YOU SHALL NOT SURELY DIE!
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
There are many voices in the land crying for repentance. Lethargy and sin in the churches are widespread. In some instances the Christian homes are not much different from those of the world. The parents spend their time with the television. The young people are out late at night without a chaperone.
We think the way grace is preached has a lot to do with this appalling condition. We are told we should do good and serve the Lord, but if we do not we will be ushered into Paradise by grace. Only a few of the most dedicated believers will be moved to repentance if it really doesn’t make that much difference in our destiny.
YOU SHALL NOT SURELY DIE!
If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. (John 15:6)
Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:21)
I have just finished reading a current book exhorting Christian people to shake themselves and begin serving God. The emphasis is on turning away from our carnal pursuits and making Jesus the Lord of our life, particularly in the area of going forth to reach the unsaved (when are the Christians going to get saved?)
Toward the beginning of the book the author, a godly man and excellent writer, stipulated that his words must be interpreted as exhortations to Christians, not as condemnation, for we stand in the grace of God. The idea seems to be that we ought to get busy and serve God, but underneath is the safety net. If we do not heed the call to action there may be regrettable consequences. But in the final hour we will be ushered into Paradise by grace.
As we prepared a while back to go on the Internet we told several people we were going to present only the fruit of the last several decades of thought, preaching, and writing—material that believers of every persuasion can accept and profit from. We will show how wonderful it is to be a Christian and offer nuggets of truth that inspire and edify. Isn’t that nice?
But as we read the author’s disclaimer concerning standing in grace, the fire burned. How can we be “nice” when the Church is in danger and God’s will in Christ is being frustrated!
We have nothing but good to say about the author and his book. He has done us all a service by pointing out the backslidden condition of numerous Christian believers.
We would like to point out that if we urge people to repent, and then state if we do not repent we cannot be condemned because we are saved by grace, is something like telling a cardiac patient he ought to exercise and change his diet but if he doesn’t there will be no further angina pains.
Wouldn’t this be wonderful if it were true? I could go back to my regular breakfast of coffee, fried eggs, and sausage. Instead I am eating oatmeal, bran muffins, and an aspirin. Why? Because grace doesn’t cover the grease.
What runner can drive himself to the last searing thrust if he knows he already has won the race?
What soldier will expose himself in a dangerous charge against the enemy if he has been told the war already is won as far as he is concerned? Maybe a few dedicated men. But what if the war has not been won as far as he is concerned but he has been deceived by the enemy who wants him to stop fighting?
What American Christian will turn away from the lethargy decried by the book in question (and by much current preaching for that matter, for which we thank God) if he understands that even if he does not begin to serve God fervently he still will go to a mansion in Paradise when he dies?
When the call for repentance goes forth a few conscientious believers will respond. If these few people will pray, God in His goodness will visit us with a massive move of the Spirit of God resulting in more repentance and worldwide evangelism. But then, when the Spirit of God is lifted, there will be a return to the lethargy. The present doctrine of the churches is not calculated to maintain white-hot consecration.
There was tremendous repentance during the revivals of Aimee Semple McPherson but now lethargy has returned. When the power of the Holy Spirit was present with Sister McPherson sinners came to the Lord; the lukewarm became hot; the sick were healed. That was only a few years ago.
Why the rapid backsliding? It is because we are teaching that Divine grace is an unconditional amnesty that holds steady whether or not we serve the Lord.
Until the Christian churches come to understand Divine grace is not an unconditional amnesty the cycle of repentance, revival, lethargy will continue.
There are numerous verses in the New Testament portraying Divine grace as virtue, power, and wisdom that enable the diligent to serve God and be conformed to the image of Christ. When we are not diligent we suffer significant loss.
Several reasons are advanced by contemporary Christian teachers to prove the unfruitful will not actually be removed from the Vine; that the sinning Christian will not actually be barred from entering the Kingdom of God.
All such reasons sound a lot like “You shall not surely die!”
As long as Christian believers are taught there is a safety net under them that will keep them from serious harm in case they sin and rebel against God, numerous believers will not get serious with the Lord.
