The Battle for God's Grace
and its Connection to the
Rock of Offence Special Commentary
This is Part 4 of a four-part Bible study.
Click on the links below to access the
other parts of this study.
Our Response to Five Ways
Galatian Religion Undermines
God's Grace and Leads
Believers Astray in their
"But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the Word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God." (2 Corinthians 4:2)
The following information is a vital part of this Bible study. To avoid addressing subjects previously covered in another study – a link is provided.
It Redefines God's Grace
One of the most dangerous characteristics of Galatianism is the way it invalidates New Testament Grace - while, at the same time, appearing to support its principles. Yet, church leaders and their followers who embrace this theology insist that they correctly teach Grace. In the following commentary, we explain how this deceptive practice operates and why you should avoid any church that handles the Scriptures in such a way.
Exposing the Error of Redefining
It Mixes Law and Grace
Scripture is divided into two major programs governed by different sets of rules called “covenants”. The Bible translators drew attention to this truth by using special title pages that identify both the Old Testament and New Testament divisions. Why is this important? You can’t gain a correct understanding of the salvation Jesus Christ provides unless you keep these two programs separated and in context. If you mix Scripture together, treating the Bible as a single unified theology (as many Christians do) – the salvation of Christ becomes corrupted into something God never intended. Saint Paul called it “perverting the gospel”, which is why he commanded the Church to “rightly (or correctly) divide the Word” (2 Timothy 2:15). In the following commentary, we provide the details on how this deceptive practice continues to operate today.
Israel and the Church
It Teaches Old Testament
The cross of Christ changed the way God previously dealt with sin and how righteousness was obtained under the Old Testament program. Before the cross, righteousness was earned through a person’s obedience to the Law of Moses (Old Testament Law). But, after the cross – righteousness (or worthiness) is obtained in an entirely new and different way (2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 10:19-23). Galatianism ignores and even rejects this change made by the cross of Christ and continues to teach an Old Testament type of righteousness based on obedience to the Law. Yet, Paul warns that God now condemns this practice – after His Son became our only source of righteousness under the New Covenant initiated at the cross (1 Corinthians 1:30). In the following study we reveal the details and spiritual consequences in attempting to relate with God through an Old Testament type of righteousness.
The Two Different Types of
Righteousness in the Bible
It Teaches Old Testament
As a result of the sacrificial death of Christ, God no longer bestows salvation or grants His acceptance according to good works, personal merit and obedience – as previously required by the Old Testament program. After the cross, salvation and God’s acceptance (or favor) is now freely given, based only on Christ’s righteousness and divine attributes ... and not on the righteous works or behavior of the believer (See Romans 4:4-8, Titus 3:5-7). After the cross, God now reckons the believer to be crucified with Christ – and dead (Colossians 3:3, Galatians 2:20-21). A dead person has no works, merit or obedience to offer. Some Bible scholars refer to this New Testament salvation as “the Substitutionary death of Christ”. Others call it “The Divine Exchange”. Yet, Galatianism ignores and even rejects this provision of the cross. It insists that salvation (eternal life) is obtained through a combination of our faith in Christ plus obedience to Old Testament Law ... based on behavior, works and personal merit. Its devoted followers fail to recognize that this same “faith in Christ plus the law” doctrine was rejected by both Saint Paul and the apostolic church leadership in Acts chapter 15. The following studies and commentaries show how this Old Testament conditional salvation is both dangerous and wrong - and provides additional information about Christ's great salvation available through God's amazing Grace.
Heaven's Royal Proclamation
The Great Divine Exchange
Exposing Misconceptions about
Sons vs Servants
What's Wrong With Lordship
Salvation? - By Dr. Andy Woods
It Rejects or Ignores the
Changes Made at Pentecost
The relationship between a shepherd and his sheep is an analogy found throughout the Bible. It is specifically used by the Lord Jesus Christ who identifies Himself as “The Good Shepherd”. However, the arrival of the Holy Spirit in Acts chapter 2 on the day of Pentecost - forever changed this Biblical model. After the day of Pentecost, God’s sheep are vastly different than before Pentecost - because the “good shepherd” now lives in them ... rather than just being 'with them'. This is not symbolic. Yet, many church leaders and their followers ignore or reject this change which was set in motion 50 days earlier at the cross. The popular “Discipleship and Shepherding Movement” utilizes an especially virulent type of Galatian religion that practices the Old Testament model of shepherding, which continues to do extensive damage to the faith unsuspecting Christians who practice its teachings. After being exposed as a false religious movement around 1983 it changed its name - but continues its Galatianized religious practices using family-friendly names and labels. While the following study does not exclusively apply to the Shepherding movement, it contains information that exposes popular yet dangerous misconceptions concerning shepherds, wolves and sheep that exist in the Christian Church.
