Category: What is the Gospel?

Today is the Day of Your Breakthrough!

Why Christ’s Breakthrough is More Important

In this Edition of Radical Grace Radio, we talk about the message that we’ve been trying to give people all these years, while contrasting the classic Christian Message of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins with that of the modern Christian message of “God wants to give you your breakthrough Today”.

 

John MacArthur and his Own Brand of “Strange Fire”.

Everyone who has followed Radical Grace Radio for a long time knows what this Radio host thinks about John MacArthur and his “gospel”.  As many of you know I am a Lutheran, LCMS, converted from Evangelicalism by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Because I spent many, many years lost in that Evangelical Wasteland hearing many false Gospels, when I finally found the so called Wittenberg Trail it was a relief.  In fact, it was a bomb shell.  To find out that Jesus Christ is not either a new Moses bringing new laws, or a helper who will instruct me in living a holy life, was explosive.  To find out that Jesus, our Prophet, Priest and King, is truly a savior whose death, shed blood, rest in the tomb and resurrection saves me AND his church changed everything.  The Gospel of the incarnation, of propitiation of sin, of Justification by faith alone, of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to me as if I myself were every bit as righteous as he is, is absolutely glorious.

But then, when I started to look back at the myriad of teachers and preachers, and fully realized how utterly devoid of good news many of these teachers and churches are, I was dumbfounded.  How could any of these churches, preachers and teachers talk so much about us, about our works, our sanctification and leave out the radiant truth and beauty of the Gospel was beyond comprehension and still is. 

But this past week, John MacArthur (to be referred to as Johnny Mac hence forth) hosted the “Strange Fire” conference, both to launch his new book and supposedly to start a conversation about Pentecostal belief and practice working it’s way into mainstream Christianity.  There’s been a lot of give and take this week about this subject, and some people have asked me what my thoughts are on the subject one way or another.

People who know me know this:  When the Gospel is at stake, I become a Raging Heart.

First of all, the premise of “Strange fire” is one that starts out focusing in the wrong direction.  I want to shut this down, right now.  I don’t want to debate speaking in tongues, cessationism, spiritual gifts, or any of that sort of thing when the Gospel is at stake.  This is not aimed at Pentecostals, however.  No, it’s aimed at Johnny Mac and his cohorts.  Why?  Because all of the discussion they may have about Pentecostalism is meaningless.  I can give anyone a list of practices and command them to do them and they can do them easily enough.  They can learn to speak in tongues, learn to cast out demons and speak words of positive power and still believe absolutely nothing about Jesus and his saving work on the cross for all people.  Johnny Mac should know this.  So should his cohorts. 

So in this Radio Host’s opinion, this conversation is a non starter.

What disturbs me is that Johnny Mac and his cohorts are criticizing the faith and practice of one group while glossing over their own glaring, heretical shortcomings.  Johnny Mac himself is a “Lordship Salvationist”.  In his view Jesus paid it all and now it’s your turn to pay.  It’s not enough to have faith alone in his view, but you also have to make Jesus your Lord.  It’s not enough that he’s the savior of those who cannot save themselves.  Johnny Mac’s body of work testifies to this, over and over again.  His recorded sermons, audio books, articles, print books, all point to his belief.  What he preaches is what St. Paul calls “another gospel, which is no gospel at all”. 

The concept of strange fire, as Pastor Gary explained in our discussion on the topic on Radical Grace Radio yesterday, is talked about in Leviticus 10 when Nadab and Abihu offered “unauthorized fire” before the Lord.  The fire they should have used was the fire that was kept burning from when fire came down from God and consumed the first sacrifice at the Tabernacle.  That fire came from God himself.  Any other fire is “strange”, or “unauthorized”.  A man made fire is unacceptable.  Period.  No one is to offer that kind of fire before the LORD.  In light of that context, how does this apply today?  The simple answer is that to add anything to the already complete and authorized work of God is blasphemy. 

But Matthew, someone may ask, what about the Christian’s sanctification?  That’s a good question as long as you continue to understand that your sanctification and efforts to grow in Christ do not add to the finished work of Christ on the Cross.  That’s why your justification is predicated on Faith Alone.   What Christ has done, HE alone has done, and you cannot improve on it, at all.  Any “gospel” that adds to that work is no gospel.  A gospel of Jesus’ finished work plus your works to complete it IS strange fire.

I find it interesting that as this conference ended John Piper posted the following on his blog at Desiring God:

Either Jesus died to save his church or he didn’t. There isn’t a third option.

