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Billy Graham’s grandson takes Christians to task: An interview with Tullian Tchi …

Author and grandson of Billy Graham's Christians need to stop focusing on performance and get "drunk on grace."
Author and grandson of Billy Graham's Christians need to  stop focusing on performance and get "drunk on grace."

Author and grandson of Billy Graham’s Christians need to stop focusing on performance and get “drunk on grace.”

William Graham Tullian Tchividjian is the grandson of the iconic American evangelist, Billy Graham. But he’s also much more than that. Tchividjian is senior pastor of Ft. Lauderdale’s Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church–formerly the congregation of the late D. James Kennedy–as well as a visiting professor of theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, a contributing editor for Leadership Journal, and the author of several bestselling books including Jesus + Nothing = Everything.

In his most recent book, One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted WorldTchividjian takes Christians to task for their legalistic focus on performance. But he also casts a vision for a more grace-filled future. Here, we talk about what he thinks is wrong with the Christian church today and what he believes the answer is.

JM: One criticism that has been leveled against the church is that we’ve been more concerned with behavior modification than with grace. Am I correct in saying that you believe this is a valid criticism?

There’s no question that for far too long the church has been primarily concerned with external change. Preachers are afraid of grace because they think it undercuts obedience and encourages apathy. If Jesus paid it all and it is finished, if the judgment against us has been fully and finally taken care of, aren’t we opening the door to lawlessness? This is what Judaizers were afraid of: they didn’t like Gospel of free grace because they thought people would get out of control. If God is not mad at me and if he will never love me more than he does right now, then why can’t I party my way through life? The underlying fear is that unconditional grace leads to licentiousness.

While attacks on morality will always come from outside the church, attacks on grace will always come from inside the church because somewhere along the way we’ve come to believe that this whole thing is about behavioral modification and personal moral improvement. We’ve concluded that grace just doesn’t possess the teeth to scare us into changing. As a result we get a steady diet of “do more, try harder” sermons; we get a “to do list” version of Christianity that causes us to believe the focus of the Christian faith is the life of the Christian. So we end up hearing more about “Christian living” than the Christ.

We think this will be what gets people to clean up their act, to fix themselves, to volunteer in the nursery, to obey, to read their Bibles, to change the world–but it actually has the opposite effect. A steady diet of “do more, try harder” sermons doesn’t cause people to do more or try harder…it makes them give up. Legalism produces lawlessness 10 times out of 10.

The fact is, that the solution to restraint-free immorality is not morality. The solution to immorality is the free grace of God. Only undeserved grace can truly melt and transform the heart. The route by which the New Testament exhorts sacrificial love and obedience is not by tempering grace but by driving it home. Charles Spurgeon nailed it when he said, “When I thought God was hard, I found it easy to sin; but when I found God so kind, so good, so overflowing with compassion, I beat my breast to think I could ever have rebelled against One who loved me so and sought my good.”

JM: Where do you think Christianity has missed the mark of offering living water? How did we get where we are today?

Book cover courtesy of David C. Cook

Book cover courtesy of David C. Cook

TT: The Christian church has sadly not proven to be immune to performancism. Far from it. In recent years, a handful of books have been published urging a more robust, radical, and sacrificial expression of the Christian faith. I even wrote one of them—Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by being Different. I heartily “amen” the desire to take one’s faith seriously and demonstrate before the watching world a willingness to be more than just Sunday churchgoers.

The unintended consequence of this push, however, is that if we’re not careful we can give people the impression that Christianity is first and foremost about the sacrifice we make for Jesus rather than the sacrifice Jesus made for us; our performance for him rather than his performance for us; our obedience for him rather than his obedience for us. The hub of Christianity is not “do something for Jesus.” The hub of Christianity is “Jesus has done everything for you.” I fear that too many people, both inside and outside the church, have heard this plea for intensified devotion and concluded that the focus of the Christian faith is our love for God instead of God’s love for us.

Furthermore, it seems that the good news of God’s grace has been tragically hijacked by an oppressive religious moralism that is all about rules, rules, and more rules; doing more, trying harder, self-help, getting better, and fixing, fixing, fixing–—ourselves, our kids, our spouse, our friends, our enemies, our culture, our world. Christianity is perceived as being a vehicle for good behavior and clean living and the judgments that result from them rather than the only recourse for those who have failed over and over again.

Sadly, too many churches have helped to perpetuate the impression that Christianity is primarily concerned with legislating morality. Believe it or not, Christianity is not about good people getting better. If anything, it is good news for bad people coping with their failure to be good. Too many people have walked away from the church not because they’re walking away from Jesus, but because the church has walked away from Jesus. Ask any of the so-called “religious nones” who’ve answered their census questions differently in past years, and I guarantee you will hear a story about either spiritual burn-out or heavy-handed condemnation from fellow believers.

“Works righteousness” is the word that the Protestant Reformation used to describe spiritual performancism, and it has plagued the church—and the world—since the Garden of Eden. It might not be too much of an overstatement to say that if Jesus came to proclaim good news to the poor, release to the captives, freedom for the oppressed, sight to the blind, then Christianity has come to stand for, and in practice promulgate, the exact opposite of what its founder intended (Luke 4:18–19).

JM: I’m with you, but you’re a pastor yourself. What are the ways in which you–yes you, as a clergy person–have been complicit in perpetuating this system?

TT: I’m so embarrassed by many of the sermons I preached early on. I wish I could go back and apologize to all the people who heard them. My primary concern at that time was to get people to do more, try harder, and change. The end result was stunted spiritual growth for our people because I was causing them to fix their eyes on themselves rather than on Christ.

Eugene Peterson has wisely said that “discipleship is a process of paying more and more attention to God’s righteousness and less and less attention to our own.” The way many of us think about sanctification is, well, not very sanctified. In fact, it’s terribly narcissistic. We spend too much time thinking about how we’re doing, if we’re growing, whether we’re doing it right or not. We spend too much time pondering our spiritual failures and brooding over our spiritual successes.

Ironically, I’ve discovered that the more I focus on my need to get better, the worse I actually get—I become neurotic and self-absorbed. Preoccupation with our performance over Christ’s performance for us actually hinders spiritual growth because it makes us increasingly self-centered and morbidly introspective—the exact opposite of how the Bible describes what it means to be sanctified. Sanctification is forgetting about yourself. As J. C. Kromsigt said, “The good seed cannot flourish when it is repeatedly dug up for the purpose of examining its growth.”

In those early early days, I was treating the Bible like it was a heaven-sent self-help manual. The fact is, that unless we go to the Bible to see Jesus and his work for us, even our devout Bible reading can become fuel for our own self-improvement plans, the place we go for the help we need to “conquer today’s challenges and take control of our lives.”

What I’ve learned since those days is that the Bible is not a record of the blessed good, but rather the blessed bad. The Bible is not a witness to the best people making it up to God; it’s a witness to God making it down to the worst people. The Bible is one long story of God meeting our rebellion with his rescue; our sin with his salvation; our failure with his favor; our guilt with his grace; our badness with his goodness.

So, if we read (or preach) the Bible asking first, “What would Jesus do?” instead of asking “What has Jesus done” we’ll miss the good news that alone can set us free. Evangelicals desperately need to recover the truth that the overwhelming focus of the Bible is not the work of the redeemed but the work of the Redeemer. This means that the Bible is not first a recipe book for Christian living, but a revelation book of Jesus who is the answer to our unchristian living.

JM: What was it that triggered this grace-awakening in you?

TT: Life, suffering, and failure have a way of transforming you from an idealist to a realist—from thinking that you’re strong to reminding you that you’re weak.

When I was 25, I believed I could change the world. At 40, I have come to the realization that I cannot change my wife, my church, or my kids, to say nothing of the world. Try as I might, I have not been able to manufacture outcomes the way I thought I could, either in my own life or other people’s. Unfulfilled dreams, ongoing relational tension, the loss of friendships, a hard marriage, rebellious teenagers, the death of loved ones, remaining sinful patterns—whatever it is for you—live long enough, lose enough, suffer enough, and the idealism of youth fades, leaving behind the reality of life in a broken world as a broken person. Life has had a way of proving to me that I’m not on the constantly-moving-forward escalator of progress I thought I was on when I was twenty-five.

Instead, my life has looked more like this: Try and fail. Fail then try. Try and succeed. Succeed then fail. Two steps forward. One step back. One step forward. Three steps back. Every year, I get better at some things, worse at others. Some areas remain stubbornly static. To complicate matters even more, when I honestly acknowledge the ways I’ve gotten worse, it’s actually a sign that I may be getting better. And when I become proud of the ways I’ve gotten better, it’s actually a sign that I’ve gotten worse. And ’round and ’round we go.

If this sounds like a depressing sentiment, it isn’t meant to be one. Quite the opposite. If I am grateful for anything about these past 15 years, it’s for the way God has wrecked my idealism about myself and the world and replaced it with a realism about the extent of His grace and love, which is much bigger than I had ever imagined. Indeed, the smaller you get—the smaller life makes you—the easier it is to see the grandeur of grace. While I am far more incapable than I may have initially thought, God is infinitely more capable than I ever hoped.

JM: The kind of grace you describe in One-Way Love sounds scandalous, and if I know my fellow Christians like I think I do, you’ll get a little blowback from this message. What do you anticipate will be most surprising?

TT: I’m sure it will get mixed reactions. This isn’t the kind of book that people can feel neutral about. People who are aware of their weakness, failure, smallness, and incompetancy will love it. Those who are aware of their desperation love grace and they will find new life and breath in One Way Love. But those who want to believe that they’re strong and competant, capable and sturdy, will be offended. That’s fine.

I’ll never forget hearing Dr. Doug Kelly (one of my theology professors in seminary) saying in class, “If you want to make people mad, preach law. If you want to make them really, really mad preach grace.” I didn’t know what he meant then. But I do now. The law offends us because it tells us what to do–and we hate anyone telling us what to do, most of the time. But, ironically, grace offends us even more because it tells us that there’s nothing we can do, that everything has already been done. And if there’s something we hate more than being told what to do, it’s being told that we can’t do anything, that we can’t earn anything–that we’re helpless, weak, and needy.

