Social Media, Faith and Freaking Out

I am writing this on June 21. The big hubbub is the kids being separated from their illegally immigrating parents.

This is all over the internet and everyone and their mother has an opinion on it. People, including politicians, are using the Bible to “prove” their side of the argument.

This is one of the problems I have with the modern social media culture we live in: the media completely controls what people are aware of and what people momentarily care about.

This exact immigration policy has been enforced for several presidents now. One must ask one’s self why this is an issue only with this president.

I am not a fan of any of our presidents, to be honest, so I have no axe to grind in that battle. But it is intriguing watching what people get fired up about and when.

I’m curious what the new item everyone is freaked out about now when this posts (Supreme Court Justices happens to be the issue!). Social media is just one freak out to the next. It’s exhausting and pointless.

I find it very sad that people use other people’s kids as tools for their political agendas, whether school shooting victims or immigration issues. Most don’t care about these kids; they care about their side winning elections.

The Bible was not written to tell governments how to run a country. The Bible was written so that people of faith would know how to live.

One of the things the Bible repeatedly says is to not freak out, to be patient, self-controlled, and to remain humbly at peace.

You can’t do this if your mind is wrapped up in scare mongering and political rancor.

If you care about kids who are suffering, go out and find one and help him and keep it to yourself before God. No need to post about it or make a political movement. No need to work up others to your cause. Love your neighbor. You don’t need an institution or government authority behind such a thing. Just go do it.

Here’s a tip: The noisier a group is, the less they are actually doing. Busy people don’t have time to talk; they are out doing things. The empty wagon is the loudest wagon. Social media hubbub is a substitute for action.

Helpful people rarely get attention because helpful people are not doing anything for attention.

Serve the Lord. Be at peace. If you’re not at peace, you’re not minding the things of God, but rather the things of this earth, and you’re probably not actively doing anything helpful for anyone.

Serve the Lord not as eye-pleasers hoping to get attention from adoring crowds, but in simplicity of heart, showing the love of Christ to people who need it.

It’s not complicated and it requires no degrees, voters, nor fans. You simply present your body as a living sacrifice and go do God’s will. I beseech you to go for it.

For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men
–1 Peter 2:15

Talking does not silence foolish people; doing good does. Lots of fools need silencing. It sure seems obvious we need more doing of good!

Social Media and Irresponsibility

Social Media is a modern driver of societal thought. I used to like social media when it was social. I caught up with a lot of friends and family I never had much contact with.

But once lots of people got on Facebook, it turned into a bragging, share every thought in your head, popularity contest.

People, in general, are lazy bums. There are a few personality types who are workaholics, but the majority of humanity defers to laziness. We remain at rest until acted upon by an outside force.

Lazy people become sensitive people. When you know you’re not doing anything, you become defensive. You want to maintain appearances while doing nothing.

Facebook is filled with hyper-sensitivity and people’s faces doing awesome things. Every church event is posted, every Bible Study, every theological insight, every proof that we’re doing something, is immediately up there so everyone will approve of our awesome so we can spend the rest of the day sitting and waiting for the applause.

People who have to tell you they are doing something are insecure. They know you wouldn’t know what they were doing unless they told you. For some reason, they need human applause. What’s the point of doing anything if no one sees it? It’s the neglected falling tree in the forest that no one hears. Poor thing.

When Jesus Christ was on earth this is what He said and what He acted on:

I receive not honour from men.” He also said, “that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.

That wasn’t just an observation of a truth; that was the underlying mindset of His life.

Jesus Christ had one motivation in life: do the will of His Father. He lived to get honor from His Father, not from people. Even when He did things worthy of honor and people applauded Him, He immediately told them to be quiet.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. He humbly served His Father. The only opinion that mattered to Christ was His Father’s. Go and do likewise.

It’s why Jesus Christ spent time in the Sermon on the Mount telling people to pray in their closets, to give without letting the left hand know what the right was doing, and when you fast to look ridiculously healthy so no one would know it.

Much of your faith should be between you and God. If you need others to congratulate your faith, you aint doing faith.

Social Media encourages irresponsibility (appearances over actions) and leads people to care way too much about what others think.

If you can’t serve God in isolation and silence, then ask yourself if you have ever served God. We’re not to be men-pleasers doing eye-service, but to be servants of Jesus Christ.

“Hast thou faith? Have it to yourself before God” are some of the most beautiful words of the Apostle Paul.

We all stand before God and will give an account of everything we say and do. Live like that’s true. Stop worrying about whether people approve or notice or even care. Grow into Chris and do the right thing.

(AUTHOR’S NOTE: I am not telling you not to be on Facebook. I do not care if you are on Facebook. I do not want to hear all the reasons why you are on Facebook. What I do with Facebook matters none at all. I’m more concerned with faith. My issue may not be your issue. Consider your faith and why you do what you do is the point.)

Oh, Grow Up!

The modern irresponsibility in the church is a reflection on society. Being irresponsible is not something you would learn from reading the Bible.

Therefore, we must conclude, that any doctrine encouraging people to be irresponsible must be man-made, a result of philosophy.

Our society is currently bemoaning the number of 30-year olds who live in their parents basements. Just recently there was a man in his 30’s whose parents took him to court to get him out of their house.

What laundry list of things has gone wrong in that family?

Work ethic has taken a massive hit. People take every excuse to stay home from work. The number of people who could be in the workforce but are not is higher than ever.

Our society is massively sensitive to the words of others. Sticks and stones break bones and names never used to hurt anyone. Now apparently, names practically kill people, or so they’d have you believe.

These things actually go together. The only people who are sensitive to what people say about them are people who have lots of time on their hands. Busy people generally don’t care what others think about them. They have things to do.

All of humanity needs to hear one phrase very loudly in their ears: Oh, grow up!

This same mentality has taken root in the church. The church also is filled with people who need to hear: Oh, grow up!

The amount of Christians who tell me they don’t have to do God’s commands, or that it’s not what we do; it’s who we are, and let go and let God, and all other sanctimonious, quasi-theological sounding blather that means: Don’t tell me what to do, is ridiculous. We’re human beings; not human doings. Doing commands is Old Covenant bondage, be free, man!

I’m tired of the conversation. I’m tired of arguing whether commands are suggestions or not. I’m tired of arguing about whether grace means no work or not. I’m tired of the lazy people telling me God only sees Christ, He doesn’t see me, so it doesn’t matter what I do.

Oh, grow up!

Stand up straight and pick up the cross and follow the Man who laid down His life for you and loves you fiercely and has provided everything you need to please your Creator.

Christianity never used to preach such lazy things. Christians used to be industrious and used to preach constantly that we were to pursue holiness, without which no man will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:4). But not any more. That qualifies as legalism in our day.

So, why is it that Church History is empty of such thinking until society started teaching such things? Curious, no?

If we put as much energy into justifying our sin and trying to circumvent commands, as we did into doing what God said, you’d have a ton of crowns waiting for you on Judgment Day.

I know I have to continue to defend biblical truth. I know I am to be patient with people even if I’m entirely impatient with their brand of stupid. I know I’m to be gentle and not willing to readily fight with people. I also know that people who hold to these responsibility-denying doctrines generally have tough lives. I also know they will stand before God some day and I genuinely want them to be ready.

I’m also aware that I need to grow up too. We all do. We have not yet apprehended.

