Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dr. Larry Moyer's FGA Presentation

Dr. Larry Moyer is Vice-President of the Free Grace Alliance, and President and CEO of EvanTell, Inc.

The following is taken from the Free Grace Alliance National Conference, on October 7, 2008; paraphrased with permission.

Grace-Driven Evangelism Ministry (2 Timothy 2:22-26): "Use a Humble Attitude, Not a Hostile Argument"

Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

Verse 22 says we should "flee youthful lusts." There is a kind of lust for proving ones-self correct. Too often, younger, lust-driven evangelists back up others in a corner when evangelizing, to prove how intelligent they are. Verse 23 says that we are to "avoid foolish and stupid arguments." Why are these arguments called "stupid?" Because they are speculations. They talk about things they don't know, and it turns out that they do not know what they are talking about. On the other hand, God never talks to us as dismissive, so we ought to avoid the argument which is stupid, not the people. We avoid speculative debates, "knowing they generate strife."

What is the antidote for endless arguments? It is being gentle, to all. Gentleness is not manifest in scarcasm, nor in being rude, and not in giving up. We ought to be able to teach, as one underneath, not on top. What is patience? Someone once said that patience requires one to "count down before blasting off."

Verse 25 commands us to have humility while correcting those in opposition. We must not strive but be gentle, for Jesus was led as a lamb to the slaughter, considering how He was representing His Father. When responding to those who oppose your message, use a humble attitude, not a hostile argument. Why?

The opposition is not intellectual; it is spiritual. Verse 25 says "that they might sober up." They can't even understand what they are saying; it's as if they are drunk. Only God can change their mind, so we need meekness, not madness. It is not bringing the lost to Christ, but bringing Christ to the lost.

God sees our evangelism different than we do. We focus on the debate, but He focuses on our demeanor. We focus on what comes forth from our lips; He focuses on what comes forth from our life.

We win others toward soberness not with pressure, but with patience; not with quarrels, but with gentleness. God is requiring not just our message, but our manner in sharing the good news of Christ. God wants us to tell everyone, every lost person, no matter what their reaction may be. There are some who will be incredibly arrogant in response to us, but we ought to tell them the gospel regardless. Some in Jesus' day were also arrogant, but He got their attention directly through telling them that their father was the Devil. Others were ready to receive salvation, such as the Samaritan woman at the well, to which He offered both grace and truth.

The truth of the gospel, is that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead.

The grace of the gospel is the sensitivity to respond personally to those who are receiving the message.

Grace is so compelling, so attractive. Once there was a man who spent much time with an evangelist arguing and debating the many facets of Christianity. In the end, the evangelist told him "I see your choice and reasons for denying the truth as I have laid it before you, and I want you to know that I love you just the same whether or not you believe it."

This lost man called back later and admitted to the evangelist, "I am beginning to believe what you've been sharing with me because I could not answer your last argument."

"What 'last argument'?" the evangelist asked.

The man said, "How could someone like you, love someone like me?"

The evangelist's apparent and manifest love spoke more powerfully of Christ, than all of the answers that came through their discussion.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Review of Hodges' "Hydra"

The following opinions belong to an uncertified woman, so, I warn readers to take the following not too influentially. I desire to speak reason, grace, and confirmation to free grace in general, and this is how I might do so....

In Zane Hodges' article titled, "Theological Legalism", Hodges enumerates three varieties of legalism: ecclesiastical, cultic, and commitment:

For centuries, the Roman Catholic Church was the most prominent “head” and still retains an extremely high profile. In Catholicism, eternal salvation is not obtained by simply believing in Jesus Christ for eternal life. Instead, adherence to the Church with its many requirements, both doctrinal and practical, is necessary. Catholicism is ecclesiastical legalism in a highly developed form. The cults are also typically legalistic (e.g., Mormonism, Seventh Day Adventism, Jehovah’s Witnesses). Access to eternal happiness depends on adherence to whatever the cult prescribes. This may be called cultic legalism. Since at least the days of Theodore Beza (1519-1605 AD), another form of legalism has emerged which maintains that individuals are not eternally saved unless they are submissive to God’s commands or laws. This doctrine finds its most popular contemporary expression in what is now called Lordship salvation. For Lordship salvation theologians, there is no salvation through simple faith in Jesus for eternal life. Saving faith necessarily entails and includes full surrender and full commitment to God’s will. I call this form of legalism commitment legalism.

I understand his point, but in my thinking all legalism is simply ecclesiastical in variety. What is legalism? Legalism, whether theological or by works, is obedience meant to spare onesself of the judgment of men rather than the judgment of God:

"...but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God." Rom. 2:29

In the following paragraph, Hodges defines Evangelical Christianity's error:

More recently another form of legalism —another Hydra head—has achieved a heightened profile. This new “head” maintains that eternal salvation is by “correct doctrinal conviction.” It is not enough to simply believe that Jesus Christ gives us eternal life when we believe in Him for that. We must also believe certain orthodox doctrines that go along with such belief. But these doctrines are not in themselves identical with believing in Jesus Christ for eternal life. Instead these beliefs form a kind of checklist that measures the validity of one’s faith. I call this form of legalism theological legalism. Basically it is salvation for the orthodox!

The diverted religions of the world command self-generated good works, to appease the righteousness required for salvation. Christianity was meant to stand in stark contrast to all of them by Jesus' own final declaration: "It is finished!"

If it is "truly humbling" as Dr. Charlie Bing recently said, to believe that righteousness is a gift by faith alone, what happens to that human tendency to remake religion into the idol of self-generated good works? Surely we are not so naive to think that the same stuff of humanity that has caught so many religionists in bondage, would not possibly catch us? Where is the one and only realm where Christians (who indeed believe that they are saved by the gift that comes by faith alone), left open to magnify self-generated righteousness? For a few, it is in obedience to the laws of God (for sanctification); yes, but, many Evangelicals know better. For them, theology is the remaining and final hold-out for self-righteousness.

Who better than the "theologically poor," or better yet the unsaved, to exact judgment upon as we strut around confidently wearing our robes and tassles of self-achievement? We love to sit at the table in the seats of honor, while evangelizing the lost. We stand up publicly in the courts of the LORD and say, "I thank you, God, that I am not like those who happen to be deceived about the truth." Consider the parallel:

The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'
But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'
I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Luke 18:11-14

No; legalism is not dead, yet.

Hodges makes much too quick a transition from talking of this age-old problem of theological bait-and-switch of the gospel of salvation in Christ. Forsaking a much needed pause he moved into addressing the Free Grace movement's situation; he begins his thought by saying, "more recently another form of legalism ... has achieved a heightened profile." This must be meant to address the history of doctrine in Protestant Christianity, because otherwise I can only conclude naivety on his part, as I said in a recent post:

"It begins with creeds and gets more complicated from there; in fact, the entire body of apologetic work done for each class of non-believer, has replaced the gospel of salvation."