The law, at least, assures us that we determine our own destiny—we get to maintain control, the outcome of our life remains in our hands. Give me three steps to a happy marriage and I can guarantee myself a happy marriage if I follow the three steps. If we can do certain things, meet certain standards (whether God’s, my own, my parents, my spouse’s, society’s, whatever) and become a certain way, we’ll make it. Law seems safe because it breeds a sense of manageability. It keeps life formulaic and predictable. It keeps earning-power in our camp. The logic of law makes sense. The logic of grace doesn’t.

Grace is thickly counter-intuitive. It feels risky and unfair. It turns everything that makes sense to us upside-down. It’s not rational. It offends our deepest sense of justice and rightness. It wrestles control out of our hands and destroys our safe, conditional world.

So, it doesn’t surprise me at all when I hear people react to grace with suspicion and doubt. It doesn’t surprise me that when people talk about grace, I hear lots of “buts and brakes”, conditions and qualifications. That’s just the flesh fighting for its life, after all. As Walter Marshall says, “By nature, you are completely addicted to a legal method of salvation. Even after you become a Christian by believing the Gospel, your heart is still addicted to salvation by works…You find it hard to believe that you should get any blessing before you work for it.”

But while I’m not surprised when I hear venomous rejoinders to grace (the flesh is always resistant to “It is finished”), I am saddened when the very pack of people that God has unconditionally saved and continues to sustain by his free grace are the very ones who push back most violently against it.

It is high time for the church to honor its Founder by embracing sola gratia anew, to reignite the beacon of hope for the hopeless and point all of us bedraggled performancists back to the freedom and rest of the Cross. To leave our “if’s,” “and’s,” or “but’s” behind and get back to proclaiming the only message that matters—and the only message we have—the Word about God’s one-way love for sinners. It is time for us to abandon once and for all our play-it-safe religion, and, as Robert Farrar Capon so memorably put it, get drunk on grace. Two- hundred-proof, unflinching grace. It’s shocking and scary, unnatural and undomesticated…but it is also the only thing that can set us free and light the church, and the world, on fire.

*RELATED: RNS reports on Tullian’s brother, Boz: “Billy Graham’s grandson: evangelicals ‘worse’ than Catholics on sex abuse”*

About the author

Jonathan Merritt

Jonathan Merritt is senior columnist for Religion News Service and a contributing writer for The Atlantic. He has published more than 2500 articles in outlets like USA Today, The Week, Buzzfeed and National Journal. Jonathan is author of "Jesus is Better Than You Imagined" and "A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars." He resides in Brooklyn, NY.


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  • Exactly, Tullian. Rule-keeping just leads to rule-breaking. The Spirit of Christ who lives within us leads us in God’s grace to bear fruit as we abide in Christ, not as we vainly try to produce that fruit ourselves. It’s all very Romans 7-8, isn’t it?

    Focus more on the Savior and less on the sin and people will find themselves conforming to the Savior and forsaking the sin as they look up on our gracious and grace-filled God. And that’s very Hebrews 12:1-2.


  • Talk about dynasties! We have them in money. We have them in politics. And we have them in religion. Too, too often there is the practice of blending and exploiting all three because they are so much more beneficial in combination.

  • “Go, and do likewise…”

    I am waiting for the day when the New Reformers to keep “grace” in the center of their rebukes and chastising of other branches of Christianity (ahem – Gospel Coalition). They use the word “grace” to describe the key to every facet of life and Christian living and then there is none to be found when they are talking about other Christian faith traditions and how they are missing the mark and have this or that thing wrong. I find that a tad ironic.

    And, really, Tullian’s claim that pastors are continually preaching, “do more, try harder”, I simply find little truth in now. I rarely hear that style anymore – and I listen/go to many different churches (because I am a missionary supported by several churches). If anything, I hear the opposite – its all Jesus, you don’t need to do anything. I think it’s that extreme that we find more nowadays – and its just as unhelpful as the other extreme.

    And really, do we really see much more fruit in one branch of Christianity over the other if in fact there is one right way to preach/lead folks in sanctification? I don’t think so. Like I posed to another New Reformed leader one time: why is it that, if you guys have found the right way to preach and the true gospel, the lives and fruit of those you are leading aren’t distinguishable from any other Christians? I usually don’t get too much of a response from that question… I think the real answer could be: God is using ALL of us Christians – catholic, anabaptist, calvinists, etc – in different ways in His dynamic, robust Kingdom. No one subset of Christianity has it all “right” or figured out.

  • A lot of my class time at Westminster Seminary was spent in being warned about antinomianism. This was usually in the context of radical anabaptists and John Wesley’s version of perfect love and perfectionism. Very little of the professors’ admonitions were spent on antinomianism among the Reformed. But here it is, at least in shadow form, among the Neo-Reformed who have become so suspicious of righteousness that there is indication that even the the “doing” of righteousness has become suspect. The simple commands of Jesus to do his will, like at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, are not allowed to stand without dying the death of a thousand qualifications. David Murray at Head, Heart, Hand took this on as it has surfaced in the teaching and writing of Pastor Tchividjian. It doesn’t in the end prove anything to just to simply to say this is not Reformed teaching but it does bring some balance to the discussion by clarifying that this is not their time tested view of sanctification. Antinomianism is sanctification swallowed up by the categories of justification. This is not wise, psychologically or biblically. The Gospels drift away into the mists while a set of verses in Romans and Galatians reign over all. As Scot McKnight recently posted, “If Tullian’s right, Jesus preached the wrong way.” Tullian’s lack of balance will not stand and the incipient antinomianism there will fall upon the church without serious penetration because it cannot stand intellectually and is against the very nature of the renewed man in Christ.

  • This is stunningly beautiful and wise. I can’t wait to read the book, and after all the shenanigans of Franklin Graham, I thought I was done with this family.

    I am anxious to hear what he makes of all the texts in the gospels when Jesus seems to offer a harsh word, as when he asks people to “sell all, deny themselves,” etc. I think Tchividjian is fundamentally right, but I see grace rubbing shoulders with intense demands all through the scripture. Why is that?

  • Not saying Tullian is wrong, because I need grace everyday from God, but I tend to agree more with Dietrich Bonhoeffer. (see The Cost of Discipleship). Grace is free and beautiful, but it is costly and demanding as well.

  • LOVE this article! Gotta get a copy of this book. I live in a Grace environment called Open Door Fellowship Church in Phoenix, and I have the blessing of being taught Grace by John Lynch, Bill Thrall and Bruce Thurman, the guys from Leadership Catalyst who wrote, TrueFaced, The Cure and are now releasing a new book called On My Worst Day. Check it out at – The reformation is here: Sanctification by Grace!!!

  • I’m not sure what church you’re going to, but in the Midwest, the “do more, try harder” message is the theme of the day.

    I’m surprised to hear you say that “It’s all Jesus” is an extreme position. What do you bring to the table besides your sin?

  • There is no antinomianism in declaring that all of us stand condemned under the Law, that none of us can keep the Law perfectly, and that our righteousness is only in a perfect Christ. That’s a higher view of the Law than you’ll get at most churches–where the sad assumption is that the Law is something we can do apart from the life-giving, sanctifying grace of God, just as long as we really knuckle down.

    I might add: legalism is justification swallowed up by sanctification.

    As I wrote over at Murray’s blog:

    “David Murray’s responses seem to be grounded in an anxiety that a biblical understanding of our justification might undermine our desire to pursue sanctification. In fact, it is just the opposite. The glorious “it is finished”-ness of Christ’s completed work on my behalf is what drives us towards love-sprung obedience today.

    In his review of J+N=E, David wrote that “by confusing justification with sanctification, we not only risk losing the fulness (sic) of sanctification, in the long run I’m afraid that we may lose the doctrine of justification too.”

    Tullian is not confusing these, but I believe David runs the risk of doing so.

    I think David’s comments demonstrate an unfortunate, Christian-centered view of the Christ-Christian relationship. If we focus our teaching about sanctification on our work, we risk turning from the entirely Christ-done work in justification. In teaching that God’s love towards us is dependent on our obedience towards him, we risk turning away from the sufficient Christ!

    David runs the risk of teaching those who have been circumcised in the hearts that they need to begin circumcising themselves in the flesh lest they lose the love of the Father. Rather than obedience from love, we begin to obey from fear. Rather than entering into his rest (See Heb 4), we prefer to toil away.

    Our hearts are naturally legalistic, naturally inclined towards self-justification, naturally self-idolatrous. We need not feed those inclinations–they feed themselves every moment we are awake. Rather, in pursuing Christ-likeness and sanctification, we need to fill our heads and hearts and hands with the “it is done” of the Gospel. This–and only this–puts our flesh to death. (See Rom 7-8)

    In resting our sanctification on the completed work of Christ on the cross, we will not lose a notion of the entirely Christ-done work of justification. In fact, we will continue to magnify and praise Christ for his absolute sufficiency as our only Savior. Our relationship is centered on Christ, preserved in Christ, authored and perfected by Christ.”

  • Nothing wrong with grace–in fact, we DO need to let more people know about the astonishing immensity of God’s Grace. Grace is really important right now, because so many people are hurting and weary. Nothing wrong with a couple steins of fresh-brewed grace.

    BUT….we got some folks who are so “drunk on grace” that they try to delete or re-write or blow off the Scriptures. That’s when grace becomes a Mess. We need more Grace right now, but we sure need less Mess right now too.

  • I don’t think “its all Jesus” is an extreme position – its the position I hold, of course. But, I do think most Christians believe that it is “all Jesus”, but that this belief manifests itself differently in different people and people live their lives (i.e. sanctification) differently in light of that. The baseline has been and will always be “all Jesus” – but then we have responsibility to go forth.

    Moreover, Jesus many (almost every??) times while interacting with folks, told them to go DO something. There is no denying that.

    As Scot McKnight says it like this, “If Tullian’s right, Jesus preached the wrong way.”

  • Or, better put, “If Tullian’s right, Scot McKnight’s wrong about Jesus’ preaching.” I’m inclined to think that this is the case, given the theological trends evident in McKnight’s writing.

