Monday, April 22, 2019 -
Many make the mistake of emphasizing God’s grace through His death on the cross and the forgiveness of our sins, yet they neglect the prerequisite act on man’s behalf of repentance. Our Savior was exceedingly gracious, for He healed many of their ailments even if they did not repent. In fact, Matthew 11:20-24 says, “And He began to reproach the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent.”
True, Christ’s death was an act of mercy and grace for all mankind, but the forgiveness for sin only applies to oneself if he repents of his sin.
Unfortunately, repentance, and the consequence for the one who doesn’t repent, are often preached too little today - - and in some churches, never!
I am reading a book called Dirty God by Johnnie Moore which makes a statement. I had to re-read several times particularly since he is Vice President at Liberty University, which I greatly respect. (They are co-defendants in my civil case.) He says (page 57), “God, as revolutionary as always, took steps to relieve His people of the centuries-old fear of judgment and the law because He knows that only love would be strong enough to persuade them to do what’s right and what’s best.”
God relinquished the power of fear and judgment that undergirds every other religious system in the world. He saw no further advantage in it. Christianity teaches, at the cross, Jesus fully satisfied God’s wrath and judgment, and God, in turn, made fear and guilt irrelevant.
“In Jesus, God has taken care of man’s misdeeds and indiscretions, and now man can walk with his head high and his shoulders back, knowing for certain that the weight of guilt and shame has been assumed and incinerated by the grace and goodness of God.
‘God has scribbled on the sky, ‘You’re forgiven!’” But did God indeed change? As he claims, Paul says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, yes and forever. Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace” (Hebrews 13:8-9).
God does not change. And He has always and ever will be a God of compassion, mercy, and grace. His character does not change. But He is also a God of wrath, read the Old Testament! For He does hate sin, and that has not changed. And He has not relinquished fear and judgment. Read the New Testament. Read the words of Christ Himself in Matthew 13:43 or 25:30 & 46. He is speaking of sending unrepentant sinners to a fiery furnace! In Luke 13: 3-5 He says, “But unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” He is so adamant about this; He repeats it two verses later, in verse five! Jesus calls the days before He returns “The days of vengeance!” Moore completely omits the requirement of repentance, except later in the book in a quote of Dietrich Bonheoffer’s, a theme throughout the Bible which Jesus Himself emphasized, as did John the Baptist who prepared the way for Him. In Mark 1:15 Jesus tells the people to “REPENT and believe.” He told the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you, go your way, from now on sin no more. “Jesus says in John 16:8, “And He (The Holy Spirit) when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment.” The apostles continued with the same message of repentance. In Acts 2:38 Peter preaches, “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Later, in Acts 3:19 Peter says “Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away…” And Paul kept declaring to everyone everywhere “that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance” (Acts 26:20). Jesus said, shortly before His ascension “that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:27). And how can we forget Jesus’ letters to the churches in Revelation where He constantly asks for repentance. Yes, God is patient, and gives us many chances before He brings judgment. For He is gracious indeed. “The Lord is not slow about His promises as some count slowness but is patient.”
I could go on and on, but the fact of the matter is, God’s grace is contingent upon a truly contrite heart. And He will judge those who do not repent.
Moore cites his strict Baptist upbringing of being in a church with fiery preaching against sin in which he never apparently heard the other side of God that He provided a way through Christ’s death on the cross, which He did through grace.
Yes, it is very good to preach grace, but preaching grace is meaningless unless it is coupled with the need to repent of one’s sin. True, Christ died for all, but to receive His forgiveness of sin, we must repent of our sin.
The other thing I found deeply disturbing is that Moore no longer believes we need to fear God’s judgment, as in his quote above. But if you believe what he claims, you’ve got to cut the whole book of Revelation out of your Bible.
The bottom line, teaching grace alone, without the need for one to repent and turn from their sin, and believe that the blood of Christ redeems them completely, is false teaching. It is heresy, or for that matter, apostasy. You cannot have one without the other. For if there is no judgment, why did Christ have to die at all?
To be fair, the last part of Moore’s book is better, for it is about giving grace, which we all do need to do. And Moore says the idols in our lives prohibit us from adequately representing God when we are to bestow grace on others.
Upon reading this book, I felt very uncomfortable. God is not treated reverently, but rather in a trite manner, and very little Scripture is used to back up Moore’s claims.
It is sad, but this teaching which emphasizes only the grace and love of God, and never the need for one to repent, is prevalent in many churches today. Is it any wonder so many in churches have endorsed things the world now says is normal, that God’s word says are sin? For this, as is evident from Christ’s letters to the churches in Revelation, we need to repent!