I was listening to a Christian radio station; a very well known and popular preacher was talking about the Gospel versus legalism. He stated that he was teaching from Galatians but not much Scripture was actually preached.
At first it seemed to be a good message, the first quote I wrote down sounded quite nice, “Man has an incurable desire to replace the wonderful grace of God with some rules and regulations.” I thought that was a great introduction to Galatians. The message began to degrade considerably with the preacher quoting Jerry Bridges, “My observation of Christendom is that most of us tend to base our relationship with God on our performance, instead of His Grace. In this sense we live by works rather than grace, we are saved by grace but are living by the sweat of our own performance.” He added, “This is why the Church is failing.”
I was astounded by his tone and what he was implying! I will give one more quote that the preacher used before digging into the implications of this teacher’s message. “More often than not what is proclaimed as Gospel is just another challenge to do better, try harder, pray longer, be more committed, stop sinning, love harder, be good, and be happy. No wonder the Church has failed to connect with so many people out there, the hurting masses are seeking a cure for their ills and solutions for their problems, and too often the Church has just given them more expectations to fulfill, more rules to keep, more activities to maintain, more work to do and the result has been a trail of disillusionment and discouragement.” ~Dudely Hall
The preacher went on, comparing the Judaizers of Paul’s day to Churches that preach holiness and the need to be dedicated. He gave in brief his view of the Gospel: Christ died, He was buried and rose again, His death was a propitiation for the sins of the world, and whoever puts their trust in the cross will become a new creation. I agree with this assessment of the Gospel, but the preacher erred to leave it so overly simplified and within the context that he so beguilingly built.
His message was crafted very well; by using widely accepted terminology and vague terms the rebuttal seems less orthodox than his message. Most of his terminology is sound but the context that twists the terms turns them into nothing less than antinomianistic theology. Antinomianism “comes from the Greek anti, against, and nomos, law. It is the unbiblical practice of living without regard to the righteousness of God, using God's grace as a license to sin, and trusting grace to cleanse of sin. In other words, since grace is infinite and we are saved by grace, then we can sin all we want and still be saved.” (http://carm.org/dictionary-antinomianism)
As you may notice, even the preacher sees regeneration as a part of the Gospel. However, regenerations role in his theology seems to allow a person to live as they please rather than live by God’s Spirit. It seems to me that this man has twisted the meaning for Christian liberty and freedom, concerned more about what the “hurting masses” want rather than what is needed. “The hurting masses are seeking a cure for their ills and solutions for their problems.” Take note of the plural, cure and solution for their ILLS and PROBLEMS and the term “hurting masses”, I believe that this teacher has lost sight of the true problem (ß not plural) absolute spiritual death.
Not just this preacher but many Churches have turned the Gospel into Antinomianism in the name of legalism. They have replaced regeneration with false affirmations and true assurance with vain faith. These false teachers have made a social service out of their churches, they may have a very loving and authentic community, counselors, Christian principles, good doctrine (on paper but not practice), great entertainment (falsely called worship), and secular solutions for the pains of the masses, but what they lack is very serious-the only solution for the spiritually dead!
The dead masses do not need a hand or an encouraging word, they need Jesus and Him crucified. They need the true Gospel, which starts with the fully dead and depraved world, the crucified and raised Lord who is our propitiation, authentic regeneration, and sanctification. Jesus came to free the sin slave dead, the freed man is not free to sin but from the bondage of sin, the regenerate are turned from their wickedness to God and seek Him by nature (ß New Nature).
The preacher accuses the modern Church of attaching rules and regulations to the Gospel; I accuse the preacher of detaching true regeneration and attaching antinomianism to the Gospel. Do not be fooled my brothers and sisters, do not let your ears be tickled by a different Gospel, do not given into the temptation to believe that it is okay to live as you please. Remember the words of our savior, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25 ESV) And the God inspired words of Paul, “So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:12-15 NASB