I am writing my 5th response to this article who has accused the Grace Movement as a false teaching: http://www.learningfromthemaster.com/apps/blog/categories/show/1666488-grace-movement
Part 1 of the respond is here: https://hischarisisenough.wordpress.com/2013/08/21/grace-teachers-are-not-false-messiahs-grace-is-not-a-false-movement-1/
Part 2 of the respond can be found here: https://hischarisisenough.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/myths-that-itching-ears-want-to-hear-grace-is-not-a-false-movement-2/
Part 3 of my respond can be found here:https://hischarisisenough.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/penalties-and-repentance-grace-is-not-a-false-movement-3/
I want to respond to this part of the article today:
“The Grace Movement teaches that hell is not a concern for Christians. Oh really?
But Jesus himself said, “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”(Matthew 7:14).
He also said, “21Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
If there is one thing about following Jesus I am certain of, it is this – it is hard. It is not easy, for we are always struggling with the desires of the flesh. It is only when we learn to surrender to God that we realize how truly narrow that road is. You cannot live for Christ and continue with unconfessed sin in your life. In fact, if you continue to sin after confessing Christ as Saviour, you have not yet learned what it means for Christ to “abide in you and you in Him and you are in danger of Jesus saying to you, “I never knew you.””
This is a classic example of quoting Scriptures of out its settings and context. Let me begin with the passage in Matthew 7:14.
The Narrow and Wide Gates
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
I have always thought this a warning to those who didn’t follow the 10 commandments and that the narrow gate is to keep the law. I was wrong. Jesus was speaking to law believing Jews who were already keeping or at least trying to keep the 10 commandments. So why he did say it and what did he mean?
In his culture and time everyone is Israel had only known of a righteousness that came from rule keeping. That was what everyone was doing. As such that was the wide gate.
The narrow gate is a reference to him. He alone saves. Not their rule keeping. Again here the wide gate is a reference to legalistic righteousness and the narrow door a reference to faith righteousness by the grace of God.
Now let us deal with the passage in Matthew 7: 21-23.
Lord, Lord! I never knew you
I have always been troubled by the way Matthew 7:21-23 is used. In summary I was taught that ‘not everyone who confesses Jesus as Lord is saved but one must do the Father’s will in order to remained saved!’ I was taught that ‘you have to serve God faithfully, give up everything for Jesus, obey the commandments, and crucify yourself, so that Jesus will not say that He never knew you.’ In gist, make sure you live such a life of dedication liked the one Jesus lived, in order that God would be satisfied. That was being taught as doing the will of the Father. Sounds good?
I tried. I was so performance oriented that I judged myself on Jesus perfection everyday. I realised I was still involved in the same sins; pride, lust and envy.
Hence on the outside I looked great but deep down, I was rotting away. The problem is this, the more I preached about the more you need to serve, the more I felt like a hypocrite. The reason is this: you can never do enough to compensate for what Jesus had done for you.
I thanked the Holy Spirit for showing me what I am about to share with you all. Firstly, Matthew 7:22 says that the people whom Jesus never knew were very involved in ‘doing many things in Jesus’ name!’ Even miracles. Yet they were not doing the will of the Father! In fact, Jesus called them evil doers.
I began thus to realise this: to ensure Jesus never rejects you, you only need to do ONE thing. The will of the Father! What then, is the will of the Father?
In John 6:28 the people asked our Lord ‘what must we do to do the WorkS (note plural) God requires?’ The crowd was faced with same problem. What must we do? Note Jesus’ answer. This is the work (note singular) of God: to believe in the one he has sent!
God actually considers belief in His son as work. Further, this one act is ALL Father requires from me! Then Jesus says in verse 40 in John 6, ‘for my Father’s WILL is that everyone who looks to the Son and BELIEVES IN HIM SHALL HAVE ETERNAL LIFE AND I WILL RAISE HIM UP ON THE LAST DAY.’
Lastly, Hebrews chapter 10:10 says ”For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.” The verse is stated in the context of the Holy Spirit testifying “I will remember your sins no more!”
The Father’s will is always for us.
