Flashback Friday: Our Teacher: Grace

3D CrossThis article first appeared in The Outspoken TULIP on September 5, 2016. I sure needed to read it today. Maybe you do too.

The doctrine of grace indeed teaches that Christians neither earn nor maintain salvation by our own efforts. Hebrews 12:2 identifies Jesus as “the founder and perfecter” of our faith, Who promised that those to whom He has given eternal life cannot be snatched from His hand (John 10:28). Therefore, a believer who lapses into sin, even for extended periods, has not lost his salvation because salvation depends solely on Jesus’ work on the cross. Our works of obedience contribute absolutely nothing to the transaction!

Some people, however, misunderstand the doctrine of grace to mean that we can give in to various temptations because God forgives us. That misunderstanding needs to be addressed. Not only does it deceive false converts into supposing that God tolerates their sin, but it ignores His holy nature.

In the past few years, the wonderful resurgence of Calvinist teaching has regretfully spawned counterfeit teachers who distort Scripture. Grace, in their eyes, becomes a permission slip to sin, particularly in regard to sexual behavior (though it’s also used to excuse other forms of sin). And such theological laxity leads to an acceptance of professing Christians allowing for premarital sex, cohabitation and “committed” homosexual relationships.

Scripture never presents such a view of God’s grace! As a matter of fact, the very apostle Paul who taught that grace emancipates us from the demands of the Law (Galatians 3:1-14) also insisted that grace leads us to live in holiness.

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. ~~Titus 2:11-14 (ESV)

As this passage demonstrates, the Lord doesn’t save us merely because of His mercy and compassion (although He certainly is merciful and compassionate). He wants His people to reflect His holiness, and consequently He gives us the grace that teaches us to reject our old patterns of sin (sexual and otherwise) in favor of living in holiness.

Grace changes us, so that obedience to the Lord becomes our objective. Not that obedience secures our salvation, but rather that it gives evidence that the Holy Spirit, Who lives in us, transforms our hearts so that we desire His holiness. We don’t dress sin up as something acceptable, expecting the Lord to smile indulgently down on our blatant rebellion against Him. Much to the contrary, we understand the magnitude of His grace, and therefore realize our indebtedness to Him. And, although we can never hope to repay our debt, gratitude swells in our hearts, filling us with a desire to honor Him.

The Lord paid completely for our salvation, and nothing on our part either brings it about or causes its revocation. But a cavalier attitude towards His grace betrays a lack of understanding that He is holy and has redeemed very unholy people. Therefore it undermines His very purpose in redeeming us! Praise Jesus that grace takes us out of sin and enables us to share in His holiness!

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The Amazing Love Of The Savior

So often, we take it for granted, don’t we? Yes, yes, we agree with confident nods of our heads, Jesus died to save us from sin. So, clutching our little Get Out Of Hell cards, we file away our blessed assurance and carry on with our lives.

But every now and again, the Holy Spirit reminds us of how desperately lost we were until He revealed Christ to us. He reminds us of the amazing love that caused the Second Person of the Trinity to leave His glory so that He could shed His blood in payment for our sin. He reminds us of our enslavement to sin before He shattered our chains and allowed us to follow Him.

When we remember, how can we take His amazing love for granted?

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According To Scripture: Study #11 On The Resurrection

According to ScriptureDo you remember making up for things when you were a kid? Once my sister snitched a piece of my Trick or Treat candy, and my parents had her make up for it by buying me a bigger candy bar.

I mention this matter because last Monday I only covered one verse in our study of 1 Corinthians 15. Today I will make it up to you by taking you through the remaining five verses of the passage. Are you ready? Okay, then fasten your seatbelts and we’ll begin by reading the entire six verses:

29 Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? 30 Why are we in danger every hour? 31 I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! 32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame. ~~1 Corinthians 15:29-34 (ESV)

Last week we saw that, despite false teaching that denied the general resurrection, people lived as if something really did happen after death. The baptism for the dead, whatever that was, evidenced faith in resurrection. As we progress to verse 30, we see that the doctrine of resurrection radically impacted the apostles.

