THE PERVERSION OF GRACE
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
The current fundamental misunderstanding of the Kingdom of God, the poison that weakens the will of the Christian to resist sin, to overcome the devil, and that has led to so many other destructive teachings and practices, is the perversion of the Apostle Paul’s doctrine of grace.
The Divine grace in Christ has been grievously distorted and misapplied among us Gentiles. We do not understand that Paul was contrasting the works of the statutes and ordinances of Moses, such as circumcision, with the grace of God in Christ. Instead we are assuming Paul was contrasting godly behavior with the grace of God in Christ.
Table of Contents
THE PERVERSION OF GRACE
Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (Romans 4:16)
The Apostle Paul, who often was contradicted by Jewish teachers who could not grasp the fact that God was doing something new among men, especially among the Gentiles, taught us concerning “grace.”
The other writers of the New Testament emphasized godly behavior rather than imputed (ascribed) righteousness. But to the Jew of Tarsus was given by the Spirit of God the understanding of the Divine grace that has been brought to the elect through Christ. The doctrine of salvation by grace through faith is emphasized in the Book of Romans, Chapters Three through Five.
It is difficult for a Gentile believer to appreciate how radical a change is experienced when a devout Jew passes from trust in the works of the covenant given through Moses to faith in the finished work of Jesus.
Grace and truth have come to God’s elect through Jesus Christ; not just truth, but grace and truth (John 1:17).
It is the writer’s point of view that the Divine grace in Christ has been grievously perverted and misapplied among us Gentiles.
Notice, in the following verses, that Paul was not comparing Divine grace with godly behavior but Divine grace with the works of the Law of Moses.
Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, (Romans 2:17)
Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? (Romans 2:23)
Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; (Romans 3:20,21)
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. (Romans 3:28)
Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. (Romans 3:31)
What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? (Romans 4:1)
For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. (Romans 4:13)
(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. (Romans 5:13)
Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: (Romans 5:20)
Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? (Romans 7:1)
Paul was referring to the Law of Moses, not to godly behavior, when speaking of the superiority of grace.
It is impossible for Paul or anyone else to contrast godly behavior with the grace of God in Christ because the grace of God in Christ always will produce godly behavior if it is applied correctly.
Paul also pointed out the difficulty our flesh has concerning observing the Ten Commandments. But it never was Paul’s intention to leave the Christians with the impression they now are without law. Rather, the point is we are dead to the Law of Moses in order that we may be married to Christ.
We do not save ourselves by keeping the Law of Moses or any other religious or moral code. But when we are married to Christ and are living in and by Him we are free from the Law of Moses and now are able to keep the commandments given by Christ and His Apostles. As we keep the commandments found in the New Testament, Christ is formed in us.
As Christ is formed in us we keep the moral law of God by nature because of the Divine Life being created in us. If we do not obey Christ and His Apostles such that Christ is being formed in us we are not dwelling in the true grace of God. We are not “being saved.”
It never was, is not, and never will be God’s intention that His grace in Christ be used as a means of encouraging sinful behavior. The soul that sins shall die. It is only as we, through the grace of God in Christ, turn from our sins and serve God that we attain eternal life.
But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. (Galatians 2:17,18)
The present-day perversion and heresy is that Christ came to forgive the sins of men so He may bring them to Paradise in their unchanged state. This is the concept held by the majority of Christians. It is not scriptural.
Christ came to save men by delivering them from the Kingdom of Satan and bringing them into the Kingdom of God. Christ destroys the works of Satan in men. Apart from the moral transformation of the individual there is no salvation. It is the moral transformation that is the salvation, the redemption from the hand of the enemy.
Jesus did not come primarily to forgive our sins and bring us to Heaven, although an initial forgiveness is necessary if we are to start on the path to full reconciliation to God. Rather, the Lord Jesus came to deliver us from our sins. Forgiveness and deliverance are different concepts.
- Repentance and forgiveness remove the man from the cesspool.
- Deliverance removes the cesspool from the man.
Salvation is not the bringing of men from earth to Heaven. Salvation is the bringing of men from Satan to God.
Salvation is not a change of location, it is a change of the individual. By viewing the Christian salvation as a change of location from earth to Heaven we are destroying the work of God in the earth. We are perverting the Divine plan of redemption.
God placed man in the midst of Paradise on the earth. It is God’s intention to redeem fallen man, to restore man, now transformed through Christ, to Paradise on the earth.
Man has invented a plan whereby he receives Christ, has his sins forgiven, and then goes to Paradise in the spirit realm. The motive behind the invention is to be able to avoid the painful transition from the bondages of lust and self-will to actual righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God. By inventing a gospel of forgiveness that brings us to Heaven we have managed to avoid a radical change in our personality—a radical change that is necessary if we are to be able to hold Paradise once we gain it.
Most of the Apostle Paul’s writings have to do with actual righteousness, while a lesser part of his writings explain imputed (ascribed) righteousness. But we have seized on ascribed righteousness and have made it the only righteousness of the Christian redemption. It is our fleshly desires and love of self that prevent us from perceiving the stress of the Apostle on godly behavior.
Neither the Book of Acts nor the Epistles emphasizes ascribed righteousness except when Paul is reasoning with the Jews. The exhortations directed toward the Gentiles concern godly living. Paul declared in several instances that the believer who continues in the lusts of the flesh will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness [immorality], Idolatry, sorcery, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 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 5:19-21)
The grace of God in Christ takes the place of the Law of Moses and its statutes. The grace of God does not, however, take the place of godly behavior, the kind of behavior that always has been and always will be required of God’s creatures. There never can be an alternative to the eternal moral law of God, of which the Law of Moses is an elementary, external form.
God is holy, and man, who is made in the image of God, must be holy.
It always is a sin to commit adultery. It always is a sin to worship gods other than the Lord. The grace of God in Christ does not do away with the moral law. Rather, the grace of God in Christ establishes, upholds, the moral law (Romans 3:31).
The grace of God does not uphold the aspects peculiar to the covenant of the Law of Moses, such as circumcision or refraining from work on the seventh day of the week, except in their fuller, eternal expression. Rather, the grace of God greatly increases and establishes for eternity the moral law, the holiness and righteousness of God, of which the Mosaic ordinances were a limited expression.
Satan and man’s self-love have perverted the truth announced by Paul. The perversion of the concept of Divine grace into an escape to Heaven on the basis of a statement of belief in certain facts of theology is no small misunderstanding of theology. It has destroyed the purpose of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
First, let us define grace as the term is employed by many believers. Then we shall set forth what we think is the true, scriptural definition of grace.
Grace As Currently Defined by Many Believers
The term grace is used in our day to represent a waiving of God’s requirements concerning man’s behavior, an alternative to them. Christ is seen as coming to earth primarily to forgive the moral shortcomings of the believers so they may go to Heaven when they die.
