Archive for the ‘poor theology’ Category
Here is a great article written by David Ravenhill, the son of the late Leonard Ravenhill, on the subject of the deceptions of hyper-grace. One needs only to google hyper-grace movement to see the rise of false teachers who promote an unbiblical view of God’s grace that allows for sinning without repentance (Romans 6:1-4). These are the false teachers of Jude 4.
You can find the article here.
What do hyper-grace blogs and preachers and ministries focus on? I find it easy to identify what they both focus on and what they ignore. So let’s begin by looking at what hyper-grace folks focus on (and not all of it is wrong I remind you).
1. Salvation by Grace Through Faith.
It seems some hyper-grace teachers want to protect the teaching of salvation by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). They honestly believe that adding repentance to this adds works to it and destroys salvation by grace through faith.
2. Works Righteousness.
Hyper-grace teachers want us to avoid believing that our works obtain righteousness. They are correct of course in this regard. Our salvation is based on Jesus Christ and His work on the cross and not our works (Titus 3:5-7). Jesus said that the work of God is to believe in the One that He has sent (John 6:29). Our works, writes Isaiah in Isaiah 64:6, are but filthy garments in His holy presence. This is not to demean works but to simply put down the notion of us obtaining God’s perfect righteousness by our works (Romans 4:5).
3. Guilt Factors in Discipleship.
We do not serve God out of guilt. We serve Him out of love. Some hyper-grace teachers want us to realize that we can serve God out of love and not out of guilt. We don’t pray, fast, read our Bibles, worship, enjoy fellowship with other disciples, etc. out of guilt but out of love. This, like above, is a good point.
4. Seeks To Avoid Making the Christian Life All About Us.
The Christian life, writes one hyper-grace teacher, is about Jesus. Amen! The Christian life is all about Jesus (Colossians 3:1-4). Our lives are to be marked by a passion for Jesus and what He has done and not our works, our desires, our passions, our goals, etc. We are to focus on Jesus completely.
Now let us turn to the many errors of the hyper-grace teachers and what they often leave out.
1. Ignore Human Responsibility.
Like the hyper-Calvinists, hyper-grace teachers avoid the clear call in the Bible to our response to the gospel and to the Lordship of Christ. True faith is never a dead faith (James 2:14-26). True faith in Christ obeys Jesus as Lord (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46-49; 1 John 2:3-6). Hyper-grace teachers avoid any call in the Bible to seek God, to obey God, to follow Christ, to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-17). I even found one hyper-grace teacher attacking preaching in the open air. He mocked this and quoted from Isaiah 42:2 as proof that we should not preach in the open air.
2. Ignore Holiness Passages.
There are so many holiness passages. We are to be pure in heart (Matthew 5:8). We are to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48). We are to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11). We are to complete holiness out of fear for God (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1). We are to examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 12:21-13:5). We are to be blameless (Philippians 2:15). We are to pursue holiness (Hebrews 12:14) and to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). We are to forsake sin (1 John 3:4-10). Hyper-grace teachers avoid holiness passages altogether.
3. Ignore the Fact that We Cannot Worship God and Satan.
1 Corinthians 10:21 says that we cannot drink both the cup of Christ and the cup of demons as well. In context (1 Corinthians 9:24-10:21), we cannot serve both God and Satan. To serve Satan ends in death (James 1:12-15; 5:19-20). We cannot both walk in the Spirit and in the flesh at the same time (Galatians 5:16-17). We cannot both love Christ and hate Him at the same time. We can, however, claim facts about Christ but not His (James 2:19).
4. View Any Discipline as Legalism.
By discipline I mean the disciplines of prayer, worship, fasting, evangelism, Bible study. If you say that a Christian should do these things, some hyper-grace teachers will cry, “legalism” and run for the hills. While not of these disciplines save us, they are proofs of our salvation (Ephesians 2:10). Jesus said we would pray (Matthew 6:5) and fast (Matthew 5:16). Jesus said that we would do good works for His glory (Matthew 5:13-16; John 14:12). Jesus said that His followers would remain in His Word (John 8:31-32) which is able to save our souls (James 1:21). While we cannot obtain God’s righteousness by our disciplines, our disciplines flow from our justification.
5. Ignore Sanctification.
I have yet to hear a hyper-grace teacher teach on 1 Thessalonians 4:3 and the need for sanctification. Most hyper-grace teachers believe at the moment a person is saved (just once and only once is sufficient no matter how the person lives their lives), that person is now glorified in the eyes of God. They see our glorification as already done so that progressive sanctification is completely ignored. They see no need to stress holiness, obedience to Christ as Lord, etc. since a once saved person is forever saved and has already been glorified before God because of Christ.
6. Despise Repentance.
Most hyper-grace teachers despise repentance. They see it as a form of works-righteousness, of legalism, and bondage. They see repentance as completely negative instead of seeing it as a positive (2 Corinthians 7:10; 2 Peter 3:9).
