Preaching radical grace

tullian tchividjianTullian Tchividjian is the Senior Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. A Florida native, he is a visiting professor of theology at Reformed Theological Seminary and a grandson of Billy and Ruth Graham. What he has to share about sermons seasoned with grace is encouraging and enlightening. Read this extract from SermonCentral.com and if you like the article and want to know how he prepares his sermons, read the rest HERE.

SermonCentral:  How can pastors evaluate their sermons to see if they’re really preaching Jesus + nothing?  What kind of litmus test can we take to make sure we get grace right in our preaching?

Tullian: The litmus test that I use for myself is that if people walk away from my sermons thinking more about what they need to do than what Jesus has already done, I’ve failed to preach the Gospel.  The Gospel is the good news that Jesus has done for me what I could never do for myself.  And a lot of preaching these days is “do more, try harder,” like you said.  It’s behavior modification.  We come to church expecting God to give us a to-do list or the preacher to give us a to-do list.  As long as we are given a to-do list, we maintain some measure of control over our lives.  Just tell me what to do.

This message of radical grace, that “it is finished,” is difficult for the human heart, the sinful heart to grasp because we’re so afraid of control being wrestled out of our hands.  So we come to church saying, “Pastor, my marriage is in trouble…my children are going off the deep end…my business is failing…I’m coming to you as the expert to tell me what to do to fix my own life…”  And as a result, our lives get worse, not better, because we’re taking matters into our own hands.

So my job at the end of every sermon—and this is the grid by which I preach—I preach God’s law, and then I preach God’s Gospel.  Both are good.  The law diagnoses my need and shows me that my best is never good enough.  So I’m always trying to help our people realize that they’re a lot worse than they realize and they’re a lot more incapable than they think they are.  But the good news is that God is more than capable, that He’s already done everything we need for Him to do.  He’s already secured in Christ everything we long for.  So my job at the end of every sermon is to, in some way, shape, or form, encourage our people by saying, “Cheer up.  You’re a lot worse off than you think you are, but God’s grace is infinitely larger than you could have ever hoped or imagined.  It is finished.”

And what I’ve discovered is that the people who lean on “it is finished” most are the ones who end up being the most free and whose lives change the most.  It’s the people who constantly demand to-do lists and then preachers who capitulate to that demand and give them to-do lists, those are the people who get worse.  I’ve realized, and I’m only 39 years old, but I’ve realized the more I try to get better, the worse I get.  I’m just realizing I am a narcissist.  I think way too much about how I’m doing, if I’m doing it right, have I confessed every sin.  In other words, I’m thinking much more about me and what I need to do than Jesus and what He’s already done.  And as a result, I’m not getting better.  I’m getting worse.

I’ve come to the realization that when I stop obsessing over my need to improve, that is improvement.  When I stop obsessing narcissistically over my need to get better, that is what the Bible means by getting better.  That’s why Paul was able to say at the end of his life, “I’m the worst guy that I know, and the work of grace in my life is that I’m free to tell you that.”  I think the whole notion of what it means to progress in the Christian life has been radically misunderstood.  Progress in the Christian life is not “I’m getter better and better and better…”  Progress in the Christian life is, “I’m growing in my realization of just how bad I am and growing in my appreciation of just how much Jesus has done for me.”

49 thoughts on “Preaching radical grace”

  1. True, we need both sides of the message to balance up. The problems come when Christians listen to grace message too much become lopsided and live a life not worthy of a Christian. Remember the bible gave us a parameter of how christian should behave e.g. In book of James, 1 & 2 Corinthians, etc However, we must always remember that we cannot do it with our own strength but through the grace of God by the finished work of Christ on the cross.

    1. Hi Thinker, I think the author uses the law in his sermons to show Christians the futility of thinking that they can ever earn and deserve God’s favor and blessing and approval by fulfilling certain behavioral standards. There are always people including Christians who think that way. The law has a way of showing us we can never wing it. We always fall short. Only Jesus had lived the sinless life – and that righteousness has now been revealed and made available to us in the good news.

    1. Yes Stanley there are actually other preachers who preach like Tchividjian using a Lutheran law-grace model. Tchividjian has gone farther than others though, in my opinion.

      The gospel of grace is also proclaimed by pastors, preachers and authors from the Gospel Coalition. The difference probably lie in specifics of the “gospel of grace”. Many of these folk stick with the need to return to the fundamentals of justification by faith and declaration of what Christ has done, as opposed to the moralistic and pragmatic “how to”, and “do it yourself” Christian living messages sounding off from many a modern pulpit.

