHER CONFUSION

imageAnother point in the article has caused some trouble!

Here it is:

Misinterpretations of negative situations—News flash: it’s not always the devil. How often to people rebuke demons when it’s actually God that caused the situation? If we think that God only functions positively than what are we to do with the fact that God actually demonized Paul and refused his deliverance? What about God striking people with sickness? 

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

God actually endorsed an assault of Satan on Paul to keep him humble! Paul embraced a “negative” God, because he was True. He was content with weaknesses, hardships, calamities. He didn’t rebuke them, and that didn’t cause him to attribute them to Satan. Of course, Satan wouldn’t want to keep Paul from becoming conceited, so this wasn’t his plan. Just as with Job, God will allow attack of the enemy for our own benefit. In fact, it was Satan who was allowed by God to kill Jesus. He literally had thorns in his flesh as he hung on the cross, and they were not taken away.

There is such a wild misunderstanding of the nature and character of God as Father today.

The resistance to this point is coming from those who subscribe to the idea that God would never do anything negative. Of course, that is the reason I wrote the article—to address this fallacy.

Someone on Facebook said:

God never allows evil.

That just can’t be supported in scripture.

If we truly know that our Father loves us, we won't balk at the trouble he initiates for us. We will trust him.

The text is very simple… we can look at it…

“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me,”
God was the primary player in this… he gave the messenger of Satan… and he had a reason: “…to keep me from becoming conceited.”

Of course, Satan wouldn't want to keep Paul from becoming conceited, so this wasn't his plan. Just as with Job, God will allow attack of the enemy for our own benefit. In fact, it was Satan who was allowed by God to kill Jesus. He literally had thorns in his flesh as he hung on the cross, and they were not taken away.

So, God used Satan to keep Paul in line. That is the very simple take away here.

Life Application Commentary:
We don't know what Paul's thorn in the flesh was because he doesn't tell us. Some have suggested that it was malaria, epilepsy, or a disease of the eyes (see Galatians 4:13-15). Whatever the case, it was a chronic and debilitating problem, which at times kept him from working. This thorn was a hindrance to his ministry, and he prayed for its removal; but God refused. Paul was a very self-sufficient person, so this thorn must have been difficult for him. Three times Paul prayed for healing and did not receive it. He received, however, things far greater because he received greater grace from God, a stronger character, humility, and an ability to empathize with others. In addition, it benefited those around him as they saw God at work in his life. God, according to his sovereign plan, doesn't heal some believers of their physical ailments. We don't know why some are spared and others aren't. God chooses according to his divine purposes. Our task is to pray, to believe, and to trust. Paul is living proof that holy living and courageous faith do not ensure instant physical healing. When we pray for healing, we must trust our bodies to God's care. We must recognize that nothing separates us from his love (Romans 8:35-39) and that our spiritual condition is always more important than our physical condition.

This is such an important truth to discuss. So many attribute difficulties to Satan when it's actually God at times. So, they end up rebuking God… they resist him. We see with Paul that he didn't resist. He accepted his very troubling situation as it was given to him by God.

My friend James replied to an opposing view on Facebook by saying:

God sent evil spirits to do His bidding, to the point of even personally sending lying spirits to deceive the Jewish prophets SO THAT they would prophesy falsely. I am amazed at the ignorance that abounds on the realities of spiritual warfare.

It’s pure love that will result in a perfect Father functioning in ways that confound us as mere humans. It doesn’t make sense to us at times, but God will work contrary to common sense! God will actually blind eyes of people so they can't be saved! God is SO DIFFERENT than we realize.

James also said:

I believe it was the reformer, Martin Luther, who said that the devil is God's devil. He is on a tether but it is a rather long one. The only place of protection and safety is in the true knowledge of God as revealed through Jesus Christ (Aslan is no tame lion!).

We can't presume how a father would act based on our human understanding. That's the point. We may want a father to act a certain way… but, we have to remember, God is not human. He doesn't play by our rules. His method of fathering is way different than ours… and his method will create shock, awe, fear, intimacy and a myriad of other emotions in us.

