September 11, 2017

Hebrew Roots? Mosaic Dietary Laws? Sabbath worship? Jewish calendar observance?


I listen to and read from a lot of different teachers, from very diverse camps in the Body of Christ.  I learn from them and their perspectives and particular emphases have deepened my own faith. 

That being said, I have found that when it comes to "pet doctrines" some teachers can really confuse people, especially on particular issues and/or their interpretations of the Scriptures regarding those issues.

The question about the Jewish roots of Christianity is definitely one of these "issues" and I want to "put my two cents in" and shed the light of the earliest Christians in regards to the Jewishness of Christianity, worshipping on the Sabbath (Saturday) and whether or not it is important to observe the Jewish dietary laws and/or follow the Jewish calendar (which is also growing in popularity).

I should say, none of the teachers I am referring to teach that "observing the law" is a salvation issue.  I think they rightly understand the Apostle Paul on this point.  But, because of the influence of the Messianic movement, and the more modern "Hebrew Roots" movement (which is quite diverse from moderate to extreme), I find a disturbing level of newly introduced Jewish practices amongst Christians.  I use the word "disturbing" because the earliest Christians after the Apostolic age (from the end of the 1st century onwards) entirely contradict what these modern "follow Jewish practices" teachers are advocating.  A "version" of history is being propagated by these teachers that the earliest Christians were actually very "Jewish" in their observance and practice and that at some point (usually blaming the early Roman Catholic Church, which is the common whipping horse to blame for everything) the Church was overrun with pagan practices, rejecting its "Hebrew Roots" and became anti-Semitic. They believe their mandate is to "recover" these Jewish roots and practices and purify the Church of the "pagan" practices that were adopted.

But before I quote a number of early Christian leaders, one of whom, named Tertullian, actually coined the term "Trinity" for us (so that no one will dismiss his impeccable orthodox credentials), let me say that the "versions" of Church history that I hear some of these modern teachers advocating often amount to near fiction.  We have the writings of the earliest Christians and many of the allegations that are made can be easily refuted.

My main interest in writing this particular blog post was in regards to the keeping of the Jewish dietary laws because one teacher I have started listening to lately makes a huge deal out of it.  He doesn't eat shellfish or pork and believes that all "serious Christians" should and will do likewise.  I am now going to introduce you to Ignatius, Tertullian, Irenaeus, Origen, Novatian, Lactanius (all of them undisputed leaders in the Early Church) to see if they would meet his standard of being considered "serious Christians".  

Didache (AD 80-100)

"But every Lord's Day [Sunday], gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your sins, so that your sacrifice may be pure."

Ignatius (AD 105) - Note: Ignatius was a personal disciple of the Apostle John.

"If we still live according to the Jewish Law, we acknowledge that we have not received grace." 

"[Christians] are no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord's Day [Sunday]." 

Letter to Diognetus (AD 125) 

"The Christians do not observe the same forms of divine worship as do the Jews." 

"Their [the Jews] scrupulosity concerning meats, and their superstition as respects the Sabbaths, and their boasting about circumcision, and their fancies about fasting and the new moons…are utterly ridiculous and unworthy of notice."

Justin Martyr (AD 160) 

"Is there any other matter my [Jewish] friends, in which we Christians are blamed, than this: that we do not live according to the Law, and are not circumcised in the flesh as your forefathers were, and do not oversee Sabbaths as you do?" 

"And on the day called Sunday, all [Christians] who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the writings of the Apostles or the Prophets are read…Sunday is the day on which we hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God…made the world. And Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead on that same day." 

"There was no need of circumcision before Abraham.  Nor was there need of observance of Sabbaths, or feasts and sacrifices, before Moses.  Accordingly, there is no more need of them now." 

Tertullian (AD 197-207)

"We do not follow the Jews in their peculiarities in regard to food, nor in their sacred days, nor even in their well-known bodily sign." 

