A CONTEMPORARY ERROR
Copyright © 1996 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
How are Christians to regard the admonitions and warnings of Christ and His Apostles? Are we to consider them important moral guidelines we ought to heed whenever convenient, knowing we are not saved by doing these but by our profession of faith in Christ?
Or are we to view the commandments and warnings given by Christ and His Apostles as the Word of God we must keep, as He gives us the wisdom and power, with the understanding it is only as we obey them that we enter the Kingdom of God?—that we show our love for Christ and become candidates for the fullness of God (John 14:23)?
It appears today there is almost total ignorance of the new covenant. What is being preached in most Christian churches is not scriptural, it is not the new covenant. There is widespread blindness but God is ready to remove the veil. There are at least two incorrect ways and one correct way to regard the commandments of Christ and His Apostles, to conceive of the new covenant.
How are we to regard the writings of the Apostles? Throughout the Epistles there are numerous commandments and exhortations:
Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame. (I Corinthians 15:34)
envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:21)
This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, (Ephesians 4:17)
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. (Philippians 2:3)
bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. (Colossians 3:13)
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; (I Thessalonians 4:3)
And so on and on and on—hundreds of such direct commandments. Also, Christ and His Apostles issued severe warnings concerning those who do not bring forth the fruit of righteousness, who return to the ways of the world.
“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. (John 15:2)
Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— (Hebrews 8:8)
But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. (Jude 1:5)
How are we to treat the warnings and admonitions of Christ and His Apostles? How important are they? Does the fact we are “under grace” mean that while it would be nice if we would obey the New Testament commandments, not doing so does not mean we will lose our salvation?
Is it a case of we ought to do these things or we must do these things? What is the contemporary answer? What is the New Testament answer?
Christ commanded us to turn away from the world, take up our cross, and follow Him. Paul urged us to present our body as a whole burnt offering, a living sacrifice to the Lord. Most believers do not obey Christ or Paul in these matters. Does this mean they will not go to Heaven when they die?
A related question is, what is the new covenant? How does it work?
It appears today there is almost total ignorance of the new covenant. What is being preached in most Christian churches is not scriptural, not the new covenant. There is widespread blindness but God is ready to remove the veil.
There are at least two incorrect ways and one correct way to regard the commandments of Christ and His Apostles, to conceive of the new covenant.
One approach is to view the New Testament in the same manner as the Old—that is, to make the New Testament a book of law. This school of thought seeks to follow the letter of the Gospels and the Epistles. “When the Bible speaks, we speak. When the Bible is silent, we are silent.”
Such believers do not allow for contemporary revelation. They believe that the sons of God are led by the Scriptures rather than by the Spirit.
The teaching of Paul concerning the new covenant contradicts the approach to the New Testament Scripture that ignores the Presence and work of the Holy Spirit, that rejects the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ in favor of a human attempt to operate the new covenant by the Scriptures alone.
who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (II Corinthians 3:6)
“Not of the letter, but of the Spirit.”
The new covenant is not a covenant of the letter, as was the old covenant, but a covenant that must be made alive and workable by the Holy Spirit of God. The first covenant was cut in stone by the finger of God. The new covenant is written by the Holy Spirit in the mind and heart of the believer.
The attempt to obey the letter apart from the Presence and assistance of the Spirit of God, under the impression that the new covenant operates in the same manner as the old, tends to produce doctrinaire believers who do not always bring with them the sense of the Presence of the Lord but rather a religious smugness and pride. The letter kills.
The current Reconstruction movement appears to be involved in the law-oriented approach to the new covenant in that it is seeking to enforce compliance, on the secular world as well as on the Christian churches, of the passages of the Scriptures that the leadership of the movement deems essential.
The idea here seems to be that the unsaved without being born again or having the Holy Spirit will be able to do by their human nature what believers who have been born again and who have the Holy Spirit have not been able to do or are not willing to do.
The believers have not themselves been changed into the moral image of the Lord, and now they are going to force the moral image of the Lord on the unsaved.
This is sensible?
We do not wish to condemn any believer who is trying to obey the injunctions of the New Testament. He or she is God’s servant. However, throughout history the attempt to enforce obedience to the Gospels and Epistles has not resulted in good fruit but in the torture and murder of those who disagree with the religious organization.
The servant of the Lord does not bring righteousness into the lives of people by force.