7. Read the Bible With Dispensational Scissors.
Many hyper-grace teachers will usually camp in the Gospel of John (he is okay) and the Epistles (except not Hebrews or James) but they avoid the other three Gospels and view them as “under law.” For instance, one hyper-grace teacher commented on his blog, “The gospel of John never uses repentance so why should we?” The answer is of course because the Bible uses it. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that all Scripture is breathed out by God and Paul was referring to the Old Testament. Further Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:16, about the Old Testament mind you, that it is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. If this true of the Old Testament, it is true of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. To divide the Scriptures up like this has no warrant other than theological bias.
8. Ignore the Book of Acts.
The book of Acts is full of salvation and repentance and even necessary perseverance (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 4:12; 11:18; 14:22-23; 16:30-34; 17:30-31; 26:20). Hyper-grace teachers will sometimes use Acts 15 to preach against “legalism” as they see it or sometimes will appeal to Acts 16:31 for salvation but will ignore the calls to repentance.
9. Provide Comfort For the Sinning.
The Bible offers no assurance to the person who lives in consistent sin. None. 1 John 3:4-10 is clear:
4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
In fact, the same John the Beloved who wrote the Gospel of John also wrote this in 1 John 2:1-6:
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
I remind you that the same John the Beloved also wrote in Revelation 21:7-8:
7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.
I end by also quoting from the same John the Beloved and the words from our Lord in John 8:11:
She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
The church that we fellowship with is in the middle of vacation Bible school (VBS). It seems all the churches in our area have a VBS program. Last week we dropped our two older boys off at Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church (a conservative Methodist church by the way) and they had over 2000 children come to the three VBS sessions a day! Our church, being much smaller, is only having about 60 or 70 children come.
I grew up going to VBS. A small church named Pilgrim Way Baptist Church use to send a bus into our neighborhood and they would blast gospel music to let us kids know that it was time for VBS. We would climb into the bus and head off to VBS. Funny how our parents never cared that we left for a few hours to go to church with these strangers. Yet I enjoyed VBS. Typically we would hear a Bible story, do a craft, play outside, and then eat a snack before going home. I never repented at all my VBS journeys but I do have fond memories of going.
It seems now that VBS has developed into another evangelical pragmatic program all focused on entertainment and a poor presentation of the gospel. Mt. Horeb headed out Billy Graham tracts as their “gospel” presentation. Our church is using a pragmatic VBS program with little gospel in it at all. The songs are cute but focus little on Jesus. The Bible lessons are okay but have little to say about the truth of the gospel. Again, the heart of most VBS programs it seems is on having fun, keeping the kids happy, and moving quickly. It seem whoever writes them has little regard for repentance.
Last night at our VBS, they showed a video which included the story of a boy who died and went to heaven. I have not read his book but I have seen it at Walmart. The story was horrible. The theology was worst. The boy claims to have sat on Jesus’ lap and Jesus told him that He died to make him friends with the Father. The boy used poor evangelical terms such as “accept Jesus in your heart” and he apparently holds to “once saved, always saved” since he claimed that if you accept Jesus, you’ll live forever in this wonderful place called heaven. He said nothing about holiness nor perseverance nor even about why heaven is glorious because of Jesus.
My problem with the video was that it was completely experiential and not based at all on Scripture. The Bible was never mentioned. This VBS curriculum was written by evangelicals and not by some far out charismatics as you might would suppose. This VBS was published by a leading evangelical group. Yet doctrinal discernment was thrown out when they made this material.
The essence of their “gospel” message is to “accept Jesus into your heart and make Him your friend.” Very little is said about sin. Nothing is said about repentance. The acceptance boils down to “praying Jesus into your heart.” No Scripture is given for this practice (as there are none). While Jesus is talked much about, He is presented as “always loving us” and nothing is said about the wrath of God against our sins. Nothing is said about the fact that we deserve the wrath of God because of our sins. Nothing is said about the need for repentance nor about the work of the Holy Spirit in drawing us to salvation. Even the talk on heaven was focused on this little boy’s “vision” of heaven but not what the Bible says about heaven nor that heaven is glorious because of the gospel and not about streets of gold.
I understand that we are working with children but sound doctrine should still be preached even at a very small level. Sadly it seems most VBS programs are introducing children to false teachings, to poor theology, and to experience above the Word of God. If VBS is truly Bible school, where is the Bible being preached? Why is Scripture often secondary to experience? Why do these VBS programs give such a poor gospel presentation and why don’t churches just cease to buy them in protest or at least modify them to preach the truth of the cross?
I suspect the answer is simple: pragmatism wins again.
I have been reading some though Thomas Oden’s excellent work, Classic Christianity. In one section Dr. Oden is discussing Satan but he begins to look briefly at universalism and why it fails. The reality is that universalism fails because it is not biblical. That is the bottom line.
However, Dr. Oden observes that universalism fails because:
1. A pungent series of Jesus’ parables – the tares, the net, the marriage feast, the wise and foolish virgins, the talents, the pounds – focuses upon opportunities forever lost, trust abused, final exclusion and rejection. Without the theme of ultimate exclusion from the presence of the holy God, these parables lose their force.
2. It is not merely later church teaching but Jesus Himself and Paul the Apostle who constantly remind hearers that there are sins that exclude one from the kingdom of God (Matthew 5:29-30; 10:28; 23:15, 33; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:20-21; Ephesians 5:5).