God the Father did many, many things that an earthy father would never do.

We can’t attempt to define what a good father is by what a human father would do.

We can't make God into our image, we were made in his. What we might call abuse, God might call love. Was it abuse to allow a fish to swallow Jonah? Was it abuse to kill all of mankind except for a few on the ark? Was it abuse to allow John to be boiled in oil? Was it abuse for God not to stop the terror attacks on 9/11? Is it abuse when he doesn’t answer our most urgent prayers? No. God is love—always.

Let me ask you this: If you were staring into the fires of Hell, would you, as a loving father, throw anybody in there? God will. And his love surpasses anything we've ever known.

Madmen are coming—and their bold decrees just may kill your church.

I knew there was a risk of losing everything when the call to the deep was announced.

imageThe coming church will be a model of normal Christianity, and it will be so costly, offensive, exclusive and challenging that only the remnant will remain—and this is most certainly the plan of God.

We’ve become such a passive church society that the abrasion that’s coming will be wholeheartedly rejected by mainstream Christianity. False-humility and superficial pleasantries are masquerading as spirituality while truth is moderated to ensure it doesn’t disturb anybody.

The result is a Christian culture that celebrates the shallows and merely acknowledges the depths as optional for those who may want to venture in.

Going on eastward with a measuring line in his hand, the man measured a thousand cubits, and then led me through the water, and it was ankle-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was knee-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was waist-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and it was a river that I could not pass through, for the water had risen. It was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be passed through. And he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” Then he led me back to the bank of the river. Ezekiel 47:3-6

The time is coming when the deep is no longer presented as an option for the Christian, but rather, it’s the only hope for those who desire to truly follow Jesus. Prophetic awakeners will be boldly moving into deep waters and calling out those who are splashing like children in the shallow waters while presuming themselves to be normal, biblical Christians. These awakeners will be shocking an apathetic people like madmen!

Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 2 Corinthians 11:23

We have fallen for the deception that we are all equal in our Christianity and any type of distinction based on maturity, passion or discipline is quickly hushed out of fear that the less committed will feel alienated. This fear is going to cease as prophetic voices will be calling all who are willing into the deep—and those who choose to splash and play will do so of their own volition.

 But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:1

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Ephesians 4:11-14

About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, Hebrews 5:11-12

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 1 Corinthians 13:11

Grow up and get into position! That’s the call of the hour. It’s time to count the cost, get into position and run with passion as the Church worthy of the name of Jesus Christ!

Don’t think for a minute that you can’t do it. That would be an insult to the grace of Christ!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Paul refused to shrink back. He moved in great grace and turned the world upside down! He ran. He fought. He knew his sole purpose on the Earth was to advance the Kingdom and that mission burned in him night and day.

 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 1 Corinthians 9:24

Paul said to the people, “Follow me as I follow Christ,” and not to Jesus, “Hey, wait up, let’s move at the pace of the people.” God sets the pace, not us.

The fear is that others will presume we are arrogant or haughty when we call them higher—after all, if we are calling them higher, we must think we are higher already.

  • First, the closer we get to Jesus, the deeper we go, the more humble and broken we become—our own depravity, weaknesses and struggles are clarified as the holiness and majesty of Jesus are magnified. The deeper we go the deeper we have to keep going. The deep is truly the point of no return.
  • Second, what would the suggestion be? That we lessen our intimacy with Jesus and encourage people in their apathy so as not to offend any or invite division within the camp? No way.

And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” Matthew 11:6

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:34-39

Extreme Church?

When I called the church into the deep in Colorado several years ago, I knew that I would lose many people, a lot of money and even my reputation. Many would be angered that we were picking up the pace and raising the bar—beyond where they were willing to go. I fully understood there was a risk of killing Revolution Church when we did this—and it literally almost happened. Many truly thought I was a madman—and they were right! The remnant came alive to the call and ran with passion, but, sadly, those who were given to this costly, fiery, normal Christianity were very few and far between. I decided early on that I’d rather have a small church on fire with Christians who were ready to invest their very lives than a church of two or three hundred people who gathered around a space heater—and I knew I could have either. A church of 200 would provide a good salary and stability for my family. Good programs and honey-dipped messages would draw the socialites who would invest just enough to provide a cozy, Laodicean environment for all of us. I get sick even thinking of that option—and so does God. 