"Paul blames [the Galatians] for maintaining circumcision, and observing times, days, months, and years according to those Jewish ceremonies.  For they should have known those things are now abrogated, according to the new dispensation. …Thus it was said by Hosea [2:11]: 'I will put an end to all her [Israel's] celebrations: her feasts, New Moons, and Sabbaths - all her festivals.'…The Creator had long before discarded all these things, and the apostle was now proclaiming them to be worthy of renunciation." 

"…so also the observance of the Sabbath is demonstrated to have been temporary." 

"The same God, therefore, who prohibited meats also restored the use of them.  For He had indeed originally allowed them."

Origen (AD 248) 

"We do not regulate our lives like the Jews.  For we are of the opinion that the literal following of the laws is not the thing that conveys the real meaning."

"Jesus wished to lead all men by His teachings about the pure worship and service of God. He was anxious not to place any hindrance in the way of many who might be benefitted by Christianity.  So he did not impose the burdensome code of rules regarding food."

Novatian (AD 235) 

"From these things, it is plain that all those things [i.e., clean and unclean animals] are returned to their original blessedness now that the Law is finished."

Cyprian (AD 250)

"The former Law that had been given by Moses was about to cease.  And a new law was to be given."

Lactantius (AD 304)

"Jesus…took away the necessity of abstaining for the flesh of pigs…However he did not do this by His own judgment, but according to the will of God."

Quite a summary!  And if anyone wants to simply disregard the teachings of these early Christian leaders on these issues, then don't forget to also disregard the doctrine of the Trinity, forget about the 27 books in our New Testament Canon of Scripture, and throw out the Nicene Creed (to mention just a few key things) – all of which they were a part of articulating, deciding upon, fighting against the heretics for and even dying for.  They preserved the faith that we possess today as Christians.  And when it came to Christians' ongoing observance of Jewish dietary laws, they all held to exactly the same view.  If Jesus had intended for His Apostles to pass this on, then these men, who are literally the next generation, would have gotten the memo.  They didn't get that memo, and neither did we!

September 09, 2017

Revisiting "The Eternal Perspective"


As a young Christian, I remember that "the eternal perspective" was a powerful theme and motivating influence on my life.  In a nutshell, Jesus calls people to give up their lives for the sake of His Eternal Kingdom.  And here it is, the eternal perspective – if we really believe what Christ taught about this 'short' life vs. eternity, then we will willingly forsake everything for the far superior reality.  This has ALWAYS been something that has caused Christians to do the most incredible things with their lives for the cause of the Gospel.  The suffering and the sacrifice only make sense if 'this life' is temporary and eternal life is just that, eternal!

For some reason, this season in my life has me pondering again this issue of the eternal perspective.  Maybe it is because I have lost my own awareness of this mindset to some degree.  I definitely think we are living in a world where many Christians are not living in light of eternity.  I have been profoundly challenged by the stories of Christian refugees that I met from Iraq – who were tortured, who lost their property, whose women were raped, whose men were killed.  How were they able to endure?  How have they come through literally "hell on earth" and yet they cling to their faith in Christ?  I believe that part of the answer is that they have internalized the eternal perspective.  They had/have a keen awareness that this world is not their home.  They lived in light of the fact that this life and all that is in it is passing away.  Their stories have changed my life.  And their stories have caused me to re-ponder eternity. 

Here is the most recent insight that came to me regarding eternity in light of the momentary nature of this world - Some die after living long lives and others die prematurely, even in infancy.  Some are healed when we pray and others are not.  Often those who are not healed live for years in chronic pain and suffering.  But when we fast forward into eternity – let's say 50 billion years from now.  None of us will be sitting around lamenting a life that ended at 3 years vs. 100 years.  A healing that didn't happen. Or a struggle that lasted a human lifetime.  NONE of that will even register on the scale of eternity.  We won't even be referencing 'this life'.  More will have happened in the previous 5 minutes of eternity than in 1000 earthly lifetimes.  This life will not matter anymore whatsoever.  This is the eternal perspective.  This is why Jesus didn't hesitate to ask people to sacrifice this life (a millisecond) for the sake of eternity.  The cost only seems high, the sacrifice only seems great if our reference point is this life.  Jesus LONGS for us to get His perspective, the perspective of His eternal Kingdom. 