    I agree that Jesus tells us to go do quite a lot, and I don’t think that there’s any contradiction in preaching, “Because Jesus is our righteousness, we can then go out and do joyfully and from grateful hearts (rather than with an eye towards merit).” This is what Tullian says again and again. He puts it simply: “grace mobilizes performance.”

    He writes elsewhere: “Freed from the burden and bondage of attempting to use the law to establish our righteousness before God, Christians are free to look to “imperatives”, not as conditions that have to be met in order to get more of God’s love, but as descriptions and directions as they seek to serve their neighbor.”* In other words, our faith in Christ’s righteousness motivates good works. Faith works itself out in love.


  • “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.” < what do you do with that verse (in a litany of many I could post). Taking up our cross? denying ourself? following Jesus? All seem like imperatives to me that demand some type of answer and human choice.

    Why do you assume that those of us who go out doing are doing it out of works righteousness or "with an eye towards merit"? Or that, for instance, I am overseas doing what I am doing out of "conditions to get God's love"? Does that happen? Of course. But I think that folks like me and others I know do it out of a deep sense of God's love but also an understanding that we have to move on that love for His sake. My whole original post was to highlight this: go to a nice little suburban Presby church and follow folks around after the service and in their lives and how they love their neighbors, and then go to a non-denominational church and do the same thing, and then a mainline church and do the same, and so forth and I will contend that you will not find much distinguishable difference in the lives of each follower of Jesus – even if their theologies are wildly different (as you would seem to contend, I wouldn't necessarily). So why arent the so called "grace" or "gospel-centered" (as they define the gospel, anyway) preachers/churches bearing so much more fruit than the rest of us? Because Jesus is using ALL of us in different ways – different giftings, different callings, different ways Jesus pricks our heart. Matthew 16:24 (that I posted above) has been the most powerful verse in my life that led me to move my family overseas and proclaim Jesus in word and deed… But is it yours? It may or may not be – but my point isnt that. My point is God uses different things to move different people and its ALL GOOD. You may not be comfortable about how I talk about my faith, but God is using me. And he is using you, even if I might disagree with how you talk about some things. THAT is my point.

    The real rub comes, I believe, in the relationship between works/faith. Read Matthew 25, or the Good Samaritan, or the rich man and Lazarus (among many others) and you get a pretty tight relationship of faith/works. Unless, of course, you read and interpret everything through your manmade theological systems – then you can almost explain anything away and feel OK about it.

    When I read Jesus, I hear him drawing people to himself and then telling them to give up their lives to declare Him and His Kingdom to the world. He uses strong words – with a sense of urgency and self-sacrifice – that comes with human choice to follow through – not out of a sense of righteousness – but because we love Jesus and he asks us to do it.

  • I heard the entire sermon series this book is based on, and it is life-changing. In the Winter of 2012 thru about January 2013 I was battling thoughts of wanting to end it all. I couldn’t live up to the “checklist” and felt like a total failure. Tullian has helped me to see that it is not about me, but about what Jesus has already done for me, and I a reading the Bible from a fresh perspective. I am so grateful God led me to his church website, and that I am finding freedom and life in his messages. I want all my friends and family to read this book. Another thing that drew me to Tullian’s sermons was his honesty about his struggles, past and present.

  • what is meant to be said here is- which might have greater appeal naturally and which is supernatural truth.
    Finally Free! To Do Whatever I want!
    or Finally Free. To Become A Slave! (to righteousness) .

  • In response to Tofe:

    I love that verse. It also played a key role in leading me and my wife to international missions as well.

    But I think you’re arguing against something I’m not saying, and I don’t think Tullian Tchividjian is promoting.

    I think you’re arguing against those who would use their freedom in Christ for license to live lives of sin and rebellion against God. Good–argue against that! Such a misunderstanding of grace is heresy at its worst!

    Tullian has said frequently that those who hear the gospel and think, “I can do whatever I want, and so I’m going to just live a life of sin from here on out!” have not understood the gospel. If we hear and understand the gospel, the Bible says that our response will be to hear the imperatives as life-giving instructions, not as conditions for obtaining God’s love. You say much the same thing in your comment, and so I think you might have been misled as to what Tullian is actually saying.

    I’m also in complete agreement that God uses different people w/ different doctrinal persuasions in different ways, and all for his glory and the good of those he has called.

    Grace & peace to you, friend and sibling in Christ.

  • You’re in fact agreeing with Tullian.

    Grace is free for the recipient, but incredibly costly for the Giver. And grace received motivates incredibly costly discipleship.

  • Now if the churches can teach the difference between Grace and just loving Jesus enough to want to become more like HIM. Instead I see people doing the Sunday morning ritual of church, not because they love worshiping HIM, but a habit.
    Grace to them is looking forward to weekends to party, drink and smoke pot, some are even swingers, not anything to do with Jesus saying deny yourself and follow me. We follow because we love HIM and because HE has taken away the desire for the life I had before I was saved. Grace is greatly abused so we can’t tell who are Christians and who are not. They live and act the same once church is over for the week.

  • Is it any wonder the world laughs the church to scorn, as it’s so-called heralds rant and rave over jots and titles while the lost rush headlong into hell for lack of a kind voice echoing the Father’s heart for them to come home to the feast prepared in their honor! There’s room at the table for all, regardless of how many elder brothers are pouting, arguing or sulking outside!

  • As an American missionary living 18 years in Asia with a major regional ministry (China, India, Pakistan – the largest Christian ministry in the nation, Vietnam and Malaysia) and with over 10,000 pastors and Church leaders under our ministry’s spiritual covering and having won close to 350,000 to Jesus – I am shocked by the over-emphasis on grace in the Western Church (Yes in Asia, Joseph Prince is the premier “Grace Guy” – but outside his church he has NO KINGDOM WITNESS IN SINGAPORE…How do I know? I lived in Singapore for 7 years – and he has very little ministry emphasis at all in Asia: All his church and ministry money is pumped into US/Australian/Europe Christian TV – Hey, there is a costly price to pay for “fame”)…

    But after reading the article above – I am happy that I no longer live in the US. It seems as if many of you American “Believers” are spiritually self-deceived: You walk in no Kingdom of God power or impact to influence the world around you and as a result the US grows spiritually darker by the day: Where is the Kingdom of God Fruit that validates your ‘grace’ doctrines and beliefs??? Where is the Kingdom Fruit of Expansion and Multiplication in the US that dispels spiritual darkness and influences the nation?? The United States is morally and spiritually bankrupt and its downward spiral falls at the feet of the American Church…And what is your answer:

    “Whoopee! Let’s all get drunk on grace!”

    Meanwhile, there is no push to focus upon becoming a Kingdom Witness to the nation or to win the world for Jesus – the American Church has become a self-deceived, self-serving insulated institution; it has become a subset cultural class of a corrupt and morally bankrupt American society – and instead of influencing the nation, the Church is influenced and corrupted by the carnal American society. Well, the American Church is past history – the Asian Church is the future and the Kingdom vehicle and “Body Part” to complete the Church’s Great Commission given by Jesus.

    Specifically (and primarily), thank God for the China Church – it is now the world’s largest “Believing Church” (a remarkable accomplishment considering it’s growth, for the most part, has taken place in the last 20 years) and is solely focused upon completing the Great Commission: The China Church’s main goal :”To bring the Gospel back to Jerusalem”. It is also impacting China’s society – I just spent 3 weeks of ministry in China where during my trip, I met with a group of Christian business leaders AND Christian Communist government officials. What did we discuss? Surely not grace, but how to expand into new areas of China (and the world – the China Church has a zeal to win the Muslim world). Specifically, how can we plant more churches and raise up more future Church leaders to impact the nation and the world. The China Church has one purpose – to serve Jesus NO MATTER THE PERSONAL COST (remember, the China Church is a persecuted Church). The Kingdom of God is going to use the China Church, as well as other Asian Churches who are walking in true Christ-like Character, to bring in the End-time Harvest…

    As for you American “Believers – you all can get drunk on grace, sit around watching Christian TV and gather to yourselves teachers that will fill your itchy ears with self-gratification false doctrines…You all focus on “Self” and fulfilling your fleshly desires – we in Asia will focus upon servanthood, selflessness and denying ourselves, taking up our cross and follow Jesus: “Walking just like Jesus”…The spiritual torch has been passed to those who are focused upon being a Kingdom Witness to the world and bringing in the Harvest. I pray that the American Church wakes up to that spiritual truth…For those who have ears to hear…

    (FYI- if you go to my website, you will see an abrupt lack of information after a certain time frame: This is due to the China underground church work that I am actively engaged in since moving to Hong Kong). If you would like our monthly newsletters for more current ministry information, write: [email protected]

  • Good morning!

    It’s refreshing when those that ” appear to e over the church” come to the ndertanding there is only one head…we are just the vehicle.

    Grace is definitely proof of Gods LOVE for a despondent people. The focus certainly has to be on Jesus..for Salvation, and during salvation..

    Salvation is not about a tester you or me..ts about restoration of LIFE..a life restored that will PRODUCE what we’re all looking for….gal 5:22

    The ” INDWELLING SAVIOR” is where the life comes from we all desire.. When we look at ths re endows exhortation we are this first verse…then a big LIST for us..but the key to the big lst to be satisfied is found in the last scripture of these verses..

    1Th 5:11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.
    1Th 5:12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;
    1Th 5:13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.
    1Th 5:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
    1Th 5:15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
    1Th 5:16 Rejoice evermore.
    1Th 5:17 Pray without ceasing.
    1Th 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
    1Th 5:19 Quench not the Spirit.
    1Th 5:20 Despise not prophesyings.
    1Th 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
    1Th 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
    1Th 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    1Th 5:24 Faithful is HE that calleth you, who also WILL DO IT

    the key to a better you or me is found only in restoration of life to a soul that is desperate to find a life of rest,and peace..

    Christ is the is found only in him..


  • Good morning!

    It’s refreshing when those that ” appear to be over the church” come to the understanding there is only one head…we are just the vehicle.

    Grace is definitely proof of Gods LOVE for a despondent people. The focus certainly has to be on Jesus..for Salvation, and during salvation..