So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:16

In a world where lukewarm is normal, the common response to an extreme church environment is that it’s not the appropriate church experience, that it’s not for a typical Christian, even though some would agree such a ministry has some value, for some people. An extreme church culture to many is more like a para-church ministry than a legitimate church. It doesn’t fit within their definition of what a church is suppose to be and do. The accusation is that such an extreme focus is only for a small minority of Christians—and then, most probably just for a short season.

I’ve spent years and tears attempting to address this fallacy. Normal church today is that of mildly committed followers of Jesus who put limits on their passion and devotion—it’s children splashing in the shallows. This is not the Christianity of the Bible.

“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ Matthew 11:16-17

Revival Church is not an extreme environment, not even close. However, compared to the user friendly, bread and breakfast version of the church that dominates the landscape of our nation, it does feel like a para-church, over the edge, specialized ministry for the minority instead of the majority. This grieves me—not because I want more people to stuff themselves into our church building, but because the thought of extreme passion feels specialized and uncommon, unwanted and unnecessary.

The church experience in our nation has become more about living a wonderful life instead of dying a remarkable death—and pastors know very well that a focus on surrender versus benefit will result in empty pews and offering plates.

While I would never presume to have a perfect understanding of the function of the church, I am confident on several points—and when I employed these critical elements into our ministry I fully believed that the result would be a sound, vibrant and biblical church. We are para-church in no way. I want to alleviate the fear pastors may have of being accused of not being a legitimate church—when you gather together to pray on fire and release the messages of the Lord, you are modeling the coming church. This is what the church will look like when the reformation is complete! That being said, the accusations will fly, but don’t relent. Stay the course, gather the people and pray.

Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber. Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep and say, “Spare your people, O LORD, and make not your heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’” Joel 2:15-17

The call is for every person who has made the radical and costly decision to follow the living God to dive into the fire together. No matter how long we’ve known Jesus, our pace should be the same—intense and fiery.

Have you ever met someone who was recently radically saved? They can’t run fast enough or burn hot enough! Yet, we’ve fallen for the deception that new Christians need to take baby steps! No way, no more!

Extreme church is the only option in today’s end-time climate. The formula is simple—too simple for most—pray with fervent passion together with others several times a week, read the Bible, believe it and respond to God’s mandates with faith and obedience. Pray continually. Live in the spirit. Die daily. Surrender all. Be holy.

This is normal church. It’s a culture of uncommon holiness and passion for intercession where we refuse to be amused by darkness and endeavor to slow the flow to Hell with prayer and action. This is why were are on the Earth.

I believe we would be much closer to the true, biblical model of the church if we did little more than pray nonstop in tongues for two hours on a Sunday morning than what we see today.

The Coming Church

Please understand this point. Consider it. Pray on it.

We live in a day where Christians are boldly, unapologetically defending their measured religious devotion and are denouncing calls to extreme commitment. I hear it all the time—fervency is shunned in favor of the status quo. Can you believe this? Being extreme for Jesus is an unwelcome negative attitude, an invasive intrusion into the well guarded lives of American Christians.

If the thought of the church experience being made up mostly of praying in the Spirit with infusions of apostolic messages and reading of scripture feels incomplete or uncomfortable to you, you will find yourself frustrated and resistant in the coming church.

Change is coming. For example, many are looking for a church with an amazing worship experience where it’s easy to sit back and bask in the atmosphere. In the coming church, in place of polished worship teams, we will see an environment where groans of intercession are echoing in the room—with or without instruments. Everybody will be on their face burning, groaning and crying out as acts of worship in place of today’s Christian karaoke. Imagine gathering together multiple nights a week to hit our faces and groan in intercession together! Most everything else that we’ve come to know in today’s church will be done away with as we all serve as worshiping intercessors in the house of prayer for all nations. We will worship in spirit. In truth.