May God grants us the grace, as a manifestation as ones who "have the mind of Christ" (1 Cor 2:16), to enter into His eternal mindset and may the way we live our lives reflect life everlasting.

August 30, 2017

Woman's foot healed after many years

A couple of us went to a worship/renewal meeting this week.  At a time when we were all asked if anybody was getting any words of knowledge for healing, I got a distinct word for an issue on the top of the right foot going down into the big toe.

A woman raised her hand and as I prayed for her, the Holy Spirit was on her in a powerful way.  It was obvious that God was touching her and the revelation about her foot just seemed to increase her faith and the level of encounter.  After a minute or so, I went to pray for someone else.

As we were getting in the car, she came running up to us to tell us that this chronic long-term issue in her foot was healed.  A car accident had exasperated the initial problem also for a couple of years and she told us it was all gone.  The original and then secondary injury.  So encouraged!

Going to visit the last living witch in Oman - follow up 5 years later!

Back in 2012, Isaac of Ninevah and I were in the interior of Oman and visited the "witchcraft capital of Arabia", a small city in the interior.

Here was our blogpost where I wrote about visiting the house of the "last living witch"


Over the years I have shared the story about our failed attempt to go and pray for this man who represented the power of magic in his region.  

A couple of guys who heard the story however wanted to follow up and just this week went back and visited the home of this man, as I was able to drop them a pin on Google Maps as to the exact location of the witch's house.

As it was 5 years ago, the witch had subsequently passed away. In 2012, he had been very old and in poor health.

But these young men went to the house, and were able to spend several hours sharing the Gospel with the witch's son, his son-in-law (who had been the one before who would NOT let us pray for his father-in-law).  They spoke about the power of Christ and His authority over the kingdom of darkness and all demonic witchcraft.  The son of the witch seemed the most open and interested and one of the men was able to pull him aside and pray for him.

May God cause His Word and Truth to grow in this home.  A house once known for witchcraft to one day be known as a light for the Gospel in a dark islamic land.   

Hyper-Grace vs. the ENTIRE New Testament 2.0

I am revising and reposting a blog post I did back in 2013.  The topic is as relevant today and some of the so-called "Grace Teachers" have gotten more extreme.  They have taken the critiques against them and have sought to strengthen their arguments.  Dr. Michael Brown has met a couple of times with one of the Grace teachers (Joseph Prince) and although he was encouraged by the meetings, and they were able to affirm areas of agreement, and Brown wrote an article for Charisma magazine wherein he lists the areas where they agree.  In that same article Brown clearly states however, that "Our principal area of disagreement remains his teaching that the moment we are saved, our future sins are already pronounced forgiven". ("My Meeting with Pastor Joseph Prince", Charisma News. 26 Jan 2017).

So logically Prince continues to teach that a believer would never have to ask forgiveness for any current and/or future sin because all sins in the life of a believer are "pronounced forgiven" at the moment of conversion.  This is a false teaching.  The early Christians knew NOTHING of it.  I can quote dozens of quotations from the early Church fathers (in the 2nd and 3rd centuries).  Some of whom were actual disciples of the Apostle John himself (Polycarp, Ignatius, Papias).  Whenever they speak about this topic/doctrine ALL OF THEM, to the man, disagree/contradict Prince's understanding of this critical doctrine.  They would all consider this a false teaching.  I don't think they would consider Prince entirely a false teacher (as the concept of a false teacher is more comprehensive than someone who teaches a single false doctrine).  I fully concede that there are things I currently believe and teach that may not be accurate (that would make them "false") but that wouldn't make me a "false teacher" which the NT clearly describes as someone who is not a believer or who is a total apostate.  My prayer for Prince is that he is willing to be corrected doctrinally by Dr. Brown and that he would forsake the aforementioned falsehood. 