On those two basis alone we can see that the force of the New Testament is against universalism. I agree with the Bible’s teaching on an unlimited atonement (John 3:16) but I deny that Christ’s death on the cross alone secures salvation for anyone. That Christ died does not save. The appropriation of faith to the finished work of Christ is what saves. Notice with me Romans 3:23-26:
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Or 1 Timothy 4:10:
For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
There is a sense in which Jesus is the Savior of the world (John 1:29; 4:42; 1 John 4:14) but only those who place their saving faith in Jesus Christ become the elect of God. Only the elect of God will be in heaven (Revelation 20:15; 21:7-8). Jesus alone is the way to heaven (John 14:6). We cannot approach God through any other means but through Christ alone who is the mediator between God and humans (1 Timothy 2:5).
Let us do all we can to evangelize the nations for the glory of our God!
This video is a demonstration, in my estimation, of poor open air preaching. My advice when preaching the gospel whether in the open air or anywhere else, preach Christ. Exalt Him. Preach against sin but preach Christ. Your passion should be to glorify Christ and to exalt Him and to bring honor to Him. No doubt some will hate us for the name of Christ and many will despise the truth of the gospel, that God saves sinners by His grace through faith. But our passion should not be to make others mad, to provoke them to hatred, to make them angry by being angry at them. Preach Christ. He is faithful to save (1 Corinthians 1:21).
I recently found out that an old friend of mine has fallen away from the faith. He is a guy who has been committed to the Lord for many years. He was a Christian long before I was and in fact he tried to evangelize me before I was saved. When I got saved in 1992, he was one of the men in my life who encouraged me in the faith to persevere and remain faithful to Jesus despite the trials I would face (Acts 14:22). He took me to my first South Carolina Gamecocks game and though we went with some lost men, he remained resolute to be faithful to Jesus despite their sinning. He was one of my early heroes of the faith.
But now I hear that he has turned his back on the Lord. He has left his wife and is living in the world and in sin.
I know that each of us has free will and can turn from following the Lord. I am not here to debate whether he was saved to begin with. To me, that is a cheap excuse for apostates, to merely say they were never saved. I could list his accomplishments for the Lord such as his heart for evangelism, his testimony of being saved out of a corrupt life while attending Ohio State, or his passion for worshiping the Lord but that is not my point. I am not here to decide where he stood in the midst of his doings for the Lord. Perhaps he was a false convert. Perhaps he never truly repented of his sins. I don’t know. God knows (2 Timothy 2:19). I do know this, his life turned toward sin when he begin attending a seeker church about 10 years ago. After he started attending this seeker church, he was not the same. His prayer life was gone. His heart for the lost was gone. His passion to avoid sin was gone. He began to listen to old music that he liked before his salvation. He began to watch movies that he would have never watched before.
I place much of that at the foot of the seeker churches he attended. He ended up attending three seeker churches during the past 10 years. The final seeker church was his demise. I vaguely knew the first two churches because they are “screen” churches where they watched the services of other seeker churches in other places. Multi-site churches they are called. The last seeker church he attended was very poor preaching (0r lack thereof) and focused on the hype instead of the gospel. This church has made headlines a few times in my city by doing “crazy” things such as dropping Easter eggs out of helicopters.
The point is that my friend was not being challenged to holiness, to evangelism, to being a man of God. He was not being taught the Word of God nor the doctrines of the faith. He never heard solid expository preaching while attending these seeker churches. He grew to view the “traditional” church as dead and lacking in regard to meeting the needs of the culture. Gone were the days of laboring in prayer. Gone were the days of praise and worship of the King without regard for what the world thought. Gone were the days of seeing people as dead in their sins (Ephesians 2:1-3) or seeing that their eternal destiny was based on the gospel (John 14:6). Gone were the days of weeping over the souls of people heading for hell (Revelation 20:15). Gone were the days of confessing sins (1 John 1:9). My friend sat week after week in a church where hyped up music was the motif. He sat under “talks” from men in skinny jeans and slick hair but with little passion for the gospel. He sat and watched people abiding in sin and loving it all while claiming to be a Christian (1 John 3:7). He never heard rebukes against sin. He never heard the glory of God as the focus of all that we do. He never heard the excellence of Jesus. He heard only hype and watered down messages designed to entertain and not exhort.
And so he fell away. His heart became cold to the things of God (Hebrews 3:12). He allowed the world to take over and the wages of sin is always death (Romans 6:23).
My friend is an apostate now. He needs Jesus. He is one of those people you’ll encounter in evangelism who either will claim to still be saved despite living in sin (John 8:34) or he will bash the Church. Either way, he wants nothing to do with the gospel right now. I do pray the Lord turns his heart away from sin and back to the Savior. In Jesus alone do we have salvation (John 15:1-11). I pray that the seeker churches repent. I pray they see that they are doing much more harm than good. They are destroying people because they are not seeking to exalt Christ or His kingdom. They are only building up the flesh and this always corrupts (Galatians 6:7-8).
Pray for my friend to repent (James 5:19-20).