Essentially, when those in the position to evangelize are faced with the theological gap of the person coming to faith in Christ, it is not enough to let them go till they believe more than 1 Cor. 15, more than the deity of Christ, more than the Trinity, more than the entire understanding of interplay of faith versus works, etc. etc. It is not okay, to the average Evangelical Christian, to let such a believer remain unconvinced of these truths.

That very uneasy attitude of those who are theologically poor, is a sign of no faith, and certainly no assurance that one indeed is saved by the good news of Christ, nor any assurance that they are being continually saved by a Spiritual system comprised of grace and truth.

Hodges continues,

Theological legalism seeks to co-opt Free Grace theology. Indeed, it masquerades as this kind of theology. But this claim is false. Grace is not given freely to the sinner who believes in Jesus for eternal life. Instead, grace is denied to that sinner unless he subscribes to the relevant theological propositions. A recent book entitled Getting the Gospel Wrong[1] prescribes five core essentials that one must believe to get eternal life. If a person fails to believe even one of the five, he has believed a gospel that cannot save him. But at this point obvious problems emerge. Who determines which theological doctrines are necessary for eternal salvation? The Bible, we are told. But where in the Bible?

According to Hodges, the gospel of salvation is as simple as trusting in Jesus for eternal life. It therefore leads a teacher convinced of such a specific position that anything more (but not less) is adding to the gospel of salvation. This cannot help but be described, as theological legalism. However: he is in my opinion, mistaken. It is only my opinion, and I warn you, it is uneducated; but as of this time, I agree with Greg Schliesmann; the other gospel passages cannot be marginalized. As Schleissmann says in his part two review of Hodges' article,

Hodges’s contention that the contents of saving faith must be fully defined in a single space imposes an extra-Biblical standard. ... The Bible does not tell us the contents of saving faith must be detailed in a single space nor does it tell us what space that is.

Again, I warn readers that this is an uneducated opinion, but I have said the same thing in a prior post:

I don't think it's wise to take sides. Because all of [the scriptures regarding the gospel of salvation] are used by God to cause people to believe. If we think it has to be one or the other, we pit our minds and understandings against a portion of scripture. And that is never good!

But why has Hodges made the assertion of legalism against the recent book titled, "Getting the Gospel Wrong," and against the proponents of 1 Cor. 15 (who assert that passage as the only gospel for salvation)?

One reason alone commands such a declaration to be made. Beginning in 2005, Hodges' teaching on the gospel of salvation was publicly proclaimed by others as "heretical," and so the implications of "legalism" in their alternate gospels was only logical to admit as well. No matter one's personal conviction on the content of the gospel of salvation, to turn to the left is heretical, and to turn to the right is legalism. This should not be a surprise.

Where is real "theological legalism" manifested in free grace theology? Is it in the full gospel? In the refined gospel? I give my opinion of the true place of "theological legalism" in my previous post: it resides in the free grace movement's beginning premise.

Getting beyond the issues of Free Grace, here Hodges explains the detriment made by theological legalism:

The error of theological legalism is extremely grave. It communicates to the unsaved person that he can only be saved if his doctrine is correct, rather than by simple faith in Christ. Moreover, it subverts the assurance of the saved person by making him wonder, “Did I believe enough doctrine to be truly saved?” Thus the effect of theological legalism is essentially the same as that of commitment legalism, i.e., of Lordship salvation. Both claim to teach salvation by faith alone, but both actually subvert the biblical gospel. Jesus always made Himself the object of our faith and offered eternal life freely to anyone who believed in Him, or in His name, for that.

(Here, I disregard Hodges' particular conviction on the gospel of salvation, and harness the larger point.)

The person who cannot rest in the face of serious theological error, or uneducation, subverts the sufficiency of the Spirit to cause salvation by faith alone in the content of the gospel, alone, regardless of our discussions of what that gospel content should be. It makes a burden out of the Word of God. It sometimes unnaturally forces newer believers to choose between the confidence and comfort they have by faith in the Son for their growth in godliness, and the clear corrections of truth being barraged before their eyes. It takes the focus off of Christ, and makes our minds and studies the center of our attention.

Overall I thought his article was excellent; I have personal disagreements and/or an undecided mind on some of his statements; but overall I am grateful to hear someone elucidate this matter.

[1] J.B. Hixson, Getting the Gospel Wrong: The Evangelical Crisis No One is Talking About, Foreward [sic] by Earl D. Radmacher, [n.p.], (Xulon Press, 2008). Pp. 405.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Why "Theological Legalism" in Free Grace?

Why might there possibly be "theological legalism" in free grace circles?

I'll tell you why not; I am overlooking trifle things. It is not so much because:

1- people have a strict interpretation of an incredibly narrow construction of truth about the content of saving faith or the content of the gospel of salvation. (Of course this is something to make a big deal over because it is concerning the essentials of the faith.)

If you want to call this "legalism" it might or might not be so. If it is, it is a more narrow and less significant form, and I'm thinking of pinpointing a much larger element.

2- tensions have been increasing perhaps until as of late, and there has been a slow formation of theological camps. There are individuals on both sides who have a lot of scriptural might, who try and determine the course of others' convictions both within their own camp and across the free grace spectrum.

Even this, if you want to call it a form of legalism, is pretty common and normative. In the typical evangelical setting, influencing others with so heavy a hand is still considered by many to be a loving and therefore welcomed interaction.

Neither of these is what I am thinking of as the theological legalism within free grace.

When I think of theological legalism I am concerned about this one thing: its beginning premise. It is not as if no one in the world was ever getting saved in the midst of the Lordship Salvation era of evangelism. Free grace began because those who continue to hold fast "to what they heard in the beginning" as the Apostle John commands in his first epistle, are aware that the shift of the content of the gospel nevertheless reaps eternal damnation. Clarity had an unmistakeable and growing force of opposition, manifested in Lordship Salvation.

I ask this question: Is it true that there cannot be any error, therefore, in free grace soteriology, lest it fail its mission? We were created with a mission to protect the gospel message from error. I observe that we are indoctrinated by our own founding premise, that in order to preserve the gospel from any error, we must preserve it from any people who disagree.

I submit that a sustained future mission becomes less likely if it continues that we practice purging people.

Free grace began as a withstanding of the increasing error of people. As a withstanding of the error of certain teachers. As a withstanding of the error and confusion brought by a significant degree of theological error.

We started that engine righteously. But how important is it that we turn it off before it takes us further than we best go?

Are we not still looking for the same taxon of "enemy"? I think we are, unfortunately, still looking for "people" to take out of play, not quite able to prove if they are in opposition to the gospel. Is our mission forevermore to be after people; certain teachers? Is our mission to be ever increasingly seeking to eliminate people with theological error?

(For a bit of perspective, these questions are similar to those that must be asked of Christians who are legalists in their works; they don't want "sinners" to be acceptable and so they measure purity outwardly to give assurance, but assurance is never really attained.)

Where can this lead, ultimately?

