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)

 

 

 

The Sexual Revolution: a Dangerous Delusion

The Sexual Revolution: a Dangerous Delusion

 James R. Aist

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” (Isaiah 5:20)

 Introduction

The primary reason I am writing this article is that I want to add my voice to those who want to minister the truth of God’s Word to a Christian sub-culture that somehow believes it has become acceptable to conform to the sexual morals of an increasingly secular world, as if the God of the Bible has either ceased to exist or has changed His mind about sexual morality. Let’s begin by taking a quick look at the sexual sins that are recorded in the Bible.

Sexual Sins in the Bible

A list of sexual sins mentioned in the Bible would include the following:

adultery – e.g., Exodus 20:14, Deuteronomy 5:18, Matthew 5:27-28, Mark 7:22, 2 Peter 2:13-15

bestiality – e.g., Exodus 22:10, Leviticus 18:23, Leviticus 20:15-16

fornication – e.g., Matthew 15:19, Galatians 5:19, Colossians 3:5

homosexual practice – e.g., Genesis 19:5 with Jude 1:7, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:26-27, I Corinthians 6:9-10 and I Timothy 1:10

incest – e.g., Leviticus 18:6-18, Matthew 14:1-4, 1 Corinthians 5:1

rape — e.g., Deuteronomy 22:25, 2 Samuel 13:13-14

This leaves only one biblically approved context for the expression of human sexuality: a marriage between one man and one woman. This may seem unduly restrictive to some, but we have God’s Word on it and He’s not asking for our advice!

Has God Changed His Mind?

Since we know that God is not dead, let’s look and see whether or not He has changed His mind and no longer condemns these sexual sins: “I the Lord do not change.” (Malachi 3:6); “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17); and “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind” (Numbers 23:19). So no, God did not change His mind about sexual sins; He got it right the first time. That’s why, especially where the faithful Christian church is concerned, the so-called “sexual revolution” is really a “sexual delusion.” And it can’t wait to get its hooks into your marriage and your children; it’s a very dangerous and deceptive worldly movement.

Setting It Straight

The modern Christian church, as a whole, has not preached, practiced and taught consistently or strongly enough against sins, including sexual sins. I have no doubt that this tragic reality has had a great deal to do with the increasing acceptance of the worldly version of sexual morality, over against biblical sexual morality, within the church. While it may seem at first blush that the responsibility for this failure should fall squarely on the shoulders of our pastors – there is some truth to that perception – there are two other people groups in the church who must share responsibility: namely, governing boards that will not support teaching and preaching against sin, and parents who are afraid to raise their children “in the knowledge and admonition of the Lord.” Regardless of the reasons given, there is no excuse for the church “winking” at sexual sins. Oh, there’s always a reason for our actions (or inactions), but there’s not always an excuse!

If your congregation is ignorant about sin — all kinds of sin –- and the need for repentance, then they are prime targets for the lies, philosophies and myths of unbelievers. You can rest assured that they are going to be listening to someone’s version of sexual morality, and if they are not hearing the biblical version at church and at home, then they will hear false teachings from unbelieving liberals who can’t wait to win them over to their way of thinking. And don’t be afraid of the outcome if you and your church provide this kind of preaching and teaching. Just be faithful to the word of God, leaving nothing out, and let God take care of the outcome. Jesus said “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18), not “you will build my church.” Be faithful in this way, and God will be faithful to you! I’m sure of it.

(For more articles on BIBLICAL TEACHINGS, click HERE)