  2. Why you have to titled it “radical grace” ? Grace is grace if you fully understand it. You mean there is less radical grace?

    1. Thinker2, Just picked a title from author’s line: “This message of radical grace, that “it is finished,” is difficult for the human heart, the sinful heart to grasp because we’re so afraid of control being wrestled out of our hands.” When grace has become so deeply embedded in a humanistic “we can do it by our own efforts” mentality, then perhaps something has to be done at the root level, that is a message of radical (radix-root) grace.

  3. Generally, our concept of the Gospel of Grace is only for salvation but it is also for progressive sanctification. Jerry Bridges(Navigators) says that alot of christians think that once we received salvation the next step would be discipleship and making disciples. While this is true, Jerry Bridges mentioned that there is something more basic than discipleship, something that actually provides the necessary atmosphere in which discipleship can be practiced. The one word that describes what we must continue to hear is the gospel.

    He went on to say that it is only the joy of hearing the gospel and being reminded that our sins are forgiven in Christ that will keep the demands of discipleship from becoming drudgery. It is only gratitude and love to God that comes from knowing that He no longer counts our sins against us(Roms 4:8) that provides the proper motive for responding to the claims of discipleship.

    The Gospel of Grace is not just being forgiven and saved from hell but through the glorious work of Jesus comes our victory, freedom, identity and inheritence. It is on such a foundation that our discipleship is rested on…or rather, rested IN(Christ).

    Neil T Anderson has this to say in the context of discipleship/ progressive sanctification: ” It’s not that you won’t do good works after you become a Christian; bearing fruit is the natural consequence of being alive and free in Christ. The 2 biggest errors Christians make are trying to become someone they already are- a child of God and trying to get something they already have-freedom from sin and death.

    Discipleship definitely has a cost… but it cost Jesus everything to make it possible for you!:)

  4. My idea on grace is governed by the principle derived from the greatest commandment i.e. love. When we love we don’t sin. In order to love we are to become love. We can become love when we encounter/experience God who is Love. And we encounter Love because of His grace. The the only proper response to grace is to trust and to surrender, not more works or maintaining control. It is to let go. Therefore, our perfection involves experiencing and living out grace and love. In other words, we are to live in Christ.

  5. From my walking with Jesus, the more you listen to the radical Grace, the Gospel, when you understand that all that you need or want is completed by Lord Jesus, you could walk out His Grace by trusting in He in you will come through you to do, to talk and to think!

    Walking fully with Lord is good. Even enemies, when given them the free gifts of forgiveness, their reaction is of pleasant, not defensive. This could only be done because Lord in us has been judged fully of our disabilities that through Him, we are able to do all things by His Grace, His enablement, no by man’s self-effort.

    Many people misunderstand this need to do. They thought through Grace, by beliving all things were done by Christ, they end up doing nothing. Just look at Jesus, He trusted in His Holy Spirit and He was abled to do lots of signs and wonders and to love the sinners. He was doing a lot by He was not striving hard to do anything. It was all completed by His Grace in Him.

    If only you know how to access the Almighty One in you, you will understand what I am saying. It is just by believing, and this is just a choice to choose to believe so and walk in so.

    He in you wants to be God in you. Are you willing to let Him be or you want to trust in your self abilities to do anythings?

    Law is you tried to accomplish by yourself. Grace is you trust Lord had completed fully all that is needed at the Cross. He in you will lead you to do all things. What He wants you to do and not what you want Him in you to do. Who is boss here…that’s the thing!

  6. Repentance, in simplicity, is nothing more than changing our mindset.

    I realise that when I am zero, that is, I am hopless and good for nothing if left to myself, grace gives me hope to live. When I am weak, then I am strong, the strength that is imparted by the grace of God. When I think I am strong, I can do it myself, then I don’t need grace(His favour)…and that is when the danger lurks …and that is when we need the most – repentance, a coming back to the realisation that we desperately need Him all the time in our christian walk.

    To me ‘radical grace’, is an expression to emphasize that we are totally dependent on His grace to see us through, nothing else, not even our own effort. That does not mean we are lazy and do nothing.

