Grace doctrines that go too far are nothing new. In the early church they were rampant, alongside the other extreme: law doctrines. So it’s grace versus law today, even as back in the New Testament. Paul agonized over his letters to the church, always dealing with one of these issues, or even both.
I consider myself a grace minister, and a minister of the finished work of Christ. Other ministers calling themselves grace and finished work ministers are now spreading a bit of leaven with this message in a way that we must differentiate the error.
So, what am I seeing that is causing the most recent stir: an article “3 Reasons Why I Don’t Preach on Repentance” by Paul Ellis.
Mr. Ellis takes the approach in his article that he is the new order of grace ministry and those teaching contrary are religious. His argument is that unbelievers and Christians should not turn from sin. Yep, that is the new grace teaching. Repentenace now means changing your mind. Which is somewhat semantics, because if you turn from sin, you have changed your mind about sin.
The new doctrine, along with similar new grace doctrines, creates a new splinter in the church that all who teach repentence are religious, acting under law. But, the author fails proper principles of interpretation in his analysis. Quoting from the article, these are the statements made by this new grace doctrine:
- Repentence put people under law
- It does not lead people to salvation
- We’re called to preach the gospel, not repentance
Much of this article is semantic language issues where the author claims to be interpreting the literal meaning of the Greek word better than how the religious use it. The issue is that a concordance search on New Testament repentance is established by context. Simply read in Revelation where Jesus is calling Christians to repent from the wicked that they are doing. Sure, they were changing their mind, but Jesus is calling the church to TURN THEIR BACKS on sin. Sorry, if that is law, then Jesus is instituting some form of law as well as grace.
Many who have been born again TURNED FROM THE SIN of the old man as they made that initial decision. Along with receiving the message of truth, which was born in their heart, they are saved. This is not to be contested. The Spirit led them to turn from sin, and no grace teaching can take this away. Alternatively, Christians at times must turn away from sin as well. They need to turn ther back on it with a decision, and hold fast with discipline. It is the grace of Jesus that shows us the sin, helps us to make the decision, helps us to turn our back on it, and then that same grace keeps us free. See. . .grace is intertwined with repentence.
The grace ministers are moving towards a doctrine that diminishes Christian responsibility and discipline, calling them law, and those that teach them the religious. But in the end, their followers will not attain the life in the Spirit without these vital elements of our life. Sure, it would be great to do whatever we want, whenever we want, with whomever we want, but in the end it is death–death because we are not WALKING with Jesus in close union.
The true grace and finished work message has to help you WALK in the Spirit, in the Light, in His ways, in such a way you walk free, you walk outpouring fruit and gifts, and reflect Jesus, who is our grace. Grace can itself become law.
Why are the grace ministers doing this? They want to lighten the load on weighed down Christians. Christians tend to self-impose doctrinal burdens on themselves to the poin they accomplish little. They are always sin-conscious, and they always feel guily because they are not fulfilling some scripture or Christian service. I get that. And you can amass a large audience with a grace gospel that calls everything law, those teaching it as religious, and since the cross is a finished work, take it easy on yourself.
Only that it was this easy. It is not. Living as a baby Christian in the outer courts of God may resemble that to some degree–that is–until the enemy attacks and you are not prepared to respond. But more so, when you enter into the courts of God, it gets better, and it gets harder. The mountains you are called to go up are higher, you have to sacrifice more of your precious personal time, you are introduced to new challenges that could have been avoided ny staying down the mountain, by staying out in the external courts. For those who dare to enter into the Holy of Holies, 100 fold, service to God, those experiences with God makes all that outer court activity look silly. But, just before you can get cocky, you are faced with giants never encountered. Then, you are brought to enemy manuvering that is beyond your ability to calculate. It is then the full measure of grace is at hand to give you His eyes to see the giant for what it really is, and to counteract all the tactics of the enemy with pure Wisdom.
As you see. These grace ministers are seeing fragments and are excited, yet confused. Who’s right? Well, Jesus of course. What message looks like Him? What doctrine has the savour of incense that satisfies the Father? What grace teaching resembles the wisdom that produces maturity?
Do not let man confuse you with silly semantics on words such as repentance.
I always ask why.
Why did the minister teach a message that strips away turning our backs on sin?
What was the real risk that those who turned their back on sin would have ended up being law-oriented pharisees?
I predict that we will continue to see grace type of articles like this more frequently, and those propogating them trying to create a following of people that feel like they are special because they believe it and the rest of Christiandom is religious.
John Robert Lucas