Thursday, February 7, 2008

Defending Grace!

I have honestly been, so far, pretty tame in my defense of grace and against legalism. I have been tempted to condemnation over it time and time again, but I am convinced I should not be afraid to be angry and indignant towards legalists. I have spoken up to people I know, in an intense passionate manner and gotten blank stares, have been called self-righteous for speaking out against my old church, have been told "everyone is in a different place, and there's a different church for everyone", and you have to be careful grace will lead you to license to sin, and you don't want to be involved in that agape love stuff. Also, people use the "God is Sovereign" statement like a trump card in defense of not facing up to the fact that legalism is heinous. It's insidious and deceptive and easy to fall into and not know you are in it. It should not be one bit tolerated, not one single bit!!! Yes of course every person has to get their own revelation from God on this and it will be a process that is individual to everyone. However, that does not mean I should not bring it up and stand up to it, even if someone doesn't like it, or if it makes them uncomfortable. So, that said....I must express that if you go to a church that does not preach PURE Grace, and you will know if it does...you are attending a legalistic church and they are preaching a false gospel. If your church spends more time on talking about sin, and how to overcome sin and how to pursue right living, you are in a legalistic church. And don't tell me so and so is a great preacher, when one week he preaches about God and a bit of grace, after he has preached numerous messages that were legalistic. If you become aware that your church is legalistic and you say, "Oh I will just ignore the legalism and take the good stuff they teach" -you are placing yourself under a ministry of death and of condemnation. You can't have both, you simply can't!!! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. Leavening agents are meant to spread over time to increase and rise up!!! You will soon become under law and NOT under grace!!! If you say, "well my church talks about grace", it is not enough to simply talk about grace here and there when there is ANY form of teaching that is about what YOU HAVE to do. Grace is all about WHO WE ARE IN CHRIST ALONE!!! And what's even scarier to me, is when a church says they are preaching grace alone all of a sudden after years of indoctrinating their people with a half-false gospel and not even so much as mentioning they were wrong, and now they want to preach the WHOLE gospel of Grace!!!! Yes we should get ANGRY! Jesus died for you so you could be set free from the law and from doing, performing and focusing on your sin, He said,"IT IS FINISHED!" Now we are to live in freedom, with Christ living in us as us, and as we abide in Him, and rest in Him and walk by the Spirit -He will accomplish His very purpose He has for us in this life! It is never about us learning to become more HOLY. We are  already perfectly righteous in the sight of the Lord! This can't be added to or taken away from!!
Don't be afraid of Grace - be afraid of LEGALISM! So many Christians are wary and frightened of PURE grace - SO many!!! 
Paul spent much of his time preaching against legalism and for Pure GRACE. He even said in Galatians to those who let anything but GRACE come into their teaching, they are under a curse and let them be eternally condemned. That's pretty serious to me! 
Jesus was not very nice to the legalists, the Pharisees, he said things to them that in that day were the most insulting things you could say. He didn't tolerate it! He got downright violent in the temple making a whip and driving people out of the temple. And if Jesus didn't put up with legalism, neither should we! 
I believe the whole pure gospel of grace is worth defending ....for years I knew a half false Gospel and it proved to be nothing but heartache and pain and passiveness....now that God has shown me the truth and the veil is off, I am ruined for anything less!! 

12 comments:

jul said...

AMEN!!!!! I know what you mean, I often get attacked with condemnation after being really strong against legalism, but I remember one time that I thought I may have gone too far, God just kept making me feel how pleased he was with me for preaching grace! ( I certainly don't mean preaching from a pulpit hehe for all you concerned complimentarians...) And we most certainly should be ANGRY with legalism! Paul was, Jesus is, and we shouldn't apologize for it! But I still get attacked with that feeling every time I stand up to the grace hating spirit, makes me think I must be on the right track though and so are you!

Dan Bowen said...

"Also, people use the "God is Sovereign" statement like a trump card in defense of not facing up to the fact that legalism is heinous. It's insidious and deceptive and easy to fall into and not know you are in it. It should not be one bit tolerated, not one single bit!!!"

AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN!!

I count myself blessed beyond words to have met two amazing wonderful sisters in Christ like you and Julie! I love your passion, I love your hatred of legalism and I love your desire and longing for Grace and Glory!!

Keep at it! Let no man squash that - don't listen to ANYONE who tells you to be silent. I am ashamed that more men aren't standing up for grace more - but thank God (truly) that you two in particular are!! Keep going!!