And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, (II Timothy 2:24)
The first error, then, is to treat the new covenant in the same manner as the old covenant—making it a collection of laws, the keeping of which brings righteousness to us. We shall not speak further of the attempt to obey the letter of the New Testament apart from the immediate Presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit of God.
It is the second error that is the problem today. The second approach is much more common and more destructive of God’s purposes in Christ than is true of the attempt to follow the letter of the New Testament. The second error is a deplorable travesty of the intent of the Apostles and has been with us since the first century.
What shall we term the second error?
- The “Jesus does it all” theory?
- Faith without works?
The second incorrect approach to the commandments of Christ and His Apostles, the “Jesus does it all” error, has some points in common with the true new covenant. But it takes off on an unscriptural track that wrecks God’s intention.
The second error proclaims that once we “accept Christ” or “make a decision for Christ” He covers us with His righteousness and makes intercession for us before God’s Throne. Such imputed (ascribed) righteousness indeed is a pillar of the Christian faith.
This aspect of the “Jesus does it all” error is absolutely true.
However, the second error goes on to teach that the admonitions of Christ and His Apostles are the inspired Word of God and guidelines we ought to regard reverently. But whether we obey them or not, Christ covers us with His righteousness and we shall go to Heaven when we die.
This aspect of the “Jesus does it all” error is absolutely false—it could hardly be more destructive of God’s intention! It makes Divine grace an alternative to righteous behavior, an alternative to keeping the words of Christ and His Apostles.
The “alternative” viewpoint is denied directly by a multitude of passages from the New Testament.
Think of the consequences of the “Jesus does it all” doctrine. It implies that Christ and His Apostles wasted their time instructing the churches. They should have known better. They should have understood that it is vain to enjoin people to behave righteously when Christ intends to change them without any effort on their part.
The following is taken from “an epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Christian churches of the twentieth century”:
“Dearly beloved, now that Christ has come you are not to be overly concerned with your behavior. Put your trust in Him, and even though you continue in your sin and self-seeking until you die it is impossible for you to incur God’s displeasure.
“In fact, when you sin you are magnifying the grace of God. When you fornicate, God sees only the holiness of Christ. When you lie, God sees only the truthfulness of Christ. When you murder, God sees only the gentleness of Christ.
“I have written some letters to the churches that appear to warn against certain behaviors. But you are not to regard these as necessary aspects of your salvation for even though they seemingly are addressed to the saints they actually are directed toward the unsaved and the Jews. Always keep in mind that faith without works glorifies the grace and mercy of God. Faith must stand alone. Your efforts to live righteously detract from God’s grace and are legalism. You may safely ignore all that I have written to the churches concerning moral conduct.
“Remember, dearly beloved, God is love. You may leave your wife and children and live with a prostitute. You may give your word and break it as often as you like. God will not hold this against you, because you believe in the Lord Jesus. You may sin thousands and thousands of times, living in every kind of moral filth. Yet, God will continue to love you with His great Father’s heart.
“No matter how you live your life, no matter how many people you injure, no matter how unfaithful you are, how you despise the Scriptures, how unrighteously you behave, how much you despise mercy and love revenge, how arrogantly and haughtily you walk before God and men, you cannot possibly displease God or lose your salvation. God sees you only in Christ, having His righteousness.
“God loves you in your filth. Christ loves you although you continually disobey His commandments. The Holy Spirit loves you although you rebel against His every prompting.
“Beloved, there is no need for you to live a holy life. Jesus does it all. He will change you from within your personality apart from your having to obey any commandments. Remember, all efforts to obey His words or the words of the Apostles are ‘legalism.’
“If you have ever at any time professed belief in Christ, when you die you will go straight to Paradise to live forever in a golden mansion.
The second error, the belief that we are not obligated to obey the commandments of Christ and His Apostles, is the common denominator of the current warping of the Scriptures. The following contemporary beliefs are not true, not found in the Scriptures. They are founded on or dependent in some aspect on the idea that the Christian Gospel primarily is an unconditional amnesty that provides eternal forgiveness and eternal residence in the spiritual Paradise for whoever will profess belief in Christ:
- Imputed (ascribed) righteousness is the only righteousness provided by the new covenant.
- The Gospel of the Kingdom consists primarily of forgiveness through the blood of Jesus.
- The goal of the Christian salvation is to ensure that the believers will live forever in the spirit realm in a beautiful mansion.
- The believers will be caught up to Heaven in order to escape the great tribulation and the Antichrist.