Our job is to grow into Christ Jesus; not to find all the reasons why we don’t have to.

So, again I say, grow up!

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith,
act like men, be strong.
–1 Corinthians 16:13

Satan, the World, and God’s Will

Satan is the god of this world, the prince of the power of the air, and the prince of this world. The Bible says all these things.

Satan is fighting against and thwarting God’s will. We have been equipped in Christ to resist the temptations of the Devil and to stand opposed to him and his deceptions.

Many oppose this teaching, thinking that if Satan has power and can thwart God’s will, then in some way Satan has more power than God, or that God’s sovereign power is limited by His own creation who can overpower Him.

I find this objection lacking.

God granted this power to Satan, God sets the bounds of what Satan can do, as shown in the Book of Job. God gives His creation freedom within His determined boundaries.

God is still ultimately in control. At no point can Satan, or any part of creation, go beyond those boundaries God has set.

God has given us free will and also gives us the consequences of our actions. Satan rebelled against God’s authority because he wanted more. God gave him some. We’ve seen what Satan has done with it.

God has given people authority on this earth as well. We can resist God and His will. We do it all the time. Before Calvinism hi-jacked Christianity, we used to define sin as “anything contrary to God’s will.”

The fact that we can sin and resist God and His will does not mean we have more power than God, nor does it mean God’s power is subtracted from. God allowed us to do this!

We are created in God’s image. God has free will and so do we (within the bounds given us by our Creator). God uses His will to always do righteousness. We do not. God has provided a means of salvation where we can be recreated in Christ Jesus to do good works which God has before ordained that we should walk in.

God created us to obey Him. We rebelled. Humanity reaped the sowing of rebellion: creation itself now fights against us through the Fall and the Curse.

Satan is still trying to thwart God’s will. Satan does so by deceiving people and using creation to continue to fight against the Creator. Observe the following:

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
–1 John 2:15-16

Satan, who can’t create anything himself, has to use what is already created to trap us. So John tells believers not to love anything on this earth! If you love something on this earth, Satan will use that thing against you.

He will turn that created thing, morally neutral in itself, into that which can destroy your soul.

The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life are NOT OF THE FATHER!

There’s something else going on down here that is against what God wants. God does not use created things against you. He does not tempt people to sin with earthly things.

If Calvinism is true, then these verses are not. If God ordains whatsoever comes to pass, then the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life have to be from the Father, because all things are, according to Calvinism.

So, again, this is where the Calvinist starts to define different kinds of God’s will and God ordaining means as well as ends, none of which actually answer the basic problem.

If God ordains the means, then again, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life must be from the Father! Push it back as far as you want and you are still in the same place of admitting that God actually is the one who is making you do the lust and the pride.

Again, Satan is redundant and God’s character must adapt characteristics of the Devil if Calvinism is true. In what sense is God still righteous? In what sense is John talking sense when he says there are things here that are not of the Father? Why would Jesus Christ tell us to pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven if God’s will is already being done here?

I’ll wrap it up with a quote of 1 John 5:19, I’ll even use the Calvinist’s favorite ESV to do so:

We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

The world is a problem to us precisely because it is under the control of the god of this world. Satan is using created things to keep you from worshiping the Creator. We are not ignorant of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11).

I fear that Calvinism keeps people ignorant of Satan’s devices and this will not work out well for the church.

Satan and God’s Will

I contend that God’s will is not always being done on earth. I feel no need to define different kinds of God’s will as the Calvinist does, because I believe God has one kind of will. God’s will is what God desires. God always desires righteousness; righteousness does not always happen, therefore God’s desires don’t always happen.

God can force His will on His creation, for instance with Pharaoh, but as a general rule He gives His creatures freedom within His sovereign, determined, and fixed boundaries.

Satan is part of God’s creation. Satan, according to the Bible, is a real person who is a real enemy and has real power.

God has given Satan free will to do sinful things within creation according to the boundaries God has set for him (see the book of Job).

When Satan fell from his position of power in heaven (described in passages such as Ezekiel 28:13-19 and Isaiah 14:12-19), Satan gave up his authority in heaven but was granted authority on earth.

Satan, in the form of a serpent, is in the Garden of Eden and throws it into chaos. Ever since, he has been walking about seeking whom he may devour.

Satan is our enemy. His attacks can be repulsed with the Armor of God and he is to be fled from. Satan is described as being the “prince of the power of the air” and “the god of this world.”

Satan offered Jesus Christ the kingdoms of the world. Many think Satan is lying here. But if Satan is lying, then Jesus Christ would know he’s lying, and this would cease to be a temptation in any real way.

Satan was given the power of the kingdoms of this earth. Satan even says this in Luke 4:6. Jesus would know if this were true.

Jesus’ answer is not, “Now Satan, you and I both know you don’t have the power to make that offer.” Nor was His response a diatribe about God’s sovereignty. Jesus told Satan to get behind Him. Only God is worthy of worship.

In other words, Jesus did not dispute whether Satan had authority to give the kingdom to Christ; Jesus disputed the worship part.

Jesus Christ calls Satan “the prince of this world” three times in the Gospel of John (12:31; 14:30; 16:11).

It is my contention, if the words in the Bible mean anything, that Satan has lots of control of this world.

God has granted Satan power to cause trouble down here, and that is what he’s doing.

John Wesley once said something to the effect that if the God of Calvinism is true, who needs the Devil? Under Calvinism, Satan is redundant. If God ordains whatever comes to pass, then having an enemy named Satan is kind of silly since God is doing all the evil Himself.

2 Corinthians 4:4 talks about the “god of this world.” Most are agreed Paul is referring to Satan here. Notice what the verse says in full:

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

The god of this world is blinding people from the Gospel. Satan is blinding people. According to Calvinism, God is the one who hardens and blinds. Again, if Calvinism is true, then Satan is redundant.

Calvinism attributes the characteristics of Satan to God. I find this blasphemous.

Think about it. Paul is shining the Light of the Gospel. Satan keeps people from seeing the light. If Paul persists in shining the light, he is trying to thwart the blinding. Therefore, according to Calvinism, by shining the light of the Gospel, Paul is trying to thwart the work of God.

On the other hand, if you listen to what Paul is saying and adjust your doctrine accordingly, Satan is the one who does the blinding. By shining forth the Gospel, Paul is thwarting Satan’s work.

“God ordains the means as well as the ends” is the Calvinist justification here. God is using Satan to blind people, thus God is really blinding people through Satan.

OK, that really doesn’t answer the problem, it just pushes it back a step. Satan is still redundant. If Satan can only do what God makes him do, and God is using the Satan tool to blind people, then God is still blinding people.

Instead of backing yourself into ridiculous logical corners, just accept the simple teaching of the Scriptures that God’s will is not being done on earth as it is in heaven, and one reason is because Satan is the god of this world and he’s fighting against God’s will.

Grasping the Bible’s teaching on this subject will awaken you to the warfare raging around us and will also help you be sober and watch for the enemy prowling around deceiving people.

 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
–Romans 13:11-12

Calvinism and Ordained Irresponsibility

Classic Calvinism maintains that God has ordained whatever comes to pass. The Westminster Confession of Faith says so, if you’re looking for the source.

Calvinists know this is a sketchy thing to say because it means God ordains sin. In other words, God makes sin happen.

