Friday, November 29, 2013

Moving Away From The Cross

The idea of Christians moving away from the Cross of Jesus Christ may sound preposterous at first but on closer examination, you will discover that it is perfectly logical and biblical. However, before you light the bonfire over my body, let me emphasize that we are NOT MOVING AWAY FROM THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS but as believers, we, ourselves, have to move away from the milk and move forward to discipleship and spiritual growth. 

Paul the Apostle said, "I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready." Yes, some are not ready for the meats and they still need to learn the basic elements of salvation.

After we have been justified and saved by our Lord, we should move on and not remain lingering at the Cross. We only stay there when we are still under the Law and need justification. When we say that we are not under the Law then why are we behaving like we are still under its yoke.
We have been saved once and that's it! We are now under Grace. This means that we are totally free from the power of sins. For the first time, we can fight temptation with the power of His grace. We can obey God and do the right things because we have been empowered.

To claim that we have no need to obey God just because Christ is obeying God on our behalf is a belief known as Progressive Justification. This means that we have not been fully justified and that we need Christ's obedience from His death at the Cross till now so as to keep us continually justified. This can only be so if the Law still have power over us. Thus instead of fully enjoying a life of freedom under Grace, we are continuing a life under Law. 

The idea that the brimstones and fire of the Law are still pouring upon us and Christ is our umbrella or covering is an inaccurate one. There is no more onslaught of the Law upon us now. The Law has no more hold upon our lives. Absolutely zero. We have been justified. Period! Why do we still need the continual obedience of Christ to shield us? From what? 

Do we need to cling to the Cross as though we are still depraved and full of sins? We are no longer sinners but children of the Most High God. Should a drowning man still cling to the float after he is already safe onshore?

We have to move on to the process of sanctification. Sanctification has nothing to do with the Gospel but everything to do with the Living Savior and His Holy Spirit. The Gospel is meant for unbelievers but we are already believers. The Gospel shows Christ was crucified for our sins and whomsoever receives His sacrifice will be justified. We have already done that. Then why do we need to go back to the Cross again? 

We preach the Cross to sinners but we preach the living resurrected Savior to believers.We preach justification to those unsaved but sanctification to those who are disciples.

It time for us to move away from the empty Cross to the empty tomb. From the empty tomb to the Upper Room. From the Upper Room to the Public Square. From the Public Square to millions of streets around this world. What message do we carry then? The message of the Cross of course!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Twisting and Double Twisting of Scriptures by Hyper-grace

It's amazing how adherents of Hyper-grace need to re-interpret so many bible verses that are so blatantly easy to understand. They have to twist and double twist to make all of them fit their theology. 

After all these years, they have developed a standard counter-interpretation for anyone who question the validity of their understanding of scriptures. They pride themselves as having the ability to interpret the Bible quite differently from classical interpretation. Some immature adherents even attack all other interpretations as wrong. 

Major portions of the Gospels and the teachings of Christ have been thrown out as irrelevant to believers because these were apparently taught and spoken by Jesus within the context of the Law. For example, the 'Sermon on the Mount' (Matthew 5) has been thrown out because as one adherent told me that if we were to believe that this teaching of Jesus is meant for us to apply, we will all be maimed. Let's check just two of the offending verses and they are found in Matthew 5:29 to 30.

If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

In spite of explaining that Jesus was using hyperbole, this adherent refused to accept that. He said that he was sure Jesus meant it to be literal. Well, what could one say when the obvious was rejected.

No matter how good this Hyper-Grace claims to be, any rejection of the teachings of Jesus Christ should give us a warning bell. 

In fact, another man who called himself a 'grace-based' believer wrote me and asked me to only eat the meat and throw out the bones of Hyper-grace teachings. Honestly, I have been trying to do that for a long time. However, it is almost impossible because their fundamental theology is so shaky.

In spite of the truth that the 'Lamb was slain before the foundation' their teacher has taught them, the New Covenant only begun after the Cross. So any teachings before the Cross should be suspected unless they have been specially referred to by post-Calvary writers. 

Another unwritten rule is that no scripture can be interpreted except through the lens of the Hyper- grace camp. Even ordinary words that contradict the theology of Hyper-grace must be given the 'right' meanings. Stories of people who left the faith or being killed by the Holy Spirit are to be rejected as being punishments for the believers. No believer will ever be punished. Ananias and Sapphira could be believers since the Holy Spirit killed them. ( Acts 5) What about Demas?

Reading a blog by one of these adherents, I could see a split image of the preacher in this blogger. He has memorized the Hyper- grace doctrines well and also the standard arguments used against biblical grace. For example, in defense of the non- repentance belief, he actually says that all the scriptures that admonish believers to repent are for unbelievers. The corrections and strong admonitions given by Paul and James are for unbelievers.