- God will show only mercy and blessing toward the believers in Christ, never anger.
- The believers are to seize what they want now by “faith.”
- The believers are to seek to be rich in this world.
- The believers are not required to suffer.
- The believers are to attempt to force the unsaved to obey the moral laws of the Kingdom of God.
- No matter how a believer conducts himself he cannot be removed from Christ.
- There will be a Gentile kingdom in Heaven and a Jewish kingdom on the earth.
- The physical people and land of Israel have been replaced by the “Gentile Church” in God’s plan for the future.
- Salvation is unconditional, an undemanding covenant, a gift of eternal life in God’s Presence that cannot be harmed by our subsequent behavior.
All of these travesties of the Gospel of the Kingdom are related to the idea that imputed (ascribed) righteousness is the only righteousness of the new covenant (at least for Gentiles), that we are “saved” apart from our willingness to obey Christ and His Apostles.
They are based also on the concept that the Gospel of the Kingdom consists primarily of forgiveness through the blood of Jesus so when we die (or are “raptured”) we will go to Paradise to live eternally in a beautiful mansion; and since we are forgiven through no action of our own except an initial statement of belief in Christ, it is impossible for us to ever be removed from Christ.
It is not true or scriptural that imputed (ascribed) righteousness is the only righteousness (or even the primary righteousness) provided by the new covenant (II Corinthians 5:17).
It is not true or scriptural that the Gospel of the Kingdom consists primarily of forgiveness through the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 8:10).
It is not true or scriptural that the purpose of salvation is to ensure that the believers will go to Paradise to live eternally in a beautiful mansion (Romans 8:29).
It is not true or scriptural that it is God’s will that the saints be removed from the earth and carried up to Heaven in order to escape evil (John 17:15).
It is not true or scriptural that God will show only mercy and blessing, never anger, toward the believers (Hebrews 10:38).
It is not true or scriptural that the believers are to seize what they want now by faith (Matthew 16:24).
It is not true or scriptural that the believers should seek to be rich in this world (I Timothy 6:9).
It is not true or scriptural that the believers are not required to suffer (Philippians 3:10).
It is not true or scriptural that the believers are to attempt to force the unbelievers to obey the moral laws of the Kingdom of God (II Timothy 2:24).
It is not true or scriptural that a Christian cannot be removed from Christ no matter how he conducts himself (John 15:2).
It is not true or scriptural that there will be a Gentile kingdom in Heaven and a Jewish kingdom on the earth (Galatians 3:28).
It is not true or scriptural that the physical land and people of Israel have been replaced by the “Gentile Church” in God’s plan for the future (Romans 11:25,26).
It is not true or scriptural that our salvation in Christ is unconditional. Our salvation depends upon our response to God. It is not a unilateral action of God. Numerous passages reveal clearly that salvation is contingent on our pursuing the life of righteousness and holiness (Hebrews 6:7,8).
The following verse brings an end to the doctrine of unconditional salvation:
For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. (II Peter 2:20)
If there only were one such statement as the above, a modern preacher might somehow be able to make this verse say something other than what it states. But there are many other verses of the Gospels and the Epistles that warn us concerning our behavior as believers.
We have listed only one reference for each item above. But there are a multitude of such passages—contexts of entire books, such as First John and Jude—that are exhortations and warnings to us to keep the commandments of the Lord, to “sin not.”
Why can’t we see these exhortations and warnings? Why do we apply them to the unsaved when the unsaved are already dead in their sins and cannot enter eternal life by striving to live righteously? Why do we apply them only to the Jews when Paul says we Gentiles are one new Man with the Jewish believers, being the one Seed of Abraham?
Why do we twist and turn to keep from obeying the Gospel, from having to walk in true righteousness and holiness, from obeying God in every aspect of our lives? It is because we are a wicked, adulterous generation. We have hardened our hearts against God and He has repaid us by blinding us to the Scriptures and sending a strong delusion upon us. We have not loved the truth. We have chosen to believe a lie and God has honored our choice.
Now God is ready to receive those who are willing to turn to Him and to remove the veil covering the New Testament writings. But the proud will never be able to understand God’s grace and they shall face an angry Christ in the days to come in spite of all their assertions concerning God’s love.
They are blind leaders of the blind. Come out from among them if you wish to be delivered from the judgment that is at hand!
