When Grace Is Not So Amazing

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When Grace Is Not So Amazing

James R. Aist

The Gospel of Jesus Christ calls us to a life of obedience and grace, not of rebellion and compromise!

“Grace” can be defined as receiving something good that we haven’t earned. It can be given by one person to another, and it can be given by God to anyone. Most notably, it is by the grace of God that sinners are saved from spiritual death (Ephesians 2:8), which is the penalty of sin (Romans 6:23). And this is what is so amazing about grace: that the penalty for our sins was paid by God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, so that we may not perish (i.e., go to hell), but have everlasting life with God in heaven. For our part, God only requires that we believe in the One He sent, Jesus Christ, in order to receive this amazing grace (John 6:28-29). This is the real and complete Gospel of Jesus Christ in a nutshell, as summarized beautifully in John 3:16.

Sadly, false teachings and damning heresies concerning grace have crept into the Christian church. Something that is absolutely essential to the Gospel – the grave consequenses of sin – is being increasingly ignored or even denied in some of today’s Christian witness concerning grace. Many contemporary teachers and preachers are leaving sin out of their message of grace, yet calling it the Gospel. What they fail to understand is that where there is no sin, there is no need for grace. In such a scenario, grace would be neither amazing nor necessary.

At this point, I believe it would be helpful for me to provide some prominent and current examples of the kinds of “gospel compromises” I have in mind:

Abortion. Abortion clinics are being dedicated to God by clergy who claim that Jesus approves of them, whereas the Bible clearly teaches otherwise (click HERE);

Fornication. Unmarried couples living together are being given positions of prominence and leadership in some churches, whereas the Bible clearly teaches that they are not qualified (1 Timothy 3:1-7; 1 Timothy 3:8-13);

Foul language. Cursing, swearing and profanity are being practiced increasingly by some Christians, sometimes even by pastors, whereas the Bible instructs us to refrain from such misuses of the gift of language (Exodus 20:7; Matthew 12:35-37; Ephesians 5:4; James 3:10);

Homosexuality. Openly and actively homosexual people are not only being given positions of prominence and leadership in some churches, but they are conducting homosexual “weddings”, against all that the Bible says about the sanctity of biblical marriage and the sinfulness of homosexual sexual relations (click HERE).

Of course the grace of God is available for all kinds of sin, but God will not be mocked! When evil is called good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20), the grace of God does not flow, and sin remains. Moreover, if we cherish sin in our heart, God will not hear us when we call out to Him (Psalm 66:18), and that is not a good place to be in! The true Gospel of Jesus Christ calls us to a life of obedience and grace, not of rebellion and compromise! And if you are wondering if obedience really fits in here, remember that Samuel said to Saul, “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Obedience is better than sacrifice, a listening ear than the fat of rams (1 Samuel 15:22).” And .Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). The grace of God does not make obedience optional!

So, here is the fatal flaw in such perversions of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ: all have sinned and come short of the righteousness that God requires (Romans 3:23). Mankind has a “sin problem” that must be dealt with effectively before the grace of God that brings eternal life is even available. The grace of God (manifested by forgiveness) comes into play only after we have confessed our sins (i.e., we have agreed with God that what we did is a sin) and repented of that sin (i.e., solemnly resolved to not repeat it). God has offered us no other way to restore a right relationship with Himself. And when we confess our sins and repent, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrightneousness (1 John 1:9); faithful, because He promised to forgive, and just, because Jesus has already paid the price for our sins. Those who preach and teach a gospel that ignores or denies the sin problem (or specific sins) are not presenting the real Gospel of Jesus Christ, but a perverted counterfeit of it (2 Corinthians 11:4). The sad result is Christian churches that are becoming more like the secular world instead of more like Jesus.

The true Gospel of Jesus Christ begins with the bad news of our sinfulness and ends with the good news of God’s forgiveness of our sins. What many don’t realize is that it is the grace of God that brings both the bad news and the good news. The following phrases in the beloved hymn, Amazing Grace, state this truth wonderfully, “’twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fear relieved.” Moreover, Jesus gave us an example of God’s grace bringing first the bad news and then the good news to the woman at the well (John 4:4-42). The bad news was that she had 5 ex-husbands and was currently shacking up with another man out of wedlock. Once He got her attention with those Words of Wisdom concerning her sinful ways, He was able to then move on effectively to the good news that He had for her, and many were saved because of her testimony.

