Tempering Grace with Common Sense

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10 Nov 2013 by Eugene Tan-

 

The Christian life is not about the changed life but exchanged life; it is not about behaviour modification but heart transformation; it is not about good works but the finished work.

If Christianity is about changed life, how much change do we need to be acceptable? How much more in our behaviour do we need to tweak or add good works to, before we qualify?

 

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Driving a friend who was a pastor to a speaking engagement, our conversation came into the subject of grace and forgiveness. My friend shared with me over his unhappiness over an incident in his church. A new believer was found smoking every week after the service, whereby many church members frowned upon and complained about his behavior to my pastor friend. My friend was saddened by the judgmental attitude of the church members who were supposed to extend grace.

But for the sake of discussion, I asked my friend, “Pastor, how long do you think it’s acceptable for this new believer to continue smoking?” My friend floundered for a while. So, I asked more specific questions, “Is three months okay?” He paused and replied, “Should be okay lah.” I asked again, “What about three years?” This time, my friend answered, “Oh no, you need to lead a holy life. I doubt if he is truly saved if he still smokes after three years. You know that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit!”

 

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Hence, from this story, we learned that three months are acceptable but not three years. And this is where the church failed because we teach and shout over our roof tops that all sinners are welcomed into church including the homosexuals, child molesters, murderers, drugs addicts, unmarried pregnant woman, and people who have HIV or AIDS. And to give credit to many churches I had been to, the churches had been practicing what is commendable to say the least. The only trouble is that once a person gets saved, he is now expected to live a holy life immediately.

Now, beyond any doubt, when a sinner accepts Christ, he is instantly transported from darkness into God’s marvellous light. The sinner is now made righteous in the eyes of God and God sovereignly bestows eternal life on him. Being righteous in the eyes of God does not mean that the person has immediately become a saint or an angel who does not sin anymore. This gift of eternal life in Heaven is after all grace, meaning unmerited favour by God that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

The blood of Christ dealt with our sins, justifying our sins. This is called as justification but that does not mean the sinner has stopped sinning altogether. But because of his simple faith on God’s grace, he is now as I understood as ‘saved.’ He still needs to grow toward maturity, a process understood as sanctification. And day by day, bit by bit, slowly but surely, he learns the meaning of living a life that honors God. But to transform one’s entire attitude immediately is near to impossible.

 

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Apart from smoking, is it acceptable for an impatient man to continue to be impatient after three years he accepted Christ? How about a man struggling with lust or a woman who habitually gossips after three years they became believers? What about those who love to eat and still continue to overindulge in food after ten years accepting Christ? If we were to base our salvation on performance, then who would qualify?

We have a God who sees the heart, not only the externals. Hence, there is no room for hypocrisy or double standards. The Bible declares that God do not judge like mere mortals who could see the speck in other people’s eyes, but not the plank in front of their own eyes (Matt 7:3). The Bible declares that we are saved by grace through faith and not works, so that no man can boast because grace is a gift of God (Eph 2:8). In Exodus 12:13, God said, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” The Israelites were rebellious, stiff-necked and disobedient, yet I thank God that it is not what they do or think, but all they need to do is to believe in the blood of the Lamb.

 

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Of course, some of us have heard believers who were instantly delivered from drug addiction and gambling addiction through God’s power. But let us be honest about ourselves, how many of us still struggle with irritability, impatience, gossiping, and other frailties years after our conversion. Hence, if the answer is yes, the question is again, “Are we saved or not then?”

Also, our understanding of our body being the temple of the Holy Spirit needs to be calibrated. Apostle Paul was not referring to the physical body but the spirit (1 Cor 6:19). Imagine the Holy Spirit dwelling in our fleshly body and dying with us. When God spoke to Adam, He told him, “But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it, you will surely die (Gen 2:17).” Did Adam die after eating the food? No. Was God lying? No, but God was referring to the spirit man. Likewise, the Apostle Paul was referring to the Spirit. This is a classic example of how truths can be misunderstood.

 

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Jesus said, ““Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls (Matt 11:28).” Is this for real? Are we experiencing the reality of what Jesus said? Is our faith easy?

Is our Christian walk happy? How can anyone of us be happy if we constantly feel we are not good enough? Can you be a happy wife if your husband constantly thinks that you are not good enough, not pretty enough, not tall enough, and not a good cook enough compared to someone else’s wife? How can a child be happy if everything he or she does is not good enough for the parents? In the same token, how can any child of God be truly happy if we constantly feel that we are not good enough and we cannot live up to God’s expectations?

When God visited Adam and Eve in the garden after they had eaten the fruit, did God ask them why they did it; what happened to them, and what in the world made them did it? Instead of asking those questions, our gracious and loving Father asked, “Where are you (Gen 3:9)?” He is asking, “Where are you my child? Where are you hurting?”

The next question He asked was, “Who told you that you were naked (Gen 3:11)?” To paraphrase, this sentence could sound like, “Who told you that you are not good enough? Who told you that you are not qualified? Who told you that you are not complete? Who told Abraham that he was too old and Sarah’s womb was empty? Who told Nick Vuijicic that he is not going to make a difference in this world because he had no arms and legs?”