We see, then, that current Christian teaching is horribly in error, horribly destructive of God’s intention, and leads to all kinds of incorrect viewpoints and actions.
Why have we been so deluded? Why are the clear teachings of the Scriptures veiled from our eyes? Is it because, like the Jews, we have not mixed faith with the Word of God? Is it because we have not turned to the Lord? Is it because we do not love the truth and God has sent a powerful delusion upon us? Is it because we always err in our heart?
How shall we approach this second error, this monumental falsehood, this “false prophet,” this notion that we ought to try to please God, but if we do not He will love us into Paradise in any case?
What can we say that will open the eyes of the believers to the words of the Gospels and the Epistles, and the Book of Revelation?
How can we help people turn aside from today’s traditions and see clearly the statements of the New Testament?
God help us, in Jesus’ name!
Perhaps the first concept we need to understand is that the new covenant is primarily a covenant of change; not of forgiveness but of change, of transformation of personality. The old covenant included forgiveness through the atonement made by the blood of animals. The new covenant includes forgiveness through the atonement made by the blood of the righteous Jesus but primarily is a covenant of deliverance and transformation of the individual.
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (II Corinthians 3:18)
“Transformed into the same image.”
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (II Corinthians 5:17)
“A new creation.”
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. (Galatians 6:15)
“A new creation.”
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (Hebrews 8:10)
The eternal moral law of God is to be put into our minds and written on our hearts. This is the new covenant. It is change. It includes forgiveness but is not primarily forgiveness.
What prevents us from seeing this? What hinders us from recognizing that the new covenant is not primarily forgiveness with the intention of bringing us to Heaven, but transformation with the intention of making us brothers of Christ and bringing us into total union with God through Christ?
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29)
We are predestined to be changed into the image of Christ; not to be “saved” but to be changed into Christ’s image in every detail.
And why changed into the moral image of Christ? That Christ might be the firstborn among many brothers.
But some will say, this is the point. We have been predestined to be changed and God will sovereignly write His law in our heart. We cannot make ourselves over into Christ’s image.
This is true. But the error enters when we conclude that it is not necessary, therefore, to keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles.
Why do we think these commandments are written in the Gospels and the Epistles if we are not supposed to obey them?
Notice, in the following, the plain, clear, direct refutation of the notion that God will do it all and the only commandment binding on us is to believe in Christ and love one another:
He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (I John 2:4)
Is the Apostle John stating that we must practice the laws of righteousness?
Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.
Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. (I John 3:6,7)
Let us examine whether or not the New Testament teaches that obeying the commandments of Christ and His Apostles is a necessary aspect of our redemption or if we can please God apart from obeying them. If the New Testament teaches plainly that we must keep them, then all of our philosophizing, examples, analogies and so forth are just leading us astray. God’s Word is God’s Word and it is to be obeyed!
“But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: (Matthew 7:26)
“And does not do them.”
What does this mean? It means if we do not do what Jesus said we are foolish and our house will fall in the time of storm.
But was this written to Christians? Of course! Are we to say that the four Gospels are not written to Christians but only to the Jews? What nonsense is this! If this were true, then the necessity for being born again in order to enter the Kingdom of God is also written to the Jews and not to the Christians. Or do we know how to pick and choose that which is written to the Jews and not to the Christians?
Why do we permit such foolishness to be taught—that the four Gospels were not written to Christians but only to the Jews? To what lengths will false teachers go to prove their novel conceptions of the Holy Scriptures? When we allow pastors and evangelists to tickle our ears with such trash, we are as guilty as they.
The contemporary habit of assigning all Biblical directives to the Jews is without basis in the Scriptures. This practice is a device of Satan to prevent Christians from entering their salvation.
To whom does Matthew 7:26 apply? It applies to all men! It is universal, eternal truth as is the case with everything the Lord Jesus says.
Is grace the Divine means of ignoring Matthew 7:26? No indeed! It is not the purpose of grace to render useless the words of Christ and His Apostles. But one would think so when listening to the modern chaff that passes for the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say? (Luke 6:46)
What does this mean? It means it is useless to call Jesus “Lord” and then not do what He says. Is it binding upon Christians? Of course! Or is grace a magic that brings us into a never-never land where we can ignore the Scriptures; where our behavior cannot be seen by God or man but we are regarded as being as righteous and holy as Christ? What a distortion of a covenant that is supposed to be superior to preceding covenants in developing righteousness in God’s elect!
Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make Our home with him. (John 14:23)
“If anyone loves Me, he will keep my words.”
What does it mean to keep the words of Christ? Does it mean to carry them around in the New Testament or does it mean to read them, meditate on them, and pray to the Father in Jesus’ name until we are able to obey them?
What does it mean to not keep the words of Jesus? It means to do exactly as is being done today—to ignore His words in the belief that Christ magically will cause our personality to change apart from any determined effort on our part to keep the words of Christ.
Have we not been grievously deceived?
We do not desire to go into all the passages of the Epistles of the Apostles to prove our point. Such passages are numerous.
Let us choose one to represent the others. The reader who is seeking the Lord may find the one sufficient and can look up the others. The reader who is determined to believe that Jesus will change him and bring him to Heaven while he is living in the filth of the present world would not believe us if we spent the next several pages listing passage after passage that warns us to come out of the world and live a holy, righteous, obedient life by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,
idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,
envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
To whom is Paul writing? To the unsaved? If so, if Paul is writing to the unsaved, we have no business discussing Galatians 5:19-21 in the present booklet for then the passage would have nothing to do with our thesis.
To whom is Galatians 5:19-21 written?
and all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia: (Galatians 1:2)
“To the churches of Galatia.” The passage was written to the churches of Galatia, not to the world but to the churches. What was written to the churches of Galatia?
“They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Who are the “they”? The “they” are those who do such things.
What things? Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, and all the other lusts and ambitions of the flesh of man.
What is true of those who practice such behavior? They shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.
“But this cannot mean believers in Christ because they are saved by grace!” So our reasoning goes as we attempt to render the Word of God ineffectual.
It is proclaimed today that all who believe in Christ will go to Heaven whether or not they walk in the lusts of the flesh. The footnotes of every edition of the Scriptures we have seen stress the eternal security of the believer, the unconditional nature of the Divine redemption. They do not always state explicitly that they are presenting the doctrine of “eternal security,” but this doctrine is the logical conclusion of their statements and arguments.
Sometimes the “meaning” of the Greek terms is employed to prove that a passage does not mean what it appears to mean. The footnotes of the editions we have seen are incorrect and are producing moral destruction in the Christian churches.
Paul states that those who believe in Christ cannot enter the Kingdom of God while they practice the lusts of their flesh.
Is Paul right or wrong?
If the passage does not refer to believers in Christ, why was it written to the churches of Galatia? Does it mean that if the unsaved of Galatia would cease these practices they would inherit the Kingdom of God?
No, it means if the Christians of Galatia continue to practice these behaviors they shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.
This is what it states; this is precisely what it means. May God grant us the ability to see what is written!
Where does new-covenant grace fit into this picture? New-covenant grace, by providing the body and blood of the Lord, the Spirit of God, and the words of the Apostles, directs us and enables us to cease practicing such behavior so we may enter the Kingdom of God.
Are we saying that we enter eternal life as we are transformed in behavior by means of the Virtue of God? Precisely.
What about the believer who is not transformed? He slays his own resurrection by his lustful, self-willed behavior.
Does the Bible teach that the believer destroys his spiritual life when he serves unrighteousness? Yes it does, in several passages.
“But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.
“Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. (Luke 8:13,14)
Notice below Paul’s qualifying of the emphasis he previously (in the Book of Romans) had placed on Divine grace:
For the wages of sin [done by a Christian] is death, but the gift of God [for acting righteously] is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
The above verse has nothing to do with the unsaved. A study of the context will reveal that the believer, the person baptized in water, who continues to serve unrighteousness will die spiritually. Romans 6:23 is stating that the Christian who chooses to continue to serve unrighteousness will die spiritually even though God had made it possible for him to pursue eternal life through Christ.
For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:13)
For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. (Galatians 6:8)
None of the above is addressed to the unconverted.
We have been terribly deceived. Those among us who fear God, who tremble at His Word, will repent and ask God to open our eyes to the New Testament writings; for all the Epistles teach that salvation is transformation. Apart from moral transformation there is no salvation.
To be saved is not to go to Paradise, it is to be made in the image of God and brought into restful union with God through Christ. We are saved from sin, from the bondages of Satan, not from life on the earth. Think about this difference in objective, for an understanding of the true objective may prove to be crucial to the diligence with which we pursue our discipleship, our redemption.