The only answer to this logical conclusion is to simply state it’s not true. The Westminster Confession, after saying God ordains whatever comes to pass, simply says, but in such a way that God is not the author of sin.

I know they want that to be true, but simply stating it in direct contradiction to what was stated before doesn’t really hold any intellectual water.

“It’s all a mystery,” is the answer you’ll get there. We’re too stupid to figure it out, but God’s wisdom can do such a thing.

If God’s wisdom says that God ordains sin without ordaining sin, then God’s wisdom isn’t very wise.

I believe that God is all-wise. I believe His thoughts are higher than ours, and His ways past finding out.

I do not believe God’s wisdom can be contrary to wisdom or intellectual consistency, however. God is a God of order.

The simple solution to the conundrum, rather than impugning the wisdom of God, is to rather conclude that the people who wrote the Westminster Confession of Faith were off the mark.

If you contradict their belief, they will try to convince you that you are wrong, which is ironic. God, according to their own belief, has ordained me to not believe it. How is any degree of their arguing going to change what God has ordained?

The answer to any such challenge to Calvinism is always the same. Whether you question why pray if God ordains all things, or why evangelize if God ordains who believes, or why so much arguing with non-Calvinists if God ordains people to not be Calvinist, here’s the answer:

God ordains the means to accomplish His ordained ends.

Yup, all the stuff you are doing you aren’t doing. God is doing it. So if you do good or bad, God ordained all of it and all of this God-ordained stuff results in God-ordained ends.

Why pray? Why evangelize? Why argue? Why do good?

Because God makes you do those things.

Think about it though. Doesn’t God then ordain my not praying as well? Doesn’t He also ordain my non-evangelism and my non-doing of good? And doesn’t my not doing these things bring about His ordained ends as well?

Saying that “God ordains the means to His ordained ends” does not answer the question, it merely pushes the question back a step.

In the end, Calvinism says God does it all; you do nothing. Therefore, you are not ultimately responsible, judgment is God judging Himself, Satan is redundant, and we are all helpless automatons.

That is Calvinism. And that is why Easy-Believism is a thing. Nothing I do matters anyway; it’s all God. No worries.

Calvinism is pretty much exactly the doctrine you would expect the human heart to come up with. Everything is someone else’s fault and I’m not accountable because I’m not doing anything voluntarily.

Don’t believe it.

But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honor, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile
–Romans 2:5-10

Calvinism and Easy-Believism

“Easy Believism,” to define terms, is the belief that the Gospel is a set of facts you agree with that matter nothing at all once they are believed.

Practically, Easy Believism  looks like this:

You are presented with the Gospel, that Jesus Christ died for your sins and rose again. If you believe this, you say the sinner’s prayer, or get baptized, or do some other initiation rite, and then carry on. No strings attached. No obligation. No accountability. Nothing really matters now; you’re saved! And, once saved always saved, so live it up! Believing the Gospel makes sin OK. Anyone who tells you you’re supposed to stop sinning and do good instead, is a legalist and should be avoided.

That is what Easy-Believism is. The vast majority of Christians are in this camp in one form or another. Many may not express these words, but they live as though these words are true.

Easy-Believism is not biblical. It’s based entirely on human ideas, wishes, and philosophy. The underlying theological system behind it is Calvinism.

Calvinism’s main tenet of faith is Substitutionary Atonement. This is the idea that our sins were imputed to Christ who died on the cross and rose again. Christ’s righteous deeds were then imputed to us. Therefore, we have swapped out our sins for Christ’s good deeds. This is expressed by saying “Christ kept the law for us.” Or, “God doesn’t see what I do; He only sees what Christ did for me.”

Substitutionary Atonement has problems.

If Christ died in place of each believer, then atonement becomes limited. Christ could have only died for eventual believers. Therefore Christ did not die for the sins of the world as the Bible states, but only for the sins of the elect. The offer of forgiveness to whosoever may come is disingenuous at best, and deceptive at worst.

The idea that we were saved by Christ keeping the law for us, means we are saved by works and not by Christ’s death and resurrection, which makes the Gospel essentially vain.

If God only sees Christ’s good deeds credited to me and not my own deeds, then all warnings in the Bible about not sinning and giving an account for every deed done in the body, seem pointless. God would then be the worst judge possible because He can’t see who it is He’s judging. Judgment all seems rather ridiculous anyway, because God ordains everything we do, so why bust us for doing what God ordained for us to do?

Substitutionary Atonement is the ground of Calvinism. They stand and fall together. Substitutionary Atonement is also the ground of Easy-Believism. Throw Calvinism’s warped concept of predestination on top of it–you are saved by God’s sovereign choice and there’s nothing you can do about it–and Easy-Believism is sealed up in a nice, tight package.

According to Calvinism, I can’t believe anyway unless God saves me first. This is the easiest of Easy-Believisms. We are not even accountable to believe under this system!

I am fully aware that every Calvinist who would read this would say I’ve constructed straw man arguments and that I don’t understand Calvinism.

I would disagree. I’ve read Calvin’s Institutes and wrote a paper on each chapter. I’ve studied extensively Calvinist writings and sermons. I’ve had the argument hundreds of times. Calvinism is wrong. Substitutionary Atonement is wrong.

You are accountable to believe the Gospel and you will give an account before God for every deed done in the body.

I’m aware that no one likes this message, but it is the message of Scripture. The fact that you can find humans who have an established theology that contradicts this and makes you feel better about things, does not mean you’re hearing truth!

It is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment. It’s coming. Don’t play games.

Calvinism and Evolution

Both society and the institutional church help people justify their irresponsible, sinful behavior.

The Bible says we’ve all been given life by our Creator and are accountable to listen to Him. The only ones who can truly listen are those who have been born again and receive divine assistance by coming to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Obedience is the point of salvation. God saved you to obey Him. Ephesians 2:8-10 most succinctly says this. We aren’t saved by obeying; we obey because we are saved, it’s what salvation creates us to do.

Perhaps the leading justification society gives you is based on evolutionary thinking. An unguided, random process brought us all here. We are products of this process and are driven by evolutionarily received genes. We have no choice really, but to obey our genes and drive evolution forward.

“Sin,” for the evolutionist, is anything that thwarts the greater good of evolving the species. “If it’s not hurting anyone, go for it” is the basic morality. But even if it does, quite frankly, it’s all part of the process taking out weaker elements.

I have heard evolutionists say that all the stuff that people do must be there for a reason. Evolution wired it into us and there must be a wise evolutionary reason it’s there. Somehow, and this is all a big mystery, this random process requires the rape of women to further its cause. So sin is really not that big of a deal. Ultimately, we praise evolution because everything that happens advances its process.

Most of the justifications the church gives for our irresponsibility comes out of Calvinism. Calvinism says that God has ordained whatever comes to pass from eternity past. If we sin, it must be because God wired it into us, there must be some reason why its there. Somehow, and this is all a big mystery, God requires the rape of women to further His cause. So sin isn’t really that big of a deal. Ultimately, we praise God because everything that happens advances His glory.

It’s rather startling how similar the takes on reality are in these two systems. Both end up denying free will. Both end up denying accountability and responsibility. Both end up chalking up bad stuff to mystery, not quite sure why it’s there, but suck it up, it must be for our good.