The will and the acceptable work which God’s require is your faith and not your deeds as you have been SAVED by Jesus! The people Jesus referred to were doing so much that they missed out what God’s will is. Like Martha we think we are pleasing to God when we give to Him. Yet Jesus says to her ‘one thing is needed and Mary has chosen the right thing.’ What pleases God is not your service but who you place your faith in: your service or your saviour?
Note if your confidence lies what you do for Jesus, Matthew 7:23 calls us evil-doers. Since realizing this, the Lord in His grace has restored me.
The will and the work of The Father is you believe in His Son. Your faith will cause Him to produce deeds in your life as James says.
Last but not least, let’s get real. It is hard to follow Jesus? Didn’t Jesus say “Come to me and I will give you rest, my yoke is easy”?
“You cannot live for Christ and continue with unconfessed sin in your life. In fact, if you continue to sin after confessing Christ as Saviour, you have not yet learned what it means for Christ to “abide in you and you in Him and you are in danger of Jesus saying to you, “I never knew you.””
Seriously? Let me tell you what abiding in Christ really means. It has nothing to do with confession of sins. Let me be bold enough to say this. Confession of sins does not secure your forgiveness one bit. It is the blood of Jesus that secures that. Let me tell you what 1 John 1:9 is really about.
When we read the Bible, we need to look at the context in which each book was written. If we don’t do that, it’s easy to misinterpret what a particular book or chapter is really saying. When that happens, we can easily come to wrong conclusions, which can then cause a lot of misunderstanding about the work of Christ on our behalf.
One example of this is that many people believe that although their sins have been forgiven prior to salvation, after salvation it is up to them to obtain forgiveness through their confession. Others believe that all their sins have been forgiven at the cross, however, they cannot experience forgiveness unless they confess each time they sin. The verse both parties use to defend their belief is I John 1:9. Let’s read the first chapter of 1 John, and keep in mind two important questions: “Who was John’s audience?” and ‘What was he trying to accomplish in this letter?”
The audience was a confused church in Asia. The pastor there asked John to write a letter to help clear up some major doctrinal heresy called “Gnosticism.” Gnosticism comes from the Greek word ” gnosis”, which means knowledge. The Gnostics were a group of people who believed they possessed superior spiritual knowledge. They believed that all flesh is evil and that only spirit is good. Because they believed that, they didn’t believe that Jesus really came in the flesh – they believed He was an illusion. They also believed that because sin had to do with our flesh, there really wasn’t sin – sin was also just an Illusion. (That’s similar to people today who believe sickness is an illusion.) The church in Ephesus was filled with people who not only didn’t believe Christ came in the flesh, they didn’t believe sin was real.
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of Life” (I John 1:1). In other words, John is establishing that he was an eyewitness to the fact that Jesus truly did come in the flesh. He did this to convince the Gnostics that Jesus was not an illusion.
“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ” (verse 3). This verse says two things. First, John repeats the fact that he, the rest of the apostles and other people saw Christ in the flesh. He wanted the Gnostics to realize that there were many people who could testify to the reality of Christ. Second, he is saying that there are some people in the audience who were not in the fellowship with Christ.
“This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all” (verse 5). John’s message in this verse is clear: God is light and in Him there is no darkness. We are either in the light (saved) or in darkness (lost). Scriptures are full of this comparison between light (saved) vs. darkness (lost). Click on this link to learn more about light and darkness in the scriptures.
“If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.” (verse 6). In other words, if someone says he has fellowship with Christ, but is walking in darkness (lost), he is lying and not practicing the truth. The Gnostics claimed to be in fellowship with Christ (saved), and yet were actually living a lie and therefore weren’t practicing the truth.
“If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin” (verse 7). In other words, if we walk in the light (are saved) we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin. To put it another way, once we are saved, we are permanently in the fellowship because the blood of Jesus continually cleanses us from all sin. Therefore, we aren’t forgiven because we confess our sins. We are forgiven because of what Christ did for us on the cross.
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (verse 8). John is now addressing the belief the Gnostics had regarding sin because they didn’t believe it was real and therefore believed they had no sin. The “we” John is using here doesn’t refer to believers. He is referring to the Gnostics, who believed they were without sin. Because they claimed to be without sin, then they were only deceiving themselves and the truth (Jesus) was not in them.
