When Grace becomes Gratuity

February 20, 2014
I read a comment today containing this quote from James' Epistle: "Mercy triumphs over judgement". The subject was the 'hyper-grace' teaching permeating many Christian gatherings and those who would critique it. It seems that critics are being 'hyper-judgemental'. I suppose I would class myself among those critics and I guess a reply is in order.

It's not about grace or judgement but those who are "so quickly deserting the one who called... and are following a different gospel" (Gal 1:6). We are free in Christ's grace and not saved by lawkeeping (Gal 5:1, 4) but freedom is not the same as permissiveness, "...do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh" (Gal 5:13). Grace is not defined as 'do as you please' (Rom 6:1, 15). It is possible in fact to lose God's grace (Heb 12:15). As in Jude's day, so in ours there are those "...who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality..." (Jude 1:4). They are among us but stand condemned and are ungodly.

Now it is true that Jesus said,  "Do not judge" (Matt 7:1) and Paul states that we should not pass judgement upon another (Rom 2:1) but both statements relate to one hypocritical sinner judging another. He also instructs that trivial matters of practice and lifestyle should not be criticised (Col 2:16). James states that we should not discriminate between rich and poor believers (James 2:4, 9). As those who have received mercy we should show mercy just as at Christ's judgement he will show mercy to us (James 2:12-13). But elsewhere Paul says that we are to judge amongst ourselves as believers (1 Cor 5:12; 6:3). We are to judge on moral and ethical matters (1 Cor 5:12; 11:13) and Paul even asks that his statements be judged (1 Cor 10:15). So on what basis can we judge, discern and discriminate?

The only reliable means of judging between what John calls, “...the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” (1 John 4:6) is Scripture. Knowing the truth means continuing in Jesus' teaching (John 8:31-32) and being set apart in the Word (John 17:17). For Jesus the final arbiter was Scripture: "Did you never read... not understanding... explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures... as the Scripture said... search the Scriptures... it is these that testify about me... the Scripture cannot be broken..." (Matt 21:42; 22:29; Luke 24:27; John 7:38; 5:39; 10:35). Luke says of Philip, "beginning from this Scripture... he preached Jesus..." Paul "...reasoned with them from the Scriptures..." The Bereans were "...examining the Scriptures daily..." Apollos "...was mighty in the Scriptures... for he powerfully refuted... demonstrating by the Scriptures..." (Acts 8:35; 17:2, 11; 18:24, 28). Paul continually used Scripture in his arguments and teachings: "...For what does the Scripture say?"; "For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction..."; “...according to the Scriptures,”; “...give attention to the reading, to exhortation and teaching.”; "For the Scripture says" (Rom 4:3; 15:4; 1 Cor 15:3; 1 Tim 4:13; 5:18). Peter said, "...contained in Scripture..."; "...no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation,... but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." (1 Pet 2:6; 2 Pet 1:20-21).

So Scripture is the judge and we must teach it correctly (2 Tim 2:15). It can discern our thoughts and intentions (Heb 4:12). Why? “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof  [elegmos = refuting error], for correction [correcting faults], for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

Are we 'hyper-judgemental' if we point out error or deceit using Scripture. I think not. Can grace be misused as an excuse for licence. Yes, I think it can.

 

Is Genesis important to the Gospel?

February 4, 2014

I recently read a Christian blog in which it was stated that the question of origins is unimportant and that arguing for a literal reading of Genesis 1-11 is a waste of time. The author states "...fundies seriously do not want to address or think through issues of  literary genre..." Judging from the issue I assume that fundie is equated to anyone with a belief in a comparatively recent creation. I decided to address the issue of the literary genre of Genesis and its importance to the rest of...

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Homophobic?

August 22, 2013
The whole gay issue is very prominent in the media these days, what with gay 'marriage' and the whole Russian situation. On television the soaps regularly carry a gay story line. Casualty recently had the story of a gay Iranian illegal immigrant trying to escape persecution because of his homosexuality. The male nurse who was also gay tried to help him and it turned out that the Iranian was having an 'affair' with the married bisexual boss who had illegally employed him.

Why am I saying this?...
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Jude and Apostasy

June 10, 2013
Here are some interesting thoughts from the Bible Exposition Commentary:

Jude was not content simply to remind his readers to pay attention to what Peter had written. He wanted to add his own words of warning by describing what the false teachers were like and what they would do to the church. The Spirit of God led Jude to describe the characteristics of the apostates, reinforcing Peter’s words and, at the same time, adding information. Jude 8–16 and 2 Peter 2:1 parallel and supplement eac...
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The Misuse of 2 Chronicles 7:14

May 1, 2013


A local Elim pastor (fully endorsed by the general superintendent's like) put up a Facebook status quoting 2 Chronicles 7:14 as what seemed to be a rallying call to prayer for revival in 'the land'. Sorry to burst a lot of Christian bubbles but this verse has nothing to do with praying for our country but has everything to do with God's promises to the land of Israel.

Context is the key here. Solomon had dedicated the newly built temple to God who speaks to Solomon and tells him that his pr...
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Sword fighting

April 4, 2013
I  read somewhere that postmodernism was subtly creeping into many churches. One idea of postmodernist thought is that there is no absolute truth and that understanding is down to individual interpretation. Following from this, if there is no absolute truth then neither is there absolute authority and so the Bible is ignored as God's Word given for guidance and example or it is read as a matter of personal meaning and interpretation. It has become harder to encourage or challenge believers an...
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Homosexuality, Torah and Today

February 6, 2013
The laws of ancient Israel were part of the Sinai covenant, radiating out from the 'Ten Words'. They were to show Israel as separate from other nations and holy to Yahweh. The law was Israel's instruction and guidance in living as moral and ethical witnesses to the other nations (of course, time and time again the people failed). The food laws found in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 formed one aspect of Torah and as well as separating Israel they also protected Israel's health (http:/...
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Absolutes and Fundamentals

October 5, 2012
I read something the other day on Facebook which stirred me into response. It always saddens me when some want to dilute the Bible's teachings or put aside its full authority for the sake of, what I hear termed 'free thinking'. They speak of being liberated, unshackled from conformity or institution. They see themselves upon a journey of discovery, of open vistas leading to who knows where. Yet I see in that perceived freedom a new set of chains which when pulled taut allow for a journey but ...
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The Bible, Creation and Science

August 21, 2012
by Brian Thomas
  • Gene control regions are protected from tampering, which means that assuming that evolution tampers with them is a faulty conclusion.1
  • Evolutionists turned a blind eye to original dinosaur red blood cells when they claimed that Otzi the Iceman's red blood cells were the oldest preserved. Red blood cells in dinosaur fossils fit with the biblical young world.2
  • A clay seal with the oldest inscription of the word "Bethlehem" confirms that it had been a village before Mi...

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Geological Processes and the Flood

August 21, 2012
by John D. Morris, Ph.D.

The great Flood of Noah's day was a time of unthinkable geological upheaval, such that "the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished" (II Peter 3:6). No flood in human history has rivaled its destructive magnitude.

Though we are far from a full understanding of the Flood, the Bible does give us a clue when it says, on that "same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windo...


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