Divorce is a major problem of our day. In our following comments we are not addressing those who were divorced before they became a Christian. To such we say, the blood of Christ has washed you clean. Go on from here and sin no more. You may suffer consequences but the Lord has forgiven you.
There are times when a separation, or even divorce, is the Lord’s will. But these are the exception and should never be considered except in extreme circumstances, such as adultery, or physical or mental abuse. Also, some kind of counseling should be sought from a disinterested person in order that objectivity may be gained. Often all that is required to repair the marriage is patience and forbearance. It should be kept in mind that divorce sometimes causes as many problems at it solves.
Having made this part clear, let us proceed.
Let us say there is a Christian family, a father, mother, and two boys. The couple have been married ten years.
The father is not particularly interested in church or “spiritual” matters. He attends on Sunday morning and really loves the Lord. The rest of the time he wants to sit at home and read the paper or go fishing with his boys.
The wife is the demonstrative type. In her enthusiasm she goes from this Bible study to that with her Christian friends. When she is in church she is very prominent in her expressions of whatever type of church culture is regarded as spiritual. She is a happy, outgoing person, confident she is quite spiritual.
You see, her husband is not as “spiritual.”
She meets a young man who also is “spiritual.” He sings beautifully. He is very active in the same religious culture. Her husband obviously (from her point of view) is not a good match for her. He is not spiritual. She is spiritual.
Now her understanding of grace comes into focus along with her personal integrity and faithfulness. She may think, “If I leave my husband and boys and run off with this future preacher I do not know whether the Lord will be pleased or not.” (This is the current understanding of the Consuming Fire of Israel.)
“I know the Lord is a loving God and wants me to be happy. I know I am saved by grace, so even if I displease the Lord I (and maybe my young man) will go to Heaven to live in a mansion.”
“I will say there are irreconcilable differences (meaning I am not happy) and the judge will understand. Maybe I will get custody of my (not our) boys. I know my boyfriend will love them, he is so understanding.”
Isn’t God wonderful? Such love! Such mercy! Of course, the husband and two boys may not see it quite that way when Mother becomes a femme fatale and leaves home.
But if she understood the true grace of God she would think another way: “I want to run off with this spiritual, handsome young man so badly I can hardly stand it. And I just know he loves me! “I gave my word at the altar of God. What if Jesus were standing before me. What would He say? “I just can’t leave my family even though I don’t “love” my husband anymore. I will pray. I will go to the Throne of God in prayer and ask for grace to help me remain faithful to my husband and children.”
What do you think about these two different understandings of the purpose of grace? The one presents grace as a fire escape. The other presents grace as the Divine strength and virtue from Christ to enable us to do what is righteous.
Which is it? What do you say?
In case you are wavering, let us hasten to say that if the woman leaves her family and marries the young seducer she very well may alter her eternal destiny. After her new marriage turns to ashes and the young man begins to play the field again she may decide to return to the Lord. Let me tell you it will be several years before she begins to find God at all—if she ever does!
This is the result of the preaching of grace as an eternal amnesty. Don’t tell me it does not work out this way. You’re too late. I have already witnessed it.
A recent critic of one of my books suggested I am teaching reincarnation because of my comments that our behavior now will have a direct effect on our resurrection when the Lord comes. Can you believe it? And I paid a publisher over a hundred dollars for this evaluation! I am teaching reincarnation because of my belief we will be rewarded according to our works when the Lord returns? What has happened to Christian theology?
While I am warmed up to the subject I would like to speak to the people thirty years of age and younger—down to the age of three. We start the disciples early in our church.
My generation is largely lost to the purpose of God. The chief concern of the older people is their retirement, their stocks and bonds, their house and yard, their Social Security. They come to church and talk religious talk but they are so involved in the world they cannot hear the Spirit of God.
They think after they are “raptured” God is going to raise Moses and Elijah (or is it Enoch and Elijah) from the dead to preach the Law and the Prophets, not realizing the two witnesses of Revelation symbolize the power of the latter rain that is to be poured on the generation that is ready to praise the Lord. They suppose Enoch and Elijah are going to descend from Heaven in a chariot, receive power after that the Holy Ghost has come upon them, and bear witness of Christ (or something!) in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth. Old Brother Harris used to say, “Dear Lord, give us one grain of common sense on our brain pan.”
