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These days, grace has been taken to unbiblical proportions. There’s a lot of talk, conversations and messages about grace but I believe that it needs recalibrating back to what Scripture declares.

I know that one blog can’t cover the vastness of this truth.
I also realize that it might not be the most popular post I’ll write about.

As a pastor, I encounter countless of counseling sessions with couples who live in for a variety of reasons ranging from convenience to financial pragmatism. As i officiate baby dedications, a number of the parents had their babies first before they got married. Granted that repentance and faith were part of the journey, the chronology of the God’s original design for marriage and family life has now been reversed. The original sequence of courtship, engagement, marriage, honeymoon and then babies has been interchanged.

The unbiblical teaching of “it’s-ok-because-I-can-repent-tomorrow-because-God-is-gracious-and-forgiving” has become prevalent.  It has taken a turn towards licentiousness.

Titus 2:11-12 declares: “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”

GRACE BRINGS SALVATION

The Apostle Paul tells Titus that God’s grace has appeared to bring salvation. It is by grace we have been saved through faith which is God’s gift, totally undeserved so that no one can boast. We were all deserving eternal punishment because of our sin. (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23) Even if we’ve tried to produce righteous acts of our own, they are still filthy rags in His sight. (Isaiah 64:6)

But because of the mercy and kindness of God, He sent His one and only Son to provide a way for us to be reconciled back to the Father. (See John 3:16)

GRACE TEACHES US TO SAY NO TO SIN

Paul says that grace teaches us to say “no” to ungodliness and worldly passions, live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.

Grace doesn’t give us the license to do whatever we want.
Grace empowers us to do all that God commands.

When people preach on the Lordship of Christ, it is very possible that they be dubbed as legalistic. There is a thin line between legalism and pursuit of holiness. What is it, you may ask? The motive.

Legalism desires to gain greater favor from God by accumulating brownie points in heaven while impressing others with their moralistic self-righteousness. On the other hand, the one who pursues holiness does so out of gratitude to the immense salvation he received because of the grace of God.

I love how R. Kent Hughes puts in his book, The Disciplines of a Godly Man.

“There is a universe of difference between the motivations behind legalism and discipline. Legalism says, ‘I will do this thing to gain merit with God,’ while discipline says, ‘I will do this because I love God and want to please him.’ Legalism is man-centered; discipline is God-centered.”

Legalism is man trying to be saved (or gain divine favor) through his good works, while Biblical holiness is one who is already saved, showing good works as a result of their salvation.

 

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PHOTO CREDIT: http://joshuareich.org/2015/06/29/when-grace-isnt-what-you-expected/

It’s so easy to replace the message of the gospel with other fillers as we chronologically advance in our walk with God.

I say chronologically advance because it is possible to grow old in the faith but not necessarily grow up in our faith journey.

Meet a few of hypothetical church members that may be sitting in our pews these days.

1. Busy Bobby

Bobby is busy jumping from one church conference to the next, a current ministry to an additional one and one church activity to another.

However, Bobby’s world and God’s world have never crossed paths. All the church activities have had little impact on his heart and on how his life is being lived.

For him, the gospel is reduced to participation in church activities and ministries.

2. Legalistic Louie

Louie has a set of rule for every situation. He is a walking list of dos and don’ts. His children sees Christianity as a set of rules which has become a heavy burden to carry.

Legalism ignores the depth of our inability to earn God’s favor and pursues the goal of performing to gain God’s nod.

3. Mystic Marie

Marie thrives on emotional experiences. She hops from one conference to another hoping to get a spiritual high every time.

However, while goose bumps are experienced, her faith often falls flat. She faces discouragement and depression 24/7.

Our faith in Christ is not stoic. Our Christianity is peppered with human emotion. However, we cannot reduce the gospel to mere emotional experiences with Jesus.

4. Theological Thomas

Thomas knows the Bible inside and out. He has memorized hundreds of verses and can cite different theological views by every known Bible scholar out there.

However, his character is far from being Christ-like. He is arrogant, critical and looks down on people who opposes his views.

He has mastered the Word but has not allowed the Word to master him.

5. Psychological Sally

Sally loves God but is an offense magnet. Because of the rejection she has experienced in life, she looks to the Word to bring healing and restoration. And rightly so.

But if we see others’ sin as greater than our own, we have a tendency to see Christ as a therapist rather than Savior.

We are flawed and in major debt yet we are unconditionally loved and accepted.

The Bible is not a mere self help book. It is the narrative of God’s redemptive plan for you and me.

These have become replacements to the gospel.

I love what Karl Barth said when asked what’s the one most profound theological precept he has ever encountered.

This was his answer, “Jesus loves me this I know… for the Bible tells me so.”

The gospel is not a self help technique. It is not a mere emotional experience neither a theological thought. It is not a way to gain favor from God.
It is a message that we receive, believe and respond to.
It is good news. This is the gospel by which we have been saved.

The gospel “is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16)