Monday, May 14, 2012

Grace and Truth (John 1:14)

Have you ever heard someone say, “If you are going to err, err on the side of grace?” What the person who says that to you is trying to communicate is that he or she believes that grace trumps truth. This is the primary characteristic of the spirit of the age in which we live. Many people are falling prey to the false notion that grace only has some sort of loose connection to truth if it has any connection to it at all. Any who dares to love truth in our day is quickly branded as an unloving Pharisee by the proponents of grace over truth.

Let me explain exactly how this is working itself out in our day. God’s Word tells us that in the last days there is going to be an apostate, harlot church that will be a deceptive counterfeit of the real thing. This harlot church will be the result of an ecumenical movement that gathers various false religions under the umbrella of what many regard as evangelical Christianity.

How can false teaching get confused with truth? How can the leaders of the harlot church get people to believe that an ungodly alliance with false religions and false teachers is OK? This will be accomplished by pushing and stretching the boundaries set by the truth of God’s Word to include and incorporate false teaching and false teachers under the banner of grace. Many mega-church pastors and church growth gurus are telling us that we must not erect boundaries with truth but stretch boundaries with grace. Instead of being divided over truth we ought to be united in grace they tell us.

 The creed of these deceivers is away with truth and in with grace. They see the truth as standing in the way of enlarging the kingdom of God. So they appeal to widening the entry point under the banner of grace. Now, since these heroes of the ecumenical movement see truth as standing in the way of enlarging God’s kingdom and grace as the solution, what do you think they are going to label those who love the truth, won’t compromise the truth, and battle for the truth?

 Lovers of truth will be labeled, “Pharisees,” by these modern day false teachers. These false teachers have wrongly interpreted the problem of the Pharisees as being too rigid with truth. They believe that the Pharisees were big on truth and small on grace. The truth is the Pharisees were small on both!

The problem of the Pharisees was not that they were too concerned with truth, but that they had invented their own truth. Jesus condemned them for replacing and modifying the clear truth of Scripture with their own traditions (Matthew 15:1-9). They were the chief theological false teachers of their day (Matthew 16:6-12).

One thing these modern day deceivers are not are Pharisees. They hate truth loving Christians Pharisees because they wrongly believe that Pharisees love truth. They view truth as the enemy of grace and cannot see that grace and truth are joined together by God and what God has joined together, let no man separate. These deceivers are described in God’s Word as those who turn God’s grace into licentiousness. “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 4). They use God’s grace as an excuse to disobey God’s truth and commit spiritual adultery with the world and with false religions.

The truth-perverting Pharisees used their appearance of love for the truth as a means to exclude all but the most religious of Jews from the kingdom of God. Jesus told them that they shut off the kingdom from people and did not enter themselves (Matthew 23:13). The grace-perverting church growth gurus use their appearance of love for grace as a means to include people who have not received the love of the truth so as to be saved in the kingdom of God and lead both themselves and others through the wide gate that leads to destruction.

Jesus was full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Grace and truth can never be pitted against one another or else Jesus was a walking contradiction. There was no contradiction in Jesus just as there are no contradictions in God’s Word. Jesus full of grace never once compromised the truth. Have no doubt about it – if Jesus were here in the flesh today these grace-perverting church leaders would label Him as a Pharisee too concerned with truth. Their false notion of what grace is would cause them to mislabel the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord Jesus would no more put up with the licentiousness of these modern day grace-perverting church leaders than he did with the legalism of the truth-perverting Pharisees. Just as the legalistic Pharisees thought Jesus had no truth because of His grace, these licentious false teachers would think He has no grace because of His truth.

Heresies are a result of elevating one side of a paradox and downplaying the other. Those who pit grace against truth or truth against grace are in serious error concerning the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is full of grace and truth!

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