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24

This type of a church environment seems extreme, and demanding, and uncomfortable. Yes. Today it will feel like that, but when the reformation and revolution in the church is complete, it will feel normal, and God will call us to yet another level—a level today that we wouldn’t even think is possible. It’s a level, one beyond the level where we are going next, that will result in continual supernatural power. Keep that in mind. If the next level seems extreme, just compare it to what’s coming beyond that!

Again, the coming church, the next level, will be white hot and perfect for every Christian at every maturity level. The prayer room is the only room for the new Believer and the apostolic leaders who are investing into them! This is my heart for Revival Church. I see this model being perfect for people of all levels as it calls everybody into the same place—death and destiny. Everybody gathers, prays, grows and is intentional in their discipleship. It’s intense and life changing. And then, when the remnant does this together in unity, it will be world changing.

Our ministry school, theLab University, is an extreme experience of prayer and maturity—and my view is that the school is closer to a normal, biblical church than churches we see today.

The commitment level at theLab is high (by today’s standards)—we meet together four days and nights a week. We have homework to complete and turn in on a weekly basis. There are prayer events that are required for us to attend somewhere in Detroit every Friday night. We are held accountable for our attendance and participation. Holiness is commanded. We are a family. We are locked in and ready to grow at a rapid rate together. This, my friend, is church. However, in America, it’s para-church. It’s extreme. It’s not for the general Christian. This, again, deeply grieves me.

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Romans 12:11

Zeal is not a personality trait! It’s a command!

And he said, “Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD.” So he had him ride in his chariot. 2 Kings 10:16

I challenge you—live so boldly that others take notice, and call them to experience your zeal for the Lord! Call them higher! Call them out of the dead and dying manmade American church system that is headed for judgment!

“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Revelation 3:1

…If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Revelation 3:3

The coming church is what the scoffers and mockers and seekers and disillusioned are waiting for. They want to see a people who are serious about their God, radical in their devotion and done with the imitation religion of our day.

They are waiting for a people who won’t renounce the sin of homosexuality one minute and enjoy an R rated movie the next.

They want to see a church that’s finally devoid of hypocrites—people that won’t be amused by unrighteousness in media that required the death of the one they say they love.

They are waiting for a church that will not only boldly expose the sins of the nation, but also pray night and day for it.

The world needs a church that burns with such love and anointing and holiness and that’s single minded in it’s purpose—to set the world ablaze.

No more programs, productions or promotions. It’s time to pray as the church again. America is waiting.

Grace vs. False-Grace: Have you fallen for the false-grace message? Five marks of the false-grace doctrine…

Grace vs. False Grace: The church has fallen hard for a teaching that puts lives at eternal risk. Here are five marks of the false-grace doctrine.

image

For an extremely comprehensive study on the topic of false-grace, I'd encourage you to read my article, The Salvation Equation HERE. (It will open in a new tab/window.)


First of all, I stayed up late last night reading an amazing and important novel by John Bevere titled Rescued. It will shake you and your theology as he dramatically depicts eternity unfolding for pastors and pillars of the church. Riveting. False-grace is dealt with in sober fashion.

You can find it on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Rescued-A-Novel-John-Bevere/dp/0764202006 


*WATCH THE VIDEO on this topic on our XPmedia channel HERE.

I want to make my point very clear right up front. The reason I feel it’s mandatory for us to start focusing on the issue of false-grace is because of the eternal implications. My angle is not mostly Earthly focused, how our lives are impacted in the here and now, though our short experience on Earth will certainly be impacted as we react rightly to this message (…on Earth as it is in Heaven.)

My angle is this: A false-grace doctrine is a drug—a poisonous sleeping pill that feels freeing, relaxing and euphoric. Yet the false-grace overdose that’s occurring in churches all over the world is resulting in people’s careless, self-focused slumber that they will, one day, fail to awaken from.

Many in the false-grace movement have already been shocked on the day of their death to find themselves escorted not into the presence of God by glorious angels, but rather by the most horrifying of demonic creatures into their new, eternal residence in Hell. It happens every day. I’m grieved and broken.