The common defense of the Calvinist is that not all Calvinists act like this. Famous Calvinists will be propped up and defended “They never acted like sin was no big deal.”

True. I find both Calvinists and evolutionists to be inconsistent in fully living out what they say they believe.

Calvinism leads people to believe that sin isn’t that big of a deal. Easy-Believism is not a non-Calvinist invention! I’m not saying that all Calvinists adhere to Easy-Believism, but all consistent ones do!

Calvinism, in many people’s opinion, comes from Greek Philosophy. Calvin based his stuff on Augustine, who based his stuff on the Greek philosophy he grew up in. Calvinism is rooted in philosophy.

Evolution is a philosophical construct as well. Sure, it sneaks in under the guise of science, but its the underlying philosophy that leads people to see evolution in the supposed evidence.

Human philosophy generally downplays sin, personal responsibility, and accountability. No one wants to be held accountable for what they do. But guess what? God is not a human! God’s wisdom is not rooted in human philosophy and guess what God thinks about responsibility and accountability?

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.
–2 Corinthians 5:10-11

How The Church Keeps You Irresponsible

The Gospel is God’s way of bringing sinful people who don’t want to be held accountable by their Creator into being people who desire to do, and can do, what their Creator says.

Society does not like the Gospel. The Gospel is a massive downer to our selfish, narcissistic tendencies. You would expect society to be hostile to the Gospel. No one should be shocked that the world does not like the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

What’s more amazing is how the church has become hostile to the Gospel. The Church is supposed to be the one place upholding the word of truth, yet we realize that no one is interested in the truth.

People in the church are just as selfish, narcissistic, and sinful as anyone else. These tendencies don’t magically disappear because you walk into a church building.

Churches want buildings and money and followers and everything else the world has. But in order to get such things, you have to keep unbelievers happy. Therefore, you can’t proclaim the Gospel, which the world thinks is foolish.

The Church, rather than upholding the Gospel and being a place where people can be built up in Christ, has become just another human institution on this earth doing its own selfish, narcissistic thing. The Church is not doing its responsibility. The church may be the most irresponsible institution on the face of the planet at this point.

Instead of proclaiming the Gospel that can rebirth you in Christ Jesus so you can do what God desires, the church has become one more institution telling you why its OK to be irresponsible. The church has come up with the following justifications for irresponsible behavior:

–God is love. He has no problem with anything you do. He just loves you and wants you to be happy.

–The Gospel actually turns Jesus into a magic pocketbook. If you listen to Him, He will give you all the fleshly desires you could imagine.

–Grace covers it all. It doesn’t matter what you do, God forgives you and nothing matters. Desiring to do good, in fact, might be a sign you’ve fallen from grace.

–God is in sovereign control. Every molecule of creation is doing exactly what God wants it to do. Nothing you do is of your own free will, and, somehow, God is glorified by it all.

Perhaps few come out and say it so bluntly, but this is the basic takeaway people get from these doctrinal distortions.

The church needs fleshly stuff, therefore it must keep fleshly people happy. The Gospel will never keep fleshly people happy.

So we’ve invented false gospels. We’ve constructed elaborate doctrinal structures to explain away personal responsibility. We now biblically explain to people why it’s biblical to not listen to the Bible. It’s a truly bizarre situation.

The church is not supposed to be part of the problem. We’re supposed to be upholding the solution: the Gospel of Jesus Christ that rebirths people into new life in Christ Jesus.

Instead we’ve fallen into the world’s trappings. The cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches has choked the life out of the church.

So, even church-goers believe their irresponsibility is OK. That God doesn’t really care what we do. That Judgment Day will be a judgment based on happy thoughts, rather than on deeds done in the body.

And we like it this way. But this will not work out well in The End.

How Society Keeps You Irresponsible

People do not like to take responsibility for what they do. Everyone has a desire to do their own thing, and it would be nice if others paid for it.

Irresponsibility would be cool except we have a conscience. We feel bad when we do irresponsible things and others have to pay for it.

So, what to do? Everything within us wants to be irresponsible, and yet something in us tells us irresponsibility isn’t right.

We must find a way to justify our irresponsibility. Society came up with the following justifications for irresponsible behavior:

–Societal constructs and the patriarchal hierarchy force you to do things. You’re a victim of the thinking of others in power.

–Genetics has wired you for behavior, there’s nothing you can do against your genes. You’re a victim of genetics.

–Evolution makes us selfish and this somehow advances our development. You’re a victim of evolutionary forces for the greater good.

–Politics lets us group up with others who are irresponsible like we are. It’s the other party’s irresponsibility that is truly bad. Ours is trying to save the world, man.

You would think that anyone with a biblical mindset would reject these ideas. The Bible tells the truth. Here’s the truth:

We were created in God’s image to do God’s will. God gave us responsibility and we were supposed to be responsible. We decided against it; this was called “sin.” As a result of sin, creation became harder to work with; responsibility got harder, but we were still held accountable for taking responsibility. We don’t like this. Instead of becoming more responsible, we became more sinful and continue to make life harder than it should be.

Our Creator, who still wants us to do His will, came as a human being. The Messiah was responsible and did everything His Father told Him to do, even unto death on the cross. His Father then raised Him from the dead.

We are told that by placing our faith in Jesus Christ, the Messiah, we too will be crucified with Christ and raised up to newness of life. The old irresponsible, sinful, flesh will be crucified with its affections and lusts. Old things will pass away and all things are new. We are created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God has always wanted us to do.

Through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we can be made responsible. We can be equipped to do God’s will, just like Adam and Eve could before the Fall. It will be hard, as we still have the pull of the irresponsible flesh in us, but as we fight the fight of faith, we should see victory over sin in our lives as we grow into the perfect man Christ Jesus.

That’s the answer to our desire to be irresponsible: Christ can equip us to be responsible again by putting to death the irresponsible old nature and giving us a fully equipped new nature.

But here’s the problem with that: No one really wants to be saved to be responsible!

The pull of sin is so strong in us, who in their right mind would want to be saved if responsibility is the result? Our flesh is fighting for independence so it can continue to do its own thing.

The Gospel is foolishness. The cross is an offense. We’d rather have lies, deception, and stupidity console us than deal with life-transforming truth. So we reject the Gospel and continue to do our own thing, which is largely irresponsible. We still have a conscience, but we’re silencing it, covering it up with the handiest justifications, gathering a group around us to console each other that we’ll be OK.

But Judgment Day is coming and your works are what will be judged. You would think the Church would be interested in reminding people of a coming Judgment of our works, but it isn’t. Because the majority of the institutional church is irresponsible too.

We’re in a fine mess. We’re killing truth and grasping lies. This will not work out well in The End.

10 Points to Summarize Justification by Faith

I’ve been talking about Justification for about a month now I guess. Perhaps I’ve overstayed my welcome. So I shall conclude with some points to summarize my take on justification.

1. Justification is by faith. We believe what Christ has done in the Gospel was done for us. That His Gospel is the only solution to our struggle with and enslavement to sin. I cannot release myself from sin by works or by myself.

2. Justification is not by faith alone. Even the demons believe. Martin Luther added “alone” to Romans 5. James says we are not justified “by faith only.” If the Bible says we’re not justified by faith only, then we should stop saying and believing we are justified by faith only.