    Salvation is not about a better you or’s about restoration of LIFE..a life restored that will PRODUCE what we’re all looking for….gal 5:22

    The ” INDWELLING SAVIOR” is where the life comes from we all desire.. When we look at these scriptures and the exhortation we are reminded to comfort ourselves in this first verse…then a big LIST for us..but the key to the big list to be satisfied is found in the last scripture of these verses..

    1Th 5:11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.
    1Th 5:12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;
    1Th 5:13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.
    1Th 5:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
    1Th 5:15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
    1Th 5:16 Rejoice evermore.
    1Th 5:17 Pray without ceasing.
    1Th 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
    1Th 5:19 Quench not the Spirit.
    1Th 5:20 Despise not prophesyings.
    1Th 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
    1Th 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
    1Th 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    1Th 5:24 Faithful is HE that calleth you, who also WILL DO IT

    The key to a better you or me is found only in restoration of life to a soul that is desperate to find a life of rest,and peace..the problem with pastors,teachers, lives our bod of HIS LIFE and with that formulas are conjured up to out perform the giver of life

    Christ is the is found only in him..and Christian living s only done through him.


    P.s. pardon my other post

  • TULLIAN – MY BONES ARE SCREAMING WITH THIS MESSAGE – PLEASE READ TO THE LAST SENTENCE. I’LL KEEP SHORT: At age 59, I left behind 42 years of depression, addictions, verbal abuse (I’m the perp), greed, anxiety, anti-depressants, etc. and for the last 2 years have been the VERY HAPPIEST PERSON I PERSONALLYKNOW, effortlessly experiencing the Fruit of the Spirit. I now love people, music, pets, other races, flowers, cooking, smiling effortlessly, small talk, doing small tasks like cleaning my apartment. I have no unmet needs. I’m in process of making a list of all the various “biblical idioms” like unspeakable joy, Truth setting me free, living water no more thirst, peace that passes understanding, etc. and it’s grown to 40 entries right now. All of these are idioms I always knew (30 years of pre-Grace religion for me) but never experienced. Now each one is an experience I’m living. THIS INCREDIBLE EXPERIENCE IS THE PROOF THAT THE GRACE MESSAGE IS TRUE. Let’s not play “dueling verses” as much as let’s PROVE the TRUTH of GRACE by who “has” the effortless Fruit of the Spirit. Who can make a testimony like I’ve just made here? (I boast only in the Lord). My blog ( documents the real-life, real-time, true story, day by day of what it’s like to find then experience the 100% Grace of God as you’ve described it in this article. It can’t be denied. Why would my life now line up entirely with what scripture says we should experience when it did not before in my previous 30 years of religion? I say “nay” to those who say “Don’t listen to your experiences. They don’t really matter.” The Grace Life is an experience. Once you’ve experienced it, you can never go back. I’m different now. Everyone sees it. Shocked at first. Then realizing that this change is real and permanent. And I’m not even trying to be different. PS – I interviewed you on a radio program called The Things That Matter Most several years ago. So, we have “met” before.

  • I go to a law church, and it’s really hard sometimes to sit there and here so much spiritual dyslexia, but I’m trying to be an influence in our church and bring grace to light. And it’s things like this article that encourages me to know I am right on track. I’m so glad that God is bringing a grace revolution to the church and I’m glad to be apart of it. For if God had not revealed the finished work of Christ to me then I would just be another pew warming fearful guilty christian.

  • That’s fair. I like Tullian and in fairness have not had a chance to read this book yet. I enjoyed Jesus plus Nothing = Everything. That said, maybe a better way to say it is that in the discussion of Grace/Justification/Sanctification ect., I think Bonhoeffer explains it all far better than any Christian writer I have read before. The problems he saw with the Church in Germany in the 20’s and 30’s are the biggest problems I see with the Western Church today (in my opinion), and I have yet to see a current Christian author fully do the subject justice and that includes Tullian (what I have read and heard from him thus far).

  • Michael – I would not do what you’re doing. I need daily, hourly focus on Grace or I find myself drifting and I know this is so because my emotions (sadness, fear, stress, anger) start creeping in and I take this as God’s indicator (like physical pain tells us something wrong physically) that something is wrong in what I’m thinking/believing. It would be so hard for me to be back in an environment where I was all alone. Good for you. But, I don’t know that God is counting on you to do what you are doing.

  • I am so glad that all the streams are coming into the revelation of grace. Jesus gave the Pharisees the true meaning of the law, not the interpretation men gave it. The holiness of the law meant if you ‘thought it’ (sin) you bought it. This was a bit more than their interpretation allowed for, indeed they taught that the law was keepable. Ha! When Jesus died the law became obsolete, he fulfilled it all perfectly. From then on the mystery of the new covenant, namely Christ in us our hope of glory, was ushered in on the winds of grace. I find divine assignments placed right in front of me. When we love an impossible person we allow and encourage the Christ in them to be revealed. It’s a very different ministry. Loving it. Thankful for every minister preaching our blessed position as sons.

  • Listening to all the above comments affirms the fact that Tullian is talking grace. You will always be called an antinomian when doing so. Rom 6:1,2

    That is because no preacher can at the same time proclaim the gospel of free grace which points men to Christ alone for the totality of his salvation, from justification to glory, and adequately exhort him to the natural but intentional obedience that is expected from a vital living union with Christ by faith, without appearing to cancel out grace in his exhortation.

    The mature in Christ, walking in grace, living out the gospel, and serving the true and living God according to his word, however,recognizes the indicative imperative process of scripture. That is a consequence of maturity.

    The freshly liberated are glad to be free. But as they grow they will be glad to also serve out of that freedom, realizing what Christ does for us as well as in us.
    Phil 2:13

    To him be all the glory!

  • Wow, “grace” in practical terms– not romantic, magical, or the popular cocooning as Americans are doing today.

  • Cleaning your apartment? This signals a major change in living situation. There is nothing like living alone without pesky family responsibilities to make one a different person. Did you ever clean house when you were married?

  • As “‘sons”?

    As for the law, for one example, wasn’t it the Law that forbade adultery, but Jesus who purportedly said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”? (NRSV) This is harsher than The Law ever was. No grace in it at all, either.

    “Grace” is the new revelation. There has to be a new message every once in a while. God has to speak to the church periodically to maintain tribal cohesiveness and to try to keep the faith dynamic, preachers’ careers going, and the funds coming in for luxurious living that (American) Christians deserve. To this day, religions remain anachronistic and requiring blind faith. But, it all fits perfectly with the current societal penchant for Americans to “cocoon,” and let the rest of the world go by. Religion reflects its society.

  • I wonder from where or by what means you think spiritual maturity comes, if not by grace. Or did Paul say that “One man plants, another waters, but we grow ourselves?”

  • Sir

    you do not understand grace!

    The Gospels are not “the Gospel” the message of Grace.

    Grace is a revelation to the soul that is concurrent with the individual being aware of being reconciled to the father. Being born again.

    Grace declares us reborn and innocent any awareness of sin in the believer demonstrates that they are living under the wrong covenant.

    If you say you are aware of a failure in performance you are living wrong because you are measuring your performance.

    Love keeps no record of wrong, how? because it does not measure.

    The New Covenant does away with religion and theology as it brings everyone into union and Christ becomes our Vicar. The Clergy teaching Sin and The Law by default, (the power of Sin Is the Law) are redundant.

    A lot of Jobs though for true Grace teachers.

    Mike Jarvis
    Agents for Change

  • Praise God for this comment! This thing isn’t about “Man I just keep messing up, I just am in my sin but Gods grace is great”. Its Gods grace has empowered me with the Holy Spirit to look just like Jesus. Moving in the power of God, seeing miracles, lives transformed! Understanding our sonship and that the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives inside of us! And that we have been given the fullness of the Diety(Colossians 2:9-10). Christianity is about Christ finished work compelling us to live the life He lived! Because its not us who live but Christ in us! Grace is charis in the greek: meaning the divine inspiration of God upon the heart and the outward reflection of God upon the life. So in essence when Gods grace is all over us we look just like Jesus! Its all about LOVE! God is love and God lives inside of us therefore we are love! 1 John 2:6 MUST WALK AS JESUS DID! Also in first john if we love there is no cause for stumbling! Sin nature is gone and crucified with Christ on the cross and we raise with Him in resurrection! We now have the divine nature, no more flesh because its dead, now its life by the Spirit! 2Peter1, Romans 6!!!! Love you brother!

  • Its actually ALL about the grace and love of God if we dont pervert it. Grace is Charis in the greek meaning the divine inspiration of God upon the heart and the outward reflection of God upon thelife (The work of the Holy Spirit). None of this is by our own strength but by grace God has brought us into this place of sonship to call Him Dad so now we can be just like Jesus!

  • Well, I can hardly disagree about Bonhoeffer. The man was a gift from God. May we be blessed with more like him!

  • Mike, By your definition the apostle Paul also failed to understand Grace. He was acutely aware of his failings. Rom 7 is an account of his heartfelt angst in failing to do the things he knew he should. As his angst reaches crescendo in verse 24 it is met with Grace: “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
    You say “Grace declares us reborn and innocent any awareness of sin in the believer demonstrates that they are living under the wrong covenant”. My question is this: In light of Paul’s sin angst and your statement, Which covenant was Paul living under?

  • Shalom!

    Great article!!!

    I am glad that other people are thinking more and more about grace and its effect on spiritual growth.

    (2 Pet. 3:18): “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

    Keep on keeping on!

    Valy Vaduva
    Spiritual Mentor / Life Coach

  • For some time I have thought that to keep the Christian life simple is the best route to following Jesus. Foundational is what He says, and John 14:6 became my focus. Listening to a message that was accompanied by an outline with blanks to fill in along the way, there was this statement: “To follow Jesus we must _____ the walk.” Of course “walk” would be the easy answer, though to me rather trite. The messenger never gave the correct answer, and during the rest of the message I pondered the question: “What could better fill that pesky blank?” The Spirit, I firmly believe, inspired the word “enjoy,” convicted me to “enjoy the walk” in the grace of Jesus, and truly learn, rather than just assent to, Jesus’ claim to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and the One through Whom we come to the Father. This has become my focus, and to obey Him has become an act of loving Him. Nothing else I’ve read in this string is quite as profound in its simplicity as that.