    We put the horse (God’s grace) before the cart (good works or character change, etc). For example, we know that bad temper and foul language do not reflect the goodness of God. We do not strive to control our temper through anger management. It may work for a while but is repressed temporarily. But if we allow the grace of God,the faith in His promises, the goodness of Him through the Spirit of God to give us self control, we can have a lasting good fruit (character). Basically, when we allow grace to work in us, we will be changed without striving. Rejoice

    1. Repentance is changing our mindset and turning back to him. Unbelief is sin and that captures every aspect of sin; when we turn away from unbelief to belief, that is repentance to me.

      Scripture tells us “that the goodness of God leads us to repentance” (Rom 2:4). The hindrance to repentance is that we do not understand God’s goodness. This verse doesn’t tell us to focus or on sin or repentance but to focus on the goodness of God that leads us to repentance. Again, it boils down to the horse before the cart analogy. That is God’s way,the higher way, but our way is always the other way round. Hope this helps

    2. To the Unbeliever :
      to those who refuse to believe they are sinners and that they have sin, preach the Law.

      repentance is useless when there is nothing to repent?

      unbelievers are called “Sinners”
      unrepentant unbelievers listens to the “Law”, to remind them of their sin.

      actually the holy Spirit convicts them of sin.

      —————
      To the Believer :
      believers are ex unbelievers who repented of their sin. they believed Jesus washed away all their sins, by His blood.

      believers are now called “righteous”
      believers now listens to grace messages
      the holy Spirit convicts them of righteousness

      ————–

      for someone who has repented of their sin, there is no more need to preach on repentance. its useless.

      grace and peace

  7. To Caje

    Thanks for your reply. Will see if your simple analysis of grace is sufficient to heal a mental patient in mental institution.

    1. Hi Confused

      You are kindly invited to my website. There is an article that may answer your question ” Message of Grace and Miracles”. Rejoice

  8. To Blog pastor,

    Did radical grace preachers able preach on persecution? Interesting to see how radical grace preachers tied persecution to grace as the bible promised us that in the last days there will be more persecutions.

    1. Hi Persecuted,

      Persecution is a very real thing that even our next door neighbors like Malaysia and Indonesia and India are facing. This we cannot deny or ignore.Our fellow brethren are suffering around the world.

      We Christians in Singapore are comparatively free of persecution. We experience limitations and restrictions due to our multi-religious environment, political sensitivity and small space.

      However, we should not be surprised if things change for the worse, because the premier preacher of grace, St Paul wrote: “You know…the persecutions I endured….everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted….(2 Timothy 3:10-12). If grace leads to a godly life, then one sign of such a godly life would be the experience of opposition and suffering for Christ’s name.

      When we preach Christ we inevitably have to mention how he was opposed and persecuted for doing the will of God, despite being full of grace and truth; and we as his followers, will not be spared either.

  9. Thinker,
    I am late on the discussion but here is my brief reply on repentance:
    Jesus commissioned his disciples to preach “repentance and forgiveness of sins” to all the nations (Lk 24:47) and Peter did it (Acts 2:38) and so did Paul(Acts 20:31). The Spirit, in the letter to the seven churches, also appealed to the Christian communities to repent (Rev 2:5, 16, 22; 3:3,19). Repentance is “metanoia” – a change of mind and attitude leading to change in direction and beliefs and action.

    As we preach the gospel message of Christ some hearers will encounter truth and enter a process of change in their belief system and direction that transforms them. This happens as they behold the glory of God in the face of a preached Christ, and the Spirit transforms them into Christ’s likeness from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor 3:18). Repentance is their response to the message and a vital and ongoing part of this process. (Thanks Caje for your clarifications).

    1. To Blog Pastor

      When we purposely omit preaching sins and rependent, I think we are short changing the message of grace. A person will be ignorant of sins if it is not pointed to him. Here, we are not talking about changing of mindset, a person will not change if he does not realise he is sinning against God, so sins and repentent need to be preached NOT just grace alone as promoted by radical grace preachets.

      1. Hi Thinker,
        Scan through the sermons of the early preachers of the gospel of grace in the book of Acts and you will find that a variety of approaches were used: direct rebuke of hearers who handed Jesus to be crucified; unfolding of God’s purpose in the Old Testament and how Christ was the fulfillment; and testimony of what the preacher has seen, heard and experienced. I don’t see why we shouldn’t allow the same for today.

  10. Pardon my ignorance and indulge my curiosity – surprised to learn that are so many phenotypes and variants of “grace,” Always thought grace is grace, nothing to add or detract from.