3. Faith comes by hearing and hearing means obeying. The Greek word for “obey” means to “hear under.” To place yourself under the authority of what another is saying and obeying it. Faith is doing what God says. Our first response is to call out to God for salvation upon hearing His Gospel. New life is given to us where we continue to hear His Word and conform to it through the power of His Spirit at work in us.

4. No obedience means no faith. If a life of obedience is not growing in you after years, then you should conclude your salvation moment was not truly based on faith. Faith, every time it’s tried, regenerates a person and raises them up to new life in Christ to do good works. No good works; then there’s no new life.

5. One time acts are not obedience. Paul uses circumcision to make this point. Being a circumcised Jew, although proving you did one thing God asked, is not obedience and should not be confused with saving faith. The same holds true today for baptism or saying the prayer. One time acts only prove that one time you did a thing. It’s no proof of faith.

6. Justification by faith alone often turns into Easy Believism. Our flesh likes to believe it is saved by doing one thing one time. Your flesh does not want to stop sinning. But believing what your flesh wants you to believe will not bring you salvation, freedom, nor release from guilt. It will, in fact, make you even more guilt-ridden and defeated over time. If nothing else, you’ll be deluded right into hell.

7. Being Justified means you have been made righteous. Justification means being made righteous. Not just pronounced righteous, not a thing said despite evidence to the contrary. Justification means you have been made righteous and are now equipped to live righteously, soberly, and godly in this present world. Be not deceived, he who doeth righteousness is righteous. If you are not growing in righteousness, you have not been justified.

8. There are no verses in the Bible that say sin is OK. Despite people’s attempts to make the Bible say sin is OK, it doesn’t say that. Sin is bad. We’re not supposed to do it. Through the Gospel you can be released from sin’s bondage and can get victory over sin.

9. Denying personal responsibility drives much false teaching. The main force behind exaggerating grace and justification by faith alone is an attempt to excuse sin. We like to sin. Sin creates more of our doctrine than the Holy Spirit. Anytime someone concludes sin isn’t that bad, or human responsibility is minimized, rest assured you are hearing false teaching.

10. The Gospel is sufficient. Our hope is in Christ and in His Gospel. We believe what He has done to the extent that we see ourselves identified with Him in it. We were crucified, we were buried, and we were raised to newness of life with Him. This new life in Christ is given to us so we would do good works. If there is no new life evident, if good works don’t begin to appear, then whatever it was you did when you responded to the Gospel was not driven by true faith. It may have been an emotional response, a peer-pressure response, or who knows. The heart is deceitful. I do not know what is going on in your heart. God does. He’s the Judge. Get this right.

Justification and “It Is Finished”

Jesus Christ said from the cross, “It is finished.”

I’ve heard this phrase used many times in the argument about justification by faith alone.

I maintain that the faith that justifies is not alone. I think justifying faith works by love. Justifying faith does what God says. We know everyone in Hebrews 11 had faith because they did what God told them to do.

James says explicitly that we are not justified by faith only. Faith alone puts you on par with demons and people who wanted to stone Jesus (John 8).

But when a guy ventures into this water, he receives opposition. Apparently I am bringing people back under the law, teaching works righteousness, being legalistic, and denying Christ’s words that “He finished it all, there’s nothing else to add.”

Context is key to deciphering the meaning of any biblical phrase. “It is finished” has a context and the context is not about being justified by faith alone.

The immediate context of “it is finished” is John 19:30

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

What did Jesus think was finished when He said this? What did He just get done doing? The context shows that He just got done drinking vinegar. Perhaps there is something in the larger context bringing drinking vinegar and something being finished together. Let’s expand the view by going back to verse 28 and 29:

After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.

The word “accomplished” in verse 28 is the same Greek word translated “finished” in verse 30. “Fulfilled” borrows the same Greek root word as the Greek word translated “finished.” Therefore, accomplished, fulfilled, and finished are all related.

When Jesus said “It is finished” after drinking vinegar, it’s because that was the last bit of prophecy to be fulfilled in His earthly life before His death. “It is finished” has to do with fulfilling the scriptural prophecies of Christ’s earthly life. It has nothing to do with justification.

For a theological explanation of the same point, observe Romans 4:25:

Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

Justification is based on His resurrection, which obviously was not finished when Jesus said “It is finished,” because He wasn’t even dead when He said it.

Saying “it is finished” as some sort of mantra that means there’s nothing for a believer to do after “getting saved,” is a wild  misapplication of this phrase.

Ignoring biblical context is the foundation of Justification By Faith Alone. The Bible says we’re not justified by faith only. Luther added “alone” to Romans 5, because it didn’t say what he wanted.

You cannot hold to Justification By Faith Alone if you are seriously considering Scriptural context.

We teach for doctrines the commandments of men, just like another group of people that thought they were justified by one-time acts.

Whatsoever things were written before time were written for our learning. Weird how we don’t pay any attention to what was written before time, but gladly adhere to an easy message by any guy who comes along. Odd, no?

Justification by Faith Alone and John 8

John 8 is one of the more fascinating chapters concerning justification by faith.

John 8:30 says “many believed on Him,” the “Him” being Jesus Christ. If you believe that we are justified by faith alone, you would conclude that these people are saved.

Jesus Christ, who does not believe people are justified by faith alone, says, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed” (John 8:31).

Jesus Christ, the judge of peoples’ hearts, knows the true test is not whether you momentarily believed something, but whether you continue to hear everything He says.

Jesus Christ continues to talk to this same group who said they believed on Him. Although they liked the first three minutes of what He said, they argue everything He says for the rest of the chapter. He eventually tells them their father is the Devil because God’s word is not in them and they do the works of their father.

Jesus Christ, the judge, does not base His judgment of their faith on what they say, but on what they do. He accuses them of wanting to kill Him. If God were your Father, you would not want to kill Christ.

They deny all along that they want to kill Him. But guess what they do at the end of the chapter in verse 59? “Then took they up stones to cast at Him

Jesus Christ was right in His judgment all along! Surprise, surprise.

Again, this is the same group of people who said they believed on Him. The audience did not shift at all.

If you believe people are justified by faith alone, you would conclude that these people who want to stone the Christ are saved. You would be wrong.

This is not losing salvation. Genuine, saving faith continues in God’s Word. It keeps hearing and obeying and doing what God says. It would not decide to stone Jesus Christ!

Every judgment in the Bible is based on works. God does not judge you based on a momentary word of faith out of your mouth, but on a pattern of belief. Was there any change after your professed belief?

What about the thief on the cross?

After his confession, he told the other guy to knock off ridiculing Jesus Christ. he confessed his sin and his need of a Savior. Christ knows our hearts. He knows that if the thief on the cross had a longer life, he would live it serving Christ.

God is the judge. He tells us what His judgment is based on: not a momentary faith-like deed, not happy thoughts and words, but rather on the character of the life lived.

The Gospel brings new life. If there is no new life then you don’t believe the Gospel. Many profess to know God, but in deeds they deny Him.

Jesus bases salvation on whether you continue in His word, not whether you said you wanted to start one time.

This is a devastating message to modern Christian doctrine if you will hear it. Judgment Day is coming. Now is the time to get ready.

Who Does Christ Save?

There are many out there who claim to be saved. Who claim that Christ intercedes for them. That Christ has saved their soul.