If you, young people, do not pick up the baton but get lost in the current church culture with its lawless-grace error, its mythology about mansions in Heaven, then God will wait for your children and grandchildren.
There will be a generation that shall cross the Jordan and enter the land of promise.
Listen to the elders and obey them. Then pray until you strike fire with God. He will show you what to do. You will save yourself and those who hear you.
To the elders I say, who also am an elder, bring the kids back to the God of Israel. Begin with the toddlers. Teach them to wave banners in praise to the Lord. Lift up the standard of holy, righteous behavior. Press the youth toward prayer rather than ice cream socials. Make demands on them. The best among them will respond and God will meet them. Better five young people on fire for God than five thousand attracted by adolescent urges.
A lady wrote me recently that in her church the young mothers had to abandon their Bible study because the Pastor would not make provision for baby sitting. If this is a true account, the Pastor is overlooking a golden opportunity to work not only with the young mothers but also with their children. He is pushing the wrong group.
Today the anointing of the Spirit is on the young.
The teaching of grace has in some instances left the believers with the impression there are not ultimately joyous rewards for following the Lord and not ultimately serious punishments for not following the Lord. Being “saved by fire” is presented as receiving a two-story in place of a three-story mansion, instead of being the terrifying stripping and loss in the Kingdom it will prove to be.
We say Christians should do this and should do that. Should walks in big boots. But it is fear and joy that move most people, the prospect of pain and the prospect of pleasure. The Bible presents both in no uncertain terms.
“But we are not to fear God because God is love.” The people who talk most about love and mercy are often those who want to make room for their sin, as we have noticed. Satan spoke through Peter in loving terms to the Lord. Satan would have prevented the atonement on the basis of love. Jesus spotted him instantly.
So it is that Satan will speak lovingly to you that you must not suffer. Satan understands that God’s saving power will issue through you only to the extent you are willing to stay on the cross with Jesus. Satan has no reason to fear you until you are ready to lay down your life, take up your cross, and follow the Master.
Satan is not afraid of you or me or our church programs. Satan fears only the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. As long as Satan can “lovingly” keep church people alive in the flesh he and his kingdom are safe.
The current teaching of grace has in many instances removed the hope of glory and the fear of being cut off from Christ. Being cut off from Christ is the warning of the Gospels as well as the Epistles to Christians who do not bear the fruit God is looking for.
We simply do not understand what grace is! Neither do we understand what salvation is!
Salvation is our change from the image of Satan to the image of God. Salvation does not refer to eternal residence in Heaven but to eternal life in Christ, as a hasty review of the Scriptures will reveal.
Grace is not an alternative to our change from the image of Satan to the image of God. Grace is the Divine means in Jesus Christ to forgive us and then enable us to change from the image of Satan to the image of God.
I do not think any sincere Christian would dispute the fact that the purpose of salvation is to bring forth a new righteous creation in us. Even the unsaved know (or used to know) that the Bible is the “good book,” meaning it tells us how to live so as to please God.
If we are correct in maintaining that salvation is our change from the image of Satan to the image of God, and if we are accurate in stating Divine grace is the Divine means in Jesus Christ to forgive us and enable us to change from the image of Satan to the image of God, then to state we stand in grace apart from our change into a new, righteous creation is not a defensible position.
If salvation is our change into godly behavior, then to say we are saved by grace even through we are not serving the Lord is to claim we are saved even though we are not being saved.
Salvation is past, present, and future. There is a decisive moment in time when we look to God for salvation through Jesus Christ. Then throughout our lifetime we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Also we are kept by the power of God unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. We are saved by hope—hope that when the Lord comes we will be completely free from sin and joyously alive in His Presence.
To overemphasize one of these three aspects at the expense of the others is to bring chaos into our thinking.
No, grace is not an unconditional amnesty. No, grace is not a safety net that protects us whether or not we serve God faithfully. Numerous New Testament passages put the lie to this concept.
