Not So Random Thoughts 1

Galatians 1:1 Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), 2 and all the brethren who are with me, To the churches of Galatia: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen. 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. 11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

When I visit a new (to me) church I listen closely to hear the underlying message. One can speak outwardly of various things, but the real theology of the person is not always in the main theme. It comes out in things that are said and clearly implied. A man can preach on a theme that sounds so good, but the underlying theology (deepest theology of the heart) comes out despite the covering. This is also true with books and tracts. It is not always the stated theme that is the loudest or clearest part of the message.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ does have a clear message, but it can be very clouded by underlying messages and implications. It seems that about all the doctrines of the Bible can have underlying messages and implications that can overthrow the words that are actually spoken. For example, a minister can speak about Reformed things and yet overthrow all he has said by the way he says other things. This is seen when a minister speaks of the sovereignty of God or of the grace of God in salvation and then he does not tell people what that means. He goes on, however, to tell them how much God loves them and how God offers them salvation. When the minister does this, the people no longer hear that all they do depends on God and His grace, but instead they hear that it depends on them.

Paul was quite clear in that the Gospel was and is of grace alone. The Gospel proclamation and the living God who brings forth life are all of grace and grace alone. There are no conditions that man can meet and there are no obstacles that God cannot overcome by His grace alone. We can hear messages/sermons and so on about the grace of God, but when we hear of conditions that men must meet in the undercurrent we can know that men are not preaching the Gospel of grace alone. When faith is presented as a condition of salvation, this needs to be explained. If faith is not a free gift of God and is not by His grace alone, then faith is a work and that is what human beings will understand if it is not clearly and explicitly explained. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not up for twists and turns, it is either by grace alone (and that means by itself apart from anything else) or it is not. As Romans 11:6 sets it out, if it is by works then it is no longer by grace.

It would help if ministers would learn to prepare their sermons on their knees asking God to give them clarity regarding grace. As long as anything else is presented to men or presented in a way that makes them look to self for the slightest thing rather than to the grace of God alone, men will not be humbled and broken as they must be. Now, to be clear, the humble and broken heart is not the work of men. Indeed they should seek it from the Lord and they should apply themselves to prayer and to study for a broken and humbled heart, but that is a work that only the Lord can do. Even the humbled and broken heart comes to sinners by His grace as well. We do not deserve humility and we do not deserve to have our proud hearts broken.

I think that the minister I was listening to had no idea that he was preaching in a way that would lead to a salvation that was not by grace alone. Despite his denials (theoretical denials) that is precisely what he did. I have heard these undertones over and over again from men who think that they are preaching the Gospel of grace alone. It is hard to know if they are not just thinking precisely or if they have never really understood the Gospel of grace alone. Either way, it is a very dangerous thing to add works to the Gospel even if it is not intended. Whether the intent is there or not, when a work is added to the Gospel it is like giving people poison to drink and it is dangerous if not damning to the minister who does so.

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