Romans 3:26: To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
The more I think about what really keeps people from understanding the gospel, the more I am convinced that it is a problem of focus.
Once someone understands that he is lost, and helpless, then the full focus needs to be on Jesus – who He is, why He came, and how He has taken away the sins of the world.
Amytime the focus of our redemption is not squarely on Jesus, the message gets confused or altered.
The questions about how Christians should live are not relevant to an unbeliever. The questions about any expectation of commitment are not relevant to an unbeliever. Whether or not one wants to live the Christian life is not relevant to an unbeliever. Whether or not one wants to give up any sins is not relevant to an unbeliever.
What is relevant is this:
Is Jesus God in the flesh? Did He die for our sins (all of them, for everyone in the world – past, present, and future)? Did that include your sins – past, present, and future? Was He raised from the dead, proving that His payment was accepted?
The “what if I?” questions need to be turned back and met with “what DID Jesus do?”
Romans 4:25: Who was delivered for our offenses and raised for our justification.
Following is a real-life example of a young man contending with highly-experienced purveyors of a false man-focused gospel. His questions are in italics and my answers in bold.
I have slightly modified some jargon, and edited for length.
Recently there have been several preacher guys on campus. They are no doubt LS. I asked one of them what they thought about free grace and I told him my beliefs and MANY other students seemed very interested in what I had to say. Of course he was prepared with rebuttals but I wanted to hear what his arguments were because the students are annoyed at these guys and want to hear the actual gospel. Here are some of the things he said and I wanted to know what you think about them because I feel like this would be a really good opportunity to tell people about free grace.
1. They claim that they believe you can only be saved by the blood of Christ, but you have to want to turn from your sins (their false definition of “repent”). They say that repenting from your sins means that when you have the desire to sin, you decide to not do it.
The Bible calls eternal life the gift of God (Romans 6:23). A gift means something freely given, without cost or obligation to the recipient.
If we had to agree to go give up anything to receive the gift of eternal life, it would no longer be a gift. It would be a trade. That is the key concept in all of this. Salvation is God’s gift to us through Jesus.
Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The phrase “repent of your sins” never shows up in the King James Bible. Never.
“Repent”, when used in a salvation context, means to change your mind about what religious people tell you that you must do to be saved (such as turning from sins) and to trust that Jesus really did pay for all of your sins (past, present and future).
2. Every sin you commit comes from what is in your heart so if you are sinning you are not necessarily saved by believing that Jesus died for your sins.
Every sin does come from your heart. But, the Bible says whoever believes in Jesus as his Savior has eternal life that can never be lost or forfeited (see John 5:24).
3. The reaction to 3:23 was that it all men HAVE sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but that a person who is truly saved will no longer sin.
A good question for them: “Do you still sin?”
4. What I gathered from them was we are saved by WANTING to be saved and the only way to WANT to be saved is to try to stop sinning.
You do not have to try to stop sinning to be saved.
Romans 4:5: But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
“Justify” means for God to declare someone “not guilty” of his sins, based on his faith in Christ. “Righteousness” means “sinless” – this is based on Christ’s righteousness imputed to you when you believe in Him as your Savior. It is not based on our righteousness in turning from sin or anything else.
The verse I cited above says God justifies (saves) ungodly people. The LSers are saying that you have to try to be godly (to be saved).
5. They talked about Matthew 21:31, Matthew 7:3, and the verse about plucking out your eye.
I’m not sure where they are going with Matthew 21:31 or Matthew 7:3. But, trust me – if none of these verses existed, they would find other verses to use to promote their false doctrine.
Regarding plucking out an eye – this is Matthew 18:9. No one has ever received eternal life by plucking out his eye. And, no one has been refused eternal life because he wouldn’t stop sinning (or even be willing to).
Romans 5:8: But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
What do you recommend I say to the people who want to listen because some people talked about it with me for a minute but I’m not prepared enough to have a good conversation. Also it would be completely pointless to try and argue with the “crazy preacher guys”. They are EXTREMELY well read.
The errors of these “extremely well read” people are no match for the Word of God.
1. Everyone is a sinner
2. The penalty for sin is death (eternal separation from God in a place of conscious torment – hell)
3. One must be perfect to get into heaven. Not good. Not great. Perfect.
4. One cannot do anything of himself to obtain this perfection – this includes turning from sin, committing your life to Christ and so on. God offers eternal life as a gift – it’s not for sale or barter.
5. God provided a sin-bearer for us (The Lord Jesus Christ, God in the
flesh. He had no sin of his own, but he came to die for us, paying the full penalty for our sin. He was raised from the dead, proving that His payment was acceptable).
6. All we can do to receive everlasting life is to believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior.
7. Eternal life, once received by faith in Christ, can never be lost or forfeited, no matter what happens in our lives down the road.
What is there to do to receive eternal life? Simply BELIEVE that Jesus made that payment for your sin – for you.
Don’t let yourself get drawn into the snares of the LS guys. Proclaim the truth to people who will listen.
Not everyone will believe what you tell them. That’s not on you. Your job is to tell them the truth.