You mentioned about hiding behind God's Sovereignity as a shield - alas how often have I had that wielded against me. Even my own parents used that while trying to tell me to forgive the legalists pastors I encountered in SG.

But as Rob said; "If we DONT get angry at legalism then we HAVENT understood grace enough!!".

You're pretty angry!! And that's good!

lydia joy said...

What's that verse, a cord of three strands is not easily broken......!!!
Thank you both for your words of STRONG encouragement!!!! Well said and much needed!!!
Yes Dan, where are the voices rising up to take a stand and defend the WHOLE GOSPEL of GRACE IN ALL IT"S FULL MEASURE, and put LEGALISM to SHAME........I want to know tons of Christians walking free from the curse of the law and in the freedom Christ has purchased for us!!!!!

Nicole's Godblog said...

Hello, my name is Nicole. I heard about your blog through Aida, and thought I would comment!

You are getting at something here, about legalism. I find it utterly selfish and for the most part and legalism and religion period doesn’t have anything to do with being in relationship with Christ. See, when one gets all wrapped up in the laws and telling others what they should or shouldn't do, can you find one trace of Father in that? I can't! This is the reason I don't attend a congregation. I bet every church will try to throw some type of religion or legalism at you. It doesn't matter what exactly it is about but there is always some kind convincing or manipulation taking place to make one feel guilty for thinking otherwise. I feel very strongly about this for my own convictions personally, but never would I judge someone for going to church or being involved in a religious setting. I am not to judge or able to tell anyone what they are doing is wrong, for if I were to do that I would be bringing the legalism with me outside of a congregation.

In Freedom, Nicole!

Joel Brueseke said...

Hi all,

I've got somewhat of a different take on all this and I just thought I'd share it. I actually just got done commenting on
Grace in Flood's blog
on a very similar subject, and below are my thoughts that I shared there.

If you've heard my story, you know I'm just as angry about legalism as anyone else! So what I'm sharing here doesn't mean that I'm not angry with legalism or legalists. My main point here is that I think there are different ways to deal with legalism and legalists. Here's what I shared on Grace in Flood, and I truly welcome all your thoughts and disagreements, so we can build one another up in the truth! (I'm being vulnerable here among my friends, so please be easy on me... LOL)

-----

I'm not sure there is one set answer to this, and the reason that I think that is because there are various kinds of legalists out there, or perhaps better said they are legalists for different reasons and I think we need to approach each one according to where they're at.

For example, there are staunch legalists who are like the self-righteous Pharisees of Jesus' day. Think about the various ways that Jesus dealt with even this one group. At times they asked Him questions or made accusations against Him, and sometimes He didn't respond and at other times He turned it around and asked them questions. I think that a lot of this was for the sake of pointing out their own hypocrisy for their own sakes, but also for the sakes of the people around them to help them get out from under the strict legalism of the Pharisees.

Other times, Jesus went all off on them, calling them names ("brood of vipers," etc) and using strong language to point out their religious hypocrisy.

But He didn't do this with all the Pharisees. Nicodemus was a legalist, and Jesus knew he was blind to the truth, but yet Jesus was gentle with him even though ol' Nic didn't "get" grace. Nicodemus, it seems to me, was a "law man," but yet was humble and was seriously seeking to understand what it was about Jesus that made things different.

And then there are people like me, when I was in my legalist days. Nobody ever confronted me to my face about my legalism. Nobody called me names and strongly pointed out my religious hypocrisy, although there was much there!

The person who really said the things that got me pointed in the right direction was Mike, who cohosts Growing in Grace with me. We worked in radio together and he heard and saw the way I lived my life. I would say some of the most legalistic things over the airwaves! And in real life, I'm sure he could see the legalistic way in which I lived my life and how I tried to pass it on to others.

But he never got in my face about it. He never called me names. He simply shared the truth with me, and over a period of time I began to really get it.

Since that time, there have been many legalists who have crossed my path and I've dealt with each of them differently. Sometimes I try to reason it out with them through the scriptures. Sometimes I just live my life in front of them and they see how I live and what words I use in my relationships with others.

I've written letters and emails to people, and I've sat down and talked with people, including my pastor who I've had disagreements with. As we sat and casually talked, once in the church cafe and once in his office, I didn't have to get up in his face in order to make it clear what I believe the truth is, compared to where I believe he's been off.

In other words, I don't believe it's always necessary to get people upset with us. :) However, chances are, whether we're in their face or whether we're just casually talking with various legalists, we're bound to be rejected and we're bound to be called heretics and it's going to be said of us that we're preaching a false gospel.

