Musings 100

Galatians 1:6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! 10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

In reflecting upon modern preaching and the Scriptures above, it seems that there are more ways than one that preachers can desert Him and also the Gospel of Christ alone and grace alone. In the modern day there are several who espouse a form of preaching that is tightly bound to the text, which is not bad in and of itself. But what ends up happening is that the text is preached instead of Christ. One can have a Christless sermon that is within the bounds of orthodox theology and is bound to the text. A Christless sermon, however, is a sermon that lacks the Gospel of grace alone just as much as a person who does not believe grace alone.

In modern preaching it seems as if preachers are so concerned with holiness that they will stress holiness and repentance and neglect grace. It comes across as if people are saved by their holiness rather than grace alone and by not bringing grace into the picture they are cutting off the very root of holiness. There is no holiness that is not from Christ and by grace. It is a profound error to preach and teach on holiness apart from teaching how it comes from and through Christ. It is a profound error to teach a holiness that does not come to the soul by free-grace. A form of holiness that does not come from Christ and by grace is simply a way to preach works.

Repentance is utterly necessary, but repentance will either come from the flesh working in accordance with the law or it will be produced by grace working a true change of heart. If repentance is preached as if it is in the strength of man to do it, or even not informing men that God is not sovereign, then this is equal to preaching a salvation by works. It is very true that there is a balance at this point. Men should repent of all outward sin and do so immediately, but true repentance which is in accordance with true salvation can only come when it is granted by God. Men should be urged to flee from all outward sin while they plead with God to grant them a new heart, but if we never get to the point that it is by grace that we are granted repentance, that is more in line with a gospel that is according to the flesh and works.

What must be drilled home (as I see it) is that the Gospel is the power of God for salvation. The Gospel is the wisdom of God for the salvation of sinners. The Gospel never tells men that it is in their power for salvation and the Gospel never tells men that they are wise enough to help God out in saving them. The Gospel of grace alone is the sufficiency of God for salvation, but we never hear that man is sufficient to help God in the slightest. The Gospel is all of God, but none of man. The Gospel is by free-grace, but never by a work of man. The Gospel is to the glory of God alone, but never by the work of man or he would have something to boast about. The Gospel produces holiness, but man’s pursuit of holiness in his own strength produces works of the flesh.

True Gospel preaching that is in accordance with free-grace must always stress the nature of the Gospel as it relates to God, but also the inability of man and how that drives man to an utter dependence upon God. Man should use all the strength he has to seek the Lord and His grace, but that does not mean that there is anything in man that will merit the slightest bit of grace. Even in asking God to show him grace man is showing his selfish heart that is full of self as man does not love God at that point. Man must be utterly destitute before God to understand the nature of true grace, but even that utter destitution is beyond the power and strength of sinful flesh. Grace must show man who he is and grace must enable man to receive grace. The nature of true faith is to look to Christ for faith and all things as opposed to looking to self for faith and then look to Christ. A major aspect of sin is to fall short of the glory of God, but ministers must not fall short of preaching the Gospel of grace alone. They must be careful and never encroach upon free-grace as they preach holiness and repentance or anything else.

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