In my first post about this doctrine of ‘once saved, forever saved’, I said that many are poorly equipped to fight this error. So, in order for us to be better equipped, I spoke about the fundamentals of their philosophy of ‘grace’, so that we know what we’re up against. In this post, I want to speak about another factor that many lack which makes them ill-equipped to contend for the true gospel of grace – it is the rules of engagement which should govern us in this ‘civil war’ in Christianity.
When we violate the rules of engagement, we end up dragging this war in no apparent direction. It does not however mean that we will resolve this war for truth if we all knew and adhered to the rules of engagement. Rather, what adherence to the rules of engagement will do for us is that it will provide us the opportunity to bear better witness to the truth and help us draw the line for anyone who desires to know the truth so that they are not confused and do not find it difficult to know where to take a stand.
Here are a few rules of engagement that are often contravened in this war.
Rules of Engagement Number One: Be armed with the Scripture.
I have observed that majority (but not all) of those who fight for the true message of Grace have little or no scriptural basis for their arguments, they just know that they disagree and express their disagreements in strong emotions instead of in scripture. They think that throwing tantrums will suffice in a war against twisted scriptures. It won’t! It will only take an accurate presentation of those scriptures that have been twisted to adequately combat this error.
Unfortunately, those who are in error make so much use of the scriptures (taken out of context) just as the devil did when he tempted the Lord Jesus in the wilderness.
Rules of Engagement Number Two: Fight with Honor.
Instead of fighting with honor, most just chose to ‘fight dirty’ putting words in the mouth of each other. For example, some of us who fight on the side of true Grace wrongly accuse those advocating ‘hyper grace’ of saying, “it’s okay to sin as long as you don’t reject the Lord Jesus as your Lord and savior”. That’s not true, ‘hyper-grace’ preachers don’t say that. To accuse them of saying such is not fair and that’s what I call “fighting dirty”. People who fight dirty do so to score cheap points.
Don’t get me wrong though, I still believe their message gives license for sin, even though they don’t say it verbatim. You can’t say stealing is a crime but it will not be punished and still say you haven’t given people the license to steal. (I elaborated on this in my previous post).
In law, when you tell one lie in order to establish a billion truths, your entire witness to the truth is thrown out and discredited.
On the other hand, this ‘hyper-grace’ folks also try to score cheap points by accusing us of preaching “eternal insecurity”. The fact that we disagree with their belief in ‘once saved, forever saved’ doesn’t mean we teach “eternal insecurity”.
I believe in eternal salvation and eternal life (See Hebrews 5:9 John 3:15). I also believe eternal life is a free gift of God (See Romans 6:23) and like every gift, whether temporal or eternal, the Scripture admonishes us to “lay hold on” it (See 1 Timothy 6:12, 19). The implication of this is that our possession of this eternal gift is contingent on “if we hold fast” to it as seen in several scriptures. (See Hebrews 3:6,14; & 2 Timothy 2:12).
Simply put, if you have a responsibility to hold on to a gift, then there’s also a possibility of you losing it, but losing an eternal gift doesn’t diminish the fact that it is eternal. (More on this in future posts).
Apart from trying to score cheap points by fighting dirty, I also see many of this ‘hyper grace’ people speak blasphemously of God for example; “if I lose my salvation then it’s Christ’s fault, He is the one that has failed me. Because it’s His responsibility to save me and keep me safe eternally.” They also speak disrespectfully of older ministers. It’s unfortunate. You can’t speak the GOOD news in BAD taste, if indeed it’s the good news you preach. A word is enough for the wise.
Rules of Engagement Number Three: Accept the Scriptures as the Final Authority
These ‘hyper-grace’ people are the ones who break this rule the most. They tell you they accept the scripture as the word of God until they are confronted with verses of scripture that they are uncomfortable with especially because it negates their teachings.
For instance, when we point out scriptures such as Romans 8:1 to them, they quickly say, “the ‘b’ part of that verse was not in the original material, it was inserted later”. How convenient!