However, verse 9 says that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” In other words, if the Gnostics were to confess they had sins, then God, Who is faithful and righteous, would forgive and cleanse them from their unrighteousness. In the Greek language, the words “forgive” and “cleanse” mean past actions that have results today and will continue to have results in the future. Also, the word “all” used in these verses means all. It doesn’t mean that we are cleansed of our past sins and our past unrighteousness, it means we were cleansed of all our unrighteousness. And if God cleanses us from all unrighteousness, then we are cleansed forever!
“If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives” (verse 10). Basically this verse is a repeat of verse 8. To put it simply, it means that the Gnostics can’t claim to be without sin and yet be saved. John is saying that because the Gnostics claimed they had no sin, they were actually calling God a liar and therefore didn’t know the truth.
The purpose of the first chapter of 1 John was to compare the truth of God to the error of gnosticism. John was addressing the Gnostics, who were deceived by their own teaching. He wanted the Gnostics to understand that what they believed conflicted with what God said. He was not, however, addressing believers.
Today, there are people who believe that Christians must confess their sins in order to be forgiven. They believe that it is possible for us to be “in and out” of fellowship with God and that we must “keep short accounts” (or stay “fessed up”). The Bible doesn’t teach that we are “in and out” of fellowship with God. A person who is saved is in fellowship with God – eternally. “God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” (1 Corinthians 1:9). A person who is lost is not in fellowship with God. There is no bouncing back and forth. You are either in fellowship with God (saved, walking in the light) or you are not in fellowship with God (lost, walking in darkness).
Scripture also doesn’t teach the idea of “keeping short accounts” (being “fessed up”). Teaching that we are to “keep short accounts” with God causes very real and damaging problems because we miss the point of what confession really is. Such popular teaching makes confession a mindless cure-all, a “bar of soap” we use daily to clean up our flesh. A common scenario would be of a person privately confessing to God a bitter attitude towards another and then asking for forgiveness. Afterwards, he doesn’t think about it, feeling that he has adequately met the “spiritual” requirement.
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins” (Colossians 2:13) The fact is that while the sin issue is dead between you and God, it isn’t between the people with whom we come in contact daily. When we realize we’ve wronged another, we need to go to that person and take steps toward reconciling the relationship with that person.
It is easy to “confess” our sins and continue on, thinking we have met a spiritual” requirement. But has there really been a change in our attitude, and not just our action? That would be like the little boy whose father angrily tells him to sit down and be quiet in church. The little boy does so, but tells his father that “I may be sitting down on the outside, but I’m standing up on the inside!” God is much more concerned with changed attitudes. As our attitudes change – through the truth of God’s Word – our actions will eventually change.
Teaching we must confess our sins in order to be forgiven doesn’t produce changed hearts. Why? Because we have placed ourselves under a “law” which demands that we confess every sin in order to be forgiven and stay in fellowship with God. However, there are no laws, Mosaic or man-made, that can free us from sin. The law was never meant to free us from sin because “the power of sin is the law” (1 Corinthians 15:56). Therefore, we usually end up repeating the same sin before the week (or even the day) is over and feel guilt and frustration over our inability to change.
This obsession with confession keeps us under the power of sin because we are consumed with thoughts of ourselves in a sincere desire to please God. As a result, though, we become so concerned about whether we are “in or out of fellowship” with God that we don’t have time for our relationships down here. We are too busy keeping “short accounts” to be able to serve our brothers in love. Compare and see how many times the Scriptures exhort us to love one another versus confessing our sins. The emphasis is overwhelmingly in favor of loving our brothers.
We need to focus on the fact that God has forever settled the sin issue. Before Christ, men’s sins separated them from God. Christ was the only solution to this dilemma. Then He hung on the cross and said “It is finished!”, He meant it is finished! God has bridged the gap between Himself and man through His Son. “All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them… God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:18,19,21).
Since the Bible tells us that all of our sins are forgiven because of the grace of God, then what do we do when we do sin? Ignore it and say “I’m under grace, so it doesn’t make any difference if I sin?” Many believe that teaching the forgiveness of Christ will cause people to go out and sin more. Paul dealt with this argument over 2,000 years ago. He responded, “By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:2). He continues to tell us that “we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. . . In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. . . For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace” (Romans 6:6,7,11,14).