    Seems to me irregardless of the variant or phenotype, “grace” has not been received well by a large majority of the human species. The fruits of grace seem mostly absent or rarely present in our daily societal dealings.

    An interesting study is to quantify the instances of public acts of graciousness. Like giving up ones’ seat to an elderly, infirm or pregnant mother in a MRT train. The study should be done around MRT stations serving the better known “radical grace based assemblies.”

    The result should be most revealing.

    Will there be a difference of abounding and abiding grace before and after such sermons? Anybody want to hazard a guess?

    1. You are right, ncews. The problem today is that to do lists and imperatives have been divorced from the indicatives and what Christ has already done. Over the long haul you will get religiosity and moralism.

      1. I totally agree with you. Imperatives (commands/to-do’s) are always framed in the epistles in light of the indicatives (what Christ already did/His finished work).

        From a legalist mindset, I used to read Romans 12:1 focusing on offering our bodies as living sacrifices, on what I had to offer.

        But when I got so impacted by God’s grace, the line which I so often ignored and just read through became so alive: “Therefore, brothers, IN VIEW OF GOD’S MERCY…” Once we understand God’s grace and mercy, and fix our eyes on His love and grace, then offering our bodies as living sacrifices follows. As a matter of fact, Paul calls this our reasonable (or appropriate) service.

  11. I am very much interested to know more about radical grace. I have been a christian for a long time but I am regressing because I have difficulty in handling the do’s and dont’s of Christian living up until I realize that there is no need for me to exert effort to please God All that I need to do is to fully embrace the Radical Grace of God through Christ alone, and this will naturally manifest in correcting the wrong i oftentimes do. I have been so frustrated with my life cycle of his and lows in my Christian life. I believe that it is also because of my wrong perspective. My motivation now is to look at Christ that dwells within me, than look at the do’ and dont’s that I need to follow. It is working a lot better now as changes begin to happen without effort all because of the empowerment of Christ that radically moves within me.

  12. “If you preach all grace and no truth, people see no need for salvation. If you preach all truth and no grace, people see no hope for salvation. ” Randy Alford

    1. Just preach Jesus; get people to know Him more and more, cause He is the grace AND the truth.

      John 1 : 17
      The law was given to Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ

  13. Just my 2cents worth about ‘radical grace’ packaged as a brand new religion.

    I believe that most believers have no doubt about God’s agape love for us, and that salvation is not gained from works of flesh, and Jesus is our every hope. It is the repackaging of the true gospel that most are concerned about.

    For a non-believer or backslider: The message of “radical grace” works magnificently in liberating countless and promises hope which will lead to transformation and freedom.

    For a believer: It does not help in spiritual growth in a long run. Just like a body needs balanced diet. Our spiritual health needs to be maintained by balanced spiritual food.

    My concern is that, some ‘mature’ Christians from the ‘radical grace’ religion are over zealous and clouded their behaviour. I have been told that ‘everything is finished’, and one should not plan anything, do whatever you ‘feel the desire to’ , in another words do nothing at all as a sign that you trust God.

    While ‘radical grace’ works perfectly in membership drives, we ought to use God’s gift of wisdom to decern what needs to be done.

    1. Your analogy about having balanced spiritual food sounds nice. But the bible explicitly states that those unskilled in the teaching of righteousness (that is, imputed righteousness/”radical” grace) are babies and are only drinking milk (that is the observances of the law). So the fact is that in this day and age where the majority of Christians are still focused on the 10 commandments and what-not, we need not even talk about having a balanced spiritual diet of solid food when the majority are still babies, according to the biblical analogy!

      Also, it is not “don’t do anything” or “not plan anything”. The outward action is not the focus. After all, one person can be active but stress-free and yet another can be lying down in bed but the mind is full of worry.

      In other words, plan or do as you would but with a peace/rest knowing that the Lord is the one who is in ultimately in charge, even if events do not turn out as you think it should. (Because all things work together for your good anyway).

    2. Just to add on a little.

      Don’t get me wrong, I also would love to know all the secrets and deeper things of God hidden in the bible which is what I think you meant when you mentioned “balanced spiritual food”, but unless one first understands and reads the bible through the lens of Jesus and his finished work (because I think the whole bible is primarily a picture book of Jesus anyway), it is possible to go into all sorts of misinterpretations and tangents.

    3. @JesusOurLord, quote:

      ‘My concern is that, some ‘mature’ Christians from the ‘radical grace’ religion are over zealous and clouded their behaviour. I have been told that ‘everything is finished’, and one should not plan anything, do whatever you ‘feel the desire to’ , in another words do nothing at all as a sign that you trust God.’