Here is my original 2013 post for a 2017 audience:

Over the past couple of months, I have surveyed all of Paul's letters in the New Testament (and the other books other than the Gospels) and have found the following things to be true which the "Hyper Grace" teachers are not saying.  My contention is that these teachers are very "selective" and cherry- pick verses (otherwise called “proof-texting”) from Paul's Epistles that support their "novel" concept of Grace and neglect dozens of other Scriptures that bring balance to the precious New Testament doctrine of grace.  In other words, what you are about to read IS "The Grace Message" by the TRUE "Grace Teachers" (i.e. the Apostle Paul, the Apostle Peter, the Apostle James, the Apostle John).  

I would agree with both Mike Bickle and with Dr. Michael Brown that the error of these so-called "Grace Teachers" is they have taken a truth to an extreme.  They have had to do some serious hermeneutical gymnastics to explain away the problem verses for their position that everyone knows, and then "silent" about the dozens of others that are not-so-well-known (see below).

I only spent about 2 hours with a concordance doing word searches and so I would say that in no way is this an exhaustive list.  Of course what I have listed are the verses that challenge the Hyper Grace teachings and by themselves would lead to another extreme position.  The balanced truth of the NT is found only when we bring all of these verses together.

Here are some of the things I found which the verses following will confirm:

1. Paul's letters are full of commandments he expects believers to obey.  Paul echoes Jesus' commandments and teachings in the Sermon on the Mount and the Gospels on nearly every major point.  The irony is that Paul actually gives us more commandments to keep in all of his writings than Jesus did in the Gospels!

Why would Paul reiterate supposedly Old Covenant commandments (as the Grace teachers consider most of Christ's teachings in the Gospels due to their appearance before the Cross)?

2. Paul speaks over and over again about sanctification as a process – the grace teachers deny this.

3. Paul speaks about believers dealing with their CURRENT and future sins.

4. Paul encourages believers to repent and cleanse/purify themselves.

5. Paul teaches we still have an "earthly nature" that needs to be killed. (Col. 3:5)

Why are the Hyper Grace teachers teaching that we no longer have any sin to ever be dealt with?

Why would Paul command us to be/do things (i.e. "be holy", "purify yourselves") that the Hyper Grace teachers say we already are and to pursue things we already possess?

6. Paul speaks in numerous places about judgments coming upon believers after the Cross if they don't walk according to God's commandments and keep their commitments to the Lord (Rom. 13:2,4; 1 Cor. 5:1-3; 1 Cor. 11:29, 31; 1 Tim. 5:12, Heb. 10:26-27, 29-31 – also in Acts 5:5, 10, James 5:9, 1 Pet. 4:17)

Why do so many grace teachers teach that there are no more judgments when Paul makes so many references to judgments AFTER the Cross? Not to mention the judgments of AD70 and the other judgments at the End of the Age.  Even if one is a Preterist (one who views most of the judgments as being fulfilled in the 1st century), WHY would there have been any need for any of them AFTER the Cross?

7. Paul speaks in many places of handing down the "teachings" ("traditions")

8. Paul exhorts and rebukes (sometimes in strong and seemingly negative and harsh ways)

9. Paul and the Church continued to fast (Acts 16:23)

10. Paul encourages self-examination – “examine yourselves and see if you be of the faith” (1 Cor. 11:27;

11. Paul speaks of the need to endure, to persevere and of rewards and punishments. 

12. Paul conditions promises on obedience.

13. Paul teaches that apostasy is possible – people can and do fall away and lose their salvation.

In addition the other authors of the New Testament (the Apostle John, James, Peter) all teach exactly the same thing - I've included a summary of their writings after summarizing Paul's.

Here is a summary of the teachings, commandments and practices of the Apostle Paul which directly challenge the Hyper Grace teachers. 

