Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Does Grace Demand A Higher Standard Than The Law?

Have you watched the youtube video of John Bevere's preaching (which are edited excerpts of his sermon "Empowered by Grace") which I put up in my previous post? I really do not agree with a lot of the things he said in the sermon but, to be fair, the video consists of excerpts and maybe the context of what he said is not clear.

However, there is something that he said which really disturbs me. He quoted John 1:17 - "For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." and interpreted what Jesus said in Matt 5:21-22 and Matt 5:27-28 regarding the law thus: that the standard demanded by grace is higher than that of the Law.

In Matt 5:21-30, Jesus taught on the commandments of "Thou shall not murder" and "Thou shall not commit adultery":
21“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.

27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

JB says that under the Law, you have to do the deed to break the Law but under grace, you only have to want to do the deed and you are considered to have broken the Law. JB interprets Jesus' teaching this way because John 1:17 says grace and truth came through Jesus Christ, and therefore JB interprets what Jesus said as teachings under grace.

I disagree with his interpretation because the grace of God is not manifested in Jesus' birth into our world and His ministry on earth BUT rather the grace of God is Jesus' death, burial and resurrection - 1 Cor 15:2-4 "2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,". If Christ did not die for us, there is no grace for us. All the teaching, healing and casting out of demons by Jesus was all in vain.

The context of what Jesus preached in Matt 5 regarding the Law is that man has too low an estimation of the standard of the Law and Jesus illustrated how high that standard is; even the thought of sinning is already breaking the law but man has lowered the standard to the act itself (Matt 5:28).

That standard of the Law is so high that "if your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell." (Matt 5:29-30)

Now, if JB is to be consistent in his use of John 1:17, then what Jesus said in Matt 5:29-30 will be what is expected of us under grace! This is of course not correct! Jesus is showing us that it is impossible to keep the Law and therefore He has come to fulfill it for us, which is what He said in the very same chapter, Matt 5 in verse 17 - "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them."

Does Grace demand a higher standard than the Law? Yes, but not in the way JB interpreted. Grace's standard is LOVE and God empowers us to LOVE by filling our heart with so much of His LOVE that the LOVE overflows and we can't help but LOVE others - "We love because he first loved us." (1 John 4:19)


Romans 13:8-10
8Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who LOVES his fellowman has fulfilled the law.
9The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." 10Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore LOVE is the fulfillment of the law.


14 comments:

The Logical Mouse said...

"by filling our heart with so much of His LOVE that the LOVE overflows and we can't help but LOVE others"

Pray explain how Christians love others? If the other does feel loved, what is the problem?

Then what about Grace Christian that irritates others? What went wrong?

The Logical Mouse said...

Sorry for the choice of words. No offense intended.

yaso said...

I'd agreed that the law of God is not only the deeds that count but the thoughts too. If that's so, then the Buddhist's law is even higher because Buddha taught if a man lusts in his heart he has already committed that sin. But we know that the Grace of God is not of our doing but a gift from God. And abide in His Grace enable us to produce the love (fruit of the Spirit) to overcome the lust in our flesh. If anyone can't see this truth, let him ask of God for wisdom to open his eyes to see Grace.

However I think the true question here is... "Do you agree that JB said many believers take the Grace of God as a big cover up to sin?" Another word he is saying that many are using Grace to justify their sins. What do you say of that?

Stanley Wong said...

Hi yaso,

Yes, I agree with you that the true question is whether many believers take the Grace of God as a big cover up to sin.

Before I answer that, I would like to explain that I wrote this post because I'm concerned that a famous preacher like JB is misleading Christians into thinking that because "grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17), then everything Jesus preached during his minstry on earth are teachings of grace. This is not correct and a misinterpretation of grace.

The misinterpretation of grace is also one reason why some preachers accuse Christians of using grace to cover up sin. These preachers do not really understand the grace gospel and they misread that since "grace Christians" are taught not to rely on self-effort to change, they are not doing anything to lead holy lives and therefore are merely using grace to excuse their sins.

Another angle to this question is also that some Christians themselves also truly do not understand the meaning of grace and therefore use grace as an excuse their sinful lifestyle.

Pasotr Prince has explained before in a sermon that these people are not really under grace, for sin shall not have dominion over them if they are under grace (Rom 6:14). What the church does is that it will send elders to counsel these people.

I have also heard blogpastor mention before in a sermon that two members of his friend's church were having an affair and left that church to join NCC thinking that the grace gospel excuses their behaviour.

Ultimately, anything and everything can be abused by anybody. A hammer is a useful tool for hitting nails but it can also be abused by someone to hit another person's head.

yaso said...