      My comment:

      First of all the ‘radical’ grace is not a religion, it is, instead, the person of Jesus Christ Himself, the realization of the amazing love of our Heavenly Father.

      John 1 : 17
      17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

      Secondly, nobody says that ‘we should not plan anything, do whatever you ‘feel the desire to’

      When Jesus said : ‘It is finished’ on the cross, He referred to the fulfillment of the Old Testament Law as written in the 10 Commandment of which no single human being could ever fulfill.

      Collosians 2 : 13 – 14
      13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,
      14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness (=the total sum of human debts to The Law), which stood against us and condemned us; he has TAKEN IT AWAY, NAILING IT TO THE CROSS.

      In other words, verse 14 says that the Law had been nailed to the cross, and we are no longer living under its authority, it is finished.

      So what now the children of God should live under? The children of God now should live and do things under the prompting of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us as a result of our sanctification through Jesus’ blood

      Romans 7 : 6

      6 But now, by dying to what once bound us (i.e. The Law), we have been released from the law so that we serve (i.e. do things) in the new way (or by the prompting) of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code (again, that is The Law).

      1. @ Evelyn Oei.

        Quote; “The children of God now should live and do things under the prompting of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us as a result of our sanctification through Jesus’ blood.”

        Reply;
        EPH.6:17 = And take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

        HEB.4:12 = For the Word of God is living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul n spirit, n of joints n marrow, n is a discerner of the thoughts n intents of the heart.

        ROM.7:7 = What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not hv known sin except thru the law. For I would not hv known covetousness unless the law had said, “U shall not covet.”

        HEB.10:15-16/JER.31:33 = N the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said b4, “This is the covenant I will make with them after those days: I will put My laws into their hearts, n in their minds I will write them,”
        …. then He adds, “Their sins n their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
        …. Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering of sin.

        JOHN.16:13-14 = “However, when He, the Spirit of truth , has come, He will guide u into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; n He will tell u things to come.
        …. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine n declare it to u.”

        JOHN.8:31-32 = Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If u abide in My Word, u r My disciples indeed. N u shall know the truth, n the truth shall set u free.”
        _ _ _ _ _ _ _

        The influence of the Holy Spirit upon a believer’s life is always in accord with the Word of God. The laws of God r also the words of God. The Word of God or the Word of JC prompts the HS to empower them into righteous actions or the fruits/works of the Spirit(GAL.5:16-23).
        …. They r like a powerful guided rockets. The true power of the HS is guided by the Word. Rockets that r not guided properly may end up lost in outer space.

        Most teachings on Radical Grace emphasize on total freedom in deeds/actions that borders on lawlessness or having a license to sin. Those who live only on Radical Grace seem to have their sin consciousness or conscience about good vs evil seared.(1TIM.4:1-2)
        …. If so, they hv been deceived n need to heed Paul’s warning at HEB.10:26-31. At 1JOHN.3:8-9, John stated that those who hv been born of God do not sin(evil deeds) or continue forever in committing sins.

        New Gentile Christians should know that they r not well versed in the laws/Word of God. They need to begin their born-again life by obeying the 4 simple laws of Moses at ACTS.15:29, by relying on the power of the HS.
        …. Thereafter, they should constantly feed(digest thru studying) on the laws/Word of God, as found in the Old n New Testament.(1COR.3:1-3 & 6:9-11)
        …. They should know that they do not hv to obey some of the burdensome laws of Moses, eg circumcision, kosher foods, offering animal sacrifices, etc. This is bc the obeying of Moses Law does not save people from going to hell. Instead, they should allow the HS to empower them to live or walk according to the Spirit, thru the Word/JC. Eg circumcise their hearts as per ROM.2:29. In this way, they will Spiritually lead law-abiding lives, which is pleasing to God.
        …. If they do not study n know about Moses Law in the OT, they may sin ignorantly(eg DEU.18:9-14, LEV.10:9), resulting in curses from God(ROM.6:23, DEU.28:15).

        Jewish Christians r born-again of water n the Spirit bc they hv obeyed Moses Law since childhood.(JOHN.3:5 & 15:3, 2TIM.3:15-17)
        …. In comparison, new Gentile Christians r born-again of the Spirit but not yet fully of water. So, they need to be further cleansed by Moses Law.
        …. On salvation, the HS can easily inscribe the laws/Word of God on the Jewish Christians’ minds n hearts. But not so for the GC. There is a higher risk of new GC going side-track n be deceived, esp if they continue to ignore the teachings in Moses Law.(MATT.13:18-23)

        Peace.