The more we understand our identification with Christ, the more we understand that we have been freed from the power of sin. We are freed from sin because of the work of Christ Jesus on our behalf, not because of our law keeping. Teaching the forgiveness we have in Christ is not a license to sin – we don’t need a license to sin. The only reason people often believe this is true is because they lack an understanding of God’s unconditional love, forgiveness and acceptance. They do not understand the motivating power of Christ’s love for them.
The Bible tells us “to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:23,24). Concerning lying, for instance, we are told “to put off falsehood and speak truthfully to our neighbor, for we are all members of one body” (verse 25). Or, concerning stealing, Ephesians 4:28 says that “he who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.” In other words, stop lying and start telling the truth. Quit stealing and go to work so you can share with others. These are not laws we are to keep. Because we are children of God, it doesn’t make sense for us to continue lying or stealing.
These are just a few verses that tell us what to do when we do sin. Not one verse says to confess our sins before we can go on with life. The motivation, instead, is found in Ephesians 4:32, which says we are to “be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” The only way we can ever love, forgive and accept others is because Christ has first loved, forgiven and accepted us. It is true that we will treat others the way we feel God is treating us. If we feel we have to perform for God and ask His forgiveness each time we sin, we expect the same performance from everyone else. If we believe God loves us only when we do the right things, then we tend to also love others when they, too, do the right things.
The opposite is also true. Only when we understand the unconditional love, forgiveness and acceptance of God will we ever be able to share that same love with those around us. It is impossible for us to love and forgive one another if we are constantly worrying about our own acceptance to God. The simple truth is that “we love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
If we believe we must continually confess our sins in order to be loved and forgiven by God, we are actually mocking God and telling Him that Christ’s work on our behalf was not sufficient. The damage caused by this belief is extensive. There are many who are in bondage to this “law” that was created and perpetuated by man. That’s why it is so important to understand what the bible says about Christ’s finished work on the cross and our identity in Him. As we understand these truths and keep our eyes on the Lord instead of ourselves, we will see our lives change. For further reading: https://hischarisisenough.wordpress.com/2012/02/18/i-read-an-artic/
Now finally how do we abide with Christ?
1 John 3:22-24
King James Version (KJV)
22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
Dear friends, John tells us that abiding in Jesus is by the Spirit, and the keeping of his commandments. The only thing is this, these commandments are not the 10 commandgments but that in verse 23. “That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another”.
Do you know that the Holy Spirit is given to believers forever? Can therefore a believer go to hell with the Holy Spirit?
16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—
Dear friends, abiding in Christ has nothing to do with sinning or not sinning. It is about faith in his finished work. Believers do not go to hell. They are already seated with Christ in the heavenly realms. To say that is totally rubbish.
New International Version (NIV)
6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.
Be very blessed.
Post note: For those of you who insist that the message of 1 John was directed to all churches as suggested by the Life Application Bible and not a specific church or the churches in Ephesus, here are some links: https://bible.org/seriespage/background-and-setting-1-john
What can be said about the setting of 1 John and the two shorter Johannine Epistles must be gleaned from hints in the text itself. No explicit statements are made within the Epistles themselves concerning the life-situation to which these writings were addressed, but there are some important clues:
(1) FAMILIARITY WITH THE RECIPIENTS
Since the author does not introduce himself to the readers in 1 John, we may assume that he was well known to them and needed no introduction. He obviously felt no need either to identify himself or invoke his position in the early church in order to strengthen his authority. In passing, it is worth noting that this reticence on the part of the author to mention his name or position is also a characteristic of the Gospel of John.
As I have already observed in the discussion of authorship, the author writes with an air of authority. He evidently expects his opinions to carry weight with the readers. It is likely that this comes from personal contact the author has had with the recipients, and it cannot be ruled out that he himself is in fact a member of the Christian community to which he is writing. The first person plural pronouns which characterize the prologue (1 John 1:1-4) have been understood by some scholars as nothing more than a literary device to identify the author with the original apostles. If taken at face value, however, they make a significant contribution to the authority with which the author speaks.
(3) THE PRESENCE OF FALSE TEACHERS
It soon becomes clear that false teachers are causing trouble in the community to which the author is writing (1 John 2:27; 4:1). These the author labels as “antichrists” (2:18) and “false prophets” (4:1). The strength of these labels for the author’s opponents indicates both the depth of his feeling about them and also the seriousness of their departure from the apostolic teaching about Jesus.