It’s easy to claim things, what’s typically more difficult is to line yourself up with what the Bible says about stuff.

It would be good for us to know who the Bible says Christ saves. Ready?! Are you sure? You’ll be accountable after you read it. Proceed with caution.

Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
–Hebrews 5:8-9

The Lord Jesus Christ saves those who obey Him. I didn’t say that. God did in the Bible.

Now, I know we don’t like that teaching, but let’s be honest, people don’t like most stuff in the Bible. It would only make sense that we wouldn’t like how the Bible explains salvation.

I understand that what Hebrews says is different from what your Sunday School teacher said and from what Martin Luther said and from what that confident sounding guy on Twitter says. But who is our judge?

Our judge is the one who breathed out the words of the Book of Hebrews. The eternal words that will never pass away.

How does that make sense though? If no one is saved by works, how can salvation only be granted to those who obey Jesus Christ?

It’s a major question and one worthy of concentrated thought.

The typical response would be to ignore it. Explain it away with some pithy doctrinal sounding blather. Maybe explain how Hebrews is only for Jews. Or that we don’t know who wrote Hebrews, so be careful taking it seriously. Or other all Scripture is inspired and profitable denying angles.

The way the tension is resolved (and the tension is not a biblical tension; it’s a tension between what the Bible says and what the Church teaches) is to understand what the Bible means by “faith” and “believe.”

As we’ve covered before, when a sinner sees the salvation offered in the Gospel, they can call out for salvation and be saved. True faith that truly wants that salvation, is desperately looking for a way to become obedient to God, to escape bondage to sin. That’s what drove them to salvation to begin with.

When that true, faithful heart cries out to God, they are re-birthed and become partakers of the divine nature. They are now equipped to do what is right and fight off the temptations of sin. Obedience is always the fruit of faith. Faith will always look like obedience. Obedience is how you know you are saved. The only ones who can obey God are ones who are saved.

He’s not looking for a changed life first and then salvation. He’s looking for a sincere heart desire for a changed life. A person who desires a changed life will be given one through the Gospel.

The Gospel frees us from bondage to sin and sets us free from its unreasonable mastery. We then become servants of righteousness with fruit unto holiness. Obedience is the fruit every single time.

If your life is not changing, if obedience is not becoming the hallmark of your life, then salvation did not take place.

We are saved by grace through faith. And that saving faith will look like obedience.

You’ve got to get this right. The easy-believism, hyper-grace gospel out there that says salvation doesn’t change you, all it does is make sinning OK, is wrong. There are many who are deceived in the church today. The road to destruction is broad and there are many on it. Don’t be one of them.

What sort of insanity makes a person think listening to the one who died for them is a burden to be avoided? Anyone who understands salvation, its cost and its provision, would have no problem agreeing to obey the one who made it all possible.

Using Galatians 3:3 to Excuse Your Sinful Life

A classic text used to defend the “now that I’m saved I don’t have to do good, nor should I try to do good” is Galatians 3:3

Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

The idea being that now that we are saved, have the Spirit, our bodies can’t do anything to help anything. Our bodies cannot pursue righteousness, therefore, telling people to grow up, mature, or fight off sin is reliance upon the flesh, which is opposed to the Spirit and the Gospel. If you pursue righteousness, that’s just your flesh pursuing perfection and it can’t.

Context is king. The context of Galatians, particularly chapter 3, has nothing to do with believers pursuing righteousness or not.

Paul’s point in Galatians is: what happened to the law now that the Gospel is here? His answers that the law serves no purpose to the believer in the Spirit–if we walk in the Spirit we will not be doing things contrary to the law anyway.

Paul is not against spiritual growth. His point is not that we should not pursue righteousness. And, based on various other verses, like laying down your body as a living sacrifice and his own testimony of bringing his body under subjection, Paul does think what your body does is important.

Paul’s concern for the Galatian believers is not that they are relying on their flesh to grow so much! No, his concern is that they are going back to Old Covenant law and chucking new life in the Spirit. Why, if you have the Spirit and the promise of the New Covenant, are you telling Gentiles to follow the Jewish Old Covenant conditions? That makes no sense.

Paul wants people to grow in Christ, to become more like Christ–righteous, sinless, mature, etc. It’s his main reason for being an apostle:

My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,
–Galatians 4:19

Paul’s goal is to see them grow in Christ. Paul travails with his own body to see Christ formed in their bodies. If Galatians 3 means “don’t pursue righteousness with your body” then Paul appears to be working for what he is against.

Paul’s point is not, and never has been, that since we are no longer under the Old Covenant law we can do whatever we want now. His point is not that there is no law at all governing the behavior of the New Covenant believer. Just read Galatians!

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
–Galatians 6:2

We’re supposed to fulfill a law in the New Covenant! When Paul talks about pursuing God by works, he’s talking about the Old Covenant law given to racial Israel. It didn’t work. It proved that people need divine help.

The New Covenant promise is that God would put His Spirit in people so they could fulfill His desires. That is exactly what the Gospel did and does. Why go back to the spiritless Old Covenant Law then? Makes no sense!

Galatians 5 says not to do works of the flesh, and then he gives a long list of what those are. He tells us to bring forth fruit of the Spirit, “against such there is no law.”

If you do what the Spirit wants you to do, you won’t violate the law. The reason the believer is not under the law, is because when we walk in the Spirit we are fulfilling the law. We are not under the law’s curse because we are not breaking the law when we walk in the Spirit.

There is so much good stuff in the New Covenant. So much provision. So much power. So much victory. So much liberty. It’s amazing! Why fight so hard to defend your sin and your selfish flesh desires? It makes no sense.

Don’t twist the New Covenant to eliminate it’s provision, power, victory, liberty, and all the other blessings. Christ died to give you these things; use them!

Grace and Works

Everyone who has ever been saved has been saved by God’s grace. His gracious gift of salvation has always been received by faith. No one has ever worked to earn salvation. If a person could have, then there is no reason for Christ to have died.

Faith will bring with it obedience, but the obedience follows the faith, or comes with it, however it should be said. They go together. But the first step to doing what is right is to hear God tell you what the right thing is to do! So faith comes and then obedience. Obedience to what God says is THE ONLY TEST AS TO WHETHER YOU BELIEVE WHAT  GOD SAYS.

You can believe that Christ died and rose from the dead. You can confidently say that Christ’s resurrection was a historical fact.

Congratulations! You now have the faith of demons! They also believe Christ did that!

Saving faith not only believes that Christ died and rose again, it believes that you were crucified, buried and raised up with Christ too. That you have now been given new life in Christ Jesus.

This new life in Christ Jesus takes over more and more of your life as you progress in the faith and grow spiritually.

If, after so many years, you see no growth into Christ, no evidence that you have a new life in Christ, then go back to the beginning. Apparently you didn’t have the faith you thought you did.

Right about here, Christian heads explode.

“What, are you saying you can lose salvation? You must be totally insecure as to your salvation if this is your take.”

Not at all. I have seen growth in Christ in my life, not just by my account, but others who have observed me would testify to that growth as well, which is nice. The fact that your life is changing is pretty much the only means by which you can have assurance of salvation (read 1 John, this is his whole point).

Unfortunately, most who have played with Christianity have not seen growth in their life. They believed some sort of gospel as a kid in the midst of weird youth group activities and have gone on believing they are saved because they said the prayer.