    1. MATT.5:17-20 = “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.
      …. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.
      …. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
      …. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”

      ROM.3:31 = Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.

      ROM.6:15 = What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!
      _ _ _ _ _ _ _

      IMO,……. B4 Christ, 4 many centuries, the Jews believed that they were going to heaven by obeying Moses Law. This was partially true. OT figures like Lazarus, Abraham, Moses and Elijah r in heaven.(LUKE.16:23, MATT.17:3) The rich man went to Hades bc he broke Moses Law at DEUT.15:1-11.
      …. But after Christ, this was completely no longer true, as the NT clearly says that only faith in JC justifies people, qualifying them to go to heaven.

      OT figures who obeyed Moses Law got to heaven bc after His resurrection, JC released them from Hades and preached the gospel to them.(1PET.3:19 & 4:6, MATT.27:52)

      So, Paul, in many of his epistles, tried to convince the Jews that they could no longer rely on obeying Moses Law to go to heaven, ie they needed to be justified by faith in JC and not by Moses Law.
      …. JC already told them the same thing at MATT.5:21-48, ie humans’ evil flesh/hearts caused them to go to hell, ie the moment they lusted(hated, be angry, greedy, jealous, etc) in their hearts. Obeying Moses Law by avoiding evil deeds/sins(murder, adultery, etc) and doing good deeds(love their neighbors and hate their enemies) could not save them from going to hell. Evil hearts –> evil thoughts –> evil deeds.

      Obeying Moses Law only saved them from the earthly curses of God. Only the sacrifice of the Lamb of God could atone for their evil flesh/hearts – an inheritance from Adam’s original sin.(ROM.5:12)
      …. The animal sacrifice of Moses could only atone for the Jews’ evil deeds.(LEV.17:11)

      In his time, Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, also had to contend with the Judaizers, a group of Jewish Christians, who campaigned for new Gentile converts to obey Moses Law. (GAL.2:9-14, ACTS.15:1-29) Since obeying Moses Law did not save believers from going to hell, it was unnecessary to require lawless Gentile converts to obey it, esp if it over-burdened them.
      …. With the backing of Peter, Paul was able to get nearly full exemption from Moses Law for the new Gentile converts. Otherwise, the sudden heavy burdens of the Law could hv caused many of them to abandon the gospel. This was a demonstration of love.
      …. So, in many of his epistles, Paul argued against the Judaizers, esp about the law of circumcision.

      Obeying the laws of God can only bring earthly blessings from God. Disobeying will bring earthly curses from God.(DEUT.28:1-2 & 15)
      …. Similarly, when people obey the laws of the land(secular govt laws), they will be blessed by the land. If they disobey, they will get fined or jailed(cursed) by the govt.
      …. Laws affect earthly lives and may affect one’s salvation.(parable of the sower, MATT.13:18-23)

      So, it is wise for Gentile believers, esp formerly lawless converts, to learn to be law-abiding by studying ALL Scriptures/Word so that they can receive earthly blessings from God, even though they know they will be going to heaven(non-earthly blessings).

      1. Hi there.

        I disagree with your interpretation of the verses you quoted there, especially the part about getting earthly blessings by obeying the Mosaic law, in the context of believers.

        Remember, we who are of the new convenant cannot be compared to those who live in the old. You are comparing those purchased with the blood of the Son of God to those established by the blood of bulls and goats. Just on this basis, can you already see which is infinitely greater?

        The also bible says that if God did not spare His own Son, but freely gave Him up for us, how will he not also freely give us all things?

        There are many other verses and parables in bible that speak of our inheritance in Christ, and it truly is good news because they are guaranteed (through Christ alone)!

        We have to be mindful that any single verse in the bible can be interpreted in different ways. Guard against misinterpretation by always asking yourself frankly if the interpretation brings glory to Jesus Christ and His finished work, or if it brings glory to man and his own works.

        I wish we can sit down and discuss these things face to face, it’s a lot better than posting anonymous messages back and forth.

  14. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14: 33

    “ If anyone who come to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26

    “And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. – Luke 14:27

    Christianity is Xtreme. there is no neutrality !