All "gospel" "content" conversations aside, there must be a point even on the fundamental teachings of the faith, where a limit in detail to what is known and what is designed to be known, is perceived. Is there a limit of knowledge regarding the gospel? I don't know. Maybe Stegall and JP are right in saying the gospel and the content of saving faith can truly be known and proved without doubt from scripture. If that is true why are there so many Spirit-led free grace disciples that have not yet been convinced? This is a question that I believe deserves a great deal of respect and consideration. Maybe Rose is conversely correct; perhaps God has designed some things to maintain a small element of mystery. I myself do not know the answer of "limit" in the gospel-content debate.

I wonder about this: how long is that engine that we started up for good in the founding days, going to keep on working these same processes within? Is it not eventually leading us to impotence?

If we keep purging people, on what basis will we be doing so? On the basis of our own personal convictions. There is nothing wrong with that, excluding one thing: there is a great deal of variety in belief over the content of the gospel/saving faith. The end products? Three. Following on with this beginning premise to purge people who hold to error:

- we will all be purging one another. We have to; for any other gospel is "anathema."

- we will have no justification or freedom to publicly change position should we one day honestly be convinced differently.

- we will lose great minds and personalities to distant and broken fellowships.

May I submit some concepts for solution?

With a few exceptions, there needs be a distinction between purging error and purging people. Yes, we know there are a few "bad apples" on the fringe who cannot accept the terms of the most obvious and well established attributes of the content of the gospel. They may never change their mind. In the 1980s when we stood distinct with dissatisfaction with the worst of them, we essentially made this statement to the watching world:

"Do you know how important it is to preach the gospel with accuracy? Now that we have made so vocal a stand against those who preach error, and we have your attention, let's discuss together the content of saving faith and the content of the gospel."

In this sort of approach, you can see that the engine that was ignited by the obvious and unrepentant error of the extremists, has been intentionally, subsequently turned off. We no longer are seeking to purge people, only the error of the people caught up in this trend. Now that we have been established, shifting the focus away from people, and onto their error, allows for grace to be practiced. It allows space for people to ask questions. It permits grace for people to read for themselves. There is time to establish answers that are more than just what they were told, but what the scripture actually provides. This allows them to become teachers of free grace theology, in their own spheres of influence. It allows for the talents and work of those who have some disagreement over the gospel, to be used in whatever portion is helpful to advance the message that the gospel is an important matter for wholesale Evangelical Christianity to be self-motivated in studying.

Most importantly, this shift in emphasis off of people and onto discussing error alone, means that outsiders may no longer be derisive of our movement.

They might want to say, "Free grace began because they wanted to stop people from teaching error about the gospel, but they'll never achieve their goal because they can't unanimously prove what error is and what it is not."

But instead the mission and realization is this: "Free grace began because they wanted to stop the preaching of error in the presentation of the gospel, and everyday they are spurring their world and one another in fulfillment of that goal."

What do you think? Is there such a thing as "theological legalism"?

"Theological Legalism?"

I have the impression that the online climate is more capable of handling disagreement and opinions of a various sort, without communication shutting down as a result. So, let me finally take a crack, but just a small one.

There's a lot I don't know.

Here's what I do know:

"Theological legalism" is a uniquely evangelical phenomenon. This is simply because we are the only Christians who, by definition, believe that the bible is literal and true. In fact, the drive to preserve and defend the scriptural make-up of the gospel message, has caused legalism to manifest quite noticeably here in this free grace movement. But, I can tell you that any other band of evangelicals will have a much worse arrangement of theological chokings. It begins with creeds and gets more complicated from there; in fact, the entire body of apologetic work done for each class of non-believer, has replaced the gospel of salvation. Isn't that horrible? But it's true!

If the entire apologetic construction has truly replaced the gospel message, you might understand why I say, "I hate it" (see next paragraph). "Lordship Salvation" is but one tiny manifestation (and a less-gross one I might add) of the phenomena of evangelicals adding much, much more to the message of the gospel, and the combinations have as much variety as there are denominations. That's one of the reasons why I always said I felt like I didn't belong amongst my own infallible-scripture-believing kind. Though, it does make me an awesome tool for annihilating the error of any message I happen to come across: I point them all back to the cross, and then sometimes they're done with me.

I hate "theological legalism." I've called it the "legalism of belief," and it is one part of two in what I call "the evangelical problem." The evangelical problem is the infiltrating deception to believe in self-righteousness by both what the law can measure, and othertimes a belief in the self-righteousness by the theology an infallible bible provides. Evangelicals preach righteousness in union with Christ by faith, alone. When they cling to either theology for righteousness, or, law for righteousness, they have unconsciously contradicted their reason for which they needed Christ.

The fact that I hate anything is a big clue to me that perhaps I'm not balanced, though you may have noticed I keep the hate under regulation, y'all. I came from the out, in. I came from experiencing works-legalism, and then watching evangelistic-legalism, toward the freedom of faith alone in Christ alone by the power of the Word of God. And I am so happy to have free grace friends who are like me. But: if I am "escaping" that means I am still not "resting" and this can only be done by examining the Word and correcting the error that is inherent when I am hating anything.

As for the gospel according to Stegall/Rosker, and the gospel according to JP, I believe it will take me some time to review for myself what I see many people in these circles have been already working on for a couple of years or so. But at this time I will continue to consider myself "crossless" in the "content of saving faith." I am also more or less crossless in my understanding of the gospel, for now, as well. Here is the reason, and, I haven't seen anyone address this topic, yet: the pre-eminence of faith, over all other requirements. Has anyone addressed this point, yet? As long as no one can theologically conquer their "gospel" and "content" debate over the theology of faith's sufficiency, I too will not likely be moved too far from where I am at this time.

Again, I know I don't know anything. But the theology of faith's pre-eminence is the reason why I have fallen in love with evangelistically engaging the non-mainstream Christian movements ("cults"), and it is also the only reason why I ended up free grace in soteriology before I knew of them. So I owe all my accomplishment to the scriptures, and I can't move till someone can meet me there.

Thanks for letting me be transparent.

P.S. A week or so ago, Ben told me that I am most likely being foolish by using my term of "legalism of belief" as interchangeable with Zane Hodges' term of "theological legalism." He's right, I don't know for sure what Hodges defines it as. Hodges may mean something I don't intend. I've been avoiding reading anything by Hodges for all these months even though I have some of his books sitting on my shelf. Why? Because I just get this feeling that I am so Z.H.T.N.G. (Zane Hodges The Next Generation). I think I naturally am even if without expertise, an additional independent witness that this alarm is necessary. However, Ben's right. It is foolish to avoid awareness, just because of that.

So, I've decided to begin reading Hodges' "Theological Legalism." And then, I'll share my assessment.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Letter to my Pastor

A thought partly spurred in response to Kev's post: On My Walk: David and On-Going Sin

- I wrote the following to my pastor this week....

We are studying the implications of "anything not from faith is sin" (rom 14:23). Please evaluate my understanding as follows?