Note: all of these are written to and for believers

Acts 13:2 - While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

Acts 16:23 - Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord

(In include these two references from the Book of Acts because they involved the Apostle Paul)

Rom. 13:2, 4 - Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves…But if you do wrong, be afraid

Rom. 13:12 - The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

Rom. 14:23 - But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin

1 Cor. 3:1-3 - Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly?

1 Cor. 6:18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.

1 Cor. 7:19 - Keeping God’s commands is what counts.

1 Cor. 8:12-13 - When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.

1 Cor. 11:27-32 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among  you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.

1 Cor. 15:33-34 - Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.

1 Cor. 15:22 - If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed! Come, Lord!

2 Cor. 7:1 - Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

2 Cor. 7:8-10 - Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while 9 yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. 10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

2 Cor. 9:6 - Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

2 Cor. 12:20-21 - For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip,  arrogance and disorder. 21 I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged.

Col. 3:5 - Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

Galatians 6:1 - Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.

1 Thes. 4:3-7 - It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.

1 Tim. 1:19-20 - holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith. 20 Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.

1 Tim. 5:11-2 - As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry. 12 Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge.

1 Tim. 5:20-22 - But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning. 21 I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism. 22 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.

1 Tim. 6:11 - But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.

2 Tim. 3:16 - All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness

Heb. 3:12 - See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God

Heb. 5:8-9 - Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him

Heb. 10:26-27 - If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left,27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God…29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Heb. 10:36 - You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

Heb. 12:1 - Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,

Heb. 12:4-5 - In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,

Heb. 12:14-16 - Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. 16 See that no one is sexually immoral,

Heb. 12:25, 28-29 - See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”
Here is a summary of the Teachings and Commandments of the Apostle John, James, the Apostle Peter and Luke in Acts that challenge the Hyper Grace teachers (Note: all written AFTER the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ so therefore fully in the New Covenant.

Acts 5:5, 10-11 - When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened..…10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

James 2:24 - You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone

James 4:4-10 - You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:“God opposes the proud  but shows favor to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

James 5:9 - Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!

James 5:16 - Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

1 Peter 1:13-16 - Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had  when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

1 Peter 2:1 - Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.

1 Peter 2:11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.

1 Peter 3:8-9 - Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

1 Peter 4:17-18 - For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

2 Peter 1:5-11 - For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness,  mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But  whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. (note: but NOT future sins) 10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

2 Pet. 3:14-18 - So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

1 John 2:3-6 - We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

1 John 3:7 - Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.

1 John 3:23-4 - And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them.

1 John 5:2-3 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of  God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

1 John: 5:16-18 If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death. 18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.

2 John 1:6 And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

2 John 1:9-11 Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them. 11 Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work.

Rev. 3:3 - Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent

Rev. 12:17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.

Rev. 14:12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.

From all of these passages, it is clear that there are commandments that we must obey, there are promises that are conditioned on that obedience, that sanctification is a process, that believers are instructed to confess their sins and repent, that people can and do fall away from the faith, that we are expected to produce works (not works of the law but works of faith), that the Apostles in no way contradict the teachings of Christ in the Sermon on the Mount but rather confirm those teachings, strengthen them and expand them.  What is true is that we are empowered by Grace to do all of this - this is the Grace message!  We are saved by God's provision but we must cooperate with that Grace.  We are saved by Grace and that grace produces works, works of faith. Legalism is a completely different issue related to Paul's teaching regarding the Law of Moses and the Jewish belief that they could keep it and thus become righteous through it.  To accuse people who believe and teach the above-mentioned verses as being "legalistic" and somehow in opposition to the Gospel of Grace is actually to "insult the Spirit of Grace and to fall short of the Grace of God (Heb 10:29/12:15).

So to be balanced, it is to these passages that we ALSO teach the finished work of Christ, our position in Christ, that we are adopted sons and daughters who have been born again, set free, made holy and righteous and whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.  As we hold all of these truths together, that we are "contending for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3).  This is the full counsel of God; this is the Apostolic Grace message and according to Romans 5:2 it is this grace in which we stand!


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