God's New Breed of Supersheep
We often repeat the following Scriptural admonition in our studies to address common misconceptions about the Christian faith:
Obtaining salvation through the unmerited and undeserved favor of God (called “Grace”) does not release us from the task of avoiding sin, doing good works, adopting Christ-Like behavior and holy living. God instructs all Christians to seek after these things - but for reasons other than obtaining His gift of eternal life. Scripture instructs us to avoid sin because it is inconsistent with our new life in Christ (Romans 6:1-4). Our Heavenly Father also tells His children that seeking these character attributes is the right thing to do - since they are Christ's representatives (the New Testament calls them “the body of Christ” - Ephesians 1:15-23) on earth. The world often forms their beliefs and opinions about God by observing the conduct and behavior of His representatives. If the believer’s conduct involves a sinful lifestyle, it often causes those around them to have an improper or false perception of God – possibly to the point of speaking evil of Him. Yet despite these reasons, our Heavenly Father sternly warns that our attempt to achieve these character attributes (which involves work and effort) is never to be used as requirements or pre-conditions to obtain and keep what Scripture calls, God’s unmerited and undeserved gift of eternal life. (Read Ephesians 2:8-9, Galatians 2:19-21, Galatians 3:10-12 and Galatians 5:4, Romans 4:4-8, Titus 3:5-7)
Galatianism, in all its countless expressions operates as a dangerously seductive religious counterfeit, which has existed since the first century. It is constantly given different Biblical-sounding names, but its core tenants remain the same. It was designed by highly educated theologians and exists as a spiritually lethal anti-grace force that operates inside the Christian Church. Many of its ministers are good people with noble intentions who love God - and are unaware of the true nature of their teachings. For the inexperienced believer, the danger is being tricked into accepting the counterfeit as the real thing. This is one reason Paul and the apostolic council of Acts chapter 15 strongly condemned this theology – because of its ability to look and sound like authentic Christianity.
We continue to be concerned as various Christians use out-of-context Scripture to defend wrong doctrine - and insist that they are correct because ...“It’s in the Book”. As a result, they convince themselves that God now has a responsibility to accept and support their teachings and beliefs because ... “It’s in the Book”. Yet, the very book they refer to (the Bible) warns that you can go dangerously astray in your faith if you follow this popular way of thinking. It’s vitally important to base our Christian faith on a correct interpretation of the Bible. But, in the pages of the New Testament - the Bible (or the Holy Scriptures) is described as "a divided book", which means it has a specific context that must be followed. Violate the context or mix everything together – and the beliefs and faith you think come from God may actually be part of a counterfeit brand of Christian religion that God does not honor. Additional information is available HERE.
Some are offended by the warnings in this study and might say something like; "I disagree with your teaching because the Bible says that 'believing in Jesus' is all that I need to do". We certainly agree with this general statement of faith in Christ. But, according to the New Testament - the statement lacks detail and fails to define its terms. The real issue is not whether you ‘believe in Jesus’ - but whether you believe in 'the authentic Jesus of the New Covenant'. In the Bible, the Apostle Paul warns that both an authentic and a counterfeit Christ exist within Christendom. He refers to the counterfeit as "another Jesus and his different gospel" (Galatians 1:6-8 and 2 Corinthians 11:3-4). Paul correctly taught that the authentic Jesus freely gives eternal life as God’s unmerited gift - but warned that the counterfeit Jesus does not. The counterfeit Jesus and his "different gospel" are the result of Galatian religion.
These kinds of religious misconceptions represent a spiritual train wreck waiting to happen for many good, well-meaning and God-loving people. Today, too many professing Christians have fallen into the dangerous trap of thinking that the counterfeit faith in Christ produced by Galatianism – is the authentic “faith in Christ” of the New Testament.
Maintaining A Delicate
Despite a clear message from Scripture, the worldwide institutional Christian Church (this is not the same Church spoken of in the New Testament) has been divided for hundreds of years over the question of whether good works and merit are required for salvation (eternal life). Ever since the first century, two sides have existed in this heated debate. One side (the most dominant) insists that a person must fulfill the works and merit requirements connected to Old Testament Law in order to be saved. The other side claims that ... after the cross true salvation is obtained only through God’s Grace or “a faith in Christ apart from works” (Romans 4:4-8, Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:5-7). Because of the divisive and emotional nature of the question, it is often wrongly treated as a matter of personal opinion - where it is suggested that God honors both positions. As a result, many are taught (in a misguided effort to preserve unity) that the authenticity of Christian salvation (or whether a person is truly saved) does not depend on either answer to this question. Yet, Scripture exposes this unity agenda as being both dangerous and false.
Many are taught that the Bible's command to "walk in love" means to avoid all divisive and offensive confrontations. But, the Bible teaches that there is both a right kind of division that God expects His representatives to engage in - and a wrong kind He wants them to avoid. Scripture calls the right kind of division; "contending earnestly for the faith" (Jude 1:3). The leadership of the first-century church often taught things that deeply offended the religious community of their day. Why? The New Covenant grace-based principles that now govern Christ's salvation always offends falsely religious people, who tend to be in a majority and desire to keep the previous Old Testament program. In this situation, God's representatives either "contend for the faith" or they are silenced. Their opponents want them silenced.
Taking a stand in this area often ends in a bitter and emotional Scripture-quoting standoff energized by the failure to keep Old Testament Law separated from the New Testament salvation of Christ (Saint Paul called it "rightly dividing the Word"). In our commentaries and Bible studies, we are forced to view this area as a “spiritual grey zone” because it’s impossible to see what resides in anyone’s heart - where true salvation is ultimately received or rejected. This is why we avoid making the accusation that someone isn’t saved. However, the New Testament Scriptures takes a clear position on this divisive subject.
Our Heavenly Father warns that having the kind of faith associated with merit-based salvation (also known as the conditional salvation of Old Testament Law) is forbidden after the cross and does not represent true “faith in Christ”. In this Bible study, we use the term "Galatianism" to identify this theology, but it actually exists under countless different names and labels. According to Scripture, it can result in a failure to be justified - and no one can be saved without also being justified (Romans 3:20, Galatians 3:10). Yet, the final outcome is decided in the heart, where no man can see. Once again, this is why Paul earnestly commands believers to ...
"Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? – UNLESS INDEED YOU ARE DISQUALIFIED." (2 Corinthians 13:5)
We hope this Bible study was
helpful in your spiritual walk
with the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is Part 4 of a four-part Bible study.
Click on the links below to access the
other parts of this study.
Return To Home Page
Return To Basics of Salvation Page