If a saved man reaches out to God and puts his trust in God, even if it is for only one issue that he looks toward God, then, at that time, he is walking with God according to the Spirit, and not the flesh. He may have more than one thing he is trusting God for, two, three, or many things at a time, but, it only takes one to move the man from the flesh to the Spirit. Now, at any one moment while in faith he may be distracted, or tempted, and then he may cease operating out of reliance on God and into the realm of the flesh. But he may also return to walking by faith with God at any time.

When we are walking by faith, there is no more condemnation. We are seen at that time as holy, without blemish, spotless, met in Christ. For what the law was unable to do, God did by sending His Son so that the requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. The whole law is fulfilled in us at those times, because we walk with the imputed righteousness earned by, and union-ed with us in communion with, Christ.

Some of the great things we do as Christians, if not done by faith (by trusting God to deliver) are... sin?

Maybe this is what Paul was talking about in Philippians. He already had done so much for the church. Could he sit on his laurels?? Did God permit him to keep on doing former works when they no longer required faith? Philippians 3:7-8

What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

Paul couldn't continue calling sufficient any longer, the activities he once did in his life, in times passed. He could not continue on knowing Christ better, if he did not go where faith required. Some things that had once been righteous because they required faith, had eventually become sin because it became routine, not inspired and founded by faith! Routine does not require faith, does it?

Is this the only place where faith can live? Romans 8:24-25

But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Free Grace is on-target to not measure sanctification or justification, by obedience manifested outwardly in men. God does not measure us as we measure each other. He said, "The just shall live by faith." God's call is always to move to wherever that place is, where faith in Him holds the tension between what we see and what we have entrusted.

All that Godly routine, all that law, all that conformity, has a certain value if it weren't for the need for man's inner regeneration in faith. But because "without faith it is impossible to please God," we move and have our being in union with Christ, alone.

So, I guess it is true. Faith really has nothing to do with the law, at all. Galatians 3:12 "The law is not based on faith."

We save ourselves, we save others not to conformity, but to faith. Spiritual union with Christ is our very life and salvation.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dr. Charlie Bing's FGA Conference Presentation

(From the Free Grace Alliance National Conference, on October 6, 2008; paraphrased with permission.)

Introduction to the Free Grace Perspective by Dr. Charlie Bing, President of the Free Grace Alliance

I am aware that there are some five-point Calvinists in the free grace movement. There are also some four-point Calvinists, too, as well as some zero-point Calvinists [laughter all around]. There are a lot of differences in this room. There are a few things that are up for discussion within our movement, but, there are also a few core distinctives of what we believe that are essential.

Here are four distinctives of the free grace position:

1 -- Grace is an unconditional gift of God. It's elementary but it affects theology, or another better way to express "theology" is "ethic." It is this teaching of "grace" which brings us together. Grace means He "stoops" to help His people. His love to mankind is not a theology; it is an ethic, and the ethic is grace. Romans 3:24 says "being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus," and we camp here. The price is paid. This is why salvation is free. This is why salvation is unconditional. It requires no works, no human merit. In the same way that wet cannot be dry, works cannot be grace. Knowing this, it totally humbles us.

2 -- The sole means of salvation is faith, to receive eternal life. It is "through faith" that we are saved. "Faith" means "persuaded," not obedience, not surrender, not commitment. Romans 4:4-5 says "Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness...". Some teachers believe that salvation requires both faith and repentance. However the meaning of repentance is specifically: a change of the "inner," a change of the "heart," or, a change of the "mind." We know that not all kinds of repentance leads unto salvation. God, in the Septuagint, "repents" 76 times. There is the "Harmony with God" view of repentance, which teaches that repentance is pre-evangelistic, or also a component of maintaining fellowship with God. This teaching is consistent with the free grace gospel.

However: the teaching that repentance is required for salvation, with "repentance" meaning "to turn away from sins", whether that means every sin or personal sin, we take issue with. The issue is this: Lordship Salvation's gospel includes surrender plus commitment to Jesus Christ, of one's life, upfront. The teachers of Lordship Theology distort even Acts 16:30-32, "And he brought them out and said, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' So they said, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.' Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house." They say somehow from this passage that "You must submit to the rulership of Jesus Christ and you will be saved." But they require more than surrender to Jesus' "rulership"; they also include His deity, kingship, sovereignty, etc. Lordship Salvation adds to faith as the only condition. It confuses justification and sanctification. It confuses salvation and discipleship. This is their error. They make assurance of salvation impossible.

These teachings are our fuel to do what we're doing.

3 -- Faith is a personal response to the gospel message for salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 says "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." What is the faith being described in this passage? "Faith" is not a gift of God. Most commentators on the bible say that the word is neuter. The gift of God is describing salvation. Lordship Theology teach "divine energy" as the gift of God, resulting in inevitable, quantifyable fruit. They teach that man is totally depraved and cannot do good or seek good on his own. We, however, do not teach total depravity; we teach that free will to choose good and have faith is marred, but we are still justly held responsible to believe. We still have the ability within us to believe in Christ for salvation. The object of discussion has been misplaced from this passage. The topic should not have been whether or not we have the choice. This passage is rather only discussing the object of our faith.

Works cannot be "front-loaded" to the gospel, meaning asking commitment before salvation or in tandem with salvation. Similarly, works cannot be "back-loaded" to the gospel of salvation, either. This persuasion teaches that one must have works to prove authentic salvation. As they commonly teach it, "the faith that saves is not alone, it is accompanied by good works."

Here is what is true about the requirements of salvation: That one must believe in the good news presented in the gospel; That Jesus is the Son of God, that He died on the cross for my sin, that He rose from the dead. But not just believing this is enough, one must also understand that by believing in Him, this Jesus, they might have eternal life (be saved). As for the teaching that one must "understand" the gospel to be saved, we can discuss the nuances of that content in the gospel message, but this is generally the gospel message.

Every other gospel, every other religion leaves you on a performance-basis for security of salvation. We say that salvation (meaning the gift of eternal life) is "forensic." It is a legal definition. God declares a man justified. This does not mean that God "makes" us righteous, as if there is a process or delay in the transfer of righteousness. Assurance of salvation should be the birthright of every believer, on the testimony of His Word, not on performance, not on perseverance.

Unlike our eternal security, our own personal understanding of this assurance, can indeed be lost.

We were created for good works, but good works are not uniform in every believer. We can become legalists by trying to measure the salvation of others. 1 Corinthians 11:30 makes it clear that some Chrisitians might possibly fall asleep and even die as carnal Christians.

Can good works prove salvation? That's an interesting question.

-Good works can characterize non-Christians
-Good works are hard to define anyway
-Some good works are going to be burned at the judgement seat
-Some good works are not visible, because they are passive in nature; for instance much of the obedience we give to Christ involves not doing something, such as saying no to temptation. Or another example is prayer, which is unseen.
-Good works can be deceptive
-Good works can be inconsistent, someone can have a "bad day"

Good works are probably a supporting evidence to say that someone might be saved. However they do not determine salvation of other people. Paul says that he does not even judge himself. He says he leaves judgment to God. How then can we judge others.