Either he gave himself up for his bride, as Ephesians 5:25 tells us, or he died to create the possibility of her salvation that depends upon the skills of human decision-making.

Are we dead in our sins, as Ephesians 2:1–3 says, or are we slightly impaired? Are we “far from the peaceful shore” or are we gone, sunken to the bottom of the ocean with no chance of resuscitation? Does God toss us a floatation device, or does he raise us from the dead?

He goes on to say:

The Bible is clear. The gospel is God’s work, God’s victory. “He does everything, first to last, that is involved in bringing man from death in sin to life in glory: he plans, achieves and communicates redemption, calls and keeps, justifies, sanctifies, glorifies” (Packer, Quest for Godliness, 130). And here is where we see his love — the kind that breaks through the sternest soul in sovereign power to save. The love of Jesus is sin-crushing, serpent-stomping, death-defying, people-purchasing love.

With all this in mind I therefore say, the discussion about “Faith and Practice” is irrelevant until all in the discussion come to agree on this, that Christ is the central figure, that it’s his work, his death and his body and blood that Justifies his Church, nude, apart from works. 

Only then will we talk. 

“Where Did I Go Wrong With My Witness?”

On Christian Evangelism and Perserverance.

So the person you’re witnessing to doesn’t believe in God or Hell. What do you do? You could try to make him feel guilty under the law, but he doesn’t believe in any of that. Now what? On Radical Grace Radio we talk about what you could do besides just give up.


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The Kingdom of God Gospel

He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

The most common way of evangelizing these days is to ask this question of people: If you were to die tonight, where would spend eternity. In this show we submit to you that this is categorically the wrong method of persuasion. In fact, I personally think that the approach of asking “where will you spend eternity” does nothing but appeal to our narcisim. But this is exactly the problem. We’ve been trained by the world to think of things in terms of how it benefits us, how it impacts our lives, so much so that any other way of thinking is deemed as backwards and irrelevant. But how do you begin to offer a corrective to this viewpoint? How about proclaiming “the kingdom” like Jesus did?


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Finding a Christian Church

Amid the noise and haste

In this first part of a two part discussion on what is a church, Pastor Gary and I start with a problem that we discussed last week about people not knowing what church is, or even if it’s Christian or not. It’s interesting that people would equate the word “church” with anything other than Christian, and it’s even more interesting that people, rather than actually find out or ask what church is, make up a definition on the fly. But what if one day you suddenly find that you need a church? How would you recognize a church? Is it where they sing songs? And listen to a guy “preach” about living a so called Christian life by giving you pointers about morals and such?
What if it’s not about that at all? What about a place where God has promised to be for you?

Click here to witness the Hate.

Also, we discovered something interesting about people these days. The word “church” does not, in people’s minds, automatically mean it’s about Christian anything. In the minds of many people, Church could be Muslim or Christian, or any given sect of any religion. Strange, of course, since the word used to be exclusively Christian.


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Episode 83: Making Payments on the Free Gift?

Compound interest on Salvation

How much do we pay God for our Salvation? Seriously, the church is in the same kind of state that our economy is in right now. Think about it. God offers His gifts to us for free, but then we try to create an economy of salvation and sanctification here on earth by parsing out the gifts and making our people pay for the privilege of being partakers in the kingdom of God. We do this over and over again, whether is was Rome with indulgences or today’s Pentecostal movement asking it’s people to buy their way into spiritual gifts. It’s all the same. Even during the second temple era forgiveness came at the cost the temple laid on so called “blemish free” sacrifices they sold for those whose sacrifices were not good enough.

To listen to the show you can click on the play button or right click on “get mp3” and choose “save target as” to save to your computer.

How can the Gospel get things done?

Episode 78: How sweet the sound

Considering how often it is that people misunderstand what “church” is when compared businesses and corporations, on this edition of Radical Grace we talk about clarifying doctrine, what a church is, and my favorite whipping boy: The idea of the Amazing Grace of God will somehow make Christians lazy and more sinful.

John Newton, the author of the hymn “Amazing Grace”, understood Radical Grace.

To listen to the show you can click on the play button, or right click on “get mp3” and choose “save target as” to save to your computer.

One Gospel, one Christ

Episode 59: Who do you say that He is?

In this edition of Radical Grace we talk about something a lot of people have forgotten about. Who is Jesus? After all, he asked his own disciples the very same question, and then built his Church on the answer.

To listen to the show you can click on the play button, click on “Windows Media” to open in a new tab, or right click on “get mp3” and choose “save target as” to save to your computer.