In Part 1 of our blog series, we prefaced the spectrum (hyper-grace to legalism) of thinking in the American church and uncovered a few biblical truths that are too often passed off as hyper-grace postures. In this entry, we’ll likewise expose biblical principles that put on the façade of legalism, but in actuality convey the truth of the Gospel.
Three Trouble Areas:
One Way, One God
In a universal world, many roads lead to heaven, but in a biblical world, with a narrow gate (Matthew 7:13-14) there is actually only one way to heaven. I suppose it’s a matter of what world you choose to live in. Confessing an “exclusive” perspective on this point is NOT legalism, it’s scriptural. In fact, Jesus declares in the above Matthew verse that “wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” This doesn’t need to be condemning but it does speak to the exclusivity of how we can approach God the Father. Through Jesus. Period.
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” 1st Timothy 2:5
With how prevalent and accepted inter-faith prayer is among Christian leaders, you’d think that it’s a sound theology. But let’s not cloud our call to evangelize with coming into agreement with another god. Inter-faith prayer, in my view, is a form of compromise that the church cannot afford. Accepting others and sharing Jesus is more than noble, it’s the Christian call, but sharing God’s stage with other gods is dangerous territory. In an attempt to tolerate and universalize “faith positions,” we consequently mitigate God’s sovereignty. I’m not an opponent of people from other faiths, I’m an opponent of their gods, and that isn’t legalism.
“I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.” Isaiah 45:5
Hell is real
Whether it’s comfortable or not, hell is a dominant theme in the gospels. It’s also one of the leading reasons why people are driven away from the church; the fire and brimstone messages don’t seem to appeal to the masses! Regardless of the offense that could accompany an ill-conceived evangelistic message, hell is certainly real. And, although Rob Bell does make some interesting points in his book, Love Wins, the fact that hell is real and that it’s not just marginally unsatisfactory is inescapable. It’s also NOT legalism to feel this way, because the Bible supports it. When trying to understand hell throughout scripture, a word study will reveal a few terms that are overwhelmingly recurrent: eternal, fire, death, destruction, & gnashing of teeth, to name a few. To acknowledge hell as being real and bad is just logical; whether it’s part of your witnessing strategy is another thing.
~Tune in to the third installment of this series, where I’ll touch on the tolerance vs. love disparity and discuss how I believe Jesus was apolitical.
-Joe D’Orsie – Communications & Spiritual Life Counsel