(4) A CONTROVERSY IN PROGRESS
The controversy caused by the false teachers appears to be currently in progress, rather than something that has happened in the past, or something that might happen in the future. The purpose of 1 John would then involve an attempt on the author’s part to strengthen and encourage his followers (Christians who hold faithfully to the apostolic teaching about Jesus) against these false teachers. (I will have more to say about the purpose of 1 John later.) Thus 1 John alternates between pastoral encouragement and exhortation on the one hand, and polemic directed against the opponents on the other hand.29
(5) SCHISM IN THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY TO WHICH THE AUTHOR WRITES
1 John 2:19, if taken at face value, strongly suggests that the false teachers were originally members of the Christian community to which the author is writing. They appear to have “gone out” from among this community “into the world” (4:1). Thus the author is addressing a community which has undergone a schism or split in which a substantial part of the community – maybe even a numerical majority – has withdrawn from fellowship. This is a key point which affects the interpretation of almost every part of 1, 2, and 3 John.30
(6) A DOCTRINAL CONTROVERSY
The root of this split or division appears to be a doctrinal controversy, although there are ethical issues involved too (i.e., attitude toward sin, love for the brethren). The prologue (1 John 1:1-4) reminds the readers of the apostolic testimony about who Jesus is, and lays down adherence to this testimony as a condition for “fellowship” (1:4). Presumably those who have departed from the apostolic teaching about Jesus (2:18-19) would not share this “fellowship.” (There will be more to say about the views of the opponents later.)
(7) AN ADVERSARIAL STANCE
In writing 1 John the author adopts a “we–they” stance (cf. the pronoun switches [“you – they – we”] in 4:4-6), which implies that the people to whom he is writing have not yet embraced the teaching of the schismatics (who have withdrawn from the community but are still seeking to influence it from outside, perhaps to win adherents for their own views). However, some of the recipients of 1 John may be under pressure to side with the opponents, and one major reason for the letter would be to convince them not to do so.
(8) THE RELATIONSHIP OF 2 JOHN TO 1 JOHN
2 John, at least, appears to be related to the controversy which has split the community to which the author of 1 John is writing. Just as in 1 John 2:18-19, reference is made in 2 John 7 to the schismatics who have withdrawn from the community and “gone out into the world.” At the center of the doctrinal controversy are “people who do not confess Jesus as Christ coming in the flesh” (2 John 7), a confession virtually identical with one found in 1 John 4:2 (“every spirit that confesses Jesus as the Christ who has come in the flesh”). This strongly suggests that the same situation produced both letters.
(9) A FURTHER WARNING
In 2 John 8-9 the Christians to whom the author is writing are warned against adopting the teaching of the opponents. Reference is made to losing “the things we have worked for” and to receiving “a full reward” (v. 8). It would be premature and naïve to associate these statements about rewards with other New Testament teaching on the subject without careful comparison of the individual contexts. Whether the loss of reward refers to the one who embraces the teaching of the opponents (as opposed to merely permitting their teaching to promulgate [v. 11]), the author of 2 John makes it clear that “everyone who goes on ahead and does not remain in the teaching about Christ does not have God” (v. 9). This is serious business indeed.
(10) ITINERANT FALSE TEACHERS
2 John 10-11 appears to indicate that the opponents have sent out traveling “missionaries,” or teachers, who are attempting to “convert” members of the recipients’ community. This the author wishes to prevent, so he warns the recipients against welcoming such false teachers into their homes or giving public greetings (which might be understood as tacit endorsements of the opponents’ views).
What we can discern about the setting of the Johannine Epistles from the letters themselves is limited and fragmentary, but it appears that 1 and 2 John, at least, are rooted in controversy.31The author of 1 John appears to be writing to a community to which he himself is well-known (and to which he himself may belong). He attempts to reassure those to whom he writes, because their Christian community has undergone a serious split whereby a substantial part of the community has withdrawn from fellowship over doctrinal issues. The author of 1 John describes the group which has left as made up of ‘antichrists’ and ‘false prophets’ (strong language by any account).”