The Apostle Paul accurately predicted, “The time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to MYTHS” (2 Tim. 4:3,4).

The GOOD NEWS is that God loves us. Period. It’s settled. We don’t have to feel it. We don’t have to experience it. He loves us. No amount of work or activity will cause him to love us more. The question isn’t his love of us, it’s our love of him. He already responded to our condition—by his true grace. Now, we have to respond to his condition. He is a holy and fearful God.

I’ll make it very clear: We are righteous because of Jesus, not our works. Our works is an evidence of his righteousness applied in our lives. Our repentance comes when there is a collision between the reality of our righteousness in Christ and our choice to sin. The two can’t mix. If we do repent, righteousness remains. If we don’t repent, it does not. It’s as simple (though not always easy) as living a life that’s alive to Christ and quick to repent as his wonderful Holy Spirit convicts us. It’s when we presume sin and holiness can coexist that eternity is provoked. There is a true-grace message that is more powerful, freeing and desirable than anything the false-grace message promises.

Galatians 5:2-6 (ESV) 2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

Our works APART from the cross are meaningless. Filthy rags. Even deadly. But in response to the cross of Christ, our obedience is beautiful indeed! If we believe, we will respond to his instructions out of the fear and love of the Lord. Yet, if we are not truly in Christ, we do have reason for concern.

John 3:15-17 (KJV) 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

With such a permanent and terrifying potential before us, eternity, we must analyze our own theologies. How can we know we have been influenced by this heretical teaching of false-grace? It’s not hard.


John Burton : Five Marks of the False Grace MovementFIVE MARKS OF THE FALSE-GRACE DOCTRINE

ONE. We believe in a theology of exemption.

A theology of exemption states that since we are saved, we are exempt from the penalties of sin. That there are parts of the Bible that no longer apply to us. Yes, it’s a heresy. False-grace removes bible-based responsibilities to respond to God in holiness.

The number of people who subconsciously or unwittingly embrace a theology of exemption is far greater than those who explicitly pronounce their agreement with this doctrine. Many subscribe to false-grace doctrines without realizing their deception.

Many have been lulled into a false sense of security while actually existing in an unsaved state. They are confident they’d enter Heaven if they died, yet the reality is that they would not. They have come to believe they are exempt from certain parts of the Word of God that requires response.

1 Peter 1:15-17 (ESV) 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,

Be holy. God judges according to one’s deeds. Those who hold to a theology of exemption don’t believe they are subject to what this verse is communicating. The command to be holy is to them a great goal, but not a mandate. A principle not a command.

Our name can actually be removed from the book of life—and that is determined by our obedience, our holiness. Sin can still separate a follower of Christ from him. The Rich Young Ruler saw that this was the case. He wanted to follow Jesus, but could not. He was not exempt from judgment even though he wanted to follow Jesus.

The argument of grace is actually quite revealing. People in the false-grace movement would say, “It’s not possible to be holy, or to avoid sin, so thank God for his grace that covers those sins. In fact we are automatically holy… innocent by association!”

Grace isn’t meant to cover up sin, grace is power! Those who walk in true grace would never say that we, as Christians, are predisposed to sin! True grace enables us to do the impossible! False-grace confesses that we cannot. Because of the cross and the resurrection of Jesus, we now have something they didn’t have in the Old Covenant—we have the power to obey! We can do this!

In fact, not only aren’t we exempt from obedience in the New Covenant, the call to obedience is even more humanly impossible than in the Old!

Matthew 5:21-22 (ESV) 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.

We as Christians are not exempt from judgment or from the repercussions of sin. If we are in Christ, there is no condemnation, but if we are deceived by false theology into thinking we are in Christ, while actually living in disobedience, we are in trouble. We are not in Christ and there is condemnation. No salvation. The wrath of God remains on us. False-grace doctrine is eternally deadly. There are many people following Jesus today in an unsaved condition.

John 3:35-36 (ESV) 35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

John 3:18-19 (KJV) 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Deeds. Fruit. Works. They are evidences of our position in Christ.