Before I close, I would like to share with you a vision God gave me that reveals His heart toward people who are among the “down and out” of our society. I was sitting in my car one day, waiting for my wife to finish having her hair “done.” Along came what appeared to be a homeless man. His clothing was dirty and tattered, his head was down and he had a slow, plodding gait, as one defeated by life. As I watched him pass in front of me, suddenly his form became somewhat transparent and another man’s form was superimposed upon his. This other man was clean, well-dressed and walked with his head held high. After they had taken a few steps in unison, the image of the second man disappeared, and then I saw just the homeless man as he walked out of sight. For just a few moments, God had given me a glimpse of who He saw walking in front of me: not a disheveled, defeated and hopeless man, but a happy, successful man full of hope, the kind of man God wanted him to be! Then I received the interpretetion (i.e., the message) of the vision: There, but for the grace of God, go I!

When we speak of God’s grace to someone, let’s be sure not to water it down by compromising what it really is. When sin is at issue, tell them that God’s grace brings first the conviction of sin, and then, following confession and repentance, the forgiveness of sin. Anything less than that is not really God’s grace, and it is not amazing at all. So let us always be obedient to this instruction from the Apostle Paul: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2)

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)

 

 

 

Why Is There a “T” in “LGBT”

Why Is There a “T” in “LGBT”

James R. Aist

Introduction

The acronym “LGBT” was invented by the homosexual movement to refer to people who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender. The combined LGB (homosexual) sub-group comprises only about 2-4% of the general population, and so, by itself, would not seem large enough to garner sufficient sympathy for their agenda. Leaders of the homosexual movement continue to stress that “homosexual” and “transgender” are really quite different in nature. So, why, then, is “transgender” included in the homosexual movement? This seems to be an enigma. Is there an explanation for this association that goes deeper than a mere desire to involve a slightly larger number of “oppressed” people in the homosexual movement in order to achieve the goals of their agenda?

Scientific revelation

In the process of researching transgender issues (click HERE), I discovered a direct, more fundamental association between “homosexual” and “transgender” than the mere desire to gain strength through numbers. Scientific studies (see References 1 & 2, below) have found that 73%-81% of male-to-female transgendered “females” are still sexually attracted to females! So, by definition, to the extent that these transgendered “females” have actually become female, they have also become virtual lesbians. This is a direct link of “transgender” to “homosexual”, and it would seem to provide a more fundamental connection of “transgender” to the homosexual movement than a mere desire to involve a larger number of “oppressed” people in the homosexual movement.

Moral implication

Here is an often overlooked ramification of Deuteronomy 22:5 with 1 Corinthians 1:6-9 (click HERE) to the practice of gender transformation and subsequent sexual relations. “Do not be deceived; God will not be mocked” (Galatians 6:7): if a male-to-female transgender person has sex with a man, he is committing a homosexual sin, because he is, in reality, still a man. Likewise, if a female-to-male transgender person has sex with a female, she is committing a homosexual sin, because she is, in reality, still a woman. In other words, such transgender sex becomes homosexual sin, thus providing another direct link between “transgender” and “homosexual”. And, as with any kind of sin, sexual or otherwise, the only effective way for such a person to be reconciled to God and spend eternity in heaven with Him is to confess the sins, repent of them and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. For, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). We have God’s word on it!

References

  1. Auer, M., et al., 2014. Transgender Transitioning and Change of Self-Reported Sexual Orientation. PloS One. (click HERE)
  2. Author unspecified. 2016. Transgender sexuality, References 7 and 8. Wikipedia.    (click HERE)

(To read more of my articles on HOMOSEXUALITY and TRANSGENDERISM, click HERE)

Abortion: Finding Forgiveness and Perfect Peace

Asking For ForgivenessAbortion: Finding Forgiveness and Perfect Peace

 James R. Aist

Introduction

Abortion is, first and foremost, a sin against the God of the Bible (see “Abortion: A Biblical Perspective” by clicking HERE). So, forgiveness and peace will come only through and from Him. If you realize that your decision to have an abortion was a mistake and you are feeling tormented by guilt and shame because of it, here’s how you can receive God’s forgiveness and find perfect and lasting peace.