The concept is that through the centuries man has not been able to meet God’s expectations. Therefore God in His love and mercy has made it possible for unimproved man to inherit life in the spirit Paradise in Heaven. The blood of Jesus is a “ticket” which sinful, rebellious man may use to obtain entrance to peace and joy in the spirit realm.
It is stated that it is not necessary for man to change his behavior; rather, it is his profession of “faith” in Christ that brings him into fellowship with God. In actual practice the profession of faith often proves to be a mental assent to certain theological facts rather than true faith in the living Jesus.
Grace is currently understood to be a changing of God’s standard of righteous and holy behavior, a changing of God Himself, so that man through Christ may be able to receive the inheritance of a son of God even though he remains sinful, self-centered, and disobedient to God.
An unchanged Adam is permitted back into Paradise. He is given to eat of the tree of life. Untransformed believers serve as kings and priests of God. God accepts man as he is, through Christ.
The father comes to his prodigal son in the pigsty, runs to him and falls on his neck, kisses him, puts the best robe on him, a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet, kills the fattened calf, and restores the family inheritance to him. The son then arises from among the pigs and returns to his riotous living, knowing his father will never disown him.
How unscriptural, misleading, and destructive is the doctrine of “once saved always saved” (meaning if we once make a profession of faith in Christ we never again need to worry about the judgment of God)! How many teachers of the Christian faith will stand before God with their followers and discover that God judges every man according to his works!
The story of the prodigal son teaches not only forgiveness but also true repentance as the means of gaining that forgiveness. How would the story have ended if the prodigal had never returned to his father?
Modern Christian theology stresses the father’s forgiveness but not the son’s repentance, apart from which there could have been no forgiveness or restoration.
The early apostles stressed repentance.
When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life. (Acts 11:18)
It is repentance that brings us to eternal life.
And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: (Acts 17:30)
Repentance is more than belief or feeling sorry for our sins. To repent is to turn away from the world, from sin, and from self-will. To repent is to turn to God, to righteous and holy works and obedience to the Lord. Any conversion experience that does not include the works of repentance does not bring salvation to the believer. It is not enough to believe or be remorseful—or even to confess our sinful state. There must be the works of repentance.
The implication of current teaching is that the citizens of Heaven and Hell are not distinguished by the kind of people they are but by whether or not they profess faith in the fact that Jesus died for their sins and was raised from the dead.
We know that if Jesus comes to an individual and he refuses God’s Christ, the judgment of God abides on him. We are not implying we can refuse to bow the knee to the Lord and then please God by our works. We cannot save ourselves by our own righteousness now that God has given His Son to die for our sins on the cross.
However, in our haste to show that man cannot save himself and that God has a grand plan of redemption for us, we have thrown out the proper scriptural balance. We are discounting the value God places on godly behavior. We are forgetting that only those who practice righteousness are accepted of God:
But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. (Acts 10:35)
The Scripture declares plainly that the person who practices unrighteousness will be judged of God whether or not he or she professes faith in Christ.
… I will give unto every one of you according to your works. (Revelation 2:23)
It is taught that the judgment of the believer’s sins was accomplished on the cross and all that God will judge henceforth is the believer’s works of service (meaning he will receive a marvelous reward if he serves God and a lesser reward if he does not). The contemporary doctrine is that the professor of faith in Christ has nothing to fear in the Day of the Lord even though he has neglected to serve Christ during his life on the earth.
The hastiest review of the New Testament writings will make plain that the concept of the lukewarm Christian having nothing to fear is a dreadful corruption of Paul’s doctrine of the grace of God in Christ.
And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:30)
We have made the Word of God of no effect by our traditions.
What a perversion of the Gospel of the Kingdom modern Christian teaching is!
Indeed, God does forgive the repentant heart. But God does not say, “I love you anyway even though you will not serve me.”
Rather, God commands, “Go and sin no more.”
God is not mocked. He understands well the difference between the truly repentant individual and the person who is presuming on God’s compassion so he may continue in his sins and rebellion.
We cannot outwit God by using the Gospel of Christ as a legal technique such that we can preserve our way of life and still receive the inheritance. God captures the crafty in their own craftiness. God deals shrewdly with the crooked (Psalms 18:26).
If we think carefully concerning what is being conveyed today, the grace of God in Christ is seen to be an admission of defeat on God’s part. Man, being hopelessly sinful and rebellious, will not serve God. God, therefore, has created a device known as “grace” whereby man can walk in unrighteousness, moral filth, and disobedience to God and still have fellowship with God through Christ.
How many ministers of the Gospel are living in sin today because of this concept of grace? They are trusting (and teaching) that God waives His standard and brings people into fellowship with Himself while they continue in their sins and rebellion against God.
“No one is perfect” they cry and proceed to practice sin and foolishness.
The logical conclusion of the present concept is that Paradise and the new Jerusalem are filled with sinful, self-centered, rebellious individuals who are “saved by grace” (meaning God does not see what they are or what they do because they are “covered” by the righteousness of Jesus). What the inhabitants are in nature and behavior has not been changed. Rather, they have been brought into a better environment (in Heaven) and partake of the righteousness of Christ by identification, not by transformed behavior.
Believers in Christ who do not, through His grace, overcome the world, their lusts, and their self-seeking, are still sinful, disobedient personalities after they die; unless being shed of our body of itself results in a change in our nature. But there is no passage of Scripture that teaches or implies that physical death results in a change in our personality or that the Lord Jesus will change our personality (other than our body) at His appearing.
Physical death is an enemy, according to the Scripture (I Corinthians 15:26), not the means of our transformation into the image of God. Also, we must consider the fact that Satan and other bodiless creatures rebelled against God while in the realm of spirits. If being in the spirit realm causes us to serve God, how, then, was it possible for the angels to transgress?
What passage of Scripture teaches us we become righteous, holy, and obedient to God on the basis of our entrance into the spirit realm, or that the Lord Jesus will transform lukewarm believers into mighty kings at His appearing? Is it not true rather that what we have become during our life on earth will be revealed at the Lord’s coming?
According to the Hebrew Prophets, God’s intention is to bring forth righteousness and praise in the sight of the nations of the earth.
For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations. (Isaiah 61:11)
If God’s purpose is to bring forth righteousness and worship that can be witnessed by the peoples of the nations of the earth, then the new covenant, the Christian covenant, as it is being presented today, is inferior to the old covenant in terms of God’s purposes. The old covenant insisted on godly living and there were penalties for violations of the Mosaic Law and statutes. But the new covenant (according to much current theology) carries few or no penalties. One can live as he pleases; and as long as he tells God he is sorry and that he is trusting in the righteousness of Jesus to save him, God loves him and forgives him for Jesus’ sake.