    1. Yes, Christianity is extreme and there is no neutrality. God’s standards are extremely high. Not one sin must be present to qualify for eternal life. (The bible says that if you are guilty of one sin, you are guilty of all).

      So choose:

      1. Save yourself. Give up all earthly possessions, cut off your arms and legs and pluck out your eyes if they cause you to sin, hate your father and mother and yourself and put God first, do not ever be unjustly angry or think about women wrongly in your thoughts because Jesus himself said that that’s akin to being a murderer and an adulterer.

      Or

      2. Let Jesus fulfill the law and let Him save you.

      1. @ Ben.

        IMO,……. maybe I can add to yr comment n further explain about sin.

        ROM.5:12 & 1COR.15:22 say that the problem of sin originated from Adam’s sin, ie when he ate the forbidden fruit. To fully understand about sin, we need to start from GENESIS.

        A quick summary of the Bible can be of help.
        …. Trouble occurred in heaven when Lucifer, one of God’s 3 archangels rebelled n wanted to be god also. One-third of the angels followed Lucifer. So they became Satan n his demons.(EZEK.28:17, ISA.14:12, REV.12:4)
        …. So, God made a plan to replace them with humans as His servants/workers at the Garden of Eden but Satan sabotaged the plan. This resulted in curses/punishments for Satan, Adam n Eve.(GEN.3)

        Adam’s original sin(Aos) caused all humans to be born with evil hearts/flesh. Adam’s eating of the forbidden fruit enabled Satan to live in their hearts.(JOHN.8:44, MARK.7:20-23, MATT.16:22 & 23:27)
        …. Evil heart/flesh –> evil thoughts –> evil deeds/sins.

        In the OT, childbirth, menstruation n seminal discharge were considered unclean.(LEV.12:1 & 15:16 & 19) No Jews were allowed into the presence of God in the Holy of Holies, except for the righteous high-priest, once a year.(HEB.9:7, LEV.16:34 & LEV.21)
        …. Moses Law shows that humans r born in sin or r evil-hearted. At ROM.7:21, Paul acknowledged this sad fact about humans.

        Satan seeks to destroy humans. Satan does this by regularly planting evil thoughts in their minds/brains/hearts/flesh, eg thru temptations, lies, worries, doubts, accusations, suspicions, empty chatters, etc. He wants them to sin against each other, against themselves or against God. He “eats” dead humans or dust, as Adam died n turned to dust.(GEN.3:14-15, 1PET.5:8)

        Aos also caused humans to be physically n spiritually separated from God. EXO.33:20 says that no man can see God(the Father) and live.(also JOHN.1:18 & 5:37, 1JOHN.4:12) God n His heaven cannot tolerate the presence of evil/sinfulness(Aos). This means humans cannot go to heaven.

        To solve the problem of Aos, first, God chose the Jews to be His people, thru Abraham.
        …. Then He gave them His laws, thru Moses, in order to curb their inborn tendency to commit evil deeds/sins.(DEUT.28:1-2 & 15) Moses Law had the provision of animal sacrifice to atone for their evil deeds, done in ignorance, earning them continued earthly blessings from God.(LEV.17:11)
        …. Finally, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ/the Word, to be sacrificed as the Lamb of God(JOHN.1:1 & 14 & 29), to atone for humans’ evil hearts n its resultant evil deeds; their unfortunate inheritance from Adam.

        Believing in the sacrifice of JC results in salvation or being saved from going to hell.(JOHN.3:16 & 6:54, MATT.26:28) It will also result in believers, eventually, going to God’s heaven n seeing God face-to-face. That was why JC said He is the way to heaven n no one can come or go to the Father, who art in heaven, except thru Him. Thru JC, they will one day, see the face of God the Father.(JOHN.14:6 & 9, REV.22:4, 1COR.15:23-24)

        At MATT.5:17-48, JC told the Jews that it was their evil hearts/flesh(which lusted, hated, got angry, jealous, greedy, etc) that was causing them to be going to hell. It was not just the breaking of Moses Law that would send people to hell, ie the committing of evil deeds/sins like murder or adultery.

        Their obeying of Moses Law could not save them from going to hell, ie the avoiding of evil deeds/sins(eg murder, adultery, stealing, etc) n the doing of good deeds(eg love their neighbors/friends n hate their enemies). In order to be saved from going to hell, they had to deal with the evil or sinfulness that is inside them.