Let God Save You

  • Repent (turn away from your sins): “The Lord … is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
  • Believe and Trust in Jesus: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
  • Accept His Forgiveness: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
  • Receive the Peace of Christ: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)

Moving On

Its important for you to keep in mind that there is no sin that is so big and so bad that God will not forgive it. In fact, God wants to forgive you and bring you peace. He has made this promise to you: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9). He is “faithful” to forgive you because He has promised to do so, and God does not lie or break His promises (Numbers 23:19); He is “just” to forgive you because Jesus paid the full price for your sins when He suffered and died for them, in your place, and, therefore, it would be unjust of Him to not forgive you! And He doesn’t stop there. He will also cleanse you from the stain of your sin and of the guilt and shame associated with it; God will separate your sins from you “as far as the East is from the West” (Psalm 103:12), and he will not keep bringing it up and holding it against you (Isaiah 43:25). You have God’s word on it (Numbers 23:19), so take Him at His word, receive His forgiveness and move on with the peace of Christ. God has a wonderful plan for your life, a plan to bless you and not harm you, a plan to prosper you and make you a blessing to others. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:7.

(For more articles on ABORTION, click HERE)

Repentance: Confess, Turn, Persevere

English: Manasseh's Sin and Repentance; as in ...Repentance: Confess, Turn, Persevere

James R. Aist

Introduction

“Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

There is a belief within the Christian church that repentance from sins is not necessary for salvation. This belief is a heresy called “antinomianism” that can be traced back to the Pauline letters. Antinomianism holds that under the gospel dispensation of grace, moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation. What this heresy has right is that whatever the Bible calls “sin” is, in fact, sin. However, the denial of the need for repentance of that sin in order to go to heaven flies in the face of the biblical witness. John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter and Paul all taught that repentance is mandatory, not optional (Luke 13:1-5, Acts 13:24, Acts 26:20, 2 Peter 3:9).  In fact, Jesus began his ministry preaching repentance leading to salvation: “After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news! (Mark 1:14-16). After His ascension, Jesus prophesied that, going forward, repentance would be a requirement for the forgiveness of sins: “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,  and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem (Luke 24:46-47). Jesus came preaching repentance from sin, not acceptance of sin (Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:15; Luke 5:32), and He was still calling for repentance after his ascension into heaven (Revelation 2, 3). According to the Bible, repentance is for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:4, Luke 24:27; Luke 24:46-47) and for salvation (Acts 11:8, Acts 20:21, 2 Peter 3:9). Because repentance is such an essential element in the salvation process, it is important to understand what genuine repentance really is and how it comes about.

Confess

The first step on the road to repentance is to agree with God that what you have done is wrong, i.e., that it is “sin” (1 John 1:9). This may be experienced as Godly sorrow and/or a change of heart regarding your sin (2 Corinthians 7:10, 1 Kings 8:46-47). As a result, you will feel compelled to confess in your mind and with your mouth that you have sinned (2 Samuel 12:12-13).

Turn

The second step on the road to repentance is to actually turn from your sin (2 Chronicles 7:14, Matthew 3:8, Acts 26:20). That means that you make a quality decision to stop doing the sinful thing you have been doing and then follow through on your decision and stop doing it. This is where the genuineness of your commitment to your decision is tested and proven; it’s the really hard part. We are all familiar with the phrase “Actions speak louder than words”, and Jesus said “By their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:20). Without turning, your confession is, at best, questionable and to no avail.

Persevere

The third and most rewarding step on the road to repentance is perseverance. It is common experience to be tempted to return to our old, sinful ways after we have turned from them. Unfortunately, it is also common experience to give in to such temptations by choosing to do so (James 1:13-14). But God will give us the strength to resist temptation when we submit ourselves to Him and resist the Devil (James 4:7). To really conquer sin means not only to confess and turn from it initially, but also to persevere in our repentance to the end.

Repentance Is a Process

When we become born-again, all of our past sins are instantly forgiven. We refer to that wholesale forgiveness event as “justification.”  But, sadly, we remain vulnerable to various temptations that can lead us to sin again (1 John 1:10). Over time, the Holy Spirit, with our cooperation, cleanses us from more and more of our remaining sins in a process called “sanctification”, whereby we are convicted of a residual sin, confess it (1 John 1:9), turn away from it and, eventually, conquer it. This is why we born-again Christians often detect sin in both ourselves and in our fellow believers, even though we are already “saved”; these are simply sins that we have not yet allowed the Holy Spirit to cleanse us of. The presence of such sins in our lives does not mean, necessarily, that we are not really saved; it may just mean that we are still a “work in progress.” So, let’s be patient and forgiving toward one another as we travel the road to repentance. It’s a busy and crowded road indeed!

Summary

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.” (Acts 3:19-20)

(For more articles on BIBLICAL TEACHINGS, click HERE)