Free grace theology desires to preserve the clarity of the means of salvation. We avoid using language such as "public confession," "baptism," "repent from sins," or "faithfulness," to describe how we can know we are saved.

4 -- The free grace movement teaches it is essential that we share the truths of God graciously. We can so easily undo, in writing, in preaching, in teaching, what we sought to build. Graciousness should bind over the differences remaining after these core essential distinctives. The prodigal son had a gracious relationship with his father. The same grace the son was given upon returning back to the presence of his father, was the same grace that let him go in the first place. Freedom is important. God gives us the freedom to make a mistake. We know that those we have discussions with are going stumble and make mistakes with their theology. We can disagree in a gracious tone, and with respect. The Word of God is supposed to be good news. We don't argue about it; we share it. If freedom is really freedom, it makes enough room for deliverance from sin and deception for sure but also it will permit the exercise of error. Who wants to give freedom? Who wants to take freedom away? I often use this filter to weight the presidential candidates....

"Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"; this is what our founding fathers penned. They said that freedom comes from the Creator. He gives us life, and we also offer to others eternal life. Liberty is foundational too; many left England for the New World to escape religious persecution. The pursuit of happiness is also a high priority in the gospel of grace. Our purpose is to advance the grace message around the world, not argue about it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I Wear Freedom Boldly

When strangers come together in one place, they pass these little stickers out and everyone puts one upon their shoulder. On this sticker they usually write their name and where they come from.

Today at this time I know that I am a sinner, I have plenty of reasons why I know that God is essentially displeased with things I do and say. But I have no fear, by faith. I run to faith because there with Christ I know no unspiritual man might rightly condemn me. There the One who trains me is sufficient to get the whole job of sanctifying my life, complete.

Recently I attended the Free Grace Alliance National Conference in Arlington, Texas. I was alone as I flew on a plane and stayed in a hotel room for a couple nights, and (with one obvious exception) I did not know if anyone I knew, would be there. But I was not truly alone. I knew from the moment I purchased the tickets, Who I went for. Upon my shoulder I wrote this inwardly: "The Reputation of Christ." Galatians 2:17....

"If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not!"

Is this not an amazing privilege? I think so. Who would not be eager at the chance?

I'm passionate about the sufficiency of the Holy Spirit to lead, correct, rebuke, reproof.... Yeah, I sin, I'm "crossless," and at times I've been a fool. But still I have no fear! The very boldness that comes by faith alone in Christ alone is the most powerful sermon ever offered at any time, anywhere, in my heart and way of thinking. His calling is to proclaim and defend this Gospel.

The LORD has been good to me. It has been kindness, and it's undeserved, even apparently.

See my previous two posts for more on this:
Conference's Confirmation
Saved Through Faith?

Conference's Confirmation

During the FGA National Conference I got confirmation, again. I can't remember who it was, who said this. Perhaps it was Dr. Dave Anderson? A statement was said that I've been wondering upon, for years. This is what I remember him saying:

"There are three kinds of legalism. Legalism for salvation with no faith in Christ. Legalism for salvation, with faith in Christ. And then there is legalism, in sanctification. Galatians three, makes it clear that the church there was having trouble understanding their sanctification and works of the law."

Awesome! I had been reading the book of Galatians and I too noticed that Galatians 3 had to be about sanctification. But, the beginning of the book (Galatians one) started with explaining the gospel of justification. It was very difficult for me to be able to... prove that Paul was describing sanctification here. I had been desiring to say to others that Galatians was saying that justification and sanctification too, were the same gospel, the same message, the same Way: faith, alone. The reason why Paul glides from justification by faith, alone, into sanctification by faith, alone, is because the message is simply one, from start to end.

I didn't have anyone to talk about this, with. I'd tell people and they thought I was gravely mistaken. I can't remember too many instances of people who will confess that sanctification is accomplished by faith, alone. At the conference, Pastor Tom Stegall said this, too. I am blessed! I don't have to read the bible and feel all alone, anymore!

If it's true, if it is true that we are without any condemnation by faith, alone, this is something to get excited about! This is something to proclaim, to be loud about, an unusual, untapped righteousness to exercise and wear publicly.

Some people say "Does this mean obedience to the law is irrelevant?'' I say, no, the nature of obedience by faith is that the faith becomes so established that it wells up and overflows, into lifestyle. There is only one place for true transformation, and that is in the presence and fellowship with the Father through the cross of Christ. That's where true obedience comes from.

Therefore as Free Grace people we ought to be in the business of defending the access to obedience by faith, alone! So many stay away from God because their lifestyle isn't good enough, and by doing so miss their one place to experience deliverance!

Recently I've gotten excited about the new pastor who is coming to our church, who really understands the need for culturally-relevant discipleship. But, listening to the lectures on "grace-driven" relationships, shows me that Free Grace can do the same.

Justification by faith alone.
Sanctification by faith alone.
Culturally-relevant discipleship.

My heart is full with joy: this is the full package. I'm so pleased.

Saved Through Faith?

Yesterday I was in sunday school with Pastor Greg. We were discussing the implication of Romans 14:23

everything that does not come from faith is sin

I asked, "How do we fulfill this so that everything we do is... not sin?"

He asked me for more input. So I gave Romans 8:1...

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

He asked me, "Is Romans 8:1 discussing justification's righteousness or sanctification's?"

I said, "Umm, I think it's sanctification...."

He said after pausing, "Yes, that's right."

We talked about it in class. Then he came up to me later at church afterward and we talked about it some more. If a saved man reaches out to God and puts his trust in God, even if it is for only one issue that he looks toward God, then, at that time, he is walking with God according to the Spirit, and not the flesh.

When we are walking by faith, there is no more condemnation. We are seen at that time as holy, without blemish, spotless, met in Christ. For what the law was unable to do God did by sending His Son so that the requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. The whole law is fulfilled in us at those times, because we walk with the imputed righteousness earned by, and union-ed with us in communion with, Christ.

Some of the great things we do as Christians, if not done by faith (by trusting God to deliver) are... sin?

Maybe this is what Paul was talking about. He already had done so much for the church. Could he sit on his laurels?? Did God permit him to keep on doing former works when they no longer required faith? Philippians 3:7-8 ...

What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

Paul couldn't call righteous any longer, the activities he once did in his life, in times passed. Some things that had been righteous because they required faith, had eventually become sin because it became routine, not inspired and founded by faith! Routine does not require faith, does it?

Is this the only place where faith can live? Romans 8:24-25

But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Free Grace is on-target to not measure sanctification or justification, by obedience manifested outwardly in men. God does not measure us as we measure each other. He said, "The just shall live by faith."

All that law, all that conformity, has a certain value if it weren't for the need for man's inner regeneration in faith. But because "without faith it is impossible to please God," we move and have our being in union with Christ, alone.

So, I guess it is true. Faith really has nothing to do with the law, at all. Galatians 3:12 "The law is not based on faith."