In asking “Why are we in danger…?” Paul refers specifically to himself and the apostles (1 Corinthians 15:9, 1 Corinthians 4:9), who constantly risked their lives proclaiming a Gospel hated by Jews and Gentiles alike. In a human sense, the apostles effectively invited persecution by insisting that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Paul therefore asks why he and the other apostles would deliberately place themselves in constant danger for something that they knew to be untrue. Indeed, 1 Peter 1:3-4 answers this question; Paul’s hope lay in the eternal life promised in the resurrection.

Paul continues this vein of thought in verse 31 by focusing on his own sacrifices. The phrase “I protest” indicates a solemn affirmation, almost like swearing an oath in a court of law. Paul wants the Corinthian Christians to understand that he isn’t speaking flippantly by saying he dies daily. Moreover, he makes this pseudo oath based on his pride in their spiritual development.

Obviously Paul didn’t physically die every day, but he certainly did live with the constant threat of death (see, for example, 1 Corinthians 4:9-13 and 2 Corinthians 1:8-9). He willingly faced persecution and death both because he preached the resurrection and because he anticipated experiencing it personally.

Verse 32 opens with a puzzling statement about fighting wild beasts, which (if literal) Luke never recorded in Acts. The reference to beasts in Ephesus is almost assuredly metaphoric, possibly borrowed from an Ephesian poet named Heraclitus. Four hundred years prior to Paul’s writing of 1 Corinthians, Heraclitus called his fellow Ephesians “wild beasts.” Certainly the riot against Paul and his companions in Ephesus bears that out, as shown in Acts 19:29-34.

Paul could have avoided the conflict, and indeed enjoyed the self-indulgent lifestyle of Ephesus, had it not been for his firm belief in Christ’s resurrection and the consequent resurrection of believers. If we cease to exist after death, he reasons, why shouldn’t we “party like there’s no tomorrow?” It’s precisely because of the resurrection that Paul willingly subjected himself to suffering and persecution.

Finally, Paul gets to the heart of the matter in verse 33 with a warning against being influenced by those who didn’t believe the resurrection is literal. Early Gnostics made distinctions between soul (or spirit) and body, insisting that any resurrection that occurs is merely spiritual. That being the case, indulging fleshly lusts had no moral implications.

Paul warns the Corinthians that too much exposure to this line of thinking risked their moral purity. He quotes a popular saying to underscore his point. Believers Bible Commentary states that “it is impossible to associate with evil people or evil teachings without being corrupted by them. Evil doctrine inevitably has an effect on one’s life. False teachings do not lead to holiness.” 2 Timothy 2:16-18 provides a specific example of this corruption playing out in Ephesus.

He concludes this passage with some sobering remarks in verse 34. This verse gives the practical application of everything Paul has written up to this point. He entreats the Corinthians to wake up from the false teaching that denies bodily resurrection, calling their acceptance of it a drunken stupor. He wants them to awaken to righteousness. He said something similar to the Christians in Rome (Romans 13:11).

Because their bodies will rise to eternal life, he commands them to stop sinning. Again, this present life isn’t all there is. Thus, the denial of resurrection would naturally result in sinful living.

Paul ends this verse by shaming them for not administering correct teaching to everyone. The very fact that some of them (much like the Sadducees Jesus rebuked in Matthew 22:29) habitually ignored clear teaching on the resurrection exhibited their lack of knowledge.

I pray that these eleven Bible Studies on the doctrine of resurrection have increased your knowledge and strengthened your love for the Lord. I’ve definitely learned a lot!  But as wonderful as this study has been, I need to take a couple months off before we study the remaining 24 verses. I’ve been using my personal Bible study time to prepare each lesson, and I really need to read other portions of Scripture.

When we resume this study (probably in October), we’ll learn about our resurrection bodies. Join me then.

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Saturday Sampler: July 15 — July 21

Lollipop Sampler

Happy Tenth Facebook Anniversary, Stephen by Stephen McAlpine is funny. I  guarantee you’ll chuckle as you read the first several paragraphs. But his observations should sober us. And encourage us to use social media in ways that honor the Lord for as long as we can get away with it.