The Christian leaders who are proud, haughty, arrogant, will continue to tell their listeners to take the debt they owe God and reduce the amount: “You do not have to take up your cross and follow Jesus; you do not have to present your body a living sacrifice; you do not have to put to death the deeds of your body; you do not have to ‘endure to the end.’ Go ahead and ignore what Jesus and His Apostles said. God loves you so much He is anxious to carry you up to Paradise no matter how you behave. He will come to you in the pigpen and bless you. You do not have to arise and return to your Father’s house.
“Anyone who tells you that you have to live a holy life is a legalist, a Pharisee. You do not have to listen to him.”
All such pastors and teachers are wise if they make friends with those whom they are deluding. Such leaders are not serving the Lord Jesus, He already has found them unfit for the ministry. If they do not make friends with the ungodly, the worldly Christians, they will have no one to receive them when they die.
These lovers of themselves, these worshipers of their own bellies, charge everyone who is teaching holy, righteous behavior according to the words of the Apostles with being “legalistic.” Believers who are sincerely attempting to follow Christ and the Apostles are “legalistic,” they claim.
The charge of being legalistic is not found in the New Testament except against those who without heart were enjoining upon the saints the fine points of the Mosaic Law. No individual described in the New Testament accounts ever was accused of being legalistic for attempting to lead a holy life or for encouraging others to lead a holy, righteous life.
We have been in error. It is time to change. If we do not repent and begin to serve God diligently we will be swept away by the flood of spiritual darkness that is on the horizon.
Many of the Christian churches of today are morally bankrupt, without spiritual strength. They shall fall in the future. They have not done what the Lord and His Apostles have commanded. They have not built their house on the rock. They have become prisons of unclean spirits. They shall surely fall!
We stated previously that the second error, “Jesus does it all,” has some points in common with the true new covenant. Let us explain.
We are, as we have said, required to obey the various commandments written in the New Testament. We cannot fulfill them in our own strength; but through the blood of Calvary we have access to the very Throne of God so we may obtain wisdom and strength to enable us to overcome the world, Satan, and our own lusts and self-will.
When we walk in the Spirit of God we are able to overcome, one by one, the deeds that the New Testament condemns as sinful.
However, striving to follow the commandments of the New Testament is not the new covenant. The new covenant takes effect as Christ is formed in us. When Christ is formed in us we keep the laws of God by nature. This is the fullness, the rest we are seeking—the place where our greatest joy and desire is to do the will of the Father through Christ.
We keep the Word until the Word keeps us. The Lord Jesus is the Word made flesh. We are the flesh being made the Word, line upon line, command upon command, rule upon rule, here a little and there a little. Each day our adamic nature is brought down to death and each day the Life of Christ takes its place. This is the new covenant.
The new covenant travails until Christ is formed in us.
What role, then, do the commandments of the New Testament play? The commandments found in the Gospels and the Epistles are a mirror. As we look into the mirror of the Word we see the corruption of our personality.
As we see the corruption of our personality, and as God brings us into appropriate circumstances, we interact with the Spirit of the Lord so that change is created in us. Sometimes the program is painful. Sometimes we suffer as the Spirit destroys the sin from our personality.
We are being changed into the image of the Glory of the Lord.
The massive error of today is the concept that the transformation takes place apart from our endeavoring to follow the written commandments of the Lord and His Apostles. The new-covenant transformation never shall take place except as we vigorously, diligently interact with the Holy Spirit, praying, studying the Scriptures, fellowshiping with fervent disciples, giving, serving, seeking the gifts of the Spirit, and observing all of the other practices set forth in the New Testament.
Our change into the image of Christ never shall take place except as we press forward to grasp the heavenly calling for which we have been grasped.
The preachers of today, neither understanding nor experiencing the transforming power and virtue of Christ, are delighting their pleasure-loving congregations with the idea that the transformation from Adam to Christ takes place without effort as they continue to live in the lusts and desires of the flesh and soul.
The contemporary error is as though someone said, I have no need to attend grade school or secondary school because I am destined to be a Doctor of Philosophy.
It is as though an Israelite sat in Egypt and announced to everyone that God had given him the land of milk and honey.
The Apostle Paul spoke of the Christian discipleship as a race, a fight, a never-ending struggle to lay hold on Christ each day so we are enabled to keep from sinning and come to know Christ ever more perfectly.
Paul pressed toward the mark. Paul was a soldier, a fighter, the runner in the greatest of all races. He exhorted us to follow him.