  • Amen! from a true believer who loves God and tries her best to honor Him, and doesn’t abuse the grace He has freely given to me.

  • Romans 7 is hypothetical. Paul is famous for using prosopopoia. One of his favorite characters was a teacher of the law. His writings are full of this. NONE of it is autobiographical, but speaks of the Ademic story prior to Christ. The teacher of the law character makes other appearances in Rom. 1:18-32, chapters 2-4, 9-11, as well in Paul’s other books.

    Of course, all of this discussion is based in dualism and separation, both of which are pagan ideals and completely anti christ and not biblical. In fact, most of the churches understanding on sanctification, repentance, sin, the cross, hell, and the last days come from a mindset of separation that started in Babylon and worked its way into Jewish writings only AFTER their exile.

  • Dan, context is king. In that passage in 1 Cor.3 Paul is rebuking the Corinthian church for being immature, so you can’t turn around and use that passage to contend that spiritual maturity just ‘happens’ without the believers participation.
    Or was the Corinthians immaturity God’s doing? Was the Galatians judiazing the result of God’s grace, did the writer of Hebrews mistakenly assume that the believers their should be teachers but needed to be re-schooled in the basics?

  • Tullian’s lack of grace is disturbing in his talking about grace. One thinks he would be more gracious to those who may be offended by his book. He could say that they disagree in how the read about grace in the whole of the NT, but no he labels them as ‘those who want to believe that they’re strong and competant, capable and sturdy.’
    And in turn those that love his book are those ‘who are aware of their weakness, failure, smallness, and incompetancy will love it. Those who are aware of their desperation love grace and they will find new life and breath in One Way Love.’

    This book is not the delineating mark of who is Christlike or not, and it comes across as ungracious to tear down those believers who disagree with his views of grace.

  • I’m not sure where you drew the conclusion that I was arguing “that spiritual maturity just ‘happens’ without the believers’ participation.”

    I was asking Elaine to explain her cryptic comment–that spiritual maturity “cometh not by grace.” I don’t think anyone can claim that spiritual maturity, or sanctification, does not come about by grace. Having begun by the Spirit, are we now being perfected by the flesh?

    Sticking w/ 1 Corinthians, we find Paul saying in 15:10 “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”

    Paul seems to say pretty clearly here that he worked his tail off in sanctification, but that it wasn’t him working–rather it was the grace of God working within him. He says something similar in Philippians 2:12-13, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” We work, but it is really God working in us.

    If you disagree with what I’ve stated here, then it’s unlikely we’re going to come to an agreement on this question.

  • I can’t help but remember Mary, sitting at Jesus feet and just basking in His presence and all He had to say to her – then there was Martha, frustrated that Mary did not come and help in all the preparations. Whilst Jesus did not condemn Martha for her work, he did tell her she was concerned about many things (not THE thing) – which was what Mary chose, and He said it would not be taken away from her.

    Which is better, to choose to be in the presence and company of the Master, or run around frustrated trying to do things…

    I have learnt so much more about my Lord Jesus by choosing that, than by choosing to do, do and do more. My relationship has grown tremendously! I have no words to describe this experience of true relationship with Jesus.

    In the reality of that, I know that I will do (and have done) what He asks me to.

    There – is real freedom! The only person I have to answer to is Him! And honour follows …

  • It seems a minister hasn’t fully achieved a point he seeks unless he can find a venue for bashing the very people who proclaim Christ as their savior. It appears this minister fails to realize he is dealing with imperfect creatures, human beings. I’m saddened that the work of D.James Kennedy has passed to the likes of Tchividjian.

  • We can eat at one of two trees, the “do to be tree,” or the “be to do” tree. We still have that choice.

  • Being a grace pharisee is one of the stages of coming out of the Law. Give him a break. I’m a recovering pharisee myself.

  • Living a sinless life was Jesus’ idea……
    He told the woman in John 8:7 after her encounter with Him…”Go and sin no more.”
    Grace leads us to a place of love and forgiveness. It is a gift indeed. But it does not mean that we don’t have any obligation toward Christ thereafter. Paul constantly characterized Himself as a slave to Christ. And in the gospel of Mark it says: “The Son of Man came not to be served; but to serve and give my life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

    Sounds like you have decided that you know better than the scriptures. If Christ taught that we should “Go and sin no more;” then behavior modification was not the church’s idea, but God’s. And as for your theory that we should not “go about do good;” as the Lord did, then explain away His great commission. “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel; baptizing them in the name of the Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit; teaching whatsoever things I have commanded you. Lo; I am with you always; even to the end of the age. Matthew 28

    This sounds eerily like: “Another Gospel;” which we were warned about in Galatians 1: 6-12
    Billy Grahams grandson or not…….we need to beware when men begin to interpret the scripture with a new thought, or even an old one repackaged. I am grateful for the grace that taught my heart to fear God….. But man adding his own ideas and view points will get into trouble every time. The Pharisee’s oral tradition which later became the Babylonian Talmud, was condemned by Jesus. He told them: “With your traditions you make the law of non affect.” What? Jesus was defending the law……Indeed man’s ideas corrupt the scripture and nullify its content. That is all that this new ultra teaching on grace does. It is “another gospel;” not the whole council of the Word. Christ did not come to destroy the law; but to be the fulfillment of it.

    We do not need “Another Gospel” in addition to what Christ taught.

  • We certainly are “saved by grace” “to do good works”.(Cf., Eph 2:8-10, Jn 4:34-38,14:10-14;Mt 28:18-20: Romans 3:21-31; Philip 1:3-6, 9-11,2:1-18;3:1-4:8 etc. Becoming a new creature should be accompanied by changes in behavior, character and our way of thinking but our focus should never be on ourselves or others but Christ alone.

  • Grace has always been about Jesus and what He did, it has nothing to do with what Christians do with it. It’s all about God, not about Christians. I just have to believe in Jesus as the resurrected Son of God, accept His atoning blood for the forgiveness of all my sins, DENY myself, and follow Him. Grace is not about me, it’s about God.

  • In October 1943 when I cast my 9-year-old self on Christ for salvation, I understood that night in the bean market that I lacked nothing and therefore the next morning did not need to add anything to what had happened to me. My sailor cussin’ was gone and I began to round up my cussin buddies at school to tell them what had happened to me. I was not hamstrung with theological terms. I was complete! I had the joy of the Lord! Later, I discovered Eph.2:8,9 on grace and Col.2:9,10 on “complete in Him.” I didn’t need anything else. It was “me ‘n Jesus” and its still “me ‘n Jesus” 70 years later. I later got a college degree in Bible but nothing I learned there with proper terms made it any clearer or more enjoyable..It was a long time before I found “legalism” as a culprit. It was new to me. I got a good version of grace in the bean market.

  • Grace is granted by God. We can’t earn it but that doesn’t mean that it is freely given without any strings attached. We still need to be living in obedience! Otherwise, we can continue to sin in whatever way we want without any consequences!

  • Dr Pantin,

    you’ve gotten it wrong I am afraid. I too live in Singapore and also disagree with Joseph Prince. But when I open the bible, I see that man is saved by Grace and only in grace is he able to perform great works. Grace is transformative and its effects are lasting. And why not, when I know the love of God, I cannot be the same again. As such, acceptance before performance and never the other way around. So I can only conclude you did not read the article carefully. You think of grace as passive but real grace transforms the sinful man.

    Since you too live in Asia, you know how we are trapped easily by the need to perform for acceptance. it is no use touting your credentials and work, which I have no doubt sound pretty stirring. But if you must boast, boast of your weakness, how Christ saved you and how you humbly serve Him because He is worth it.

  • By Jewish writtings are you referring to the Bible? My inspired Bible teaches separation or there would have been nothing for Christ’s blood to reconcile and our ministry of God emploring the world TO BE recoconciled to Him is a lie.2Cor. 5:17-21

  • Im afraid your wrong Jay about the Babylonian captivity and the teaching of separation. “Your sins have built a wall between you and your God so that He will not hear you. Is a quote from Isaiah written nearly 250 years BEFORE the first Babylonian captivity. Try again.

  • I totally agree Christina. Dr. Curtis Hutson once said that men don’t get saved by wanting to do something good for God but realizing that God has done something good for them. The church has let the gospel be hijacked by a bunch of lordship salvationists who have tainted the true grace gospel.

  • Thank you Christina for your testimony to the power of grace.You show why this is not an issue of competing theologies. It is a matter of the reality of sinners who are pressed between the reality of Romans 3 and the demands of others, including the church. Praise God for a righteousness not of the law!

  • Maybe if we “Christians” would spend more time with the Lord and less time tearing each other apart, we would really have something to offer the hurting.

  • IMO, Tracy, it is grace that enables us to do what appears to be impossible (e.g., the rich young ruler “selling everything”).

    I find much to disagree with in Tchividjian’s presentation, however. I have been in the church for 37 years (since I was a college freshman), including stints as a teacher/elder and co-pastor, and I have yet to meet someone trapped in “works righteousness.” In all cases I have encountered that were like this, the real problem was pleasing men/the fear of man. People automatically equated obeying the pastor, elder or deacon with obeying God. And for their part there were spiritual leaders who were all too willing to lord it over them. That’s why, in the pastoral epistles as well as the teachings of Jesus, there are commandments about how to lead, pastor, teach and correct.

    The very last thing Jesus said to his disciples was to make disciples by teaching them to obey everything he had taught them. You just can’t get around that, unless you want to indict Jesus himself on a charge of promoting “works righteousness.”

    Where people continue to fail is by thinking that just teaching their flock what is right will produce the right fruit by applying the right kind of additional pressure. Human beings with wills of their own just aren’t that malleable. But instead of heeding commandments such as “do not judge,” for example, some of us will plow ahead and try to manipulate or even shame others into “righteousness” rather than deal patiently and graciously with them.

  • Elaine,
    From your comments you seem to be battling a “critical spirit.” Is there some inner root of anger, hurt or pain you are having difficulty with? The contempt in your tone seems to reveal more than just “an opposing point of view.”
    God Bless

  • Grace is : God’s Righteousness At Christ’s Expense.
    We receive God’s gracious Salvation by faith … believing that Jesus is the Divine Christ , and trusting in His atoning work on the Cross for us.. He has paid it all. We can do no more for our salvation than to keep on trusting in His grace forever.
    Being thus born again, he gives to us the Holy Spirit and a new heart to follow Jesus. This means we are now privileged and worthy to serve Jesus, to suffer and to sacrifice for Him.