In his weekly contribution to The Cripplegate, Clint Archer answers the question, Are there prophets today (in fewer than 500 words)? I could answer in one word. But Continue reading

What’s My Problem With Beth Moore, Anyway?

Thoughtful Lady

I’ve realized lately that, although I frequently blog about Beth Moore, none of the articles on The Outspoken TULIP  actually explain why I believe she’s a false teacher. I’d written several articles on my old blog (which I’ve since taken down) enumerating some of the serious problems with her teachings. Apparently I moved to this  blog with the erroneous assumption that my readers automatically understood my objections to her ministry. For that oversight, I apologize.

The sheer volume of problems with Beth Moore’s ministry prevents me from adequately addressing them in a single blog post. Additionally, Elizabeth Prata and Michelle Lesley have already provided such excellent resources on Moore that I couldn’t possibly bring anything else to the table. Why reinvent the wheel?

That said, some of you may not have the time to go through all their arguments and documentation. Others of you may think I’m referring you to them because I’m not really as informed as I seem to be, or that I’m blindly parroting Elizabeth and Michelle. For those reasons, let me briefly list a few of my concerns, which I’ll document in future articles.

  • Beth Moore claims to receive personal revelations from God. This fact is probably my greatest objection to her ministry.
  • Beth Moore teaches men as well as women in violation of 2 Timothy 2:12, demonstrating her inability and/or unwillingness to conform to God’s Word. You know — the same God’s Word she supposedly loves and teaches.
  • Beth Moore partners with other false teachers, sometimes praising them as men and women of God.
  • Beth Moore interprets Scripture in narcissistic ways, often ignoring context in favor of her agendas.
  • Beth Moore has recently jumped on the Social Gospel bandwagon, making vague references to her “repentance” from racism as well as accusing the Southern Baptist Convention of systematic misogyny.

Each of my concerns warrants its own blog post. Whether or I address all five concerns remains to be seen, particularly since I’d much prefer to write about the Bible. Sadly, my Bible Studies (which I write to show you correct ways of handling Scripture so that you can spot Beth Moore’s errors for yourselves) are the least read of all my posts, whereas you flock to anything even mentioning her name. Hopefully showing you where she goes wrong will encourage you to pursue healthier Bible study habits.

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Not Judging Women On Buses And Subways

ModestyIt’s that time of year. As the bus driver secured our wheelchairs yesterday, I remembered that taking public transportation means that women will board the bus and subway wearing less clothing than they should, revealing more of their bodies than they should. I know my husband works hard to avert his eyes and keep his thoughts honoring to the Lord, and I’m very proud of him. But I also know he needs my prayers.

But I also struggle with temptation when I see young women display more of their bodies than they should. I’m tempted to judge them.

Judging Christian women with the goal of gently helping them learn to attire themselves appropriately is one thing. I pray that my articles on modesty will help Christian women think through their wardrobe choices and clothe themselves in ways that honor the Lord and their brothers in Christ. Scripture mandates that Christians warn each other about sin. So I believe mature Christian women have a responsibility to teach our younger sisters in Christ how (and why) to dress modestly.

Most of the women I see on buses and subways, on the other hand,  probably aren’t Christians. Because of this probability, they simply don’t operate under Biblical convictions. I have no reason to expect that they should. As a matter of fact, God’s Word quite clearly says that believers must restrict judgment to those within the Church.

For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? ~~1 Corinthians 5:12 (ESV)

Not judging these women doesn’t require that I condone the way they dress. Their immodesty is sinful regardless of their assessment of the situation. But because they most likely don’t know the Lord and therefore feel no compunction to submit to His authority, I’m wrong to expect that they would conform to His standards.

Sitting on the bus and imagining snarky comments to write about these women on Facebook merely exposes my self-righteousness and lack of concern for their eternal souls. Yes, I feel concern for my husband, knowing that he has a responsibility to the Lord to keep his thoughts pure. I definitely need to pray for him as he fights against his responses. But these women also need prayer. More likely than not, they need to come to a saving knowledge of Christ.

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