We save ourselves, we save others not to conformity, but to faith. Spiritual union with Christ is our very life and salvation.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Radmacher Addresses Hodges, COSF*

On the tuesday evening of October 7th, at the banquet of the Free Grace Alliance National Conference, Dr. Radmacher announced the winner of the Trophy of Grace for 2008: Dr. Charles Ryrie. While he was giving a speech before introducing him to the stage, Dr. Radmacher announced he was giving away a copy of a newly published book to everyone in attendance. He has written the foreword of this book, titled The Salvation Controversy, written by Dr. Michael Cocoris [1]. Among other noteworthy contributions to Free Grace, Dr. Cocoris was the succeeding pastor of the Open Door Church where Dr. J. Vernon McGee once pastored.

The following is the unabridged copy of his forewording remarks in The Salvation Controversy:


As a young pastor, 52 years ago, I invited Haddon Robinson, a friend from college days, to come to our church for one of his early evangelistic meetings. Our little church was packed as he served spiritual food for both the regenerate and the unregenerate. For me, it was a life-changing experience from zeal without knowledge to a balance of enthusiastic knowledge as I listened to his careful exposition of the free grace of God (Rom 3:24) to which our people gave rapt attention.

As we spent hours together, I asked him how he learned such exposition of Scripture and he offered to show me by turning me to James 1:19-25 to develop my first expository message "How to Listen to a Sermon": The preparation before the message, the participation during the message, and the practice after the message. (Later in seminary I learned that it was an outline from Howard Hendricks.) But my appetite had been whetted and he strongly encouraged me to attend seminary again: this time at a seminary founded by Lewis Sperry Chafer where they specialized in the teachings of the grace of God.

Two faculty members in particular, Dr. Charles Ryrie and Professor Zane Hodges, were used by God to clarify what I would call justification salvation and sanctification salvation. Faith alone in Christ alone by grace alone plus nothing brings the free gift of everlasting life, the declaration of the believer's righteousness, and the regeneration of the Holy Spirit. But the stewardship of that life requires our best efforts and committment if we are to earn the rewards that Jesus Christ desires to give to all believers at the time of the Bema which will determine our capacity to magnify Christ in our reign with Him in glorification salvation. Dr. Jody Dillow has written powerfully about this in his book The Reign of the Servant Kings (Dan. 7:18, 26-27). The spread of this message was heralded worldwide though the pulpit and ministry of Dr. J. Vernon McGee of the famous Church of the Open Door and he was succeeded at that church by the author of this book, The Salvation Controversy, by Dr. Mike Cocoris. It was in his ministry at C. O. D. that Mike and I became close friends and I witnessed the clarity of both his pulpit ministry and writing skills. In 1987, when I was given the task of developing the Nelson Study Bible (now called The NKJV Study Bible), I selected 40 authors. Dr. Cocoris was one of them and all of them had only one book for which to develop study notes except for Dr. Cocoris. Over the ten year period (1987 to 1997) I found myself calling on Dr. Cocoris to rewrite and clarify the notes of several books of the Bible because of his clarity and precision as well as his practical application.

When I read the manuscript of The Salvation Controversy I encountered the same skills that I have found in his other books as well as The Nelson Study Bible (now called The NKJV Study Bible). One very helpful clarification that brought joy to my heart related to the ongoing discussion that we are experiencing among free grace students and writers. We who are united in our belief about faith alone in Christ alone plus nothing have not yet been able to come to agreement about the minimum that must be believed in order to receive everlasting life. Some believe that John 20:31 is sufficient and others believe that the hermeneutic of progress of revelation would require more such as the death and resurrection of Christ. But whatever side we may take in that issue, we all agree that we are commanded to preach the death and resurrection of Christ along with the Apostle Paul who said "we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Corinthians 1:23-24). On this, all free grace people are agreed.

I pray that this book will bring as much joy to your heart as it has to mine.

Earl D. Radmacher, Th. D.
President, Grace Bible Institute and Seminary of the Northwest

* COSF stands for "content of saving faith." There is disagreement concerning the amount of truth that must be understood and accepted in order to receive eternal life, once hearing the message of the good news of salvation in Christ.

[1] Cocoris, Michael G. The Salvation Controversy. Santa Monica, CA, Insights From The Word, 2008.

Friday, October 17, 2008

"The Evangelical Problem"

What am I talking about when I use this phrase: "The Evangelical Problem"?

There is one thing I wrote back in 2007 on this, that has stuck with me as my working definition:

I can hear even in my own mind the scriptures, and they seem to be pleading for their moment to depart my lips. I'd rather let someone squirm with the Word of God alone in their own chamber than see myself their equal in Christ and have fellowship with them. Do you see how the Word is used as a mechanism to assess and drug ourselves righteous, and to make ourselves experts? The Word is often temptingly used as a wall to protect the supposed sanctity of our own lives.

Self-Control and Balance

I have very little self-control when it comes to the Word of God. I know that this isn't a bad thing in a sense, but I mention it because the very "evangelical problem" I have been writing about in the last couple of years, mightily dwells in me; I am the most audacious criminal.

Case in point: The Wednesday morning women's bible study that just began at my church. Guess what? It's full-blown, no shame Lordship Sanctification. I listen to the complimentary lecture given during our weekly meets, and during those talks it's "sovereign" this and "sovereign" that; sovereign, sovereign sovereign. I went up and asked her, "When you say that word... SOVEREIGN, what do you mean? What does that word MEAN?"

Some leading questions (or statements!) sprinkled in between the passages to read:

So, is there anything not under God's control? Ever?


God is sovereign over the natural, physical world.

God is sovereign over the social world.

God is sovereign over the political world.

God is sovereign over the spiritual world.

God is sovereign in salvation.

God is sovereign in my inner spiritual life.

I just came out of three years of believing that God was so "sovereign" that He had appointed me, to sin. Listening to this bible study brings this pall and a headache all come back to me.

This is pure deception. First of all, here is what this in-house bible study (created by one of our members) says of her theological approach to doing the bible study:

I centered [my bible study] primarily in the New Testament. Each lesson contains many verses, most looked at apart from their context to get a specific aspect of God's character. Please feel free to read before and after verses listed in the lessons to get a better picture of the context. However, the point of the questions or comments is specific to the verses given.

Given... out of context??

The very first question in the entire bible study, was this:

1. God is sovereign over the universe (and beyond!). How do these verses speak of God as sovereign?

- Rom 11:36

I listened to the ladies at my table, blow right past this question without even noticing the context. So I spoke up to them on that first day and said "Before we move on, can I say something? What does that word "sovereign" mean? What about free will? God was not "sovereign" over every detail for the Israelites. This passage pulled from Romans 11 is about the nation Israel; it says in verse 20 "Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either."

To that there was a moment of silence. They said, "Well, yeah, I guess sovereign means...." And in that even they tried to explain it as if I couldn't comprehend that God was in control in the overall sense. Of course, I understand that; they missed my point, or rather they didn't really know how to answer it probably, so they left that part alone.

