"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)


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  • « Reformation Day Symposium | Main | In what sense did Christ "empty" Himself? »

    Warning Against False Teachers

    "But we labour, both by preaching and writing unto you, to uncharm that sorcery wherewith ye are bewitched, and to set at liberty those who were ensnared therewith." - Martin Luther

    "...remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions." (1 Timothy 1: 3-7)

    I found this passage particularly helpful in its assertion that the goal of Paul's instruction to charge persons not to teach false doctrines is love. His charge to expose unaided speculation and error in the church is done with the motive of love. While we must always teach with gentleness and respect, yet this passage affirms that the purpose of exposing bad doctrine is loving, in fact, the most loving thing a person can do for you. Telling a person that he is a slave to sin and needs the grace of Jesus Christ may indeed hurt, but it hurts like the surgeons knife which cuts out the cancer (for the patient's ultimate good). Many times we worry about speaking up when we hear bad doctrine being taught or spoken of, perhaps because we feel it could cost the friendship. And oftentimes even when we are careful to be patient and respectful of our brothers and sisters in Christ, it always carries the risk of a rift. But truth divides from error and Paul explains that the goal of this is love.

    In John 8, Jesus finds himself quickly losing "friends" when he speaks to some Jews who apparently believed in Him but hated it when Jesus told them they were slaves and needed to be set free.

    31So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." 33They answered him, "We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, 'You will become free'?" 34Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father."

    Today, as then, many persons (even some Christians) hear that the natural man, absent of the Holy Spirit, is in bondage to sin by a necessity of their hostile natures and need to be set free by Christ, and they grind their teeth at this biblical idea that man has no free will and they want to kill it. Tell me, if someone is a slave to sin, does it not mean that his will is enslaved to sin, for it is our will which we use to commit sin. The natural man is in bondage to a corruption of nature, according to Jesus, until He and He alone sets them free. This is a hard teaching but some do not believe, Jesus says, because they are not his Covenant people. John 10:26 serves as an example: "But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep." it is not because they do not believe that they are not Jesus' sheep, but because they are not His sheep, they do not believe. His sheep hear his voice and follow Him.

    Again, in John 10, a similar passage where Jesus plainly explains the reason why some people do not believe. Because people follow their own corrupt natures. And that the prerequisite for belief is that one actually belongs to God through mercy, but it is nature which turns them away from Him.

    46Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God."

    As St Augustine said: "The will is evil by corruption of nature and becomes good only by a correction of grace."

    So when false teachers present us false unbiblical doctrines such as the free will of natural man ... we can remember Jesus in John 8, and because of His words we should not feel ashamed to speak up. You are doing a world of good to the person you speak truth to. Some may abandon the relationship but we cannot because of that let them continue in falsehood by remaining silent. We believe in a God who has revealed Himself, not a god of human speculation. Do not get me wrong: God can and does save persons in spite of their bad theology in the hearing of the word, or else grace would not be grace, but when persons misrepresent Christ, to the degree that they do, they promote idolatry.

    Posted by John on November 1, 2006 01:38 PM


    Paul said: let any man who preach another Gospel than Christ crucified, let him be accursed. He says it twice for emphasis.

    Thanks George:

    That is the central point to the gospel George. In this we fully agree. He lived the life we should have lived and died the death we deserve.

    Apart from Christ and the work he has accomplsihed for us, we cannot be redeemed but are left to our own boasted will, which can do nothing apart from Christ's grace. It is the grace of Jesus Christ and Him crucified when applied by the Holy Spirit, that our spiritual blind eyes are opened and our deaf ears unstopped. It is Christ who opens our heart of the gospel.

    Apart from Christ's life, death and resurrection we have no hope.

    Thank you for posting this John. We have found out that it sure does divide. Gently we tell them that free will is wrong, show and explain to them why from the Bible, and then they get mad and snub you. Telling the truth in love is hard sometimes, but when it comes to this, they need to know. We have found out its easier to tell someone who hasn't been set free yet, vs the ones who think they are and they did it! Especially when its the pastor!!

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