As an avid creation photographer, I wait all year for the transformation of the forest leaves during Fall. See image. It is obvious that no one would question or refute the fact of the metamorphosis of this time of year. The turning of leaves is a consistent, annual occurrence built into creation by God.
For the true Christian, God’s Word should remain even more consistent; more sure; more reliable as to it’s very nature and truth. Mournfully, for many Christians, the Word of God can be relegated, far from it’s perfect intent, to lowly positions of human assumptions, mis-interpretations, false-teachings and even unapologetic heresy.
The Apostle Paul addressed an assault on the unchanging truths of God in his letter to the Galatian churches. He writes, “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel.” (Galatians 1:6) The problem was that these people were falling under the delusion of a heresy that taught that they must perform works to enable their salvation. The very definitions of grace and justification were being maligned by infiltrating, false teachers who exhibited a form of religious godliness but by denying it’s power source, they subsequently denied the truth of God. (2 Corinthians 11:13, 2 Timothy 3:5)
The gospel is clearly portrayed in scripture as being given by God as a free gift of faith. (Ephesians 2:8) Humanistic attacks against God’s truths have plagued the church for centuries. Paul uses the word “bewitched” to describe the grave predicament that the people were under by redefining grace. This proves that a person can be saved and yet, subsequently, live in bondage to a false form of the gospel! (2 Corinthians 1:3) Even churches today, who state that the Bible is the infallible Word of God, teach errors with regard to how people are saved from sin. These false beliefs become a blinding veil over the hearts of many Christians. While the law was meant to lead people to salvation and to the true knowledge of Christ, it is not required to produce saving faith. This doesn’t mean that we do not follow the law! Rather, those who live by faith through grace have, by the Spirit, the law written on their hearts. (2 Corinthians 3:3) But, we cannot add either behavioral works: i.e. God’s moral law, or functional actions: i.e. baptism or communion; to merit the grace of God.
Of course, this is not the only veil of doctrinal confusion to infiltrate the church. An astute observation of our culture will reveal the mass production of the cult of moral liberalism which bows at the altar of self-righteousness. This is the secular religion whose main tenet is the denial of the conscience. In essence, this is a war against the law of God. By denying the existence of God, they regard as fools anyone who would claim a biblical standard of morality. Grievously, there are some in the church who subscribe, at least in part, to this philosophy. It is ironic that a ubiquitous bewitchment of many believers would also be the result of misunderstanding the role of God’s law in salvation. In churches who do not follow orthodox Christianity, we observe either a legalistic worldview or a liberally tolerant worldview. The legalists teach law over grace; the liberals teach tolerance over grace and truth. Both world views stand opposed to the Lord, God.
What shall we say then about grace? Does it matter how we define it? Does it matter how accurate our Bible knowledge is? Do our beliefs concerning the singular truths of scripture affect our day-to-day faith in God? For example, you may have heard it said, “Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart. You need to let Him in.” Many well-meaning Christians lead with this approach when sharing their faith. Does this un-biblical statement harm the gospel? Yes! Jesus doesn’t stand at any supposed door to one’s heart. This concept is a religious fabrication with no scriptural support. Jesus is The Door to salvation. God’s people are saved and justified by faith in the blood of Jesus. We have no inherent morality apart from the indwelling of God. We can trust no religious act to contribute to our salvation.
In the five hundredth year since the Reformation, I pray that the drifting church will return to the true Gospel and all of it’s implications found in scripture. The church must teach that the “ministry of reconciliation” is empowered by the “ministry of the Spirit,” to overcome the “ministry of condemnation,” to produce the “ministry of righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 3:8, 9 and 5:18).
Christian, walk in the Spirit; have the mind of Christ; conform every thought to Him; accurately handle the Word of God. (Galatians 5:16-18, 1 Corinthians 2:16, 2 Corinthians 10:5, 2 Timothy 2:15)
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14