Monday, March 24, 2008

Why do I not just preach about grace?

The following is in response to a comment, of me not preaching enough about grace. here is why I do not preach "only" grace.

As far as discounting grace. Not at all do I do that. I have such a respect and awe for a God that loved us so much that He would send His Son to die for us. I know that we are unworthy on our own to enter heaven and that the wonderful grace and love and mercy shown by God is all that we have to live by! I agree with grace 100%

Yes, it is grace. That is the message of the cross.

But here is where I think you might be missing the point of what I am trying to say.

In order for someone to truly understand about God's grace, they need to see "why" they need a Savior in the first place.

If a person just tells others that God loves them, that will not change their lives. Sure, you might get some people to say, Wow, God loves even me? Great. And they might give their life to Jesus right then and there. They might be led in the Sinners Prayer and they might start going to church.
But, something is missing!

in the past 10 days I have come across a couple of bad situations within the church walls from churches that preach only grace.

One, is a situation where a worship leader (22 yrs old and the son of the pastor) was "involved" with several girls in the church. He just recently (out of the blue) married a different girl. There were accusations abounding about this young man. He was brought before the elders and was going to be removed from his position. When he started crying, someone said they must forgive him. So, they allowed him to stay in his position.

Does that sound like the right move by the elders?

I would say--NO. And here is why.
We should forgive this young man, most definitely. He cried and made a mistake. The Bible tells us we are to forgive him. But the Bible also tells us to practice church discipline. We are to remove from the church anyone who is living in outward (open rebellion to God) sin. His cries were not from having a repentant heart. It was from getting caught in his sin. There is a difference. You do not want to allow sin to permeate with the church walls. It will act as a cancer. It will spread. The person needs to be removed from the church. The ultimate hope is that he will repent of his sins and then the church should welcome him back with open arms. But if he does not repent, you will have saved the church from heresy creeping into the church.

The second instance happened in a neighboring town here. A pastor just recently left his position because he had been having an affair with one of the members of the congregation. He was married and so was the woman he had an affair with. My understanding is that this had been going on for about 10 years.

Yes God loves us! Yes, we should tell people that God loves them. But if all they hear is "God loves you." They will never come to the realization that there is punishment for those who do not repent of their sins. Hell awaits all who are disobedient to His Word.

What is missing in both instances? A knowledge of the dangers of living in sin. There are consequences in life. Do you (not you in particular, more about the world) believe that the young man is truly a saved Christian? By their fruits they will be known. (a good tree cannog bear bad fruit) This young man was living in open, outward rebellion towards God. All sin is against God and God alone! He showed no desire to change. When a person gives their life to Jesus there should be a change in attitude and in their heart. They should HATE sin because God hates it! If you are only taught that God is love, you will not worry about consequences of sin because you know that God loves you and will forgive you. but, the Bible tells us there is no forgiveness of sin without repentance. That is the important message that is missing from many churches today.

As for the pastor who committed adultery, how can he preach against the sin of adultery when he himself is guilty of it? No, he preached about God's love because when you do that, you do not have to worry about being held accountable even for every idle word you speak.

So for me to preach on God's Law, it is to show people their sinfulness and just how low they are in God's eyes. It is to show them that without repentance they will go to hell. When the spirit is broken and they finally realize they are indeed sinners before God, they will now, not only seek to find God's love and mercy they will be ready to cling to his wonderful grace.

Jesus used the Law when talking to the woman at the well. He used it when talking to the rich man. Paul used the Law when preaching to the proud, arrogant people. The Law is good when used lawfully. The Bible also says that the Law acts as a schoolmaster to bring people to Christ. The Law points the way to the cross. When we use the Law as a mirror to see the sin that is within us, we then realize the need for a Savior.

Just inviting people to church is not evangelism. Inviting people to a church where they will not hear about sin, hell and the need for repentance will not bring about change in their heart. You have all been equipped to preach the whole gospel to people out in the streets. The purpose of preachers is to equip the saints so that they can go out into the streets reaching the lost with confidence in the knowledge of God's Word. The purpose of one who has the gift of evangelism is to teach people, to equip the saints, with the knowledge of "how" to reach the lost for Christ.

We are to be "doers" of the Word and not just "hearers" of the Word.

God loves you!
Do you love Him enough to change your ways?
Repent, put your faith and trust in Jesus alone to save you!

15 comments:

Nator said...

Thanks Brian. In regards to the end of the post, I am already saved. But thanks for your concern, really.

