It has been a while since I’ve written an article under the above title. Here lately, however, I’ve read some things that are very revealing because they expose a false doctrine for what it is. The following “items” demonstrate that some brethren’s view of grace is a perverted one, even reminiscent of how some in Jude’s day were “turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness” (verse 4). When it is argued that God’s grace is a license to live an ungodly life or to go “beyond the things which are written” (1 Cor. 4:6/ ASV), surely a perversion of the truth has taken place!
Some who should know better are claiming that we don’t preach God’s grace in the churches of Christ. The charge is grossly unfair, a shameful attack against the Lord’s people, and is easily demonstrated to be false. No, we don’t proclaim the cheap, denominational version of grace, but that should not be confused with “the true grace of God wherein ye stand” (1 Pet. 5:12). Lynwood Smith, for example, had a sermon on the cross that would literally bring tears to your eyes. Wasn’t that a proclamation of God’s grace? Sure it was (Heb. 2:9)! Also, when the sinner is told of his need of Christ’s blood and how to receive the remission of sins, the gospel is being preached just like it was in the first century (Acts 2:38).
If we present “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24) the way that Peter did on the day of Pentecost, people will be led to be baptized “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:41). Shame on the preacher who claims to be a champion of grace while he won’t preach on all the things that are divinely linked with the generous grace of God! While we expect such from denominational preachers, men who have had an association with the Lord’s church should know better. We are ready now to look at some “items of interest” that demonstrate how a perverted view of grace leads to all kinds of error:
The first item comes from the pen of Leroy Garrett. In a “newsletter” sent out by another brother, the following is found: “I told my own favorite story, which was about Carl [Ketcherside] and ‘old Gus’ at the Cornerstone, an inner-city ministry in St. Louis where Carl ministered the last years of his life, serving street people with food, clothing, and fellowship. Gus was a homeless wino whose tragic story as a loser touched Carl’s heart. Carl tried to rescue Gus by pointing him to Jesus, but Gus would say that his case was hopeless, that he had tried everything, including religion, and that he was destined to die as a drunk. And so it was. One morning he was found dead in an alley, frozen to death drunk. As Carl told that story at one of our last meetings together, he paused and, as if talking to himself, said, ‘I wonder what God will do with old Gus.’ Afterward I put an arm around him and said, ‘Carl, when I first knew you, you knew exactly what God would do with that old drunk. But now you’re not so sure.’ When our hearts are touched by God’s grace, our judgments are tempered.”
After reading what Leroy Garrett wrote, get ready now to read the following comment from the author of the newsletter: “Beautiful, Leroy. True, we don’t know for certain what God will do with old Gus, but we do know His grace is deeper than the deepest ocean and higher than the highest star. So, yes, old Gus has a chance! God may just ‘dry him out’ and give him a voice with the heavenly choir. Then old Gus will be singing, not drinking.” There you have it! According to this perverted view of grace, a man can reject the Lord Jesus Christ and “die as a drunk,” but he still has a hope of going to heaven.
Certainly it is a noble thing to be compassionate and to try to help someone like Gus, so that part of the story is commendable. But where do we get the right to imply that such a one might go to heaven? If a preacher is serious about leading sinners to repentance (Acts 17:30), why would he want to leave an impression like that? The simple answer is that their perverted view of grace has led them to question what they once knew to be true (even as Leroy Garrett admitted). Although these men want to lecture us on the subject of grace, claiming that they have a deeper understanding of it than we do, the truth is that they know very little about grace as it is presented in the Scriptures.
Consider these simple facts: (1) God’s grace to save is found in Christ (2 Tim. 2:1; Rom. 3:24)– If we reject Jesus and His gospel, we have rejected the means of our salvation, (2) God’s grace teaches us that we should live righteous and holy lives (Tit. 2:11-12)– It is not a license to live as we please without consequences, and (3) Paul declared that “the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10)– He specifically applied this to “drunkards.” A view of grace that compels a man to climb out on a limb and contradict these discernable facts is obviously a false and dangerous position. But if you need more proof that it leads to all kinds of error, consider the second item . . .
“CHURCH OF CHRIST FELLOWSHIP”
The following comes from an e-mail that was given wide circulation for any and all to read on the Internet. It’s really not worthy of a lot of consideration, as far as I can tell, except that it uses a phrase that the reader needs to be aware of. Calling himself “a disgruntled minister of the Church of Christ sect,” the man states that “we, who have come to Christ within the Church of Christ fellowship, have been duped.” He asserts that “the theology, the terminology, the doctrines, and the practices” that he was “taught over the years are just flat, outright wrong.”
I find it interesting that while he complains about unscriptural terminology (as he sees it) being used in the Lord’s church, he turns right around and uses an expression that is found nowhere in the word of God– “Church of Christ fellowship.” What did he mean by the above expression? It’s obvious that he meant that the church is a “sect”– it’s just happens to be our denomination among many. [Incidentally, when you hear brethren among us use this expression, perhaps even applying it to their congregation that should send up a red flag in your mind!]
If this “disgruntled minister” gave an accurate description of the church, did he actually “come to Christ” (his words) by obeying doctrines and practices that are “just flat, outright wrong?” The truth is that he couldn’t write a simple e-mail without talking out of both sides of his mouth! On the other hand, this false view of grace asserts that men are right with God regardless of all the error that one might embrace in matters of theology, terminology, doctrines, and practices. After all, if “old Gus” has a chance, surely the Lord wouldn’t ban someone from the “heavenly choir” simply because he was sprinkled for baptism, would He? Brethren, what we are dealing with here is nothing more than subjectivism and denominationalism, pure and simple!
Does it really matter if we maintain purity of doctrine and life? Here’s the answer that Paul gave: “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Tim. 4:16).
Article by: Billy Dickinson