It is impossible for imputed (assigned) righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations. The nations look at how we behave. They are not interested in our legal standing before God or to what extent we share in the righteousness of Christ by being identified with Him. They consider what we say and do!
There is an old saying, “Love is blind but the neighbors ain’t!
Having your conversation [manner of life] honest [right; honorable] among the Gentiles [nations]: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. (I Peter 2:12)
“Your good works, which they shall behold.”
The implications of the doctrine of grace, as it is taught commonly, are not ordinarily examined. But they should be! Every doctrine set forth in the Christian churches (which are the only light of the world) should be examined carefully in terms of its adherence to the Scriptures and also (and especially) in terms of the fruit it is producing.
The believer, as he struggles against the present demon-filled world, Satan, and his own lusts and self-will, tends to follow the line of least resistance. The line of least resistance is the doctrine of grace as it is being preached today.
When the pressure becomes great enough the believer may succumb to what he knows in his conscience is not right. The Christian may try hard to live righteously; but when he is pressured enough he may sin. He is apt to do so because deep in his brain and heart is the concept that he is saved “by grace,” meaning that Jesus will overlook his sins and disobedience and receive him to Glory anyway.
The present logic declares that since we are saved by grace it is not essentially important how we behave in the world. We will not reap what we sow. We will be saved in any case even though we do not endure to the end. We can sow to the flesh and not reap corruption if we believe in Jesus. No one who professes faith in Jesus has anything to fear in the Day of Judgment—and so the current deception goes.
It is taught that we ought to make an attempt not to sin. But if we do sin, if we leave our wife or husband and commit fornication, if we steal, if we lie, if we disobey the call of God on us, we still will receive the inheritance because we are saved by grace and not by works. If the Christian does yield to temptation he will suffer no significant loss. This is the current position of Christians.
A corollary of the “grace” concept is the belief held by numerous Christians that all believers will receive the same reward. This notion is maintained in spite of the teaching of the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation.
The current basic misunderstanding of the Kingdom of God, the poison that weakens the will of the Christian to resist sin, to overcome the devil, and that has led to so many other destructive teachings and practices, is a perversion of the Apostle Paul’s doctrine of grace.
Such ideas as the pre-tribulation rapture, the overemphasis on the love of God, the “faith” and “prosperity” errors, and the division of the one Body of Christ into a “Gentile Church” and a “Jewish Kingdom” have produced a foolish, morally weak set of “believers” who know neither Christ nor God the Father, who are smug, arrogant, presumptuous, and well on their way toward becoming the False Prophet of Revelation, Chapter 13.
The sixth chapter of the Book of Romans teaches that the Christian salvation consists of a set of choices we make and continue making every day of our pilgrimage. Either we are choosing constantly to yield our body to righteousness or else we are choosing to yield our body to sin. The unsaved person, not having received the Virtue of God, is unable to choose to yield his body to righteousness. He is compelled to rebel against God because of the spirit of Satan who holds him captive.
He who receives Christ possesses the authority and power to choose to obey righteousness. Through the authority of the blood of the cross he can leave the kingdom of Satan and serve God. Through the power of the Holy Spirit he can overcome the desires of Satan, the world, and his own lusts and self-will, and walk in righteousness and holiness.
If the believer chooses to walk in righteousness and holiness he gains eternal life. He is allowed back into Paradise, so to speak, where he can partake of the tree of life and gain immortality.
But if the believer, having received Christ and been baptized in water, chooses to obey the lusts of sin, he destroys his own salvation. The Christian must choose each day to obey Christ, to abide in Him, to live by and in Him, to sow to the Spirit of God. If he does he will attain the first resurrection from the dead. He will be revealed together with Christ in that Day (Philippians 3:11; Colossians 3:4; II Thessalonians 1:10).
But if he does not choose to walk in the Spirit of God he will reap corruption. He will die spiritually (Romans 8:13; Galatians 6:8). He will slay his own resurrection.
To conceive of Divine grace as a waiving of the consequences of sin is to contradict directly the teaching of the Apostle Paul in the sixth chapter of Romans. The preachers of today, as did Satan in the garden, are teaching that we shall “not surely die.” But the Scriptures, both Old and New Testament, warn us that the soul that sins will die. Paul reinforces this principle in the sixth chapter of Romans.
Christ did not come to the world so the soul that sins will live. Rather, Christ came to give us the authority and power whereby we can choose not to sin. When we choose not to sin we regain access to the tree of life and eat and live forever in the Presence of God and the Lamb.
Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. (Revelation 22:14)
“That do his commandments.” Modern Christian theorists are removing the authority and power of such statements by claiming they apply to the Jews and not to the Gentiles. They are perverting the Gospel of Christ. Does God have two moral standards—one for the Jews and one for the Gentiles? Are there two seeds of Abraham? Two olive trees?
Are there two kingdoms of God—a superior, heavenly one for the Gentiles and a lesser, earthly one for the Jews? Does it follow, then, that the Gentiles will continue in sin and be saved “by grace” while the Jews, who are the natural branches of the cultivated olive tree, must keep the commandments of God?
Are we blind enough to defend such obvious anti-Semitism, such a mockery of the eternal plan of God, of the Gospel of Him who is gathering all things together in Christ?
Can the concept of two kingdoms, an earthly one of works and a heavenly one of “grace,” be found in the writings of the Apostles of the Lamb? Has it not rather been invented by theologians?
Christians, because of their conscience, and because there are some lingering ideas in society and in the churches of how a Christian ought to behave, practice righteousness and holiness to a greater or lesser degree depending on the individual’s conscience and will and the community standards. Personal devotion and the prevailing social expectations are taught and practiced to a limited extent. But this is in spite of, not because of, the current theory of grace.
One current edition of the Scriptures states in its comments on Ephesians 2:8,9 that we are saved unconditionally by grace apart from works. The full explanation in the footnotes is in direct opposition to the statement made by the Lord Jesus that we must endure to the end in order to be saved, and also to the exhortations of the Book of Hebrews and of First John.
The Lord Jesus said:
And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. (Matthew 10:22)
The edition, in its footnotes following Ephesians 2:8, states: “The grace of God is unconditional: we are not saved on the condition that we ‘hold out to the end’ or that we ‘fail not’ or that we ‘do our best.’ We are saved by the grace of God apart from works.” (New American Standard Bible, “The Open Bible Edition”, New York, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1979.)
Compare: “he that endureth to the end shall be saved”; “we are not saved on the condition that we ‘hold out to the end.’”
We see here an example of the influence of humanism on Christian scholars. The Word of God has been destroyed in our day and we are not even aware that it has happened.
Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? did not the Lord, he against whom we have sinned? for they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law. Therefore he hath poured upon him the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart. (Isaiah 42:24,25)
Every kind of sin is being practiced in the Christian churches and every kind of problem exists as a result. “He hath poured upon him the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not.”
The pastors and evangelists rush to assure their congregations that God loves them and all their problems are coming from the devil. But these Christian leaders are false prophets. Various natural disasters are afflicting the United States of America—earthquakes, floods, droughts. The pastors refuse to acknowledge the hand of God in these judgments and so the people do not repent and call on the Lord.
The third chapter of Hebrews warns us that we are made partakers of Christ if “we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end” (Hebrews 3:14). The entire epistle is addressed to backsliding, experienced believers. It is a stern warning to these Jewish saints to press forward to the “rest” of God—to the state of spiritual maturity in which our will has been changed into God’s will and we always are choosing to flow with the Spirit of God in the realms of moral image, relationships, fruitfulness, and power.
The Book of Hebrews refutes the concept of “once saved always saved,” of unconditional, irresistible salvation. Our possession of the Divine salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ depends on our faithfulness and diligence in laying hold of it.
We will not escape the wrath of God if we neglect the salvation He is offering to us through Christ. Neglecting one’s salvation (Hebrews 2:3) is not directed primarily to an initial refusal to accept Christ. Rather, the warning is directed toward Christians who are not walking by faith, not seeking God in every aspect of life in the assurance that God exists and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him diligently.
Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; (Hebrews 3:12-14)
Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. (Hebrews 4:1)
Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. (Hebrews 5:11,12)
For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. (Hebrews 6:7-9)
And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:11,12)
For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. (Hebrews 10:26,27)
But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul. (Hebrews 10:39)
Today’s Christian scholars, teachers, pastors, and evangelists in many instances are not presenting the teachings of the Scripture. The scholars are following blindly their deductions from the “key verses” they have chosen. They are not adhering to what the Scriptures state. Rebellious man is perverting the Word of the most high God.
It is possible to make a profession of Christ and then be cast away. Jesus Himself declared that the unfruitful branch will be cut out of the vine (John 15:2).
Notice the implications of the following parable:
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, (Matthew 13:47-49)
The angels shall come forth at the end of the age and separate the wicked from among the righteous. What wicked and what righteous? The wicked from among the righteous of the Kingdom of Heaven. The wicked shall be removed from the Kingdom of Heaven at the end of the age. Does this sound like grace that is separate from works? Does this agree with a “pre-tribulation rapture?”
Or is this just for the Jews? Are the Jews the only members of the Kingdom of Heaven?
What unscriptural doctrines are preached in our day!
The often-repeated argument that those who fall away were never saved to begin with will not stand the test of reality. If this argument were true, no individual could know whether he was truly saved until the day he or she died and stood before the Lord.
There are numerous people who truly were “saved” at one time who later fell away, who backed away from the path on which the Lord was leading them, who neglected their salvation in favor of some worldly delight.
Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you. (Colossians 4:14)
For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. (II Timothy 4:10)
Was Paul mistaken about Demas in the first place? Did Demas’ love for the world and forsaking of Paul not affect his salvation? Or is it just the Jews who must behave righteously or else they never were saved? What nonsense is preached today!
Most believers know of one or more persons who started in the way of eternal life and then turned back into the world. But the theoreticians keep on in their removal from reality proclaiming that if a person turns back into the world he never had eternal life in the first place.
Is there a passage in the Scriptures that teaches if we once put our hand to the plow we are not to turn back?
And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:62)
The doctrine that teaches a genuine Christian cannot turn back is set forth to please the pleasure-seeking, lukewarm, backslidden, careless, sinful, rebellious churchgoers of our day. Their ministers inform them that they cannot possibly lose God’s favor no matter how they behave. Why don’t their shepherds warn them that their behavior indicates they never have been saved from the beginning, if this is what the leaders truly believe?
Christian scholars, teachers, and evangelists indeed are teaching a perversion of Paul’s doctrine of grace and the morally and spiritually corrupt fruit can be witnessed on every side.
No matter how the leaders may hedge their statements and beliefs when confronted with the implications and fruit of their teaching, the contemporary understanding of grace is reflected in such reasoning as:
“I ought to try to do good. But if I continue to sin, Jesus loves me and has saved me by grace. I can fornicate, use profane language, abuse my body, lie, steal, gossip, and never set aside my own life and seek the Lord Jesus. I know my behavior is not pleasing to the Lord, but this is what we all do. When I die I shall go to Heaven to live in a mansion because I am saved by grace.”
This is what numerous believers in Christ think in their mind and believe in their heart and it is the reason why the Christian churches are not setting an example of morality in the eyes of the nations of the earth. The perversion of grace has destroyed the Christian testimony. The light of the world is not shining.
The only spiritual light of the world is the good works of the Christian people (Matthew 5:16). When the Christians are abiding in their statements of doctrine rather than in Christ, works of righteousness and holiness are not revealed in their personalities. There is no moral light to guide the nations.
Two prostitutes came to a street evangelist and asked for the blessing of God. The evangelist expected they would desire to repent of their sinful profession. They responded that they loved their work, that they intended to continue in it, that their hearts were pure, and they wanted God to bless them. They believe their hearts are pure because they have been taught a perverted gospel of grace.
A mother recently was heard to say that she knew her children had Jesus in them so she was not concerned about how they behaved. Yet her children are behaving in a manner sternly condemned by the Scriptures. (So is the mother by taking such an attitude.)
This is the fruit of contemporary Christian teaching!
These people are behaving consistently in terms of the current doctrine of “grace”—more consistently, in fact, than believers who claim that a person who behaves unrighteously never was a genuine Christian and at the same time maintain that it is not necessary to behave righteously in order to be a Christian.
Grace Is God’s Provision for Sin
How many Christian people practice sexual misconduct, behavior that has brought the wrath of God on many nations of history, knowing in advance they will practice it, and then the next day ask God to forgive them and believe He will wash away in the blood of Jesus the acts of lust they have decided on in advance and have practiced willfully? They are behaving consistently with what they have been taught. They are making Christ the minister of sin.
God has made provision for the believer who is overtaken in a sin and who then repents vigorously, turns away from his sin as the filthy, destructive thing it is, makes whatever restitution is necessary, and prays for the power to resist that sin in the future. God will forgive him; but restitution may be required and there may be severe, long-term consequences following the sin. Experienced saints understand well that such is the case.
The provisions the Lord has made for sin under both covenants are for those who are overtaken in a fault.