    We are not on vacation or in a state of eternal contemplation, but should be ready for action to sow, to reap, to build, to fish, to run, to fight , to study and to proclaim that the Kingdom of God has come . This we do out of loving submission and obedience to Him.
    We consider ourselves to be but unworthy servants, yet we are told those who sow much will reap much. There may even be an unexpected prize for us because God is no man’s debtor.The Gracious Giver says He will reward even a cup of cold water given in His name.

    It is all of grace alone that we will enter His presence, and all of grace alone that our share in Christ’s inheritance will be related to our sanctified works on earth, when the Books are opened in Heaven.

  • humans debating humans debating God’s Word…. Sin-filled, imperfect, selfish humans debating who’s right and who’s not… Casting our self-righteous judgements on other Christians because we don’t agree…. Matthew 7:1 ??

    God’s Blessings to All. Merry Christmas and….. HAPPY 2016th BIRTHDAY JESUS…!!!!!!!! (Give or Take a day, week, month or Year or so….)

  • I am so amazed that so many leaders in the body are now seeing the bondage that we have been taught for so many years in our churches…of legalism, judging others, religion….all outside of true relationship and the freedom Jesus always met us to walk in…It is for freedom He has set us free!!! Love this article!!

  • I DO not look at any man including the pastor. I follow one man His name is JESUS CHRIST, I let God be their judge Because my God can touch a soul anywhere he choses, church, prison, and yes in the lowest of lows. Some of Gods most favored people where outcast, evil, and rebelish.I was one of them and He touched me and day by day I am no longer the same. I wish I could say I know all the answers but I know who does my LORD and SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST. I ONCE WAS LOST BUT NOW I’M FOUND, THANK YOU LORD FOR NEVER GIVING UP ME ==DEBRA

  • You cannot fix by laws of man what is a spiritual problem. It seems that those who want to add laws to grace do not truly believe in the regenerative power of Christ and Him crucified. Ephesians 2:8 KJV
    For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: We did not earn our salvation, neither can we work to sustain it. God writes His law on the fleshy tables of our hearts. Our obedience comes from our love and devotion to Christ not an outward compliance to laws whether they be old testament or new testament ones.
    Galatians 5:18 KJV But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
    Do you think that one who has truly given his life to Christ will continue in sinful behavior? When we receive His Spirit we will walk in the Spirit and not the deeds of the flesh. Adherence to laws will not produce spirituality. Walking in the Spirit of Christ will crucify the works of the flesh. Romans 8
    Jesus did put His finger on the crux of spiritual problems in many who sought Him. That is not legalism that is great grace in needful instruction. He still does this in the Spirit to those who seek Him with an undivided heart. All the law and the prophets hang on loving God with all our heart and our brother as ourselves. This can only be done in the Spirit. Making new laws won’t change this.

  • Dr. Will Pantin- I have a couple verses to share and I wondered what you’re take on them is.
    1) They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world. (Jesus @ John 17:16)
    2) We know we originate with God, but the whole world is lying in the [power of the] wicked one. (1 John 5:19)
    3) Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded YOU. And, look! I am with YOU all the days until the conclusion of the system of things. (Matthew 28:19-20)
    Christians aren’t commissioned to “change the world” by getting involved in politics or big business. We are to change “people” into disciples of Christ (if the person is willing) by TEACHING them a better way, the way of the truth. God will soon destroy this present “system of things” which is ruled by Satan. He must do this so He can establish HIS Kingdom on earth. Is that not what Christians pray for? Let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. Trying to bring “change” to this world is like upgrading to a more comfortable cabin on the Titanic!

  • Tofe Mazar – I don’t think you’ve been looking very intently if you haven’t seen a difference.

  • Myra, I agree with you. Every division throughout the church age has stemmed from a man made doctrine. Jesus preached against the “commandments and the doctrines of men.” Paul cursed anyone who brought another gospel and Peter constantly reminded the churches to beware of false teachers. Everyone here seems to have their own idea of what our Savior approves or disapproves of. Do we all forget the only Book that promises a blessing or a curse to those who read it and or change any words or meanings of the Book? Revelation, Jesus Himself writes through John to write to the Angel or messenger of the Seven Churches that represent all the churches in history until today, and His critiques and praises of the churches. He also writes what they have done right in His eyes and what He will condemn and judge too. Sadly, there are only two of the seven who are blameless and the other five he strongly condemns for what they are or are not doing. He tells them to repent or face dire consequences of their actions or works. Ephesus left their first love Jesus, Smyrna the persecuted church was faithful, Pergamos compromised their moral stand against sexual immorality, Thyatira also was corrupted by allowing a woman to seduce them into sexual immorality, Sardis was dead to the Word and forgot the gospel that they recieved, heard, and let go the Name of Jesus, Laodiceans were Luke warm, complacent, and lacked purpose, so much so Jesus threatened to vomit them out of His mouth. He told them to become zealous and repent. The last, Philadelphia, was the only faithful church, and has not denied His Name even though they has little strength. Only this church Christ promises to keep them from the hour of trial which comes upon the whole world. This is the last message that Jesus the Christ left for us, the church. Not man made doctrines but to focus on Jesus and His Word. There is not one mention in His instructions to the churches that focus on grace. We all know the importance of grace, Eph 2:8 but it’s but one important aspect of the mystery of the gospel. Please read Revelation and read the instructions or Savior left to us and clear up all these ideas of what we should or should not be doing. It’s about Jesus. As Paul said in 1 Cor 2:2 ” for I was determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” And again in V5, “that your faith should be not in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

  • One of the problems with this discussion is mischaracterization. Jesus said, if you love me you will keep my commandments. So when a believer trusts in Christ, and then understands the value of doing good works so others will see and glorify God, they are accused of trusting in works for salvation. This is friendly fire, and counterproductive. Just like TT doesn’t want people to accuse him of promoting cheap grace, he should not disrespect the labor of those who feel like they should heartily serve the Master who saved them. It goes both ways.

  • What would be wrong with dumping the Bible and Jesus and just following the Good Samaritan?

    Forget religion and Gods. You will forever fail to live up to such standards. It really is nonsense.

  • Satan is just slapping his knee and giggling about all of this “Christian” dissention!
    I fell at the foot of the cross years ago and ,at the age of 47, finally surrendered all that I am and all that I will ever be to Him. My surrender was a love response for the tremendous amount of grace and mercy He has poured out on my life….completely unearned….completely undeserved….and never, ever will I be able to “pay back” that love, grace, mercy. My choice to obey Him comes from a deep love of and respect for all that He has been, ever will be. He doesn’t always answer my prayers….he is not “Santa Claus”. He DOES NOT have to prove Himself to me….all creation cries out His power and might. I have been blessed to see more miracles than I thought my life could ever hold….and He has, through His grace and mercy (and with much longsuffering toward me and my family), revealed Himself to us in such ways that we know that He is a true, living, real God in this age of dissention and disbelief. I am redeemed, sanctified, restored, and blessed….not because of anything I have ever done or could do….but solely on the merit of His love for me…..what parent would sacrifice their one and only son to pay your debts?! The only natural response to this unmerited, life-saving love is to bow humbly in respect and service. We shouldn’t have to be motivated by Pastors…teachers….guilt….an unattainable goal to be “perfect” enough to earn His love…..that is the message I want to give to the world…..nothing about me….except perhaps a simple testimony of the wonders of His love and power in my life….no judgement…no condemnation…. profound love and service brought about by my love for Him and all that He encompasses. It’s really not as complicated as we, as human beings want to make it…in fact…it’s quite simple…stop arguing theology, intellect, “my philosophy is better than your philosophy”. Seek HIM……only….ask HIM to reveal Himself and the truth all of that holds… will never, ever, experience such joy as your relationship with HIM…..I promise. And yes, I do study the Bible..and yes, I have accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and Lord of my life!

  • The Good Samaritan was an atheist.
    I don’t see what the fuss is about religion. It is all nonsense.
    If atheism is good enough for Hellen Keller, who was one of the most wonderful people who ever lived, it is good enough for me.

  • “Seek HIM……only….ask HIM to reveal Himself and the truth all of that holds… will never, ever, experience such joy as your relationship with HIM…..I promise.”

    Still waiting for my own personal version of a burning bush… Best to not make promises that you cannot truly keep.

    I’ve heard all the rhetoric to ‘explain’ why I here no response to my asking.

    Tullian’s answers above seem to support that when Christ said “It is finished” He meant it.. Totally finished.. nothing more has come since. It does not take long into Acts to stop seeing any “God spoke to”s… The Epistles are all human to human.. Only Revelations has God ACTING on Earth again…

    Just my thoughts in the basement as I strained to hear and understand the foreign language whispers in the attic

  • “I’m sure it will get mixed reactions. This isn’t the kind of book that people can feel neutral about. People who are aware of their weakness, failure, smallness, and incompetancy will love it. Those who are aware of their desperation love grace and they will find new life and breath in One Way Love. But those who want to believe that they’re strong and competant, capable and sturdy, will be offended. That’s fine.”

    In other words, if you like the book then you get grace. If you don’t then you are self-righteous and so you’ll be offended.

  • Where exactly does it imply the Samaritan was atheist? Also, Helen Keller followed the Universalism of Emanuel Swedenborg. Not quite conventional Christianity, but a long way off from being an atheist.

  • What intrigues me here are phrases like “outside the church”, “inside the church”, and “obey”! Obey whom, obey what? What authority is being touted here?

    Sad that America has fallen so far(in REAL substantive education, and self-education), as to be seemingly trapped by so-called “evangelical leaders” into dependence upon their contemporary advice as to how “Christians” ought to exercise their “free will” to be in perfect harmony with either “God’s perfect will”, or His “acceptable will”(otherwise, Christians are told they are “out of His will”).

    This idea of grace(that which is freely given, and should provoke a response of gratitude), may actually manifest itself in the form of necessary punishment, not a “free ride” or “easy living” in a “prosperous society”. Do we agree; “to whom much is given, much shall be required”?