Yes, it’s hard to get saved, hard to stay saved, but if we walk in humility and grace and in the Spirit, eternity with Jesus is our inheritance!

TWO. Sin is treated as temporally troubling but eternally benign.

Hebrews 10:26-27 (ESV) 26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

That verse stands on its own. The false-grace teachers emphasize that our sin may cause problems in the here and now, but there is no risk of Hell. This has to be one of the most troubling positions those in the false-grace movement take.

Universalism is creeping into the church very subtly. False grace teaches that Hell is not a concern for Christians and Christian Universalism teaches that there is no Hell. Different twists on the same false doctrine.

Yes, sin does result in trauma here on the Earth. But, it doesn’t end there. If we embrace a lifestyle of sin, we are not saved. We won’t go to Heaven. The day of judgment will be a day of horror.

The false-grace/semi-universalist position is one that would adhere to “once saved always saved.” My belief is actually quite the opposite—once saved rarely saved. The road is not wide. It’s narrow and it’s rare to find people on it… and people who decide to stay on it.

Revelation 3:5-6 (ESV) 5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

If we don’t conquer, don’t work out our salvation with fear and trembling, our name is blotted out of the book of life.

Galatians 5:16-21 (ESV) 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

If we walk in the Spirit, our flesh is subdued. However, if we aren’t walking in the Spirit, we are under the law because Christ’s sacrifice has been made of no effect. Therefore, even though we may have said the sinner’s prayer, paid tithes and lived a good life, that salvation is nullified for us. The above scripture reveals what clear evidence to look for when analyzing our position in Christ.

I’ve heard of pastors who boast that they no longer preach on the cross, sin or Hell because we are in the age of grace. My God! The cross must be central to our churches!

There can be pastors who preach powerfully, pray in tongues and lead large, growing churches who won’t inherit the kingdom of God. If they are driven by jealousy of other pastors or embrace division, the Bible is clear. If they don’t repent, Hell is in their future. Do you have any idea how much of the fear of the Lord is on this pastor? I tremble continually. False-grace provides temporal security in exchange for eternal torment. The enemy is more than happy to make this exchange.

THREE. Repentance and confession of sin is not necessary after we have been saved.

False-grace teachers proclaim that our sins are forgiven past, present and future. This is simply not true. If we repent, we are forgiven. If we retain our sins they are retained. The provision for forgiveness has been made, and the true grace has been given to us to respond.

The Lord’s Prayer itself makes it clear that we must both ask for forgiveness and forgive!

Matthew 6:12 (ESV) 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

1 John 1:9 (ESV) 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:6 (ESV) 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

The false-grace theology commonly teaches that we, as humans in a fallen world, are expected to sin and that it’s the focus on sin, not sin itself, that puts us into bondage. The reality is that people are becoming affirmed in a sinful state with no fear of the Lord or fear of damnation to be found. Of course, false-grace teachers don’t encourage a lifestyle of sin, but they also don’t sound the alarm communicating any sort of eternal threat. To them, there is no eternal risk whatsoever.

A friend of mine shared this:

Amy Smith: Misrepresented grace has caused us to respond to the command to be holy with an elbow bump and a wink, wink. “Ok God, we know what you mean. You're not really asking us to be holy, you're just telling us to make sure we're under your grace. We know that You're overlooking those little sins we're not dealing with. In fact, your grace allows us to also overlook some things, such as all the scripture verses that call for standards that are higher than we can achieve.”

Another friend shared this:

Ed Hull: When we die, it will not be what we believed about our identity in Christ that will save us. It will be whether the concept of our identity produced good fruit, the fruit of righteousness.

Simply put, repentance and confession is absolutely critical to our position in Christ after salvation. Most are unclear on their identity… they presume themselves to be ‘in Christ’ though they very well may not. If we are ‘in Christ’, there is no condemnation, but if we analyze our position wrongly, presuming to be ‘in Christ’ when in fact we are not, we are still condemned.

Repentance is actually a very wonderful, joyful, fulfilling lifestyle!