This blogger echoes his teacher well and says that the words 'repent' and 'convict' in the Greek have different meanings. 'Repent' to him means simply 'changing your mind' and 'convict' means 'convince'. In fact, this man says that 'convict' has the same meaning as 'condemn'. No wonder he is so afraid of the word, 'convict'. All English speakers know that these two words must be read within their contexts. In fact all words should be interpreted likewise.

When pointed out that Jesus actually rebuked churches in the Book of Revelation, the man says that most likely the rebukes are also meant for unbelievers. How can one even reason with such type of reasoning?

There is no talk about personal holiness. The concept is that God is only pleased with Christ and nothing that we do can add to pleasing Him or displeasing Him. The truth is that the underlying theology of Hyper-grace is faulty because whether they know it or not, they believe that believers are still depraved... even after being justified by faith.

All our obedience or disobedience does not mean a thing to God because only the obedience of Christ is acceptable. The idea beneath why they accept this is because they believer that all believers are somehow still under the Law. They need Christ to obey for them as they are too depraved to be able to obey.

That's not what the Bible says. After salvation, we are no longer under the Law. God therefore does not judge us under the Law. We have entered into relationship with the living God. Christ, through His one- time sacrifice on the Cross has opened this great door of reconciliation between God and Man.

Now, in this new relationship, we can please God and we can also displease God by our behaviors and attitudes. He rewards us when we please Him and reprimands us when we displease Him. That is why the scripture says that to whom He loves, He chastises. He does not leave us alone in this relationship. Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us. The Holy Spirit works within us so that we grow to become more pleasing to God. It's a relational type of pleasing and not to be confused with Christ pleasing God by His obedience and death for us on the Cross.

There is something very strange about this Hyper-grace people. They are very defensive and almost hostile. They really get very upset when confronted with the possibility that their interpretation of the scriptures may be inaccurate. Read their blogs and FB remarks and you will understand what I mean.

And they who claim to have more grace are the least gracious of any groups of Christians (or cultivate groups) that we have ever encountered. When we disagree with their interpretations, we are called 'Pharisees' and ' Legalists' etc. One guy attacks me on FB and challenged me with the question, "Who do you think you are?" He then went on with insulting words that are not fit to repeat.

All I can say is that most adherents of Hyper-grace have confused The Finished Work of Christ in Justification with the Work of the Holy Spirit in Sanctification. We believe that Christ alone provided us with salvation through Justification. No one can add anything to the finished work of Christ. We were saved not by works or our own righteousness. It's Christ and Christ alone. God accepted us as who we were during salvation. We have been justified and declared as positionally righteous in the sight of God. Then the next step is for the Holy Spirit to work within us so that we will become more like Christ. The grace of salvation and the grace of transformation are two different aspects of the grace and mercy of God. Justification and Sanctification are thus not the same thing.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Connoisseur of Churches

One extremely devious scheme of the devil is to get a Christian to attend different churches every Sunday. He causes the believer to become unhappy with all the churches that the latter attends. With this justified excuse of the lack of joy and satisfaction, the old serpent sends the believer all over the city, looking for an ideal church that will ‘suit’ him.

Years will pass by and still no ideal church. The immature Christian will spend his whole life tasting and trying out churches without having the joy of becoming a part of a local congregation and growing spiritually. 

As the man grows older, he may even imagine himself to be a connoisseur of churches. Since rolling stone gathers no moss, this potential disciple of Christ is not able to receive proper spiritual nourishment and grow properly. Neither can he contribute consistently to the kingdom of God.

The worst scenario is that after having been to almost every church in the city, the believer may consider himself to be an experienced disciple cum accomplished church critic. The truth is that he is anything else except a disciple. He is able to give anyone, who is willing to listen, a running commentary about each church but he is not able to tell whether his life has been transformed while attending all these churches.

If left uncorrected, this believer will live in absolute spiritual poverty without even realizing it. He goes to church every Sunday but he is thoroughly useless for the kingdom of God. And sadly, after having lived a fruitless and ineffective Christian life, one dreadful day, he will just roll over and die. As for the commendation of Christ, “good and faithful servant”, he will have to leave for other faithful disciples to claim. AK

Monday, November 25, 2013

Starving The Christians

Spiritual starvation is worse than this
One of the devil’s schemes is to prevent believers from receiving spiritual food. The primary sources of spiritual food are from the Word of God and sermons. If the devil can get the believers to dislike daily reading the Bible, he can literally starve the Christians of spiritual nourishment. In addition, if he can convince the Christians not to attend church on Sundays, he would gain the ultimate victory. 

The famished Christians would die spiritually - slowly but surely. Soon, the believers will have no appetite for anything spiritual. Then as they continue to weaken, they will cross the line when they would no longer believe in God any more. 

Their once-empowered lives are gone. Their outlooks, behaviours, conducts, actions and attitudes would be no different from the people of the world. The devil has done his job well and hell rejoices.