    The atheists, the unchurched, the political libertarians who have had it with the Republican Party and the hypocrisy of the so-called “religious right” have a very valid point; organized religion in America is a scam! And I say that based on the tangible results of one or two generations of being “born again”! Jesus said “ye will know them by their fruits”(Matthew 7:20) – in recent years, world-traveled church-planter Paul Washer has dared to tell many fundamentalists Baptists their fruit is that of “whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.”(Matthew 23:27)

    Billions of dollars have been spent on “evangelism”, exported from America; yet we are the most reviled of nations at home because abortion and homosexuality are tolerated by Christians being “graceful”(it’s legal but not lawful, yet no one takes a bold stand on God’s law), because our money does not reflect the law of “just weight and measures”(so we export inflation and misery throughout the world as this government shows zero restraint on the spending and printing of it), and we use our military to destabilize the nations surrounding the political state of Israel, daring to provoke a response against them(in hopes of manufacturing a prophesy perhaps?).

    It’s long past time for professing Christians to educate themselves in the rigid understanding of the faith of our founders in this internet age, that has givien us access to so much history, and has even brought us this widely-distributed article(that I found on the political website “The Daily Paul”. Jeremiah 6:16a says “Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.”; but how many know that the path we are on is stated in 6:16b?(“But they said, We will not walk therein.”)

    Everything is indeed political, and it has to do with establishing our culture, and ordering our civil society. If the churches can’t get their house in order, insomuch as they apparently cannot LEAD by example in choosing exemplary moral leadership in government(ALL are professing Christians, on both sides of the aisle, from local, state, right up through the Federal are they not?); how can we expect “God’s grace” likewise would not manifest itself in the form of a severe chastening, the likes of which were common in the Israel of the Old Testament where fleshly living and idolatry prevailed?

    American Christians best self educate themselves to our founders understanding of the Scriptures in that they understood(through self-study) the paleo-Hebrew and the Greek, and world history summarized by this observation of Noah Webster; “The ecclesiastical establishments of Europe, which serve to support tyrannical governments, are not the Christian religion, but abuses and corruptions of it.”

    Grace, in this context says “God is doing it all, so do right Christians”; yet the evidence suggests all the “doing right”, is being done in the flesh! And this combination of both “doing” and NOT doing, has landed us in an abysmal state of confusion as we sit as the feet of wealthy, insulated, celebrity evangelical guru’s while our nation dies, and is being ushered into bondage to those who we pay interest to!

    The do nothing attitude stems from the frustration of doing right for so long, then swallowing the bitter pill that makes one realize they have submitted themselves to, they have elevated to prominence and governance over them the children of the devil, who only know how to “steal, and to kill, and to destroy”(John 10:10). It doesn’t matter if they are leaders in the church, or leaders in politics; if you have swallowed the lie that God’s law was nailed to that cross, then how can you “judge righteous judgement”(John 7:24)?

    The indictment was nailed to the cross, NOT the law, folks; this understanding comes from exposing oneself to those who stopped playing church because those “inside the church” cast them “outside the church” because their criticism was a demonstration of whom they chose to “obey”!

  • patriot…

    You said, “It’s long past time for professing Christians to educate themselves in the rigid understanding of the faith of our founders in this internet age”

    That is the problem. We are becoming educated at an extraordinary rate.

    I was a Christian when I began searching for books, articles, biblical passages about Jesus and arguments about ‘Grace’.

    Know what?

    I became an Atheist !
    There are millions more discovering this simple fact every year. God cannot survive the information revolution….. God isn’t real.

  • Tyler- you aren’t kidding dude! Dr. Pantin sounds VERY self-righteous and IF he considers himself a Christian he has no right to judge other Christians anywhere in the world…. nor be a braggart! which is the opposite of humility…

  • Jesus tells the story of the Samaritan so we know he wasn’t Christian.
    We also know he wasn’t one of the Pharisees or Priests of the Jewish people.

    The Samaritans were pagans more or less. They are still around and have hellenistic and Judaic influences but many have no particular religion – we’d call that Atheistic today.

    If such people can be ‘good without god’ as proscribed in the Analects of Confucious centuries before Jesus, why invoke god to get to morality? It clearly isn’t needed.

    As for Helen Keller – it is true she said very little about religion, but her hatred for the bible’s villainy is well-known. Perhaps I should have invoked Thomas Paine, Gene Roddenberry or Warren Buffett. The world is full of great philanthropists, scientists and thinkers who happen to be Atheists.

  • You can do better than that…you just don’t believe in the God/Jesus the organized churches are selling Americans today, only because evil is reigning with Christians and Jews in charge of everything “good” and benevolent!

  • There isn’t a Jesus worth selling.
    That’s why nobody has figured out how to do it ‘right’.

  • The problem with his line of reasoning, which I mostly agree with, is that in order for it to “work” Tullian preaches and teaches and writes often about how horrible of a person one is and then how great God’s grace is. Yes, I agree that God’s grace is sufficient and overwhelming & far more than we deserve. But the posture he and other reformed pastors take can be just as damaging as the one he preaches against. Meaning that if you don’t think of yourself as the tiniest ant on the planet, and that you, as an ant, are a horrible horrible person then you’ll never be able to properly receive God’s grace. THAT understanding is guised as grace but is really a WORK that must be done in your own heart and mind – and it’s repeated and damaging to people when they are taught that they are NOTHING AT ALL. Rather, what we see in Christ is that he had all the rights and power but leveraged them for the sake of others. If I’m punishing my children I don’t scream at them about how terrible they are only so they’ll know how awesome I am for forgiving them. To do that is sadistic and narcissistic. It means that I am controlling and selfish. That is NOT WHO GOD IS – God pours out His love for us. His grace is amazing, but it does require faith, which is a WORK of the mind and heart. Tullian and other reformed guys would say that we’re predestined to believe or not which makes it easier to dehumanize people in to feeling God’s grace and love, but for those who believe there is a choice, that God made us with a mind (in HIS image, by the way) and the freedom to choose, telling people how horrific they are is a terrible approach. We read in Scripture that it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. Let me go back one more time to my children – if I need to tell them how horrible they are before I tell them they are loved there is something wrong with ME, not them. They are loved regardless, they are loved BEFORE they’ve ever done anything wrong, while they’re doing wrong, and afterwards, as well. That’s all on ME, not them. Their choice is whether or not to believe it. As Paul writes in Romans 8 “in my inner being I delight in God” reveals that deep within each of us is the image and desire for God – we need to help people see this in their own heart. appealing to all of their wrongness to lead to grace is just another form of works, and it’s far more condemning than challenging people to serve in the nursery.

  • The VAST majority of people are helpful and reasonably accommodating to each other because that is what people are – we are social animals and we enjoy life best when we are interacting.

    Whether one is Jewish, Christian, Muslim or Hindu – the VAST majority of us behave more than adequately to one another.

    Religion wrongly takes credit for this GOOD NATURE and pretends that imaginary Gods are hovering over us and watching our thoughts.

    It is delusional. We don’t need gods to be good.


    To elevate any God is to diminish human dignity. It is as simple as that.

    To promote such a position as the pastor does is indefensible.

  • Just because you are an angry atheist who has given up hope that there is any hope beyond yourself and your own goodness, and hence have made yourself your own god – in need of no other salvation – doesn’t mean everyone else feels or is the same. You do a nice job projecting your theories onto others now and in the past to support your worship of yourself.
    You are missing the boat sadly. May want to study about Jesus – to see what “good” means a little more. You are not ‘good’ – and neither was the samaritan in a way that earned restoration to God. None of us are or are capable of “being” ‘good’ apart from God making us new in a way that has any eternal significance. Your small acts of goodness do not make you “good” in the sense of clean before God. “Your righteous acts are like filthy rags” to God. Is 64:6
    The good news is that Jesus was and is good enough – that if you are in Him, God will see you as ‘good’ in the way that is accepted by Him because He paid it all on the cross for your sin. That is the subject – that is GRACE, the only way we can be good.

  • What would be wrong?
    You end up worshipping a dead man who has no ability to save you – that is dreadful… you will find your ladder leaning against and into the recesses of Hell. You are free to dump Jesus and the Bible and thus pay your own consequences – so feel that freedom!
    We all start out as those who do not know God, have no desire for Him..or what have you if that’s your meaning behind people being atheists. You point to humans – the folks here and the Bible point you to God.
    Pascal’s wager at least?

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  • Think about the Law. One hundred percent perfection. Without the grace and mercy of God through Christ we cannot even dare believe we are Christians. If a really hurting person reads some of these responses, it would probably merely discourage that person further. All this bickering is doing what?!

  • Charles Spurge on nabbed any of it when that he mentioned, “When I assumed God had been challenging, I found any of it simple to sin; however, when I located Lord so that kind, so excellent, therefore full of sympathy, I possibly track might bust with think I can ever before have rebelled against One who appreciated me personally so that and wanted my good

  • The Samaritans were despised because they were half breeds and differed on theology but they were NOT atheists or pagans, although the Jewish leadership might have called them that. The reason Jesus used “Samaritan” wasn’t because he was an ‘unbeliever’ (consider Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well, who wanted to know where the true temple was) but because the Samaritan represented all that was universally despised among the Jews for skin-deep reasons. It was a condemnation of the Jewish self righteousness apart from faith.

  • “But here it is, at least in shadow form, among the Neo-Reformed who have become so suspicious of righteousness that there is indication that even the the “doing” of righteousness has become suspect”

    It hasn’t, but the motivation for it is always suspect because we are both sinner and saint.

    However I do find it odd that today, the one being called Antinomian is the one who is actually calling the accusers to account for their sinfully complicit cover up of child sex abuse in their churches. Who is REALLY the antinomian?

  • So basically you’re only an antinomian if you call the wrong (read it, powerful popular) people to account for their sins.

  • Brilliant interview, Jonathan. I agree with Pastor Tchividjian’s comments about grace, and have as heavily highlighted One Way Love as Jesus Is Better. Both books speak of the rich and powerful grace that transforms lives. Laws cannot do that – only the grace and love of God. Thank you for sharing your conversation with us.