I believe that examples only prove so much. I can give examples as well of people in churches that are very conservative and Fundamental, who hear the word preached every week, who fall into sin. This is not a failure of the church, but a condition of being a human. I can also give examples of Pastors, very conservative Bible preaching pastors, who fall away. A very famous one is Ted Haggard. (I can provide video backup if you like, but I know you can find it on youtube as well) I have known others personally and it wasn’t because they were preaching grace alone.

Churches must take care of problems in their own church as they see fit. Sometimes there are circumstances that we are not aware of. If you are aware of these circumstances, then you know more than I do. I can’t judge a church from afar, based on a story.

I am out of time now, but I’m sure I will be back later.

pastorbrianculver said...

Nator,
The last comment on the post was not directed towards you in particular (although my concern is there for your salvation as it is for all people).

You have hit on the very thing that i have been writing about in my blog since its beginning! And that is this...

Not all people who claim to be Christian, are really saved!

You are right, there are very conservative and fundamental people who fall into sin (and actually live in their sins). And yes, there are very conservative pastors who also fall away (I would say they most likely never fell forward in the first place!). Ted Haggard is a great example, that just because a man is a preacher, is no guarantee that he is saved. Just because a man preaches sin, repentance and God's Law is no guarantee that he is saved just as much as there is no guarantee that a man preaching only grace is saved.

Churches must take care of problems in their own church, but not as they see fit, but by biblical standards. I do have more info on the circumstances than I wrote on here. It wasn't necessary to put all the details here.

So, I agree with you. There is no guarantee that someone preaching Law and Grace will produce true converts. (I am out of time too, I will finish my thought in a couple of hours!)

Roland said...

Could it be just possible that the way they live was partially driven by how things looked to others?
And that could come from the constant, "You better not sin! God is watching, you know!" ?

It is good to be aware of sin.
It is also good to not focus on it. I can't repeat God's words on this subject enough to you. Go read Phillipians 4:8!

You think I don't read or know the scriptures. You'd be wrong. I don't know them as a little code book which will help define the way I live down to the smallest little detail.
They are inscribed in my heart.
I study them still, because I love what God has given to me.

I agree that the first guy should not be in ministry. Neither should the second.
They need to step back.
Away from the place where they are so concerned with looking right that they end up covering things up instead of admitting they might be concerned about some weakness they have.

Can you imagine a place where not only is sin dealt with, but it is forgiven?
Can you imagine a place where the thoughts that we have can be shared with others instead of hidden?
I can.
I attend such a place.
Is everyone running around naked and saying, "WHHEEEE! I'm a sinner!" ?
No. C'mon be serious.
Hiding sinful thoughts and intentions only makes the problem worse.
And that is something that people do when they are worried about how things look.
I'm glad that both people are now able to look at what is wrong with things in their life and able to deal with them.
Very similar to the NY governor.

So, I'll ask, and hope it isn't moderated out.
Why do you attack sin so?
And are you able to share with others weaknesses you have?
If not, you might want to change your approach.
If you can share, Hallelujah!

I can tell you similar stories myself.

I can tell you about a pastor who has his family ruled by a rod of iron. The scriptures must be upheld. If they aren't then everyone has to try harder. Did I tell you about his teenage son? The one who is now dead? The one who tried so hard to please the law that he couldn't live up to, that he quit trying?
Did you know about him?

Perspective, brother, perspective.

We all have an opinion.
Even you.
When we read the scriptures, we are reading it. Not as God reads them, but as you or I read them.
We have opinions. Even about scriptures. You admitted you were wrong once before in one of your posts.
Its possible it will happen again.
It happens to me.
Its called growth.
I have not yet arrived.
None of us have.

I will pray for growth.
For you and me, for Nator, for the pastors who are in tremendous pain right now.
Why?
For the same reason you do.
We care.

pastorbrianculver said...

"Could it be just possible that the way they live was partially driven by how things looked to others?"

having sex with a married wonam has nothing to do with how it looks to others. Outward sin, is just that. It is outward, it is obvious to those who are watching. It is bad fruit that is being displayed.


And that could come from the constant, "You better not sin! God is watching, you know!" ?

You really do not understand what I am saying at all. It is not a matter of saying "you better not sin, because God is watching." It is about having a new life, a new direction and a new attitude in Christ. It is about dying to self and putting on the new creature.

It is good to be aware of sin.
It is also good to not focus on it. I can't repeat God's words on this subject enough to you. Go read Phillipians 4:8!

That verse has nothing to do with salvation. That is where the problem comes in. People read a Scripture verse and apply it to areas that it does not fit. If an unbeliever only does Phil 4:8 he will be no closer to heaven than if he doesn't do it. You say it is good to not focus on sin. Show me a verse (that deals with salvation) that says not to focus on it. Because, Jesus talked about sin and the need to repent. Paul talked about sin and the need to repent, Peter talked about sin and the need to repent. John talked about sin and the need to repent. How is it that it is okay for them to talk about sin and the need to repent, but when I do it, I am making up something that is wrong?