My personal temperament, at least so far in life, is such that I can calmly accept all of that without getting overly upset with others. I think our passion does have a lot of potential to speak to others (such as Paul's passion when preaching the gospel and standing up to legalists), but so much more than that, the truth - God's word - speaks for itself. It does not return void but it accomplishes He pleases for it to accomplish (
Isaiah 55:11
). We're the agents who speak the truth and the Holy Spirit is the agent who works it into people's hearts.

This is my experience so far, and my current view of the matter. I'm looking forward to what others have to say as well!

lydia joy said...

Hi Nicole
Welcome, thanks for popping in and sharing! Yes, it sure isn't the Father's heart for us to be under any kind of legalism, it takes away from Him sending His only precious Son and allowing Him to be brutally crucified for our freedom in Him and now we can stand fully justified in His Presence!! We can do nothing that will add to or take away from our standing thanks to Christ!!!

lydia joy said...

Joel,
You know I always appreciate your thoughts and have gleaned from you time and time again!
I totally agree with what you are saying.
My post here is honestly more in response to what I see going on at my old church, and the people that are there still do not see it. I am angry at the leadership! They are deceiving their people and I can see it as plain as day, and I hate it!!! Dan and Julie and I were all a part of the same family of churches, thus their responses!!! (I think they understand my current anger!!)
You are right in how to deal with individual people differently and I am learning how to walk out responding on that level. However, most of the people I talk to are from my old church and often will defend it in some way or another and I do not think they should be defended, the leadership, that is, the top men! I know many do not seek to live under legalism and don't recognize it for what it is, I sure didn't. I know many love the Lord and long to grow in grace
In addition, you have had a longer time to grow in this, which is probably why I learn so much from you! And, I did say I have more thoughts on this...
Ultimately, I know it is not flesh and blood we are wrestling with here, but a power the enemy has, using legalism and sucking men into a power seeking controlling form of leading that is deceitful and heinous!
The cool thing is when the lights come on, for people in legalism, and their eyes are opened to grace, they can simply repent, change their minds of their old ways of believing and renew their minds with the truth of the Whole Gospel, and of Grace and put on their shiny new robes of righteousness!!!
(or should I say actually live in revelation of their perfect standing before God! all by the work of the Spirit, yes!)
Anyway, Thanks for bringing a bit more clarity, I definitely do not want to be passive in any way about this issue, I am venting my true feelings here, dealing with people individually one and one will look different every time, and I don't think I need to get people angry with me....they seem to be angry or at least distant from me a bit, even if I do speak in a kind calm manner! But it doesn't mean in my heart there is no love for them! If I can start any kind of spark that will ignite a fire, well........

Nicole's Godblog said...

Lydia!

I see how open you are and I understand exactly where you are with your friends from your old church! Trust me, I have been there and done that! I may not have been through the exact same experiences as you, but I understand your pain you feel for your friends. Once I started on a new Journey with Father, he started opening my eyes to what real relationship and life was in Him that wasn't found in a constitutional religious congregation. I too have been heavy heartened for my friends who did not understand where I was coming from and didn't even really care, they were more concerned about keeping the ‘laws’ and so on and so forth than listening to what I had to say. It made me angry and sometimes still does. It has been a constant battle I have to fight with myself mostly because whatever I say or do, isn’t going to change ‘them’. I have pondered for hours what it really means to be a sister in Christ and how I should respond or what I should do to get their attention and see if I could stop their religious boxes they have created for themselves. However, I have come to realize over great thought and prayer, and through fellowship with people who understand where I am with Father, that I can’t change them, even if I try. I know this is so hard to swallow even when I am typing this it is hard to say, but I know I have to let them be. I have known other choice but to pray for them and hope that maybe they will see the freedom there is in loving Father without all that other stuff. And trust Father that he will take care of them wherever they are with or without Him. I am still learning to meet my friends where they are, and that doesn’t mean I have to do or believe what they believe, but to just love them where they are and not try to fix or change anything. I still struggle with this one, but there comes a time when it is time to let it all go and rest! I hope to encourage you and not put you down, but understand that Father knows what he is doing in their lives even if he really isn’t in their lives, if that makes sense!

In Freedom, Nicole!

lydia joy said...