Many believers of our day are expecting to hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Yet they have been neither good nor faithful. Why this illogical belief? Because they have been taught that Divine grace is an alternative to a new, righteous creation.
The churches are in danger! Judgment is hovering over the Western nations. The Gentile holocaust is at hand. Why? Because we are not teaching the Bible but our traditions concerning unconditional grace.
The fire is burning. How many are willing to turn again to the New Testament and count the verses that warn us we are going to receive the good and the bad we have practiced in our body?
How many are willing to believe Christ when He says “I will give to every one of you according to your works?”
The modern response is, “This does not apply to me because I am saved by grace.”
How many are willing to believe if the believer does not do what the Lord commanded he is building his house on the sand?
The modern response is, “This does not apply to me because I am saved by grace.”
How many are willing to believe we show our love to Christ by keeping His commandments?
The modern response is, “This does not apply to me because I am saved by grace.”
How many believe if we know the way of righteousness—the way of righteousness!—and then turn from it we are as a dog returning to his vomit?
The modern response is, “Even though the Scripture portrays this individual as having known the way of righteousness he must never have been saved in the first place because we are saved by grace.”
How many understand if we do not bear the fruit of righteousness we will be cut out of the Vine, out of Christ?
The modern response is, “The individual never was in the Vine in the first place because we never could be cut out of Christ. We are saved by grace.”
How many understand that the Christian who continues in the deeds of the flesh will die?—he or she cannot enter the Kingdom of God?
“Paul could not have been speaking to the Christians of Galatia. They were saved by grace.”
God said, “He who endures to the end shall be saved.” God must have been speaking to the Jews because we are saved by grace.
Maybe God never heard of the grace we preach and so He was confused at this point, thinking we have to endure to the end to be saved. In fact if it is he who endures to the end that who be saved, our modern teaching is in need of modification. We always point back to some time in the past when we were “saved.” Something to think about!
Revelation tells us no sinful person will enter through the gates into the new Jerusalem. “But this does not apply to us because we are saved by grace.”
The reader who knows the New Testament will recognize we have been quoting from the Word.
Why don’t we just throw out the Bible and be done with it? By our traditions we have made numerous passages irrelevant. We have a promise-box theology. We keep our “precious promises,” ignore the context, and forget about the rest of the Bible.
When there is a seeming inconsistency (and there are many seeming inconsistencies in the New Testament writings) we saw off the leg that doesn’t fit our concept of grace and stump about on the other leg.
To the young people again: we have little hope our words and reasoning will interest most Christians our age, except they may want to argue about who the two witnesses are.
Who the two witnesses are will be revealed in its time. Whether we are caught up before or after the great tribulation will be revealed in its time. (Best to be prepared—right?)
Many are cold but few are frozen. If you are not among the frozen few, ask God about the things we have stated. See what He has for you. If you are under thirty, or especially under fifteen, you will find there is a special anointing for you. God wants you to live and minister in the power of the Holy Spirit. The older Christians, even though they themselves are still in a psychologic morass, will cheer you on. A cry of praise will go up from the vacation trailers as they remember the old sound, the joyful sound.
Well I got this part off my chest. What about it? Will you help pray that God will remove this monumental error from Christian thinking?
The call for repentance is in the land. How much more of an impact will this call have when we realize Divine grace is God in Jesus Christ changing people so they can have eternal fellowship with God?—strengthening those who are tempted to sin so they can overcome?—enabling those who have been severely wounded to forgive those who hurt them?
Divine grace is not a ticket to Paradise that unchanged people can present at the gates of the new Jerusalem.
The lazy servant will face an angry Christ and then outer darkness whether or not he or she claims to be saved by grace.
The foolish “virgin” will scream in agony outside the closed door whether or not he or she claims to be saved by grace.
We are blowing the trumpet in Zion, among the Lord’s people. The way of the Lord must be made straight. It is time for a reformation of Christian thinking.
Maybe we’ll be nicer in the next article.
(“You Shall Not Surely Die!”, 3456-1)