You think I don't read or know the scriptures. You'd be wrong. I don't know them as a little code book which will help define the way I live down to the smallest little detail.
They are inscribed in my heart.
I study them still, because I love what God has given to me.

I don't know the Bible as a little code book either. It is God's HOLY Word. It is HOLY. Let's not forget that. It is HOLY without error! It would not be HOLY if it was filled with errors. What does your heart tell you about the need to repent in order to be saved?

I agree that the first guy should not be in ministry. Neither should the second.
They need to step back.
Away from the place where they are so concerned with looking right that they end up covering things up instead of admitting they might be concerned about some weakness they have.

It is not just about admitting they have a weakness. Let's call it what it is. They are living for the world and the Bible (God's Holy Word) tells us that those who live for the world are not saved.

Can you imagine a place where not only is sin dealt with, but it is forgiven?

Sure, I deal with it daily. I am also a very forgiving person. you don't know me personally, but those who do know me would back me up on this.

Can you imagine a place where the thoughts that we have can be shared with others instead of hidden?
I can.
I attend such a place.
Is everyone running around naked and saying, "WHHEEEE! I'm a sinner!" ?
No. C'mon be serious.

And you seriously think that is what I am preaching? c'mon be serious!

Hiding sinful thoughts and intentions only makes the problem worse.
And that is something that people do when they are worried about how things look.

God looks into the hearts of man. no matter why they hide their sins, the fact is, they are not hidden from God. And just because someone talks about their sins, unless they repent of their sins, they are still not saved. Repentance is a fruit of the spirit given to those who are saved.

I'm glad that both people are now able to look at what is wrong with things in their life and able to deal with them.
Very similar to the NY governor.

just because their sins have been exposed does not mean they have dealt with them. It is a heart issue and unless they realize they need to repent, they are still no closer to heaven than before. Without repentance it is impossible to enter heaven!! Do you want me to post Scripture to verify this for you?

So, I'll ask, and hope it isn't moderated out.
Why do you attack sin so?

I attack sin because that is one issue that is keeping people out of heaven. I do it because I truly love people and do not want to see anyone go to hell. I do it because it is biblical (as I mentioned earlier with Jesus, Paul, Peter, etc)

And are you able to share with others weaknesses you have?

Sure I do. I am guilty of breaking God's Laws just like everyone else is! I admit that freely.

If not, you might want to change your approach.
If you can share, Hallelujah!

I can tell you similar stories myself.

I can tell you about a pastor who has his family ruled by a rod of iron. The scriptures must be upheld. If they aren't then everyone has to try harder. Did I tell you about his teenage son? The one who is now dead? The one who tried so hard to please the law that he couldn't live up to, that he quit trying?

Again, you have completely, without fail, misinterpreted what I teach here. You are looking blindly at the Law being presented. So you are naturally assuming that I rule with a rod and am very strict. Go back and read any and all of my post. I will always say both sides of the gospel message. The man who has a son that is dead was wrong in ruling his house the way you presented it. that is not the way to do it. It is very possible to talk to someone about sin and have them not be offended. It is possible to talk to someone about the need to repent of their sins without them being offended. That is the way I do it. But at no time do I stop at talking about sin. Once their hard hearts have been broken, it is then that you present the wonderful grace of God. You tell them about the Love of God that was displayed on the cross. I guarantee you will find me saying very similar comments in all of my posts! The gospel message must be present properly. The whole gospel message deals with sin, and the fact that we are all headed for hell, and the wonderful love of God by sending His Son to die on the cross for our sins.

Perspective, brother, perspective.

I've got perspective. Just because you do not agree with me does not mean I don't have perspective. God's Word is what we need to have. Obedience to God's Word is what is missing in so many lives. Are you obedient to God's Word? If not, I hope you know that the Bible tells us that those who are not obedient will not inherit heaven. Are you aware of that?

We all have an opinion.
Even you.
When we read the scriptures, we are reading it. Not as God reads them,

God does not read the Bible! He is the author of it!

but as you or I read them.
We have opinions. Even about scriptures. You admitted you were wrong once before in one of your posts.

Not sure what post you are talking about. I have never said on my posts that I was wrong in the way I read Scripture.

Its possible it will happen again.
It happens to me.
Its called growth.
I have not yet arrived.
None of us have.