Dear Stanley,

Thanks for a good answer! Help me to make it more clearer and simpler... If one understands and embraces Grace, he will not want to sin anymore.

And if one thinks that because he is under grace so he can live in sin and not be condemned. He is a fool and has received the grace of God in vain (2Co 6:1). Seriously I doubt he is saved!

The Logical Mouse said...

Stan

Hmm.. Just what I suspect all along. Christian who think they are under Grace may not be at all.

But the problem is: If I were to ask any of them, ALL of them say they are saved and they can quote me bible to say so.

Dangerous...

The Logical Mouse said...

"by filling our heart with so much of His LOVE that the LOVE overflows and we can't help but LOVE others"

And so is this. They think they Love others but they do not. They think only. Can see one lah... everyday interaction with them... Cheating themselves only.

Joseph said...

Do anyone doubt whether the thief got saved? Maybe he believes he's under grace.

How can he who is dead to SIN live any longer in it? (In the book of Roman, 47 times the word SIN used were in noun and only 1 time which Paul quoted his critics using the word SIN as in verb)

You are no longer in the prison cell of Adam’s “sin unto death” but you are under another prison cell of Christ’s “obedience unto righteousness”. In Adam’s “sin unto death” he can do every good deeds; But in God’s eyes he is still a Sinner.

Grace preaching does not necessary give rise to sin. People don't need a license to sin whether grace or other gospel is preached. In fact Sin(N) does not have dominion over you b’cos you are under grace…
The true antidote to sin is grace. Titus tells us that grace will be a teacher teaching us (even when no one is looking). Only grace will bring you back when you fall.

Now you are in the new prison cell of Christ’s “obedience unto righteousness” and nothing you do can change your position as Sons of God. He sees you forever Righteous.

Jesus cried out “It is finished”: That settles it.

Yan said...

Hi all,

On this topic of grace, will we still be judged in the future?

Because in 2 Cor 5:10, it seems that we Christians need to face the judgement seat of Christ. How do we make sense of this verse in light of grace teachings?

Joseph said...

Judgement Seat
Try my best to explain it.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear. It is not your love or my love but God’s love those casts out fear.

There will not a big screen showing your life-story for all to see. I was before very frightened by this teaching also.

The judgement seat (bema seat, spelling not sure) is a place of rewards like that of athletes receiving their medals.

In Hebrew 11, we see the hall of fame where only the goods of the saints were recorded. Be at eased.

Whether it is good or bad: First you must realise that it is God who works in you to will and to do His good pleasures.

Your works will be tried, whether it is wood, hay, stubble or gold, silver, precious stones.
Wood hay stubble speaks of humanities and work of the flesh as in your self-efforts. You can be doing good in the natural goodness of heart and still be in the flesh.

God wants us to walk in the Spirit and be led of the Spirit.

How shall we live then? By the law of the Spirit of life in Christ, modifying the deeds of the flesh.

Do all things for His glory and for the good of the body of Christ (these two are the new commandments that He will write on our heart in the new covenant). He that glory, let him glory in the LORD.

Gold silver precious stone are those things, which you have done for Christ. Only things done for Christ will lasts. It can be your prayer, faith, intercessions, benevolence, witnessing, confession of faith (believing and speaking God’s word), showing love one for another, your giving, praise, thanks giving, and worship etc…

The Logical Mouse said...

Yan

Try this.

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=115919022089

It like you go to a meeting. If the boss likes you, he only hears the good things from you. And if he does not like you, well, too bad.

And I'm not trying to be sarcastic. That's how I interpret it.

Stanley Wong said...

Hi Yan,

Pastor Prince preached a sermon "The Truth About The Judgment Seat of Christ" which addresses your question.

You can purchase this CD online - https://www.destined2reign.com/onlinestore/p-528-the-truth-about-the-judgment-seat-of-christ.aspx

If you wish to borrow the CD, you are welcome to drop by my stall and I can pass it to you.

Yan said...

Hi Stan,

Thanks for your offer. When I'm free, might just pop by your stall, good chance for me to try your desserts too :-)

leela said...

An inspirational story on a Singaporean school dropout gangster with many addictions who was changed by Gods Grace that became an international preacher of the Gospel and free from many years of addictions.

Grace
Redeems
And
Cleanses
Everyone

The power of God's saving Grace and Love. It will bless someone....



Testimony featured on ChristianPost - http://sg.christianpost.com/dbase/ministries/1250/section/1.htm

Victor King Ministries on Harvest Show TV(USA) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWyVibak7-Q