All three weeks of this study, a slowly building storm is rising in me. I'm beginning to burn with anger. ... It's always like this in the beginning, before I get some measure of apologetics written out. I don't want to blow them away with righteous indignation. Though at this point they are aware that I am having difficulty "understanding" the material, and one has even agreed to have a sit-down meeting with me about it to "answer my questions."

I have a plan. I'm going to write my apologetics. Make a copy for everyone at my table. Appeal to their love for the scriptures and desire to be helpful and a blessing to me. Most of them are elderly so I need to have a real honest respect for them (I'm not all the way there yet). Then they're all going to get a copy. I'll ask them to just read it and take it to heart, and, if they like it, pass it on to the leadership or to other ladies at other tables. One table, out of the whole 9 tables of women in the study? Yes, that's good enough for me. I have faith it's sufficient to get the ball rolling.

I already have in my mind, some starting points for these apologetics:

- The "Sovereignty" Teaching Demeans the Lordship & Deity of Jesus Christ

- The "Sovereignty" Teaching Demeans the Purpose for Why Jesus Came as a Man

- The "Sovereignty" Teaching Demeans Christ's Heart of Love for Men and the Heavenly Father

- The "Sovereignty" Teaching Demeans Man's Ability to Glorify God in the Way we Live our Lives

I need to take some space and some heart and some faith. I don't want to blow them out of the water. I feel like they deserve it. I'm sure they mean well....

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Comment at Martuneac's "Salvation" Post

(On August 7, 2008 I left a comment on Lou Martuneac's blog, linked above in the title of my post. This is in no way an affront to Lou or even concerning him specifically, at all; I remain the same as recently described in approach. I notice many people making practice of transcribing their comments to others, into official blog posts. I have sown much my ideas out there in the blogdom and I thought I might extropically give it a shot.)

I have a thought, again, about the substance of Lou's point #3. He referred to a problem for which I have an idea of how to deal with:

3) The most vocal advocates of a position like LS & the Crosslessgospel are not impossible to recover, but often their conscience has been seared to the point where they will not hear truth. They build walls around their extra-biblical presuppositions and will not allow for anything from the Bible or reasoning to chip away at their position.

I love the example 2 cor. 3 gives on how we ought to write the scriptures upon our listeners. It says our goal is not to write on stone which is nonliving but upon tablets of human hearts. In the twenty-first century, we don't actually write upon rocks, or even so much upon paper. We write upon portals of two-dimensional graphical interfaces; still -- this can kill rather than give life as we are intending to do.

When we are writing only upon the internet the children of God turn their face away from the glory of scripture, because the veil that comes by reading the law is set in front of them. Their minds are made dull because they do not put in perspective the Spirit to mediate, to reveal, and the Spirit is the source of all understanding. We must first bring them to a place of freedom by the Spirit, just as Peter did in Acts 15 when they were still in the discussion phase with heresy. He said:

"So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” acts 15:8-10

The Word of God is always a burden to any man who is not walking at that moment in the Spirit; it becomes a ministry of condemnation, furthering all of us from unity in Christ. But evangelicals should know well enough how to find and walk in the Spirit, so, let's get them there by what we say and what we revel in. We purify our discussions with one another when we are talking while publicly trusting in Jesus (they and we are purified in our hearts by faith).

Even though unburdening the Lordship person is your goal, when you start your conversation with such language as:

"Yeah but you must do...."

"Okay but you need to know..."

Then you are, unfortunately, acting as a Judiazer, even if the content of your message is the opposite. For this reason, when for instance Lou shares the [LS-correcting] message of "the results of salvation must NEVER be made the requirement FOR salvation," be sure to precede it by acknowledging the freedom we have from being considered inadequate, because of the cross.

I see how ironic it is, that they are more-or-less the Judiazers, yet they don't realize it, and when we try and show it to them, we too are accustomed to treating them in a Judiazing manner, troubling their consciences by the rejection of the boldness we have to come before God by good faith, not by accomplishments. However we can come before God by faith. And He can endure both theirs and our misperceptions. We, like He, must endure fellowship with the church yet patiently correct their errors.

They aren't worthy of fellowship with us just only if they believe everything we do. That's essentially promoting the very kind of error in calvinism (needing to endure to the end in order to be saved, and never really having a sense of having done enough, for security). Here is what Lou wrote of Lordship in the "Barter" thread's comments:

"Lordship’s Gospel is a promise to perform in exchange for the promise of eternal life."

When we give them a laundry list without acknowledging the Spirit we are asking them to perform, in exchange for the privilege of acceptance. We're saying that their mediator, Jesus Christ, isn't sufficient to make them clean. They aren't going to get the message we share because our message is not accompanied by an appeal to the Spirit.

"Freedom" doesn't mean that the Lordship message is irrelevant or tolerable. But when we have reminded them of the freedom that comes by the Spirit, then we are leading them to remember the very things we are trying to correct in their theology. In that freedom, there is still room for a correction or two. In Acts they conclude their message of freedom to the churches this way:

"For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well." acts 15:28-29

Using this model, we are still free to give the Lordship bunch one or two important things to be working on -- just a couple of ideals in this particular age.

There may be a time where certain members of the lordship group need to be treated like heretics. But so long as the conversation is honest even if heated, we need to be careful to show them how to see our message, which is that we are indeed saved and sanctified through faith.

Looking forward to your reaction, Michele

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I now have the approval of one who is in authority. His stipulation was to me, that I foremostly be gracious.

I haven't been gracious at all times, and I know I've gotten angry before (whether or not anger is 100% correlated with being ungracious, I'm not convinced but, anyway). I know I've made some piercing observations, too. You may all hold me accountable, nay I desire to be corrected if I stray again.

I am preparing a new series on grace. In the meantime I am pouring a lot of my blog-materials out here in this conversation.

God bless you....

Sunday, October 12, 2008

My Plans

According to my own personal convictions, one of the most important principles a woman can follow is this: to not trust her own decisions. I have a lot of talent as a woman, and I think that I'm useful, but, unfortunately I do not enjoy the privilege that men do to interact in their world according to their own judgment.

My belief is that as a woman I have inherited a nature that is characterized by greater openness to deception. For this reason I am also blessed with double the authority in my life; not only God in faith, but my husband, who is the head and authority for my decisions. I am faithful and obedient to my husband (or at least I can say it has been a deliberate devotion of mine), and I am obedient to my earthly father, even while he has not been a believer for a majority of that time. Both of them have given me their approval to do as I have been doing online. (I also have an older woman mentor in Christ, and she too is pleased that I might do something to help the free grace movement to which Dr. Radmacher, who she has great respect for, has given himself faithfully, as he is getting along in age.)

You are her daughters if you do not give way to fear, it says of Sarah, wife of Abraham. I do not trust my own capability to make decisions, even when I'm sure of myself. To discern, to prophesy, those are things I might have a righteous claim to practice, but leading myself with no additional authority and yet seek to be blameless in the eyes of God, no.