Or when faced with 1 John 1:9, they say it was not written to Christians but to Gnostics and unbelievers, even though John used pronouns such as “WE” and “US” in that verse.
The one that baffles me the most is when they out rightly tell you to ignore verses that don’t support their erroneous beliefs. For instance, one of the most prominent preachers of this perverse grace message was asked about Hebrews 10:26-31 where it says, “If we willfully sin… [all that] remains is a fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation.” You know what his response was? He said, “Don’t let an obscure passage rob you of the joy and certainty of passages that are ‘clear’.” Can you imagine that that was his defense? If it contradicts their belief, they twist it, and if they can’t twist it, they label it obscure and not just that, they advise that it should be ignored.
This method of selective adherence to the scripture points to a fundamental flaw in a person’s heart. If you think that it’s okay to ride-on in the frolic of your pet doctrines as long as it’s just one scripture that contradicts your theology, then you don’t have the slightest idea what God’s standard of accuracy and truth is. The kingdom is not like science that allows for a 0.5 margin of error in doctrine. On the contrary, accuracy in doctrine should be like getting a phone number, you must have both the right digits AND the right sequence. If you miss any of that, you are bound to dial a wrong number. That’s why the Bible says a word is enough for the wise. So, if a scripture is not fitting into your ‘hyper-grace’ mold, don’t you think it is about time you questioned your entire theology?
Even though this attitude is more common with ‘hyper-grace’ advocates, they are not the only ones guilty of it. Sometimes, folks on this side of the divide, also try to avoid portions of scripture that mention things they don’t understand like “eternal life/salvation” (which I already discussed above). They fear that discussing that scripture might give ‘hyper-grace’ people an upper hand. But that’s not what this debate is about. It is not about who gets the upper hand but what is scripturally sound doctrine!
Rules of Engagement Number Four: Draw the Battle Line Using the ‘D’ Factor.
The ‘D’ Factor is the factor that defines, differentiates, and distinguishes one idea from another. The ‘D’ Factor defines a thing not just by what it is, but by what it is not.
In practice, what this means is that, if you teach about “eternal salvation” for instance, ensure that you let your audience know that it is not the same as the doctrine of ‘once saved, forever saved’.
For instance, a popular and famous preacher in Lagos (which I shall call pastor X for anonymity sake), invited some preachers who unknown to him were advocates of this perverse-grace message. They came for his program and to his utmost surprise, they wrought damage to years of sound doctrine that he had taught his flock. And sadly, many embraced their message including guests from far and wide.
Regretting ever inviting them, pastor X started a series of teachings to correct their errors as a form of damage control. He employed every platform available to him including social media.
Now one of the young men who had attended pastor X’s program – and embraced the ‘hyper grace’ message, read pastor X’s messages that were meant to address the errors of the ‘hyper grace’ teachings – would ‘like’ those posts and sometimes even comment to say, “Thank you pastor X”, but each time, would go back to his Facebook wall and still write “Once I’m saved, I am forever saved. Hallelujah!”
Why was this happening? Why couldn’t he tell that pastor X was not in support of that message? It was because pastor X was not definitive in his ‘damage control’. He said nothing about the ideology he was confronting, he simply said what he stood for and left the rest to fate.
There is an old saying, “Half the solution is knowing the problem”. If that is correct, then knowing the ‘answer’ is simply the second half of the solution. It’s not enough to tell people the “answer”, we also need to point out the problem if we really want them to have the complete solution. Like one atheist mockingly asked, “If Jesus is the ‘answer’, what is the ‘question’?” We need to present both the question and the Answer to the world. That’s the only way they can truly place value of Jesus as the ‘Answer’!
It is for this same reason that I don’t fully agree with the statement, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for everything.” That’s why many people stand for Christ but still subscribe to other religions. I am of the opinion that, a better argument for a man’s position is a clearly defined enemy. Like Robert Greene said, “A sharply defined enemy is a far stronger argument for your side than all the words you could possibly put together.”
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches…