Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bono Interview: Grace over Karma


(Excerpt from the book Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas)

Bono: My understanding of the Scriptures has been made simple by the person of Christ. Christ teaches that God is love. What does that mean? What it means for me: a study of the life of Christ. Love here describes itself as a child born in straw poverty, the most vulnerable situation of all, without honor. I don’t let my religious world get too complicated. I just kind of go: Well, I think I know what God is. God is love, and as much as I respond [sighs] in allowing myself to be transformed by that love and acting in that love, that’s my religion. Where things get complicated for me, is when I try to live this love. Now that’s not so easy.

Assayas: What about the God of the Old Testament? He wasn’t so “peace and love”?

Bono: There’s nothing hippie about my picture of Christ. The Gospels paint a picture of a very demanding, sometimes divisive love, but love it is. I accept the Old Testament as more of an action movie: blood, car chases, evacuations, a lot of special effects, seas dividing, mass murder, adultery. The children of God are running amok, wayward. Maybe that’s why they’re so relatable. But the way we would see it, those of us who are trying to figure out our Christian conundrum, is that the God of the Old Testament is like the journey from stern father to friend. When you’re a child, you need clear directions and some strict rules. But with Christ, we have access in a one-to-one relationship, for, as in the Old Testament, it was more one of worship and awe, a vertical relationship. The New Testament, on the other hand, we look across at a Jesus who looks familiar, horizontal. The combination is what makes the Cross.

Assayas: Speaking of bloody action movies, we were talking about South and Central America last time. The Jesuit priests arrived there with the gospel in one hand and a rifle in the other.

Bono: I know, I know. It’s often what happens when God, like Elvis, has left the building. [laughs] A list of instructions where there was once conviction; dogma where once people just did it; a congregation led by a man where once they were led by the Holy Spirit. Discipline replacing discipleship. Why are you chuckling?

Assayas: I was wondering if you said all of that to the Pope the day you met him.

Bono: Let’s not get too hard on the Holy Roman Church here. The Church has its problems, but the older I get, the more comfort I find there. The physical experience of being in a crowd of largely humble people, heads bowed, murmuring prayers, stories told in stained-glass windows

Assayas: So you won’t be critical.

Bono: No, I can be critical, especially on the topic of contraception. But when I meet someone like Sister Benedicta and see her work with AIDS orphans in Addis Ababa, or Sister Ann doing the same in Malawi, or Father Jack Fenukan and his group Concern all over Africa, when I meet priests and nuns tending to the sick and the poor and giving up much easier lives to do so, I surrender a little easier.

Assayas: But you met the man himself. Was it a great experience?

Bono: [W]e all knew why we were there. The Pontiff was about to make an important statement about the inhumanity and injustice of poor countries spending so much of their national income paying back old loans to rich countries. Serious business. He was fighting hard against his Parkinson’s. It was clearly an act of will for him to be there. I was oddly moved by his humility, and then by the incredible speech he made, even if it was in whispers. During the preamble, he seemed to be staring at me. I wondered. Was it the fact that I was wearing my blue fly-shades? So I took them off in case I was causing some offense. When I was introduced to him, he was still staring at them. He kept looking at them in my hand, so I offered them to him as a gift in return for the rosary he had just given me.

Assayas: Didn’t he put them on?

Bono: Not only did he put them on, he smiled the wickedest grin you could ever imagine. He was a comedian. His sense of humor was completely intact. Flashbulbs popped, and I thought: “Wow! The Drop the Debt campaign will have the Pope in my glasses on the front page of every newspaper.”

Assayas: I don’t remember seeing that photograph anywhere, though.

Bono: Nor did we. It seems his courtiers did not have the same sense of humor. Fair enough. I guess they could see the T-shirts.

Later in the conversation:
Assayas: I think I am beginning to understand religion because I have started acting and thinking like a father. What do you make of that?

Bono: Yes, I think that’s normal. It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.

Assayas: I haven’t heard you talk about that.

Bono: I really believe we’ve moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace.

Assayas: Well, that doesn’t make it clearer for me.

Bono: You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics; in physical laws every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “as you reap, so you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.

Assayas: I’d be interested to hear that.

Bono: That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep s—. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

Assayas: The Son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that.

Bono: But I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there’s a mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let’s face it, you’re not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled . It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.

Assayas: That’s a great idea, no denying it. Such great hope is wonderful, even though it’s close to lunacy, in my view. Christ has his rank among the world’s great thinkers. But Son of God, isn’t that farfetched?

Bono: No, it’s not farfetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off that hook. Christ says: No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying: “I’m the Messiah.” I’m saying: “I am God incarnate.” And people say: No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet, we can take. You’re a bit eccentric. We’ve had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don’t mention the “M” word! Because, you know, we’re gonna have to crucify you. And he goes: No, no. I know you’re expecting me to come back with an army, and set you free from these creeps, but actually I am the Messiah. At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says: Oh, my God, he’s gonna keep saying this. So what you’re left with is: either Christ was who He said He was the Messiah or a complete nutcase. I mean, we’re talking nutcase on the level of Charles Manson. This man was like some of the people we’ve been talking about earlier. This man was strapping himself to a bomb, and had “King of the Jews” on his head, and, as they were putting him up on the Cross, was going: OK, martyrdom, here we go. Bring on the pain! I can take it. I’m not joking here. The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me, that’s farfetched

Bono later says it all comes down to how we regard Jesus:

Bono: If only we could be a bit more like Him, the world would be transformed. When I look at the Cross of Christ, what I see up there is all my s— and everybody else’s. So I ask myself a question a lot of people have asked: Who is this man? And was He who He said He was, or was He just a religious nut? And there it is, and that’s the question. And no one can talk you into it or out of it.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Jesus' Commandment of Love

In the New Covenant, these are what Jesus says about "his" commandments.

John 14:15 states "If ye love me, keep my commandments."

John 14:21 continued "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him."

In John 15:10 Jesus says "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love."

Which commandments are Jesus talking about, the Ten Commandments given to God through Moses on Mt Sinai (ie the Law)? No. Jesus broke it and summarised in in two Commandments:

In Matthew 22:37-40 "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

Have you realised the difference between the wording of Jesus' commandments and the way the original 10 Commandments were written? Does it correspond to the way the preacher in your pulpit preaches the "Commandments of God"? The major difference is Love. Love is mentioned in every one of those verses and the core of these two commandments

Therein lies the crux of the matter. Do you love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind? Do you love your neighbour as yourself?

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind

I dare say it is near impossible to realistically love God at all, let alone with all your heart, soul and mind, if all you are being tought is that God is a nit picking God, waiting for you moment of weakness, looking for you to make a mistake, break a commandment or act immoral.

Would you love your parents if they are like that? How about a teacher or police officer who is just waiting for you to screw up and punish you? Many times if thats what you are preached, there isn't much hope is there?

Why? Romans 10:17 states that "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

What we believe in, for most Christians unfortunately is brought through by the preaching they receive. If all you learn is that God is waiting for you to make a mistake, some denominations even tell you a single sin can make you lose your salvation, how can you love a God like that? Fear definitely. Love?

If you are raising a child, you cannot force the child to love you, when all you do is nit pick and punish for every minor mistake, without any love or encouragement. You get them to love you by your actions AND your words. Your child has to know without a shadow of a doubt that you love him/her, no matter what s/he does. Unconditional love and security.

1 John 4:10 states "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."

This must be the foundation of all doctrines in Christ. This is the foundational understanding we must know, that God loved us first, and after knowing more and learning and hearing more of His love for us, we WILL love him back.

Love your neighbour as yourself

Knowing God loved us first, will give us the foundation and basis for loving others.

It gives us the foundation of loving our wives.

Ephesians 5:25 " Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;"

It gives us the power to forgive, as often it is not within our ability to forgive others who wronged us

Colossians 3:13 states "Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye."

It allows us to accept one another as brothers and sisters in Christ

Romans 15:7 states "Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God."

It even gives us the ability to be tender hearted and kind to one another, and again the power to forgive one another

Ephesians 4:32 "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."

Conclusion

Jesus' two commandments are impossible to do on our own power. Even to love God and to love one another, it is Jesus who first loved us, and out of the overflowing of his love, we love God, and our neighbour. This is another example of God's Grace, not our own works.

John wrote in 1 John 5:1-3 "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous."

Once we know this and hear this, that knowing God loved us first, making it easy for us to love God in return, and gives us the ability to love our neighbour, then it is not grevious nor difficult to follow these two commandments.

I conclude with Romans 13:8-10

"...but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."

Faith Without Works is Nothing??

"Faith without works is Nothing!".

I heard this from the pulpit many times in my youth..

"Show me your faith and I'll show you my faith by my works"

... the preacher yells. And after a while it becomes a lecture, usually about service, and in a condemning and/or accusing tone. The tune is the same

  1. Are you serving in your church?
  2. If not, why not?
  3. If so, why aren't you serving more?

And thus the message becomes a recruiting drive to get more people to serve in the church.

Whats wrong with that you ask? Well, for one, I don't believe in condemning people in any messages from the pulpit. There is no room for fire and brimstone, trying to scare unbelievers to believe, and to get your congregation to give more.

People will believe if you preach God's love, not condemnation. Similarly, believers WILL serve in what they believe they are called to if they are told that God loves them, and have blessed them, and out of the overflowing blessings will they give more and serve more.

Guilt trips don't work anywhere. It doesn't work with your spouse, it doesn't work with your friends, it doesn't work with your colleagues. It works with your children up to a certain age, then they grow out of being affected by it,.

AND it doesn't work on the church congregation, not for long anyway. Not only it doesn't work, it SHOULDN'T be used by the preacher.

Not only that, the Scriptural basis of the verses that are commonly used, if you look closely is wrong.

Lets look at the book of James where this is from.

James 2

James 2:14 states "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?"

In the same chapter James 2:17-18 boasts "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works."

James continues boldly in James 2:20 "But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?".

James 20:26 states with finality "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."

However, as usual the answer lies in studying the Scriptures in context, both within the context of the current passages, but also within the overall context and flow and logic that the Scriptures are written.

Why? Because all misunderstandings and arguments can be solved by reading on and following the rabbit trail God leads us on. Taking verses here and there out of context, and WILL lead to inconsistent and bad doctrine and belief.

Lets read further and deeper into James 2. In James2:21-25, he writes

" Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith,Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?"

Thats very interesting, and as will be pointed to time and time again, the examples given in the Scriptures always lead you to an answer. Many times the answer is different from the "headline" so to speak and can only be explained in the way only God can through his Scriptures.

The headline was the first few verses, that faith without works cannot save and is dead

Lets breakdown verses 21-25 as they lead to very interesting trails through the new testament

The two examples are of Abraham and Rahab and their specific "works".

Of Abraham:

verse 21 - Abraham was justified by works when he sacrificed his son on the altar

verse 22 - faith with works perfected his faith

verse 23 - fulfilled Scripture where Abraham believed in God, and this imputed in him righteousness, and he was called a friend of God

verse 24 - thus it is by works that man is justified, not just works.

Of Rahab

verse25 - How as a harlot, she was justified by works when she received the messengers and let them escape

Both examples are very interesting

Romans 4:2-5 states the complete opposite "For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."

Galatians 3:6 also states "Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness". However in context, Galatians 3 was about faith without works. Galatians 3:7-14 is especially clear

" Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree. That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."

Now is it inconsistent? How can the Bible say two completely opposite things?

This is answered in the above mentioned Scripture from James.

James 2:22 states "Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?"

This clearly states that works perfected Abraham's faith.

Here is where the issue is. Many churches use this to immediately put the burden on the congregation challenging them to do works to justify their faith. But is this what James and Paul is writing about? Lets go back to see the two examples, Abraham and Rehab.

The Story of Abraham

Abram (renamed Abraham later) was first mentioned in Genesis 11, but its Genesis 12 that God first talked to Abram and asked him to leave his father's land, and in return, God promised in Genesis 12:2-3 "And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing, And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed."

He was 75 years old when he departed from Haran (Genesis 12:4)

He was 100 years old when Isaac was finally born (Genesis 21:5)

Now, we don't know how old Isaac was when he was given as a sacrifice. However, we do know that Sarah (his mother and Abraham's wife) gave birth to Isaac at 90 years of age (Genesis 17:17) and she died at a ripe old age of 127 (Genesis 23:1). The incident when God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac was between then, so we can assume Isaac's age as anywhere between 0-37 years old.

Secondly, Abraham collected wood for the sacrifice and put it on Isaac for him to carry (Genesis 22:6). This was sufficient wood for burning up a human body (or at least a burnt offering of a ram). Thus, it is unlikely we are talking about a few bits of splinter wood on a young child.

In fact, experts have estimated that Isaac could have been as old as 33 years old!!

If we assume that Isaac could be anywhere between 0-33 years old, and Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born, Abraham would be anywhere between 100 to 133 years old when this incident happened.

Now is the big question. WHEN did Abraham require faith, that the work of attempting to sacrifice Isaac in obedience was supposed to perfect?

Romans 4:17-22 states "(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara's womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness."

Thus, Abraham had faith since the first time God asked him to leave Haran, and go forth. Again we presume Abraham was anywhere between 100-133 years old when he was to sacrifice Isaac, and that he left Haran at 75.

Thus the time period for when he had faith, to when his faith was made perfect was 25-58 years!

The Story of Rahab

The story of Rehab takes place in Joshua 2. To resist the urge to repost the whole chapter, here is the summary:

Verse 1 - Rehab was a prostitute in Jericho that the Israelites were going to conquer. Joshua sent 2 spies, and they hid in her house as the city were searching for them

Verse 4 - Somehow the king of Jericho knew they went to her house and asked her for them

Verses 5-8 - She hid them and said she didn't know where they went and sent the soldiers on a wild goose chase

Verse 9 - she believed in the Lord and believed that God was going to give them the city

Verses 10-11 - the whole city trembled with fear at the feats of God for the Israelites

Verses 12-14 - she asks for mercy when they do attack the city, and they promised her and her family safety.

Verses 15-16 - she helps them escape and tells them where to hide outside the city before going back to Joshua

Verses 18-20 - they tell her to gather her family in her house, and tie a scarlet thread on the window, and that household will be spared

Just to finish the story, Joshua 6:23 shows how the Israelites got into the city and rescued Rahab and her family

Now, again it is very clear, her faith was made perfect with her works when she hid and helped the 2 spies escape

The question is, when did she have faith in the first place, BEFORE her works?

Lets go back to Joshua 2:9-11 "And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath."

From verse 9 it is clear she believed already that God has given them the city. But WHEN did she start believing this?

When she first heard of God drying up the Red sea. Thats the WHOLE wilderness period of at least 40 years!

Thus the time for her faith to be made perfect with her works is at least 40 years.

Conclusion

James 2 is not inconsistent with Romans 4 or Galatians 3. Works are faith made perfect.

More importantly, James 2 should not be used to pressure your congregation to do works, and not rely on faith.

As shown in the Scriptures, even the 2 examples James 2 gave of Abraham and Rahab, took 2-5 decades before their faith resulted in works.

Yes works are important. However, works is the natural progression and outpouring of faith. It is not you doing works that proves your faith. God works in us all, in HIS time, not ours

By the way, do you know how did God honor these two people?

Abraham did become father of many nations. As for Rahab? From harlot, she married to Salmon, an Israelite and eventually from her descendants came King David, and eventually Jesus (Matthew 1:5)!

Is Pure Grace Without Works Heretical Teachings?

This preaching of Grace without works has appeared throughout Christian history, but has always been considered a heresy by many self righteous churches. However, as I have already covered the main two criticisms in my first post, here I will cover the common name calling against Grace

Another Gospel

Galatians 1:6-9 states "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into thegrace of Christ unto another gospel:Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."

Diverse and Strange Doctrines

Hebrews13:9 states "Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein."

I find it amazing that in both verses, the Lord made sure that Grace is mentioned, so as to ensure that the Gospel of Grace is never mistaken for "strange doctrine" or "another gospel"

Seducing Spirits and Doctrines of Devils

Here is another verse to ponder, and gives further rebuke to the "License to sin" argument I covered in my previous post

1 Timothy 4:1-3 states "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth."

Interestingly, I always thought that "seducing spirits and doctrines of devils" will be seducing us to be more free to do evil things right? Instead the examples of "forbidding to marry and abstaining from meats" seem to sound more like laws don't they?

Furthermore, I have always heard preaching that "conscience seared with a hot iron" means we become numb to sin that our conscience no longer bothers us. A simple question. When you are burnt, with a hot iron or any other hot injury that permanently disfigures but doesn't kill the nerves, will your injury be more sensitive or numb? I think the answer is more sensitive don't you agree?

Thus I put it out there that I think "having their conscience seared with a hot iron" means a oversensitive sin conscienceness rather than a numbed conscience.

Strange Fire

I have heard this before, that the doctrine of Grace without works is "strange fire"

Let us look where this is from.

Leviticus 10:1-2 states "And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD."

Why did God kill these sons of Aaron? What did God "commanded them not"? What is this strange fire?

Leviticus 16:11-12 states "And Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and shall make an atonement for himself, and for his house, and shall kill the bullock of the sin offering which is for himself. And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail:"

Amazing isn't it? The fire that is to be used MUST come from the altar of the sin offering, not any old fire from matches or from a torch conveniently nearby!

AND who is our Sin Offering? Jesus! God's undeserved favour upon us! Grace! This verses speaks to us NOT to offer strange fire (your own works) rather fire from the alter of the sin offering (Jesus)!

Fallen From Grace

The most common usage of this phrase is when a man of God, usually a Christian or at least a "morally upright" man is caught commiting a sin. Would this doctrine of Grace make one "fall from grace"?

Galatians 5:4 states "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law, ye are fallen from grace"

Amazing isn't it? Paul writes that if you try to be justified by the law, you have fallen from Grace!! This verse has nothing to do with "falling into sin"!

Conclusion

It is quite clear from Scripture that doctrine of Grace is not the heresy here. In every one of these names there is a serious accusation, from being another gospel, for being from seducing spirits and doctrines of demons, from being a diverse and strange doctrine or strange fire and of falling from Grace. However in ALL of them, the Bible talks about Grace being the opposite of them!

Thus is the belief in Grace without works heresy? It should be clear, quoting the exact same scriptures these famous labels are taken from it is the complete opposite. It is offering your works rather than God's Grace that is:
  • "another gospel"
  • "diverse and strange doctrines"
  • "giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils"
  • "strange fire"
  • "fallen from grace"!

Radical Grace!!

What is Grace?

Grace simply means undeserved or unmerited favour

Why RADICAL Grace?

I believe that believe in one's Eternal Salvation purely through faith in Jesus' completed work on the Cross, or in Christian circles summarized as Grace (God's undeserved favour).

Furthermore, I believe in Eternal Salvation, that the basis of Salvation is Jesus work not our own (Grace without Work), and that we do not have to maintain our Salvation.

Many churches in the world justify their righteousness with a mixture of Law and Grace. However, I firmly believe this to produced confusing and inconsistent doctrines, and confused and ignorent Christians. The differences in nearly all the denominations are because they pick and choose which law to follow and which ones to ignore.

However there is a mistaken assumption that we do not respect or honour the law. I do believe the law is Holy and Just, given by God. The difference is I believe the law is fulfilled by Jesus Christ, and since it has been fulfilled in full, no longer applies to us.

Romans 8:1-4 "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."

Of course this always brings about accusations of "Cheap/Free Grace" which gives an implication that its worthless grace. Another common argument is that that it gives us a license to sin. I will quickly answer the criticisms below and explain why I believe in purely Grace without work or the Law.

Criticism 1: Free Grace

Actually, this first criticism is faulty from the start, because our if we believe Jesus died for our sins, then its not free is it? Jesus paid for our sins!

So this Grace is not free, but paid for by God Himself, using his son Jesus to pay for our sins. I don't believe that this Salvation is free, in fact it is the most expensive cost in existance, namely God's own son!

So we don't act as if its worthless because we didn't pay anything, but we act thankful because someone infinitely more valuable than us made the sacrifice for us.

Romans 3:27-31 states "Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law."

Thus, Paul concludes that Justification by Faith without the Law IS establishing the Law.

Criticism 2: License to sin

This is a straw man argument, because it presupposes that we would WANT to sin.

In fact, this "License to sin" accusation of preachers of Grace without works doctrine was an accusation thrown at Apostle Paul. And he responded in Romans 6 (Please read the whole chapter).

His argument is simple, just because he stated in the previous chapter in Romans 5 that the more sin abounds, the Grace of God much more abounds, it does not mean that we will sin more! But that does not negate the fact that regardless, God's Grace still much more abounds for your sins. In fact he concluded that before we were servants to sin, now after Jesus, we are servants to righteousness!

Lets follow this logically.

Step 1) Why do we sin?

Would you agree with me in saying that we sin because our nature is sinful since Adam and Eve took the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil?

Jeremiah 17:9 states "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"

Step 2) What did Jesus' work on the cross do if we accept his work on the cross?

2 Corinthians 5:17 states "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

Step 3) If we are a new creation, is our heart different?

Romans 6:14-18 states "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness."

If Adam is the reason our default desire is to sin, and Jesus has supposedly made a change, then as Christians our default desire would be not to sin, correct? Otherwise its saying Adam's sin is more powerful than Jesus' work!

But the Bible says its the opposite, Jesus' work is more powerful than Adam's sin

Romans 5:19-20 "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound"

Thus I conclude that Grace without the Law does not give us a License to sin, in fact it gives us freedom from sin from within, not using external laws forced upon you using fear and/or punishment.

Galatians 5:16-18 "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law."

1 John3:7-10 is interesting. It states"Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother."

"Aha!" you might think. See! If you do righteous works, you are of God, and you sin you are of the devil! However, I think this should be thought of closely. Surely we all agree that sinners, will sin, and are of the devil, so lets leave them aside. How about Christians, where the real issue is?

Verse 9 states that "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God". The verse states TWICE that if one is born of God, one cannot commit and does not commit sin. So how can one know that one is born of God?

Lets look at the chapter 5 for the answer, because it identifies who is born of God

1 John 5:4-5 states "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?"

There you have it! One who is born of God cannot sin (in God's eyes). The same author John identifies one that is born of God as one who overcomes the world, and furthermore identifies one that overcomes the world as one that beleives that Jesus is the Son of God!

So I conclude, rather than your works and trying your best to maintain your righteousness, that for a believer sin is no longer an issue because of Jesus' completed work!

Why Do I Believe Salvation is Purely Grace Without Works?

There are many churches that preach we are saved through Jesus' sacrifice, but preach on that we have to do good works or follow God's laws (ie the Ten Commandments) on top of that to be saved, or to maintain our salvation.

However, I am convinced that the opposite is true. Here are my reasons. Note I will be posting more extensive posts about this, so the below are briefly some verses that justify this. Please read their whole context of each verse (read the chapter its in) to understand the extent that Paul writes these points.

1) Man is Justified and made Righteous by Grace without the Law

The Bible is clear that to be justified before the eyes of God, there is only one way, through Jesus without the Law.

Galatians 3:11 states that "But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, the just shall live by faith"

Romans 10:3-4 states "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth"

Romans 3:21-28 "But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law."

Ephesians 2:8-9 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."

Titus 3:4-6 "But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;"

2) If you want to use the Law for your justification, ALL the Law must be fulfilled to PERFECTION

Regardless of whether you believe in dispensations or even that there is a difference between the Old and New Testament, there is one "Law" that is consistent in both Old and New Covenants.

If you keep the Law, if you fail in one, you fail in ALL of them and are subject to the curses of disobeying the Law.

James 2:10 states "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."
Galations 3:10 states "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them."
Deut 27:26 states "Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them"

You cannot pick and choose which one is a big sin, which one is a minor sin. Sin is sin. You cannot even mix Law and Grace because if you fail one Law, you are guilty of failing ALL the Laws. Do you know what is the most common but failed Laws in the Bible? That you fear not, and not believing in God's word.

Fear and unbelief are not "minor" sins. Lets look at how God treats them

Revelations 21:8 states "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."

Fear and unbelief is classified with abominable acts, murder, whoremongering, sorcery, idolatry and liars!

The Law is not only the Ten Commandments, but also all the other requirements of the Jews in the Old Testament.

How many of you are circumcised? How many churches have an altar to sacrifice bulls and lambs if you sin? How many still follow the different Feasts?

Lets say we agree that the Law only talks about the 10 Commandments (it doesn't as many Christians who argue against pure Grace doctrine says "Law" in the New Testament actually refers to the old Jewish law), lets look at purely the 10 Commandments.

Even Paul himself could not do it!

He writes in Romans 7 (please read) that he tried to fulfill the Law, but instead the Law against coveting got him. The Law made him do the things he knows he shouldn't and not do the things he knows he should.

Thus if the requirement is perfect obedience of the law, one that even Paul himself could not fulfill, what do you think your chances are?

3) The Law itself causes you to sin

1 Cor 15:56 states "The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law."

Romans 7:7-11" What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence (NIV: covetous desire). For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me."

This is the reason why so many preachers are cought with their pants down. Those that preach aggressively against adultary are instead cought for adultary. Those that preach against this sin, or that sin, are often cought committing those sins.

Do you know that the name Satan comes from the Hebrew word Hasatan meaning the "Adversary"? If one looks at the context in Zechariah 4:1-10 the context in a common law system would mean that he is the prosecution or accuser, while the High Priest is the defence. Guess what a prosecutor does? He uses the Law to accuse the believer! Speaking of "accuser" doesn't that sound familiar?

Revelations 12:10 "And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night."

Speaking of Accusers on one side and High Priest on the other, doesn't it give you the image of Satan accusing on one side, while Jesus being our High Priest (Jesus our High Priest is covered in Hebrews extensively) is defending us on the other? Or in other words, the Law accusing us, while Grace is our defense?

Hebrews 9:11-15 "But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

4) Suppose we could attain righteousness by our works/obeying the law, we are rejecting Jesus' work

Pretend someone paid for your lunch and already left, but when your bill comes and you find out its already paid, if you insist and pay anyway does this not make you ungrateful for the treat?

Galatians 2:21 states "I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain"

Galatians 5:4 states "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law, ye are fallen from grace"

Romans 11:6 states "And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work."


5) The reason for the Law's existance is no longer valid the moment we accept Jesus Christ

Galatians 3:23-25 "But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster."

Clearly it says that the Law was given before Christ came to be our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. But after Jesus came ("faith" is Righteousness by faith, as this is used throughout the book of Galatians in this manner) we are no longer under the law!

Why Do I Don't Believe In The Need Maintain Our Salvation

I would like to go into this in detail, but as this post is getting too long to read, I will do so in a future post. Here are several things to ponder:

1) If our salvation is purely by Jesus' work, shouldn't it be Jesus' work that must be corrupted or negated for us to lose our salvation?

2) If we don't get saved with good works when we were unsaved, why can a sin completely reverse our salvation by Jesus?

3) If the justification of our Salvation through Jesus' sacrifice can be negated by our sins, wouldn't the sacrifices of bulls and goats in the Old Testament be better? After all those sacrifices guarantee God's forgiveness for one year even if you sin!

4) If God truly gave his own son as a sacrifice and exchange for you, and because of that you become his child, do you think he will forsake you if you sin? Do you abandon your children if they are naughty (even adopted ones)?

5) "Eternal" life doesn't seem eternal at all if it relies upon your performance, don't you think? After all, God's standard is perfection. So if you fear, worry or even have an unpure thought, you blew it! All of us won't last several hours if that was so.

Here are my thoughts on this, maybe you may conclude the same:

Romans 8:38-39 "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord"

Conclusion

To summarise:
1) Man is Justified by Grace without Law
2) If we want to follow the Law, we MUST follow ALL the Law (not pick and choose)
3) But it is impossible, in fact the Law itself causes you to sin
4) If we think we are following the Law, we negate Jesus' work
5) The reason for the Law became obsolete the moment Jesus completed his finished work

Not only does following the Law not work in practice, Biblically they are predicted to fail so that there is a need for a saviour. If we can do it ourselves, we don't need a saviour.

Don't you think its cruel to tell believers to do the impossible?

Without the law, Jesus' sacrifice is truly a free gift. I believe its free for your salvation as well as maintaining your salvation.

It makes no sense for Jesus to pay for your past sins, then you have to maintain it with your own works. Thats like giving a "free gift" but you have to pay for later, and on a lifetime contract too!
I won a "free" mobile phone like that once in a raffle. I paid two years for that "free gift".

I hope our Gospel isn't as dodgy as some of those deals.