I agree that we are all still growing. I am on this blog because I am trying to help people to grow in their walk with Christ. I was never given the message of the need to repent when I was not saved. I am making sure that people understand what the Bible says about obedience, repentance and salvation. As I have read many other blogs, I have seen some with false teachings. You know what the Bible says about false teachers? About exposing them? I cannot turn my back against unscriptural teaching. I cannot allow false teaching to come on this blog through comments. When people come on here trying to teach others that it is okay to live in sin all because God loves them, I won't have that here! Yes, God loves them, but God is also a God of wrath. Do a study on the wrath of God. I challenge you to do that. You will find that the NT talks more about hell than about heaven. Why? because God is a God of love and wrath. Love to those who follow Him and wrath to those who are determined to live life their way and not God's way! You mentioned that you don't read the Bible as a book to tell you how to live your life. I am telling you, that is a dangerous way to live life. You have a Bible, I encourage you to study the writings of God. It should open your eyes. There are people who are blind to the truth. The bible tells us so! That is why I am constantly trying to reach people so that maybe something will help them see the truth! (and before someone comes back with a smart remark, I am not saying that I am the only one with truth. What I am saying is that the Bible has the Truth. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life!)

S.J. Walker said...

Hey Brian,

Looks like you're holding your own just fine here, so I won't wade in just yet. But could you keep an old friend of mine in your prayers? You can get more info at A Lion Has Roared!.

Thanks Bro,

Roland said...

You said that the Youth Specialties was wrong and you were in that before.
Hence I assume you meant you were wrong.
Forgive me for casting aspersians on you.

Let's keep it simple.
Yes, letting others know about sin is fine and often needed.
But do you focus on anything else?
And if you do, why is it so hard for me to see?

pastorbrianculver said...

your friend and his family are in my prayers. I want to encourage any other people reading this to please stop by sj's site and offer up prayer for his friend.
thanks
God bless

pastorbrianculver said...

what you are missing about the being wrong comment was that I was not "saved" at the time I was using youth specialties! Big difference there between being saved and not being saved! I was a professing "Christian" but in actuality, I was not truly saved. Youth Specialties offers absolutely nothing to help a person get saved. What it takes for that to happen is a conviction of the Holy Spirit of our sins, and that is where the Law comes in!

As to why you have not been able to "see it" is very similar to why I could not see the truth when I was in Mormonism. When I was a mormon, I was blinded by the truth. I could not see it even though it was right there in front of me. God removed the blinders on me so that I could see. Your remarks that I see from you are so very similar to the ones I used to make. I understand completely where you and others are coming from because I was there once myself. But that was when I was a professing christian but still living in my sins. I wasn't ready to give up my lifestyle for anyone, even for God. But that has changed now!

Like I have said over and over again, I preach sin, repentance and grace. This is the "whole" gospel message as given by Jesus, Paul, John, Peter and others. It is the biblical way of presenting the gospel. I am not sure why you focus so much on just the law and sin part. Is it offensive to you? Because it is very biblical to use the Law. I do not use the Law on everyone. If someone already knows the Law, then I use only grace. But for the self-righteous person who will justify himself before God and before man, I use the Law to bring about conviction of sin so that they realize the need for a Savior to keep them from Hell. I then offer up Grace. Did you see that word? GRACE. Do I need to capitalize it in every post for you. I say that in a facetious kind of way, but it is in every post. Why is it that the Bible tells us to use the Law and you refuse to use it thinking you have a better way than what the Bible tells you?

Roland said...

If someone already knows the Law, then I use only grace.

Then why do you continue to throw the Law at me?

And SJ, I'll pray for you as well.
And I agree that Brian is holding his own.
I used to be more like Brian.
I held my own.
Brian is growing just as I am.
I just quit trying to hold my own.
I am more interested in spreading around what God is really interested in.
Law? Yes.
Grace? Even more so.
People? That's why He came.
So until people can view the Almighty Creator of the Universe as something more than a big guy with a paddle waiting to correct them and start viewing them as their loving Father who wants them to come home, I will continue to expound the unending grace of God.

(And though you piecemeal my answers and respond, try responding to the whole thing at once. Anything else seems like you only look for fault.)

WayneDawg said...

"Why do you attack sin so?"

I am in no way answering for Brian here....but I think that is a great question to ask of any preacher who preaches the complete Gospel.

Short answer: Because God hates sin.

I think a preacher biblically ought to preach 90% Law and 10% Grace (the John Wesley approach).

When the Law is preached, sin is defined. When the Law is preached, sin becomes exceedingly sinful. When the Law is preached, a sinner becomes awakened from his slumber on the severity of his sins.

When sin is properly exposed through God's Law, then and only then will God's grace truly make sense to the sinner.

There is no real need to spend a lot of time preaching grace when a sinner knows he needs a Savior. The sinner will run to the Savior repenting and put on the Lord Jesus to save him from God's wrath on the Day of Judgment.

pastorbrianculver said...

I know Sam appreciates the prayers! Thanks for sending them out to him.

You are right in that God is our loving Father who does not want anyone to perish. I agree 100% on that. I don't preach that He is holding a paddle waiting to get someone who fails. The Law is ONLY for the purpose of showing us our sins. It does not save us and we cannot be saved by it. the Law only exposes our sin. It is the realization that we are sinners (through the Law), that we need a Savior and then the grace of God is so wonderful, His Love is so fulfilling and His mercy is so great, that we receive the blessings of a loving Father as Jesus has prepared a place for us when we die!

pastorbrianculver said...

well put WD!

pastorbrianculver said...

Now in all fairness Roland, go back and read how long your comment was. That is why I broke it down as I did, so I would not miss any of your points. I was trying to make it easier for the readers to see what my comments were towards and was not finding fault. I was just answering what you had commented to me.

Now you said you used to be more like me. Did you preach BOTH sin/repentance and Grace?

Roland said...

Wayne,
Thanks for your clarification.
I still think that people will view it as I said, but I understand where you're coming from.

Brian,
Now you said you used to be more like me. Did you preach BOTH sin/repentance and Grace?
Now that is a funny story.
I believed that I did. So did everyone else in the church I had attended.
But to be honest, the grace they offered was always conditional. Testimony and appearance became more and more important. And the sad thing was, I was just as caught up in it.
Is a testimony a good thing? To be sure.
But should it be our focus in following our Lord? Not on your life. (or mine either) :)

Some people are already tired and beat up with sin. Not just their own, but what everyone else throws on them.
They need to know that someone loves them. More often than you might think, they already know many things they do wrong. They need to hear that God isn't interested in their mistakes (or outriht rebellion). But is interested in them.
Too many shy away from God because they fear the consequences the church will burden them with. Not even necessarily in a mean way. But since we are all of us human, we still fall short of God. And we aren't always as forgiving as we ought to be.
Am I making sense so far?

pastorbrianculver said...

I see where you are coming from. If repentance is seen as an "act" that we must do to be saved, it becomes a "work" and that is not part of what grace is. His grace is a free gift for the believer. We are saved by faith and not of works lest any man should boast.
The problem comes in when preachers do not teach the proper balance between law and grace.

Now you mentioned that many people are beaten down by their sins and the sins of others and that they need to know that someone loves them. Hence, this is where the wonderful grace and love of our Lord and Savior comes in. You mentioned that God isn't interested in their rebellion but that he is interested in them.

This is where I will respectfully disagree with you.

He takes great interest in their open rebellion against him. You cannot serve two masters. In doing so, you are creating for yourself a false idol, or worshipping Satan as well as God. The Bible is so crystal clear on this. Open rebellion against God will incur His wrath upon them. Just telling that person that God loves them is not going to bring about change in them. There must be a change of attitude about sin.

The become beaten down by sin and maybe even recognize their sins, but unless they actually repent of their sins, they are going to die in their sins. So just telling them that God loves them anyway, regardless of whether they repent or not, will not do them any good as far as their salvation goes.

You are kind of on the right track though.

For the person who is beaten down by sin and are feeling the heavy burden of sin, I agree, they need to know about the love of God. But let's first bring the sin out into the open so that they can properly deal with the one thing that is keeping them from having a proper relationship with Jesus.

When the sin is exposed, and they see that they are headed for hell, just like you are and just like I am, they will realize that their only hope lies in the Savior who died on the cross for them. That is the greatest expression of love that man has ever seen expressed.

Tell that person that they are not alone in their battle with sin. We have all fallen short of the glory of God. When we repent of our sins, when we hate sin like God hates sin, we can turn to a loving God who will take us in His loving arms.

If someone is more worried about the consequences of what the church will burden them with, then that person is not interested in becoming a true follower of Christ. For the most part, church is for the body of believers in Christ. It is for the purpose of edifying the body of believers. It should not offend believers who know they need to repent of their sins in order to go to heaven. Do you repent of your sins in order to go to heaven or do you repent of your sins after you are saved? Actually, I would say it is simultaneous. At the moment you are willing to give your life to Jesus and cling to Him as your Savior, the fruit of the spirit is repentance. When the church becomes filled with non-believers and our messages are tailored to not offend them, the whole gospel message will never be given. That is why we evangelize. We go out into the streets giving people the Word of God. He alone does the saving, not you, and not me. It is Him and Him alone! But we must give people the Word of God in it's fulness.