The closer I get to God, the deeper into my heart I allow him to peer, the more wonderful repentance comes flowing out. I love to repent! Even if it’s grieving, my heart comes alive as I realign with the Lover of my soul! The more I turn, the deeper into God I go! Ignoring sin, unbelief and other barriers to intimacy just can’t be our strategy! Presuming they aren’t there when they are just doesn’t work. Repent continually and enjoy an indescribably journey into intimacy with Jesus!

FOUR. A biblical works message is renounced as legalism.

It’s striking to me how often I hear that a focus on holiness and obedience equates to legalism. How far from orthodox Christianity has the church fallen?

The only point at which it’s legalism is if we were to reject the cross and resurrection of Christ by attempting to work our way into Heaven. But, if we agree that Jesus is the only one who could have paid for our sins yet we also refuse to work, our salvation is a myth.

Legalism is our attempt to get to Heaven by bypassing the cross of Jesus. Holiness and works are our response to the cross of Jesus.

Luke 6:46 (ESV) 46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?

Luke 8:21 (ESV) 21 But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

Luke 11:28 (ESV) 28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

John 8:51 (ESV) 51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”

John 14:15 (ESV) 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

John 15:10 (ESV) 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

John 15:14 (ESV) 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.

Philippians 2:12-13 (ESV) 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Matthew 25:23-30 (ESV) 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Throughout the New Testament it’s proven over and over again that obedience, works and production (fruit) is mandatory if we are to be—and stay—saved.

FIVE. Salvation is depicted as easy and/or permanent. 
Jesus didn’t die on the cross to make it easy for us to get saved. He died so it would be possible for us to get saved.

There is a temptation to withdraw from the pressures of persecution, the call to holiness, surrender and the cross, and a false-grace message is the perfect solution to that problem. It offers an escape from an urgent and fervent focus on obedience by dis-joining it from our position in Christ. The false-grace doctrine teaches that our eternity and our relationship with Jesus is already settled and we can simply relax and enjoy God. Our obedience is in no way joined to our relationship with Jesus our our eternal destiny.

Additionally, there is a misunderstanding of the process of salvation. Those impacted by the false-grace movement tend to believe that they play no part in salvation other than believing that Jesus was the Son of God. Anything other than that would scream of works and false-grace teaching has convinced them to have an averse reaction to anything that feels like human effort.

The scripture that most often comes to mind is Ephesians 2:8-9:

Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV) 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

First, this scripture is quite often misunderstood. It is NOT saying that works don’t play a part in salvation. It IS saying that works ALONE can’t save us. Basically, we can’t say, “Thanks Jesus for dying on the cross for me, and rising from the dead. Great job! But, you know, I’m not really interested in your version of salvation. So, I reject the cross and the resurrection… it’s just too narrow for me. Instead, I will give $1 million to a local church and will buy my way into Heaven. I’ll pay the price myself.”

We can’t pay the price. We can’t substitute Jesus’ payment for our own.

But, that doesn’t mean we don’t work in RESPONSE to and in ACCORDANCE with the price that only Jesus could pay. We love Ephesians 2:8-9, but usually leave off verse 10:

Ephesians 2:10 (ESV) 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

We were created for good works. Paul reveals that we receive the Spirit via hearing by faith and not of works, yet that does not communicate to us that works are not to be expected. First faith, then works and not the other way around.

James 2:14 (ESV) 14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?

It’s a rhetorical question. The answer, of course, is no. Faith without works cannot save us. This means, if we have faith in Jesus, worship him, pray to him, honor him… but don’t obey, we cannot presume to be saved. False-grace theology would not agree with this.

James 2:18-20 (ESV) 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?

The false-grace movement is shouting, “Show me your faith apart from works!” The question must be, “Are we like demons who have faith (believe) or do we also work in response to the mandates of God?”

It’s easy and common to be falsely saved, but to truly be saved requires an extreme price—both on the part of Jesus and on our part. We can’t do his part and he can’t do ours—and this does have eternal implications. The false-grace message that minimizes obedience and works absolutely does result in people being cast into eternal fire.

 

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