Nicole,
My heart in this post in particular is aimed at a specific leadership group and against anyone defending them! I have to be honest and say no, I will not tolerate it!
However, I completely hear you, I was one of those people who had someone try to tell me my church was tainted and it took me a long time to finally see! God used the right people at the right time to shed truth on both grace and legalism and that was the seed he used and the rest is history!
I am learning to listen to the Holy Spirit when it comes to sharing with people on an individual basis, and am learning to only share what they will allow, but am always ready to speak truth about grace and about legalism...it just depends what they need to hear! Sometimes God can use my indignance, I suppose....I know it's not up to me to change people...believe me, I am married...:)
anyway, all that said, it still doesn't always make it easy to watch your friends missing out on pure grace and stuck in less than all that God has for them!!! We know God can use all things to work together for His good purpose, it's true, but I don't want to use any of these things to become passive in defending and preaching the whole Gospel...hect I think we need to preach the gospel to the saved, most of them only know half of it!!!!
I just want to be obedient to what God calls me to, and follow His leading on when and when not to speak up and out and all that other good stuff!!!!
Thanks for your thoughts!!!

Joel Brueseke said...

"The gospel to the saved." :) That's how Paul Anderson-Walsh of The Grace Project words it as well.

Lydia, I think you really hit the nail on the head when you said that you are learning to listen to the Holy Spirit in regards to sharing with people on an individual basis. We (man) look on the outside, God knows the heart, and as we partner with Him in sharing His gospel, we truly need to be in line with what He wants to do in and through us.

Two things about the Apostle Paul come to mind. Well, first of all, it is very, very true that wherever he preached the gospel he was very passionate about it and he truly defended the gospel of grace wherever he went. So I don't think we're out of line at all when we're zealous or passionate about God's grace! But the two things I'm thinking about are these: Paul, in his heart, wanted to go to his fellow Jews to preach the gospel. He was able to do that in some cases (Acts 9:15-16), but his overall call of Apostleship was to the Gentiles (Rom 11:13-14, Gal 1:16, Gal 2:7-9, Eph 3:8).

The second thing is the time when Paul's missionary team was "forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia." (Acts 16:6-7). He was right on Asia's doorstep, and it may have seemed like a logical step for him to take, but God wanted him to go elsewhere.

I hope it doesn't sound like I'm preaching here... LOL... I'm essentially just giving my thoughts of encouragement about what you said about listening to the Holy Spirit. As I view the life of Paul, I see that he was very passionate and zealous about the gospel, and against legalism. I also see that he was obedient to the particular call that God had on his life, and I think that's very important.

All that to say, I think that when we're spreading the gospel and fighting legalism, the case needs to be made that Christ is the head of His body and He is the one who leads and guides and directs the parts of His body. :) So truly we need to go where we are called, and refrain from going where we're not called.

I absolutely do not mean to quench anyone's passion for the gospel or anyone's passion against legalism! I will always preach the gospel and speak out against legalism.

I most certainly don't claim to be the authority on this matter. If anything, my hope is to encourage others in the Holy Spirit... and just to be part of the much larger discussion on all of this.

Nicole's Godblog said...

Lydia,

Thanks for being honest, for I wouldn't want it any other way. I was wondering, are you still a part of this congregation, the same one that have these leaders you mentioned? I understand how you feel and wouldn't pass up an opprotunity to speak to my friends if Father opened a door, but purhaps I am a little bit more cautious because I know how religious people are like and they can be a little scary if I ever got in a little tiff with one of them if any of them would give me the time of day!

But, the reason why I was so foward with you is because I think that sometimes with our freedom we can sometimes be a little legalistic (relgious). We can use our freedom against people in a way like others use their religion or legalism against us. Its the same thing if we force our ways on others. I am not saying that is what you are doing, I guess I am just trying to make it a little more clear that's all.

I definitely don't want to pursuade you any other way other than following what Father is showing you to do like you said.

Please take was is useful and bury the rest!!

In Freedom, Nicole!

lydia joy said...

Joel,
Thanks for your thoughts and comments, again I have learned something from you....:)

Nicole,
No I am no longer in that church!! I do listen to their messages from time to time and I just so happened to listen to the most recent one and it boiled my blood!!!
That is the main source of my rant here! I am not against any person per se, but what they stand for, if it's against the Gospel and of Grace, then I will be like a roaring lion.....
I understand what you mean about being legalistic about grace - I have heard that before as well. In my heart of hearts I know I was once in the seat of the legalist, so I understand where alot of people are coming from, and I can have compassion along with speaking up!
Feel free to be as forward as you feel led, I have no problem with you sharing your thoughts on here, and I am grateful to have met another sister on a journey into all God has for her! Peace to you!!