        So, JC suggested to the self-righteous Jews to pluck out their eyes(can’t see = can’t lust in their hearts), chop off their limbs(can’t murder = can’t hate or be angry in their hearts), love their enemies(can’t hate in their hearts, turn the other cheek or go the extra mile, in order to be saved from going to hell.
        …. Only foolish or irrational people would do as suggested. Now, we know that believers do not hv to do all these foolish things, in order to be saved from going to hell. That is, they can be saved by believing in JC. Christians who love their enemies or turn the other cheek r mostly foolish or ignorant. They might as well pluck out their eyes n be blind.(cf ROM.12:14-21)
        …. God’s law of ni4ni(EXO.21:23, MATT.5:43) still applies. God’s laws n Word r eternal. Hence, it is lawful 4 the secular govt to execute murderers.(EXO.20:13) It is lawful 4 Christians to make police reports if their cheek was struck. It is lawful 4 Christians to defend themselves.

        Christians should know the difference between sinning in thoughts n sinning in deeds/actions. It is their involuntary evil/sinful thoughts which arose from their evil flesh/hearts that is causing them to be going to hell.(= run to Jesus for salvation, GAL.3:24)
        …. If they entertain their evil thoughts, it may lead to the commission of voluntary evil deeds/sins, resulting in curses from God. Temptations from Satan to commit sins can be resisted by fearing God(the Jewish way) or by walking in love according to the Spirit(the Christian way). Whereas, evil/sinful thoughts cannot be prevented.
        …. Sometimes, we just need to let such thoughts come n go thru our minds/brains/flesh. Like they say, “Squawking black crows can fly around our head but do not let them build a nest on our head.”

        Peace.

        1. @balanced@Ben@NP
          Wonderful discourse – enlightening. Just a thought – is it rational or logical to assume all opinions n discourse expressed can be Biblically justified? Are these belief models mutually exclusive or neither can claim to be the truth because God is God and refuses to pidgin holed into any man made schema.
          Wondering if either schema leads to “abundant” life for believer. ” Unbridled Prosperity” thru grace is so so appealing but is there any evidence besides some rich “organizers” and their facilitators.

          Is there a free lunch for all to be had?

          1. Hi Journeyman.

            As we all know, the many verses in the bible has been interpreted in as many ways by as many people, most of the time seemingly contradicting one another.

            I remain convinced though that there is a consistent overall message and correct interpretations for the verses, which is revealed by the Holy Spirit and not by superficial reading. The bible after all is an astoundingly complex yet consistent work and it is full of the fingerprints of God. You can say that the bible is encrypted and the Holy Spirit is the one that holds the key.

            One sure way to test whether a passage has been correctly understood is to ask honestly if it points to Jesus Christ and his finished work, or does it point to man and his own works? In other words, is Jesus Christ glorified or is man glorified?

            By the way, man being honored according to his works is nothing new – the world and every other religion have functioned like this since the very beginning. True Christianity is different.

            Regarding the character of God, I believe it is plain that God often does things that are completely at odds with what human nature expects – the chief example being the “scandal” of the cross. Who would have thought the greatest act of sin can become the greatest act of grace the world has ever known?

            Yet although He often surprises us, His heart and character can be known. Personal experience notwithstanding, the bible is full of evidence that God really loves and wants nothing but the best for us. That’s why when we come to know Him, we can rest easy when we place our trust in Him.

            Regarding prosperity, let’s just throw aside all false pretenses and religiosity. Is the picture of a poor monk garbed in sackcloth and ashes a sign of holiness to you? But this is just typical carnal thinking and exactly what the world expects.

            Of course the love of money is the root of all evil, but one can love money and still be dirt poor. I say it’s better to not love money and still be rich.

            If we know His character, we will have no problems whatsoever believing that He desires to prosper us not only in wealth, but in all things. In fact, the bible says we are already earmarked to inherit the world (universe) and joint-heirs with Christ!

            You ask for worldly evidence, and it is there, but your eyes have to be open to see and accept, and not just brush it off saying it’s just blind luck or fate.

            You also ask if there is a free lunch for all, and the answer is yes, because of the cross. There is a free lunch for all, but it definitely did not come cheap at all.

  15. An important quote from CS Lewis : ” The safest road to hell is the gradual one– the gentle slope, the soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

    Salvation is free. Getting a free “hell fire insurance” with no cost thereafter as well is appealing. But there is a cost to be a disciple.

    “The turning point in our lives is when we stop seeking the God we want and start seeking the God who is “. Patrick Morley

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