He who endures to the end shall be saved. But the footnotes in our modern versions insist that enduring to the end is not necessary. They claim instead that we are saved by an abstract grace unrelated to our efforts to please God. This is a snare, a delusion, a myth, a fantasy—the product of a human mind seeking to understand God but not by the Spirit of truth.
The philosophy of an abstract, magical grace that brings fleshly, pleasure-loving, self-willed “believers” into the Presence of the Fire of Israel has permeated Christian thinking. Because of the weakness of our theology, humanism and certain aspects of oriental mysticism (imaging; thinking and speaking our wishes into being) have colored Gospel preaching.
It is noteworthy that some of the leaders of the Reconstructionist movement, which is part of the current error, have hatred toward Judaism. Why do they have hatred toward Judaism? Because Satan is afraid of the Jews. Satan is terrified of the Jews because they still are beloved of the living God, and the spirit of Satan is in the determination of the Reconstructionists to establish the Kingdom of God on the earth apart from Christ, apart from the Jews, apart from the city of Jerusalem, apart from the Temple Mount.
There are many among us who do not know the reality of the God of Israel. They are filthy dreamers who have crept into the Christian churches. They are arrogant, inflated with their dreams of worldly power. They are filled with hatred, as was Cain. They love money and work their religious magic for money, as did Balaam. They will perish in the presumption and rebellion of Korah.
When the Lord appears with His true saints He will put down the haters of the Jews, the adulterers, the money-lovers, the presumptuous. The saints who have walked in brokenness before Christ, being despised and cast out by their adulterous, covetous, carousing, militant, presumptuous “brothers,” will be exalted in that day.
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God has never changed. It was the same when the Lord Jesus walked the earth. It was the same during the ministry of the Apostles. It has been the same throughout the history of the Christian Church. It is the same today.
In every age the majority of “believers” have worshiped in their babylonish (manmade, man-centered, man-directed) systems while the true saints have been imprisoned, tortured, and slain for their faith—sometimes by the churches, sometimes by the civil government.
It is true today. The majority of believers are worshiping in their babylonish systems while the true saints are few in number. Those who know the Lord have always been a despised remnant and shall continue to be a despised remnant until the Lord appears.
The godly remnant of every age have lived before the Lord in humility, righteousness, holiness, and brokenhearted obedience. The false brothers have been filled with arrogance, hatred, presumption, boastfulness. They have pastored or attended large, imposing churches. They have prospered. They have been rich, needing nothing. They have been successful in this world.
The Lord Jesus would say to His godly remnant, to those who have ears to hear:
“Come away, My beloved. Your brothers and sisters have despised you. They have not understood your love for Me or the ways in which I have led you. They claim to be of Me but in truth they are of the synagogue of Satan. They yet shall worship God at your feet.
“Know that I love you with a love you cannot comprehend. Every detail of your life is supervised with the most exacting attention. I have given My angels charge over you to keep you in all your ways.
“Do not become discouraged. Do not fret because of those who trample on other people, who lie, cheat, steal in order to advance themselves.
“Do not become dismayed when you are misunderstood and rejected. I also was misunderstood and rejected in the midst of My people. I have called you to share My sufferings and My almighty Glory.
“Great darkness is rolling in upon the world. The tares shall come to maturity. The demons will have freedom to express themselves as they choose. They will gorge themselves on human flesh as men and women give themselves over to lust and violence.
“Keep your eyes on Me. I am greater than all. It is necessary that offenses come but woe unto those through whom the offenses are administered!
“The darkness, the violence, the filth, are all known to God. Out from the horrors of the moral nightmare facing mankind shall emerge My Bride. She shall be without spot or wrinkle. She shall come up out of the wilderness of this world leaning on Me alone.
“The creation awaits the touch of her hand to give it life, purpose, joy, peace, and every other good thing.
“Do not worry or be concerned. Men can do no more than kill your flesh. But I will raise you up at My coming and you shall live in My sight.
“I am Jesus the Lord, the Son of the living God. All the creation is held in the right hand of My power. Nothing—absolutely nothing—lives or moves or has its being apart from My knowledge and consent.
“I will bring to pass all I have promised you. A few more patient steps, a bit more trust in God, and you shall enter glory you cannot even imagine.
“Best of all, you shall be with Me forever. This is the promise of God to you.
“The winter is over and past. The time of singing has come. Come away with Me, My beloved.”
(“A Contemporary Error”, 3472-1)