  • Why is life about being good? Without God, good is just whatever you make it. Jesus said, “Only God is good,” which means YOU are not. You can only be good if you stop trying to be good and receive the goodness/perfection of another on your behalf. Religion tells you to try and be good. This is why atheism is just another religion. Christianity isn’t a religion. It is a Person. That Person, Jesus Christ, died for your badness and gives you His goodness. Without His goodness, you are just as bad and even worse if you try to justify yourself by your so-called “good” life. As long as you think you are a good person, you sink deeper into your own depravity and you are doomed to go to a place where God and all His goodness doesn’t exist.

  • The only one that seems to understand the ‘Gospel that Paul preached’ today seems to be Pastor Joseph prince from Singapore. And I think every preacher out there can benefit from listening to Pastor Prince preach.

  • Every reference to grace always tuns to “God NEEDS me to do something” ..WHY? Do we really need to get stronger daily, so we need Christ less? Every other religion says do, Christianity is the ONLY one that says done.

    Prayer from Robert F. Capon, because “it is finished” can’t be enough… from his book Between Noon And Three

    Lord, please restore to us the comfort of merit and demerit. Show us that there is at least something we can do. Tell us that at the end of the day there will at least be one redeeming card of our very own. Lord, if it is not too much to ask, send us to bed with a few shreds of self-respect upon which we can congratulate ourselves. But whatever you do, do not preach grace. Give us something to do, anything; but spare us the indignity of this indiscriminate acceptance.

  • “The Good Samaritan was an atheist” ?

    The Good Samaritan wasn’t anything because he wasn’t a real person. He was a character in one of Jesus’ parables. You are right, however, that the Good Samaritan’s example is definitely worth following. I urge you to consider that the values and behavior of this character whom you and many others uphold as an iconic example of how we ought to behave, came from the mind of Christ. Surely such a mind is worth some of your time to learn more about. If you do, I promise you won’t be regret it. Also, consider that if you were to “follow the Good Samaritan”, you will only be following the tenets of Christ without acknowledging it. Unfortunately, this will not save your soul, as we cannot be saved by our own effort. If you’re so enamored by the teachings of Christ, you might as well benefit from His love and mercy as well.
    To paraphrase Pascal, you have nothing to lose by wagering on Him, but you could lose everything by not doing so.
    It may seem silly, but if you are open to experiments, I would suggest trying something for a year. For just a few minutes each day, pray to Him and ask Him to show you He’s real. If I’m wrong, no one need ever know, since there would be no one to hear. But just imagine if I’m right (and I know I am, trust me). And read the Bible even if it’s just for 5 min or so per day every day for a year. Then if you experience nothing within yourself or your life to make you so much as question your current convictions, you will have that much more to gloat about, I guess. But if something does happen, you may gain eternal life.
    May God enlighten the eyes of your heart.

  • i have a problem with christians that define spiritual maturity based on the fact someone has stopped watching R movies or stopped listening to areosmith…(legalism)..suddenly this person has become ‘mature’..nonsense..i pray daily,worship and have a close ,very close relationship with Yeshua and have for years.I remain physicall well and never sick because i believe i trust in his promise that he wants me to remain well and pray against any illness at the slightest sysmptom and praise god for his almighty healing power.but on the hand ,some of the movies i watch would make the church’s head spin around..i’m a music collector and a lot of what i collect would make the swaggarts never want to return to my home..Jesus is aware of this and i don’t owe anyone else an explanation..He knows where my heart is at and what lives within it.I’ve come to know Christ,NOT the man behind the podium.

  • Just because some Christians abuse the privilege of grace does not mean Grace isn’t the central message of the Bible. Joseph Prince proves his beliefs in scripture and he does not teach that grace is a license to sin or that we do not need to repent of sin. What he teaches is that grace is what empowers and motivates us not to sin. I am a God fearing, God loving, whole hearted follower of Jesus who loves God and was very very wounded by religious opinionated people. When we miss the grace of God and don’t extend it to others we are hurting people, including ourselves. Jesus is a whole lot more gracious than any of you here are representing him to be and as a result the people listening to you will see a different God than the God of the Bible. I don’t see you arguing your points on a scriptural basis, I see a lot of opinions, criticisms and judgments with very little love or substance. It’s heartbreaking. I pray you all find the real, gracious, loving Jesus-who yes-changes us into His likeness and empowers us to affect the world around us, but He starts with grace and love. It’s His kindness that leads us to repentance. I pray you read the Bible through the eyes of His love and grace and realize you may have leaned too hard on truth and not enough on grace. There is a balance. Only Jesus has the perfect balance of Grace and Truth, but I think He wants to bring each of us there with Him.

  • Not if it comes from God’s grace through us. Grace and Truth came in the person of Christ and if He does a work through us, it is not as costly to us personally. Being a bond servant of Christ is freeing. We love because He first loved us. His yoke is easy and His burden is light because He does the heavy lifting as we surrender our lives to Him. He does His works through us, by His grace so that He gets the Glory and people cannot be proud about His accomplishments. Jesus doesn’t want us to be without works, but He’s the one using us to do His good works. We’re just along for the ride, resting in His grace, mercy and truth, while He does the work through us. We can be used mightily by God from a place of resting in Him. To obey is better than sacrifice. If we were all coming from a place of love, allowing Him to use our stories (being transparent enough to be honest about our own sin/forgiveness), then this world would be transformed. Because of the focus on externals a lost and dying world says “they’re hypocrites” or “I can’t live up to their standards”, while all the long, we as Christians can’t either, we’re just not being honest! The Bible teaches we in and of ourselves are sinful and lost without hope. His salvation is continual. We are in need of grace continually. We are saved by Grace and we live by Grace. If we did that and really showed people how good God’s grace is, they would be attracted to Him, rather than running from Him. We can’t tell the world they have to measure up-God didn’t do that to us. Even after we’re saved, God doesn’t say-you have to measure up. He says I love you the way you are, but my love will make you better. Stay in my love and truth until it changes you. If you take love/grace out of the equation, people don’t change-at least not internally. God wants heart change, not outward change.

  • This kind of teaching only produces false converts.The Law is what actually brings us to Christ.If sinners don’t recognize they are sinners,they don’t think they need a Savior,therefore they scratch their heads and think,”Why do I care about Jesus,what did He do for me that was so great?” It’s like putting the cart before the horse.The Law is taught first,once sinners know they are sinners and that there is a day of Judgement and God will judge with Righteousness,and NO ONE will be exempt from judgement,they begin to realize they need a Redeemer,a Savior to take that sin from them,to wash it away.As Charles Spurgeon stated,”Scratching people where they itch and addressing their “felt needs” is a stratagem of the poor steward of the oracles of God.This was the recipe for success for the false prophets of the Old Testament.”

  • Little Blue Bird, I wonder if you may have missed the point.

    You think there are no christians who have a legalistic focus on performance? Or you think there are but it’s fine?

    You think there are no christians more concerned with behavior modification than with grace? Or you think there are but it’s fine?

    Thing is it seems to me this isn’t a doctrinal thesis but a transcript of a conversation. It’s clear to me from the feel of his responses that in many or most places he is aiming for people who are already Christians who may be some how under the spiritual oppression of performance. In my opinion, in some quartets this kind of oppression is rife and not healthy.

    I feel sure he is not advocating, when actually preaching the gospel, leaving out the extreme of the sinner’s depravity and his hopelessness at the judgement, without Christ. However when preaching to Christians, if the only diet is “check how you are living”, “are you living right”, then those with a simple awareness of their sin will perhaps do their best and feel they are up to scratch, but many with a deeper awareness may fall into striving which is often followed by sinning. It is normal to emphasise a point when bringing a message (see the two spurgeon quotes) and this message will be a very necessary emphasis for some and a balm to their souls and I fear your response may have poured cold water on their true blessing, while leaving quite unaffected those few who “really do” take grace for granted.

    In my experience, the Christan who’s “primary focus” is “Christ” rather than the detailed commands of “Christian Living” and “Grace” rather than “good behaviour” falls supernaturally into a kind of self-forgetfulness which enables them to serve with joy in every area, with the greatest possible strength, virtually unaware of the cost!

  • When you use words such as “legalistic” and “performance” and “behavior modification”….I have to wonder where you are being taught and if you are aware that these words do not exist in Scripture.However…..all these words you are using to explain grace,there is but one word that is in Scripture.It’s called SANCTIFICATION.Jesus taught that with salvation comes a change.It is a gradual change for many,through the years,but nevertheless,a change and a growing closer to the things that are near to God,like Holiness.Yes, we are called to be holy,as Christ is Holy.”But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,” – 1 Pet 1 :15
    Also,you speak of cheap grace.The grace you speak of is cheap grace,the grace that is throughout Scripture is COSTLY grace… cost God His most treasured possession,His only Son Jesus Christ.
    The problem with the post modern church is that we think we’re “okay”.We have no need of repentance,I actually know Christians who believe they need never ask Jesus for forgiveness.We are being lulled to sleep by the very thinking you posted here.When Christians look just like the world and the world cannot tell them apart because they are living in sin and not “striving for excellence and holiness” as Christ told us to in His Word.You are cherry picking Scripture so that you can live how you want.Jesus told us what this walk with Him was to look like… one’s listening.

  • Late to this convo but wanted to point out as a long time Christian that when I focus on my own “fruit” or lack thereof, I become morbid and self-focused. However, when I focus on the finished work of Jesus and my inexpressible gratitude that there’s nothing I can do to make Him love me less, I am compelled out of my humbled gratitude to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance”. Totally counter intuitive but then again so is the entire Gospel message. And finally, any “Christian” who takes the notion of free and unlimited grace as the freedom to “keep sinning so that grace may further abound (God forbid!)” is really no Christian at all, bc a “tree is known by its fruit”. And I don’t even think this is a valid concern, as a true Spirit-infused and led, imputed righteousness believer would not be inclined to think much less act in these terms. Much more concerning to me is the Reformed Calvinistic tendency towards smug theological pride, us vs. everyone else isolationist mentality (including other Christians), love for polemics for the sake of “defending the gospel”, and an all around harsh, critical spirit that is the opposite of the “most excellent way” as defined by Paul in 1 Cor 13.