Ten years later, they haven’t gone to church for years, they don’t know where their Bible is, they are living in all manner of sin and selfishness, and yet if they talk about doubting their faith, they’ll be told, “Well, remember when you got saved? Remember when you said the prayer? Don’t doubt that.”

I’ve heard this. It is sad. We are actively telling people who are living in sin and not getting any better to not doubt their salvation because they did this thing this one time.

That is never the biblical test of salvation.

But to many, this sounds like salvation is by works. They will flop out Romans 11:6

And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

“See, grace and works are opposed to each other. If you say saved people have to do good works, then you have departed from grace! Grace and works are opposed to each other, you heretic scum!”

First, Romans 11 is talking about God’s choice in dealing with Israel and Gentiles. It has little to do with your faith.

Second, at no time did I say a person was saved by works, nor is that my point. We are saved by grace through faith, and by this grace we are created in Christ Jesus to do good works. If you don’t increase in good works, then you are not in Christ.

Grace and works go together very nicely for the believer. It is only by His grace that I can do good works. When grace is present; good works will be too.

In 2 Corinthians 9:8, Paul says God is able to make all grace abound toward you. Well, that’s cool! Why though? Why, oh Paul, would God want all grace to abound toward me? I am so glad you asked.

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work

God makes all grace abound to you so you have sufficiency to abound to every good work.

The whole reason God gives grace is to save you from sin’s power and redeem you as peculiar people to do good works!

Ever since the Fall of mankind, God has wanted people who would listen to Him. We can’t naturally, so we must be born again.

By His grace He rebirths us and recreates us so we can do good works finally. It’s the whole point of salvation! Doing good works is the whole reason God gives you grace!

God did not give you grace so you could live in rebellion but feel good about it. No! He gave you grace so you could do what pleases your Creator.

Please come alive to God’s grace.

Grace and Purifying Yourself

People who emphasize grace do so while de-emphasizing human responsibility. For some reason, because of grace, people assume everything is OK to do.

The Bible never says sin is OK to do. “Should we sin that grace may abound? In no way.” Grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts so we would live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.

Grace changes you. But grace’s change is not automatic. We are told not to take the grace of God in vain–to take grace to no profit, to have it do you no positive good.

That would be dumb.

If grace is as great as everyone keeps saying it is, why is our obedience to God so pathetic?

Because we’re not learning grace the way the Bible teaches it. We think grace means my sin is OK, change isn’t necessary, good works might even be opposed to grace! “If it’s grace it’s no more of works.” I’ve heard that phrase many times to excuse sin.

I know this will come as a shocker to you, but I don’t think that’s what the phrase means based on the context.

I have heard many people, who think that believers are totally depraved, say, “We can’t purify ourselves. There’s nothing we can do. It’s all grace. I can’t, and shouldn’t even try, to clean myself.”

Here are a couple verses to consider:

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
–2 Corinthians 7:1

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
–James 4:8

Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently
–1 Peter 1:22

And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
–1 John 3:3

Again, I’m astounded by the number of people who claim “we can’t purify ourselves; Christ purifies us” as if we are passive infants being given a bath by our mom.

The unbeliever cannot clean themselves, but the believer can. The believer can because by faith, the believer has been given everything he needs to clean up his life.

This is not meriting salvation, nor salvation by works. This is what happens when a saved person uses what he’s been given in the Gospel.

It’s all right there, all we have to do is use it. Paul brought his body under subjection, he disciplined himself to keep from sin. We’re told to do this several times. This is not contrary to grace.

The Bible says the believer can purify their lives. What happens to our Sola Scriptura when it comes to talking about grace? Paul, James, Peter, and John all say we can purify ourselves. I honestly don’t get where people go with this grace subject.

Stick with the Scriptures. If you use the Scriptures as intended, you can use them to purify your life! Go for it!

Grace and Servanthood

Justification by faith is a real biblical doctrine. Clarity on the issue comes by seeing what the Bible means by “faith.” Faith isn’t just mental assent, or agreement to facts, even the demons have that faith.

Biblical faith is based on hearing. Hearing means to obey. We put ourselves under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ and become servants to righteousness with fruit unto holiness and the end everlasting life.

No one has ever been saved by works. No one. Ever.

Everyone who has ever been saved has been saved by grace through faith. And that same faith, every single time, made the believer obedient to God’s Word. It wasn’t immediate, or automatic. In many cases it was an outright battle and struggle. But the Gospel will grant you victory over sin and armor for the battle.

Many hear such things and conclude that anyone who thinks they obey God is an arrogant jerk who has merited their salvation. This, of course, is not the case.

The Gospel is what allows Christ to work in us. We are to work out what God has worked in us by the Gospel. This is not to the person’s credit, but to the credit of the power of God, His grace, and His Gospel.

A perfect example of this is in Luke 17. Jesus Christ speaks of a servant who does the will of his master. He takes no praise in this, no arrogance. He merely chalks it up to obedience.

So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.
–Luke 17:10

The Gospel is what equips the believer to do good. When the believer does good, he does not become arrogant. The believer says, “That was my job. I just did my job.”

I have heard many people say that even after salvation, we’re still totally depraved. That even after salvation, all our righteous deeds are as filthy rags. They attempt to elevate grace by saying, “I am so worthless, I can’t do anything. It’s all grace.” They then continue to do nothing except sin.

You’ll notice that doing nothing is different than what the unprofitable servant did in Luke 17!

The unprofitable servant in Luke 17 did everything the master said and still comes away knowing he has not created any profit for the master at all; he only did what the master said.

The hyper-grace, I don’t have to do anything person says they are unprofitable servants because they haven’t done anything. No, that is not an unprofitable servant, that’s not a servant at all!

Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
–Romans 6:16

If you’ve spent your life doing sin, playing with Christianity, professing to know God but in deeds denying Him, you are not a servant of God. You are not an unprofitable servant; you are not His servant at all.

The saved person, knowing that it is Christ at work in him, chalks up all his work in the Lord as in the Lord. Not mine, certainly not by my power, but by God’s power at work in me through the Gospel.

Every believer desires to hear God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into my Kingdom.”

And every believer who hears that will still be stunned! He did everything he could, and even that is nothing in comparison to what he has been and will be given to him.

Elevating grace by maintaining you are inept does not elevate grace. Grace equips and transforms. When the transformation takes place, the transformed one will give all glory to God and rejoice that he was able to do something that pleased His master.

Your Flesh Hates the True Gospel

The New Testament says in various ways that the Gospel is Good News. At the same time, the Gospel is horrible news to your flesh!

The Gospel is the end of your flesh. Your flesh, the old man, will get crucified with Christ with its affections and lusts.

This crucifixion, which brings along the mortifying of the deeds of the body by the Spirit, will not go over well with your flesh. Your flesh will lust against the Spirit. There will be a battle in you.

Therefore, while the Bible says the Gospel is Good News, it also says the Gospel is foolishness to the world. That the cross of Christ is an offense. Men love the darkness and hate the light. Christ is the light of the world. Men, in their natural state, hate Christ and His Gospel.

Therefore, you can test your Gospel as to how offensive and horrible it sounds to your flesh. If your flesh is not repulsed by the Gospel, then there’s a chance you don’t understand the Gospel.