When I heard the general call to "stop" at the conference, I slowly realized that I have not obeyed this teaching. I should have sought approval for my ideas and plans in the beginning, not at this late time. Eek! God have mercy on me, in the name of Christ, I praise you for the righteousness that comes by faith, LORD!

"...there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God." rom 13:1

I do not believe that saved men who have authority on earth, dis-forth-tell the will of God. I don't. It's for this same reason that when I unabashedly vy for reform (to make way for practicing grace) in the online community, I make no allegiance to help overthrow any people. "We do not wage war against flesh and blood." I am 100% convicted that God wants all of them to be included in the future of the free grace online discussion. Every man involved here, who has authority amongst the people, has authority from God. There is no other kind. Every person's sanctification matters to God and I believe He will use all of us because He is in command over His Saints, and He is in the business of redemption. This is what I am looking toward by faith and perhaps by being useful also. I do have a vision, and my vision is to make improvement upon that which already has been established.

So at this time I am setting out some feelers, to see if I might be approved by those in authority.

I've prayed about it and I have peace, great peace, that if it is not His will for me to be involved, I will stop blogging in concert with free grace discussions. I surrender all of myself, all of what I think I might do for good. Any good vision comes from God, anyway. It was never mine to begin with. He doesn't need me or my mind or heart to get this grace-thing realized.

"To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams." 1 sam 15:22

In the case I am done, I commend the LORD Himself to intervene and reconcile here. I delight to think about the power of such commendation.

My desire is to be a faithful daughter to free grace. If my presence is discerned by those in authority to actually bring further harm, I am pleased to say, I will do whatever truly brings God glory, as direction is placed upon me.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I Love Lou

As a sister in the LORD, I do; I think he's great.

Okay, most of you know that I have a thing against fundamental Christians, and it's true, I don't see a lot of value in that. But I'm able to see past this one person's method to the character underneath. And his values.

I talk far too much firstly about what is wrong regarding him rather than what is right and good. Please forgive me.

He cares very deeply about propriety. I've been reading along in threads going back over longer than I've been around, and I often see him apologizing after realizing his wrong.

As one of his associates complimented him recently, he is "breathtakingly consistent." Yes, he is. He has a skill for staying focused even as times come and go and get very tumultuous.

He also cares deeply about the scriptures. I recently met Pastor Stegall at the conference, and the impressions reinforce themselves. I see an incredible and blameless passion for preserving the clarity of God's Word, amongst the people.

Thank you, Lou, for everything you do. You deserve praise first and foremost from me.

Friday, October 10, 2008

"Shuttle Diplomacy"

This is pretty amazing.

This morning I was having a brief conversation with my dad. I explained to him in a minute and a half, why I recently went on a trip to a conference.... He said to me, "That's shuttle diplomacy."

"Shuttle diplomacy?" I asked.

"Yes," he replied, "Henry Kissinger was the one who became famous for this technique. He would spend a certain amount of time with one side of a disagreement, listen to them and learn their language and issues and then he would go over to the other side, and stay with them for awhile, doing the same thing, translating the issues in fresh ways without contention."

What confirmation. I've been calling this thing "advocacy".... He has a different term for it. He had correspondence with Kissinger back in the 1970s during the cold war, when his distinguished career in international relations, much of which is top secret, was just getting started.

I'm absolutely clueless about a lot of things. I just want to add my prayers to whatever I get the sense the leadership of the FGA is already implementing. I have a sense by faith that this is a better thing to do then take unadvised action like I had been doing.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

Pit in the Stomach

Today I get the most awful feeling.

I review in my thoughts all the rock-on lectures of the conference, upon the topic of being driven by grace. I got affirmations for my goals, but wait; Charlie Bing's plea to "stop!" rings constantly in my mind. Did I really think that that couldn't mean me too? Well yeah.... What universe am I in? Ohh. I recollect the subtle cues of body language and non-speech from the ones who listened to my passionate pleas. I realize now I didn't tell them anything they already didn't know. It wasn't like I thought. What a fool I've been.

And you know there's always this extra dose of judgment you take as a woman. No matter what it's going to be my fault if some guy accosts me. I was on two occasions by unbelievers on Monday, and bothered by many others. Makes me so not pleased to try and be present and use my mind or heart at all. (This is one of the reasons why I like the internet.)

But mostly after getting confirmation that I know grace, I somehow notice that I didn't practice it anywhere like I think I might have.

Today, I get the most awful feeling.

I hope it never leaves me.

"The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure." Ecc 7:4


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

my own conference sound bytes

Some of my own sound bytes from the national free grace alliance conference.... I won't share with whom I've said which of these items, because it's just too important that people speak for themselves when they feel it is good to do so.

I praise God that these are things I stunningly got to say to prominent free grace leaders:

"Wouldn't it be a shame if free grace theology forgot 'grace'...."

"There is a kind of power and privilege that comes with the word 'heresy,' that we should never be eager to wield."

"Have you considered appointing an emissary to the two sides in the online free grace community? If we wish to consider how to promote the free grace message successfully, I think reputation will affect opportunities to share it. Reputation is vital. That which precedes our theology is largely being established online."

"It seems to me that those people who are in the inner circles might have had ample discussion to figure out where they are on these things, but the rest of those in the online world have the smallest trickle of likened encouragement. Right now this community is desperate for two things; one, information; and two, communication. I'm concerned that whatever little information that has been handed down is still less helpful since the word 'heresy' is being used to such a degree that communication is also broken down. What's more, it's possible... that these people are battling to form conclusions on matters that perhaps those in leadership have figured out months... if not years, ago."

You might read these things and conclude, I know so very little. But, I think that's exactly the point.

Antonio has devoted himself to doing what he can to encourage free grace leadership to speak plainly and freely with the people. If I wore a hat, it would be off to him in honor for all he has done. I think Antonio needs a little encouragement. I also think the free grace leadership needs a reason to smile. And maybe, just maybe, we might win their favor and they'd put their hope in us: us lay, bloggers of scripture depths, fellowship-hungry, lovers of God's free grace.

Friday, October 03, 2008

NY NY personalities

I was going through our photos and for some reason I never got around to sharing some of the sights of NY when I took a trip there in March. It was fun. I have several pictures I want to share, so, I might have to make several posts.

(These are the personalities I witnessed of NY, with consideration to take things nice and steady.)

Here is this guy playing in central park right next to the intricate benches where the old people dance in the number "How Do You Know" in Enchanted:
These guys whom I presume were gay, also must have seen the movie because they were having fun for the camera.
As we were exiting the park I heard an all-too-familiar beat. Yep. My teen idol Michael Jackson was busting a few moves. Dang.
Next we crammed the sidewalks of Time Square.
The angle needs a little help.
My spidey-senses tell me the travel merchandise kill the effect of it all.

Threat to business at three o'clock! Jenn told me "There's a guy in nothing except cowboy boots and hat, a speedo and a guitar in the middle of the intersection!" but I didn't see him either.

I think the description does everybody sufficient good, eh??

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