Or if he touch the uncleanness of man, whatsoever uncleanness it be that a man shall be defiled withal, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty. (Leviticus 5:3)
Several times, in the opening chapters of Leviticus, the sacrifice was described as being for the Israelite who sinned through ignorance. But there is no provision under the old covenant or the new covenant for willful, presumptuous sin:
Ye shall have one law for him that sinneth through ignorance, both for him that is born among the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them. But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the Lord; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Because he hath despised the word of the Lord, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him. (Numbers 15:29-31)
For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, (Hebrews 10:26)
It is reported that one lady who was preparing to commit fornication prayed, “Dear Lord, forgive us for what we are about to do.” She was acting consistently with her understanding of the grace of God. (We ought to know better than this!) She thinks she is able to have her cake and eat it too.
Why not? She believes she is saved unconditionally by grace, not by works of righteousness she has done. The blood of Christ is the covering for her sin. It is under Christ’s patronage and protection that she is sinning. The blood of Jesus is making it possible for her to sin and still reap the reward of the righteous. This is what is being taught and practiced today.
There are many passages of the New Testament that prevent the sinning believer from inheriting the Kingdom of God (Galatians 5:21, for example). But all these passages are explained away by modern theologians.
One minister of the Gospel, when questioned concerning the statements of the Book of Hebrews that warn the sinning Christian, declared that the Book of Hebrews was written to the Jews and does not apply to the Gentiles. Thus we pervert the Word of God.
Paul’s doctrine of the grace of God in Christ has been twisted by Satan and by self-seeking man. One phase of the contemporary harvest-rain revival is the restoration of the truths of the Kingdom of God to the members of the Body of Christ. When we know the truth that Christ Is, the truth sets us free—free from sin, worldliness, and self-will.
The truth that Christ Is sets us free from all unrighteousness, from moral filthiness, and from disobedience to the God of Heaven. The truth delivers us from all the authority and power of the devil. The truth sets us free to walk in eternal life before God. The truth restores to us all that was lost in Eden and then adds to us the glorious wealth God has prepared for those who love Him.
As long as the nature of the new covenant and the Kingdom of God is misunderstood, little progress will be made in repentance and godliness on the part of the Lord’s flock. God may have winked at our past ignorance but today He is commanding us to repent.
The end result of the perversion of Paul’s doctrine of grace has been the destruction of the spiritual life and testimony of the Christian churches.
The Spirit of God is ready to send a spirit of repentance on the Christians of the United States of America. It is likely there are hundreds of thousands of believers who would be more than willing to follow the Spirit in repentance if there were someone to lead them. But the erroneous doctrine of “grace” destroys the foundation on which fervent repentance is based by deceiving the believers into thinking God does not see their sinning because the righteousness of Christ is covering their behavior. Of what is one to repent if what he or she is practicing is not sin in the sight of God?
The latter-rain revival, the pouring out of God’s Spirit on all flesh in the last days, will restore righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God to the members of the Body of Christ (Joel 2:23-29).
Grace As Defined by the Scriptures
Let us think for a moment about the scriptural concept of “grace.”
It is the writer’s point of view that the Divine grace given to us through the Lord Jesus is not a waiving of God’s expectations concerning the nature and conduct of man on the earth. Rather, grace is the Virtue of God, in fact, the very Presence of God, given to man through Christ to enable him to meet completely and perfectly every one of God’s requirements and expectations.
Both concepts of Divine grace are not correct. Either grace is a waiving of God’s expectations or else Divine grace is the power to meet those expectations.
Either Divine grace is a waiving of God’s standard concerning man so that sinful, rebellious man may be received into the spirit Paradise on his physical death, or else Divine grace is an impartation of God’s Virtue with the end in view of restoring righteousness, holiness, and meekness to man so he may find rest in God and God in him, on the earth, in Heaven, and everywhere else.
Either we receive eternal life on the basis of a legal maneuver of God or else God has offered to us the ability through Christ to overcome sin so we lawfully may regain access to the tree of life.
Either grace sets aside the Kingdom principles of cause and effect, of sowing and reaping, or else grace forever establishes those principles and changes man so that what man is and does results in the blessing of God and fellowship with God.
Either God has fellowship with an individual according to the person’s religious beliefs concerning the atonement, the resurrection, the virgin birth, the nature of the Trinity, and the other tenets of the Christian religion, or else God has fellowship with an individual according to what the individual is and how he behaves.
Throughout history religious men have emphasized the beliefs of their own group. It is the writer’s point of view that God and His Christ care little for our knowledge of theology. They have fellowship with us in terms of what we are as a person.
God is delighted with a joyfully righteous individual who fears God, who trusts God, who deals with God straightforwardly and respectfully, whether or not his understanding of theology is accurate. We notice in the four Gospels that when the Lord spoke of His coming He never mentioned our doctrinal position but He did warn us concerning our conduct.
But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 24:48-51)
God takes no pleasure in a smug, arrogant, presumptuous, deceitful, overconfident person no matter how perfect his beliefs may be. God does not have fellowship with us according to our religion but according to what we are as a person. The Kingdom of God does not consist of theologians and religiously ambitious and “correct” people but of saints who are joined together in the Spirit of God.
God and Christ do not have fellowship with us on the basis of grace but on the basis of what kind of person we are and how we behave. Anyone who walks with the Lord understands that Jesus is a Person, not an aloof system that operates in terms of the manner in which we have been able to bind God with certain “key verses.”
If our religious beliefs do not lead us to Jesus the Person so that each day we come to know Him better, our religious beliefs are worse than useless. They are of religious Babylon—the organized religious confusion that keeps the believers ignorant of the Lord and His ways.
Jesus the Person has nothing whatever to do with a “grace” that receives the sinful and disobedient into the spirit Paradise, and then condemns those who never have heard the Gospel to the Lake of Fire.
The Lord Jesus receives the prostitute, the drunkard, the thief, the murderer, and everyone else who comes to Him for help. The Lord Jesus possesses the authority to forgive anyone whom He chooses and bring him into the Kingdom of God. This is the meaning of John 5:24, which is one of the more important of the “key verses” from which the deadly conclusions are drawn.
The thief on the cross who acknowledged the kingship of Jesus is an excellent example of the authority of Jesus to bring to Paradise whom He will. (Not knowing the background of the thief we do not know the depths of his repentance or the commitments he had made to God while hanging on the cross.)
Where the present-day understanding of Divine grace has gone off course is in the area of the distinction between coming to Jesus, on the one hand, and accepting doctrinal statements, on the other hand. Today’s converts, in many instances, are coming to doctrinal positions for salvation rather than to Christ.
The purpose of the Scriptures is to bring us to Jesus, not to a mental belief. When we come to Jesus He forgives our sins and deposits a portion of eternal life in our mortal personality. The depositing of a portion of eternal life in our personality is not a figurative expression meaning we shall live forever (all spirits live forever!). Rather, it means an actual portion of Divine Life has been placed in our mortal personality.