Let me put it like this: which of these two Gospels repels your flesh more:

Christ died for your sins. If you say this prayer, your sins will be forgiven and you can carry on living pretty much the same life and then go to heaven and enjoy paradise for eternity.


Christ died for your sins. If you give control of your life to Him, He will save you from sins power, set you free and equip you to do righteousness. Your life will be transformed by His power and you will get persecuted because of it.

Which one appeals to your flesh more?

Human nature loves getting something for nothing. We’d love it if someone else had to reap what we sow. We love the idea of living irresponsibly and then have someone else pay the medical bills for our stupidity.

Pretty much all our politics today is on this foundation: Give us stuff for nothing! Make it so we can keep being stupid and have others pay for it!

Now, there is truth here that the Gospel does indeed give us way more than we deserve. Not denying that at all. Not denying the fact that Christ did indeed bear our sins, sins He didn’t do, for us.

But the idea that this is just given to us and then we keep on sinning and taking advantage of His grace is not where the Bible says we should go with this.

Paul begs his readers to lay down their bodies as living sacrifices precisely because of the mercies of God.

Grace does indeed give us all we need, way more than we could ever come up with on our own. It is truly amazing.

The response to this amazing grace is to let that grace work in you, to not take His grace in vain, but to let Christ work in you through His Spirit to change your life.

If you don’t want your life to be changed, then you don’t think sin is that bad. You don’t really want the Gospel, you just want to be able to live it up in the flesh and go to heaven when you die.

But true believers, those truly desirous of God’s grace, want His grace, not only to set us free from sin in heaven, but to begin to do that now! To have His amazing grace work in us and through us to begin to conform us into the perfect man Jesus Christ.

Your flesh has no desire to be like Christ here. Heaven, sure, why not, who knows what heaven is anyway. But here? Nope.

But Paul says that the grace of God that brings salvation also teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, so we can live soberly, righteously, and godly in this PRESENT WORLD.

If your life is not becoming more sober, godly, and righteous in this present world, you have yet to receive the life-transforming grace of God.

The test of salvation is not whether you say you believe God is gracious.

The test of salvation is if His grace has begun to transform you.

Don’t want to be transformed? Then you don’t want God’s grace.

Anyone desperately struggling with sin who comes to the end of themselves, is going to grab on to the Grace of God in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They want only to be set free from sin, and the sooner the better!

O wretched man that I am, who will deliver me? Jesus Christ. Grab onto His grace and let it get to work in you.

Servants and Sons

One of the classic proof texts thrown out to tell people they don’t have to obey God now that they think they are saved, is found in Galatians 4:7:

Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

The “reasoning” goes like this:

“Servants have to listen to their master, it’s like slavery, obligation, and bondage. But a son is not under bondage and does not have to obey. A son is not disciplined like a slave for disobedience. Sons are unconditionally loved by their father no matter what they do.”

Although I’ve heard this explanation many times and in various ways, it never ceases to amaze me how readily people miss God’s points.

The passage in Galatians 4, and extending back into chapter 3, is talking about Israel under the law. The law was around, not to give salvation, but to bring people to Christ, the chosen Seed.

Now that Christ is come, and was crucified and resurrected, Israel is no longer under the law. There is no point for it anymore. This very message is why so many Jewish people hated Paul in the Book of Acts!

Jews thought the law was the whole point. God gave the law to Jews, not heathen scum Gentiles; we are Jews; therefore, we are God’s people and saved.

They missed the point of the law and went about to establish their own righteousness rather than a righteousness given by faith.

When Paul told Jews they were no longer under the law, those were fightin’ words!

Paul’s point about servants and sons has nothing to do with you being made a child of God so go ahead and sin. That’s not even close to the point of the passage.

Paul’s point is that the “adoption of sons” has taken place. Adoption here is not like adoption today. Adoption of sons means you are counted as a mature, responsible heir. You are no longer under tutors and governors.

Why is the son no longer under tutors and governors?

Because the son is already doing what the father wants him to do! That’s what maturity is!

Our theology says “we’re not under tutors and governors! Sweet! Party time! While the cat’s away; the mice will sin!”

Paul says, “You are no longer treated as servants because you are mature sons. God can trust you. You already have the Father’s mind and goals, because you have the Father’s Spirit in you. You don’t need tutors and governors because you are joined, as one, with the father!”

Paul’s message can in no way be construed to say, “Hey, since you’re saved and not under the law, all restraints are off. Go sin all you like.”

Again, this is an effort to glorify grace that ends up completely undermining it and removing its power.

Being a son and not a servant is a position of responsibility. Responsibilities the father thinks you can handle because you’ve been given all you need to do the father’s will. You are complete and mature in Him.

Any time someone takes a doctrine and makes the application be: “go ahead and sin, don’t worry about it, it doesn’t matter anyway.” Rest assured, that is false doctrine.

No Longer Under the Law! Except When We Want to Be

One of the main points of modern Christianity, a part of the New Testament people actually get right, is that we are no longer under the law.

Unfortunately, when people start talking about the point any further than stating it, you realize they have no idea what they are talking about.

Not being under the law does not mean there are no commands in the New Covenant. Not being under the law does not mean sin is cool to do now. Not being under the law does not mean we don’t have to obey God.

When most people talk about not being under the law, it’s to excuse sin. The idea being that since we’re not under the law we don’t have to worry about being holy or righteous. It’s all grace. It’s all Christ. It’s all something or other that means my obedience has nothing to do with anything.

It’s a nice try, but it’s not at all close to what the Bible means by us not being under the law.

Not being under the law means just that: we’re not under the Old Covenant law. The Old Covenant was a covenant between God and Israel, not even just saved Israel, but all of racial Israel, saved or unsaved.

If they kept the commands of the Old Covenant, they would stay in the Promised Land that would bring forth bountifully. If they did not keep the commands, they would suffer and get booted out of the land.

We’re not under the law anymore. We’re in a New Covenant.

The majority of Christianity does not understand this. This is best illustrated by watching people who adamantly say they are not under the law, use physical prosperity to prove their faith.

See, now, that would be putting yourself under the law!

We chuck the obedience burden of the law, the commands, the curses, and yet for some very strange reason, we decide we’ll keep the physical blessing part.

(The cursings of the law do show up too though. It’s just that it only shows up in our judgments of other people!  “Ooo, look at all the bad stuff happening to them! Tsk, tsk. Guess we know they’re sinners.”)

Health and Wealth gospels are based on the law–your faith will get you physical rewards. That’s being under the law. And pretty much all gospel talk today is Health and Wealth Gospel.

If we’re not under the law, we’re seriously not under the law. We’re no longer under the physical blessings and cursings of the law.

We like to chuck the responsibility of the law for ourselves and yet keep the blessings. We’ll find some random good thing that happened to us and chalk it up to God liking our behavior. “I’m good to go, look at the new TV and car we got!”

Curiously enough, when the New Covenant talks about obedience, it never gives any guaranteed awesome external result.

If there is any result likely for obedience in the NT, it’s going to be externally bad!

Christ was crucified. Paul was beheaded. John was imprisoned. Paul wrote, “Any man who desires to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” “Will” is pretty close to a guarantee.

But we don’t suffer persecution, in fact, we get new TVs and cars. So, we use the TVs and cars as our proof of faith more than our persecution.

So, the law comes back, and people like it that way. And it’s weird.

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