From then on we are to abide in Christ each day of our discipleship so the Divine Life given to us may be nourished and strengthened. If our new life is nourished and strengthened it will, at the coming of Jesus, make alive our mortal body. But if we permit the cares and things of the present world to choke out the eternal life that has been given to us, then there will be no inner Divine Life, no “oil” to make alive our body in the Day of the Lord.
It is God’s Spirit who dwells in us, not our doctrinal position, who will make alive our body in the Day of Christ (Romans 8:11).
The Lord Jesus judges us, rebukes us, corrects us, and does everything else necessary to encourage the growth of Divine Life in us and to conform us to all the requirements of the Godhead. Meanwhile, the blood of the cross keeps us righteous in God’s sight.
The blood makes up the difference between our present personality and behavior and the personality and behavior God requires. The personality and behavior God requires will be the actual state of our personality when we have been completely redeemed.
We have no scriptural basis for believing that the blood continues to forgive our sins even though we are not participating in the program of redemption just described. The blood of Jesus covers only those who continue to walk in the light of God’s will for their lives.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (I John 1:7)
Today, in numerous instances, the converts are assenting to the facts of salvation, having been taught four or five “key verses” (verses appearing to fit the current idea of redemption) and are trusting they are candidates for Heaven. They do not know Jesus. They never have met the Master and they are not walking in the light of His Presence and will.
Numerous Christian believers are not disciples of Jesus. Therefore the writings of the Apostles do not apply to them to any great extent (except for the passages of warning—which are numerous). It is only as we continually hear Christ and abide in Him that we have everlasting life and are without condemnation.
The believer who is hearing Jesus and abiding in Him is not committing sin (I John 3:6). He is being taught by the Spirit to overcome sin. He is walking in confession of sin and repentance. Each day he is growing in godliness.
Notice the emphasis in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation on having “ears to hear” the voice of the Lord Jesus. This passage is directed toward the churches, the golden lampstands. To hear the Word of Christ is not to read the Scriptures, as important as the Scriptures are. Rather, to hear the Word of Jesus is to hear through the Spirit the Word of the living Christ. As many as are led by the Spirit, they are the sons of God.
Numerous believers have been taught from the Scriptures but never have met the Lord or heard His voice. To be learned in the Scriptures is not the same as knowing God. The Scriptures never shall pass away—not even when the heaven and the earth pass away. But for all their supreme value, to know the Scriptures is not the same as knowing Jesus. It is the knowledge of Christ, not the knowledge of the Scriptures, that is eternal life.
Some are teaching today that the Scriptures and Jesus are one and the same, that Christ is the Bible and the Bible is Christ. This is not at all true. The Bible is not our Lord nor the Bridegroom nor the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Continued growth in godliness and an ever-deepening personal knowledge of the Lord Jesus are a different matter from the lukewarmness of those who think they have bound God to certain verses taken out of context (as so often is the case with John 5:24; John 1:12; Romans 10:9,10; Romans 6:23; Romans 8:1; and Ephesians 2:8,9) and now possess a guarantee that no matter how they live, whether or not they lay aside their life and follow Jesus, they certainly will be received warmly into the spirit Paradise when they die.
This is the perversion of grace.
Jesus indeed does give everlasting life and freedom from condemnation to every person who hears His Word and believes in God. But this hearing and faith is a continuing process. It is the way of faith, the road to eternal life. It by no means is referring to a one-time action in which we “make a decision for Christ” and then continue in our customary manner of living.
The expression “the righteous shall live by faith” means the righteous live every moment in obedience to God and in union with Him rather than according to their own pride, mental understanding, and soulish desires. “The righteous shall live by faith” is not referring to adherence to a set of doctrinal beliefs. It is speaking of the way of faith, of seeking the Lord in all areas of what we think and what we say and do. It is speaking of living by faith.
The redemption that is in the Lord Jesus either is the forgiving of a person so when he dies he can go to another world where he cannot sin, or else the Christian redemption is the transformation of a person so he can bring the Kingdom of God, the doing of God’s will, into the earth. The earth always is given to the meek, to those who practice righteousness, who love mercy, and who walk humbly with the Lord.
Divine grace either changes the standard and the environment, or the man. Which is it?
The wrong answer destroys the purpose of Calvary.
God comes to sinful man and offers him complete forgiveness of his sins through the blood atonement made by the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary.
But to what end is man offered forgiveness? To the end he may go to the spirit Paradise when he dies? Is this why God forgives men through Christ—so in their untransformed state they may go to a place of joy in the spirit realm? Is this what the Scriptures teach? What passage of the Scriptures teaches that man is forgiven so he may go to Heaven when he dies?
This is not what the Scriptures teach. Such a concept is without basis in the Scriptures. It is a modern man-centered myth designed to remove from man all responsibility for his salvation. He can disobey God repeatedly and then inherit the approval and blessing of God when he dies.
Man is offered forgiveness, not that he may enter the spirit Paradise when he dies but that he may repent of his sins and enter the program of salvation from sin and self-will.
There are a few passages of the Book of Revelation that portray redeemed man in the Presence of God and Christ in Heaven (people never are portrayed as living in mansions). But those who are in Heaven are waiting until God has made it possible for them to return to the earth, which is the eternal home of man.
And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. (Revelation 5:10)
And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (Revelation 21:2)
The rulers of the ages to come are prepared in the Presence of God in Heaven so they may return to the earth and bring the will of God to pass in the earth. In fact, God Himself and His Christ will return to dwell in the earth, as was true in the beginning. This is the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom from Heaven.
The elect who are abiding in Christ go to the Presence of God when they die, not because Heaven is their home but because Christ is their eternal home. They must wait until it is time to return to the earth. No passage of the Scriptures teaches that when people die they go to Heaven to live forever. Grace is not a means of bringing untransformed people to the spirit Paradise when they die.
The fate of man is not decided when he dies. The fate of man is decided when he stands before the judgment seat in the Day of Christ. The spirit realm is an area of waiting until the Lord comes, raises the dead, and appoints each individual his portion depending on how he has lived on the earth.
To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (I Corinthians 5:5)
Notice in the above verse that the question is not whether or not this sinning Christian will go to Heaven by grace but whether or not his spirit will be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. If the current doctrine of grace were true there would be no question of his entrance into Heaven. He is a Christian. He goes to Heaven by grace. The blood of Jesus covers his fornication with his father’s wife.
The present-day scholars will respond by saying this man was not truly saved in the first place, because if he were, his salvation never could be placed in jeopardy.
This argument is contrived and confusing and it goes in circles. Are we to say that there are multitudes of believers who are not truly saved? They think they are acceptable to Jesus but they are not? That if they truly are saved their salvation can never be placed in jeopardy?
If such is the case, how can we know if anyone is saved? By his works? If so, our teaching is shown to be true.
Or is it true that we cannot know whether or not we are saved? Are we claiming that if a person commits fornication with his father’s wife he never was saved in the first place? We know the incestuous believer was a member of the church of Corinth for he was chastised and then forgiven by the church (II Corinthians 2:6,7).
Is it true that if a person sins it is because he never was truly saved to begin with? As we stated previously, the end result of this argument is that no individual can be assured of his salvation until he stands before Jesus.
In the footnotes of the edition of the Bible referred to earlier, the statement is made that the believers being discussed in Hebrews 6:4-8 are professors of religion who never had possessed a true relationship with Christ and that is why it was possible for them to fall away.
Yet, these “professors” were “enlightened,” had “tasted of the heavenly gift,” had been made “partakers of the Holy Ghost,” and had “tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come.”
According to this edition of the Scriptures these never were truly saved. What, then, is their definition of salvation? It can be observed, therefore, to what lengths today’s theorists will go to provide a basis for the perversion of grace they are setting forth.
We have stated that the fate of man is decided when he stands before the judgment seat in the Day of Christ. There is an exception to this. Those Christians who, as was true of Paul, press forward in Christ, can attain the “out-resurrection” (Philippians 3:11, Greek term).
In order to arrive at the out-resurrection (Greek—exanastasis) we must continue confessing and repenting of our sins, obeying God perfectly from the heart, walking in the power of Christ’s resurrection, being changed into the death of the cross, until we are perfectly reconciled to God. We can pass through the Judgment Seat of Christ while we yet are in the present world if we are willing to do so.
For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? (I Peter 4:17)
If we follow the Lord Jesus to this extent, when we die we will take our place in the Presence of Christ, there to await our appearing with Him in the Day of His revealing. If we attain the earlier resurrection from among the dead, the second death no longer will possess authority over us (Revelation 20:4-6). We will have passed through the judgment of our sin and attained the resurrection out from among the dead. Attaining the first resurrection is the end result of living the life of victory in Jesus.
It can be understood, therefore, how terribly misleading and destructive the current perversion of grace is. By emphasizing the flight of man to the spirit realm on the basis of his assent to certain key verses of the Scriptures, the entire concept of overcoming, of attaining the Presence of God, is eliminated from the minds of the saints. The resulting apathy and unpreparedness is precisely what Satan desires.
Satan understands that it is through the victorious saints, those who have pressed forward to perfect conquest in Jesus, that his kingdom will be overthrown. If Satan can persuade the believers that all there is to the Christian redemption is a flight to the spirit Paradise, and that the authorization for this flight is nothing more than an assent to the facts of the atonement, he can continue to seek his will and image among the nations of the earth. The inheritance of Christ thus remains in Satan’s hands.
The concept of the so-called “pre-tribulation rapture” is very acceptable to Satan. By encouraging the believers in Christ to look toward an escape from the earth rather than toward victory in Christ in the earth, Satan hopes to prolong his dominion in the earth.
Satan is not concerned about how many people flee into the spirit realm. What Satan is concerned about is the creation of the brothers of Christ (Romans 8:29). He knows that the Scriptures point toward the glorious Day when Christ, Head and Body, will return to drive out from the earth all wickedness. In that Day the Glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. This is the coming of the Kingdom of God foretold by John the Baptist, Jesus of Nazareth, and the Apostles of the Lamb.
The coming of the Day of the Lord signals the end of Satan’s dominion over the earth.
The current concept of grace works against the development of godly people. It works against the fervent determination the believer must possess if he or she is to attain the out-resurrection and return with the Lord Jesus.
The current concept of grace serves only to attract large numbers of people into the Christian “clubs” (we do not say churches) and to keep them from setting aside their own life, taking up their cross, and following the Master. Rather, they are to wait until they die and go to Heaven or until the Lord comes and takes them to Heaven.
The concept of the resurrection from the dead and our living once again in our body on the earth is virtually unknown to the present generation of Christians. The apostolic emphasis on the resurrection from the dead has been set aside in favor of an unscriptural stress on the catching up (“rapture”) of the believers. It is a false vision and the people are perishing as a result.
After God forgives a person He plants Christ in him and gives him of the Holy Spirit. The purpose of giving to a human being such Divine blessings is that he may overcome sin and self-seeking and grow into the image of God.
The white raiment with which the members of the Wife of the Lamb are clothed in the Day of the Lord is the righteous conduct of people who have been transformed through their living relationship with Christ (Revelation 19:8). It is a “house from heaven” that is formed as the believer sows his body to the death of the cross and lives in the resurrection Life of the Lord.
The Spirit of God brings the individual through numerous experiences and teaches and builds him up through various ministries. The Holy Spirit has been charged with purifying the Bride in preparation for her marriage to the Lamb.
It is the believer’s part to lay down his life, take up his cross, and follow the Lord Jesus. It is the Spirit’s part to lead the believer through the steps of sanctification until his ways please the Lord. Meanwhile, the blood of the atonement keeps on making the believer acceptable to God.
The law of cause and effect, of sowing and reaping, never has been waived or changed and never will be changed. It is the fundamental law of personality and behavior that governs all God’s creatures. No exception is made for believing Gentiles. God and His standard never change.
Rather, under the new covenant the individual has been given the opportunity to be changed through the Virtue of Christ. It is not what he reaps that is changed, it is what he sows that is changed.
The Lord Jesus did not come to forgive the liar so he can go to Heaven. The Lord Jesus came to change the liar into a truthful person so he can have fellowship with God. All liars will have their part in the Lake of Fire.
The Lord Jesus did not come to forgive the adulterer so he can go to Heaven to live forever in a mansion. The Lord Jesus came to change the adulterer into a morally pure person so he can have fellowship with God and inherit the Kingdom of God. All adulterers will be thrown into the Lake of Fire.
The end result of the work of Divine grace is the creation of the Kingdom of God—the performing of God’s will in the earth as it is in Heaven. The goal of the Christian redemption is not our going to Paradise when we die but the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. The Kingdom of God is made up of people who behave righteously.
Don’t the prostitutes enter the Kingdom before the self-righteous? Yes they do, because the prostitutes will repent of their behavior and follow Jesus.
Are we preaching that we are saved by our own dead works? Most assuredly not. We are preaching that true salvation produces, lives in, and is brought to maturity as the believer interacts with the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Apart from such daily transformation there is no salvation, no Kingdom of God, no eternal life.
The “state of grace” and “dispensation of grace” that are preached are not of God, not scriptural, and totally destructive of God’s intention under the new covenant.
The Kingdom of God is the doing of God’s will in the earth as it is performed in Heaven. Therefore any teaching suggesting that the Kingdom of God is something other than the actual performing of God’s will by people in the earth, the actual practice of righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God, is against the Christian Gospel, the Gospel of the Kingdom of God—that which was preached by John the Baptist, Jesus of Nazareth, and the Apostles of the Lamb.
Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:19)
If the believer does not understand this he does not understand what salvation is. Salvation primarily is deliverance from Satan, from the world, from our own lusts, and from our self-will. Salvation is deliverance from the power of sin and the receiving of Divine Virtue so that we practice righteousness.
Forgiveness is our introduction to the program of deliverance. Forgiveness does not stand by itself as the product of the work of Calvary. Forgiveness, the appeasing of God’s wrath by the shed blood of the cross, has meaning only in terms of the deliverance of the individual. Forgiveness is maintained only on the condition that the believer is moving forward in the program of release, of redemption. The moment the believer in Jesus begins to grow careless, to draw back, to neglect his salvation, he comes into disfavor with the Lord.
Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. (Hebrews 10:38)
It is obvious that many passages of the New Testament speak of works of righteousness we Christians are to perform. This is true of the writings of the Apostle Paul—the principal proponent of “grace.” But pastors and evangelists do not always make clear the role of works in the Christian redemption.
One well-intentioned but misleading explanation of the relationship of works to grace is that we are saved by grace (unconditionally forgiven) but we ought to do good works because we love Jesus.
This explanation is unfruitful for two reasons. First of all, the spiritual environment has become so demonized, the lusts with which we are tempted so powerful, that all such good intentions break down quickly. We yield to sin, trusting we will be forgiven “by grace.”
Second, we have no support in Scripture for such an attitude. This is not the scriptural relationship between faith and works. Good works are not a “nice” thing we do to please Jesus. According to the sixth chapter of the Book of Romans, if we Christians continue to serve unrighteousness we will die spiritually. Faith apart from works of righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God is dead.
Righteous conduct, holiness of personality and behavior, and obedience to the Father are the product and evidence of salvation. Redemption produces iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to God. Therefore there never can be a division between being saved and righteous behavior.
To be saved apart from works, according to the Apostle Paul, is to be saved apart from the works of the Law of Moses, not apart from righteous, holy behavior. What sense would the concept of being saved apart from righteous behavior make when the product and evidence of salvation is a new creation of righteousness?
Today the Lord Jesus is waiting until His enemies have been made His footstool (Hebrews 10:13). To forgive an individual is not to make the enemies of Christ His footstool. The enemies of Christ are made His footstool only when Satan has been overcome and driven from the personality of the individual—and this by the believer’s own choice.
It was man who allowed Satan to enter the earth. It has been given to man to drive Satan out of the earth. Man can do this only by his union with Christ.
If the Christian redemption primarily is forgiveness, then the new covenant is no more effective than the old covenant. Also, Christ is portrayed as the one who excuses the sins of his disciples. If such is the case, then God did not send Christ into the world so through him the world may be delivered from sin but so man may continue without penalty as a sinful creature. That would be a doing away with the law of sowing and reaping. It would become true that the soul that sinned would not die. We could continue in our sins because of God’s “love” expressed through Christ.
If the Christian redemption primarily is the forgiving of man with the intent of bringing him to Heaven when he dies, the Christian redemption is useless as far as establishing God’s Kingdom in the earth is concerned. It would mean that Jesus is not King of kings and Lord of lords over the earth; that the kingdoms of the world never will come under the rulership of Christ; that the Glory of God never will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea; that the words of the Hebrew Prophets never will be fulfilled.
If the Christian salvation primarily is the forgiving of man so he can go to Heaven, there to live without temptation, the saints never will reign over the earth. The saved would live a new kind of life in Heaven—a life about which the Scriptures say virtually nothing. The description of the Kingdom of God by the Hebrew Prophets would contain little of interest to the Christian because his future would be in the spirit realm with the angels. The return of Christ would mean no more to him than the opportunity to escape to the spirit Paradise.
If the Christian salvation primarily is the forgiving of man so he can go to a sin-free environment, it is not reasonable he should spend his life learning stern obedience to the Spirit of God. There would be no need for him to master the lessons of patience, of faithfulness, of love, of diligence. He would not need a transformed character in Heaven. Since all believers would receive the same reward, why should the Christian seek the face of Jesus? Why should he endure year after year the painful self-denial that is such a vital part of the victorious life, of gaining the Kingdom of God? (James 1:4; Revelation 1:9.)
This concept of grace would let the nations continue in darkness. Justice never would come to them. Meanwhile the Christian people, the light of the nations, would be playing in their mansions.
The modern concept of Divine grace apparently is not aware that the return of Jesus and His saints is for the purpose of bringing justice to the nations. The saints who lived their self-willed lives before Christ’s coming would live their self-willed lives in the spirit Paradise while the nations of the world continued to stagger about in moral blindness, violence, and lust. The so-called “royal priesthood” would be singing and dancing on the streets of gold. The members of the Body of Christ would be enjoying their rubies and diamonds while laying in bed in their mansions.
What an abortion of the Gospel of the Kingdom modern teaching is! It does not preach or speak of the Kingdom of God because there is no Kingdom life or power in it. It is an invention of man, an invention designed (however unwittingly) to prevent Christ from destroying the works of Satan in the earth.
The Kingdom of God is God in Christ in the saints ruling over all the works of God’s hands. Because of this the Spirit of God works without ceasing, building the members of the Body of Christ into a perfect man, into the measure of maturity as measured by the fullness of the stature of Christ.
The Kingdom of God is the doing of God’s will in the earth. The Kingdom of God establishes, not waives, the Divine moral standard.
The Kingdom of God will come to the earth as soon as the saints, the members of the Body of Christ, have been brought into total, restful union with God through Christ. It is only as Jesus and God are dwelling in us, have perfect and complete control over us, and we are being joyously obedient to Their will, that it is possible for us to return with Christ and be of help to the nations of the earth.
Let us ask the Lord to remove totally from our heart and mind the concept that the Christian salvation is the Divine apology for the behavior of God’s elect. We have been predestined from the creation of the world to be changed into the moral image of the Lord Jesus. But it remains for us to lay hold on that to which we have been called or else we will die in the wilderness of unbelief and disobedience, just as a generation of unbelieving Israelites died in the wilderness and never entered their predestined land of promise (Genesis 15:18).
I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. (Jude 1:5)
The greatest era of all is here. The Kingdom of God, the doing of God’s will in the earth, is at hand. Let each of us set aside his own life, take up his cross, and follow Jesus. As we count ourselves crucified with the Lord Jesus and then proceed to live by the power of His resurrection life we shall gain the upper hand over sin. We shall proceed to destroy all the works of the devil in the earth, beginning with our own personality.
(“The Perversion of Grace”, 3927-1)