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Yes, grace is radical because grace dares to believe. Grace dares to challenge established and preconceived mind-set, ideas, cultures, and religiosity. Grace says that you are not a sinner because you sin but you are a sinner because you are sin. A Chinese may be born in United States and not speak a word of Chinese but he is nevertheless a Chinese. We are born into sin through Adam and we are born again through Jesus Christ who is the author and finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2)!

When we inherit a fortune, we do not have to work for it because it is our birth right. Therefore, grace says you don’t pray for victory, we pray from a position of victory. Likewise, we don’t pray for more power and more of the Holy Spirit because God is not a supermarket retailer who dispenses packets of victory, power, or Holy Spirit; but everything we ever need is within us.

Christ in us is the hope of glory. In Him, we are more than conquerors. In Him, we can do all things! Let me add a disclaimer here; grace is not antinomianism, it is not a license to sin. Grace only removes the guilt, shame, and condemnation of sin but it does not remove the consequences of sin for breaking the laws we need to respect, i.e. law of nature, gravity, or our government. If you murder someone, you go to jail. In short, grace must be tempered with common sense.

 

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Preaching about grace is risky. Some may believe that the grace message is too liberal with too little care about the holiness of God, hence allowing believers to continue sinning. In fact, there will be believers who will thank us for taking away their guilt because in their mistaken mind-set, they think that continuing their carefree and loose lifestyles are okay to continue.

If you are a parent and one of your children chose a sinful lifestyle due to the grace theology you preached and practiced, that could create a lot of guilt. As a parent, you fear that you may be too gracious. Having said that, in my personal opinion, erring in the side of grace is better than the side of legalism.

Still, on the scale of one to ten, how gracious are you? Are you gracious to the point whereby you allow your children to play with firecrackers at three years old, go to a mall without adult supervision at ten year old, ride a motorbike without a driving license at 15 years old or stay over at their boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s apartment at 17 years old? Do we still use the rod on our children at 17 years old because the Bible says spare the rod and spoil your children (Prov 13:24) or do we follow the Americans who do not use the rod at all according to Benjamin Spock?

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Also, where do we draw the line between grace and common sense for ourselves and in church? Do we allow our church members to serve communion in their sandals or do we insist they dress up in suits? Does grace mean that the ladies of the church could dress up in miniskirts or micro shorts, with body-hugging spaghetti strap tops or do we insist that they cover their head with a shawl?

For those who are married, do we extend our grace to our spouse to a point where they have the liberty to do whatever they like such as reprimanding each other in public or migrating to another country with the children without mutual consensus? On the other hand, are we so controlling that we need to know every movement and every little decision? 

The moral of the story here is grace need to be tempered with common sense.

Most Christians do not have a clue of what they are missing. When Emperor Hirohito surrendered, many American soldiers were still fighting the Japanese. After the American civil war when the slaves were emancipated, many were found still working as slaves. At the cross, it is finished; it cannot be more finished. God has given us everything in Jesus Christ. Let us do away with the slave mentality. The whole abundant life is already embodied on the cross and in the cross; our role is to work out what is already within us, that abundant life in us.

 

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Grace that is received but unexpressed is dead grace. If we do not know how to enjoy grace and to translate grace into our personal experience, grace is dead in our lives. Cheap grace justifies the sin rather than the sinner. True grace, on the other hand, justifies the sinner and not the sin. We don’t fall from grace when we misbehave but we fall into grace. When sin abounds, grace abounds even more! Grace is not a struggle for a free life but grace belives, in God’s economy, that all struggles have expiry dates. Some of our life struggles are learning curves and I believe our Heavenly Father allows them to happen to help us to be more mature.

Let me conclude by saying that grace nullifies guilt; there is no doubt about that. Grace removes guilt; it renders shame powerless. Guilt and shame keep us away from God. And from the example of Adam and Eve, the Bible paints a picture of God as a seeker.

Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son further exemplifies this perception. God is like a lovesick father, constantly looking out over the horizon for us. And brothers and sister, this is the power of grace. It continually reinforces God’s love for us and by doing so; it empowers us to know who we are in Jesus Christ by liberating us to be our true selves without fear and condemnation, plus with a lot of common sense! God bless.

 

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References for pictures:

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16 Comments

  1. Dear Author –

    As an Asia regional Christian leader of over 10,000 Asian pastors and Church leaders, who has been ministering full-time in Asia for the past 18 years, who lived in Malaysia back in the late '90s and my wife born in Malaysia before coming to the US and receiving an Ivy League graduate school education  (Columbia University Journalism School) getting married (I was a former investment banker on Wall Street), becoming a US citizen and working for Reuters News as a senior Asia regional editor, who held the title of Editor for Southeast Asia, Australia and the Pacific region…I am truly astounded by your lack of basic Bible understanding. Firstly, the "power of grace" is a self-centered Gospel that produces little to know true and demonstrable Kingdom Fruit upon the earth: Kingdom Expansion and Multiplication (Discipleship) – it focuses Believers upon an inward looking, low expectations and self-gratifying Gospel. It's main goal? For the hearer to feel more spiritually comfortable with 'not pressing towards the mark' and an emphasis on "getting more stuff"…Jesus' last Words to Believers before being taken to Heaven was a "Go Ye"- Great Commission command, not a 'getting more stuff' message; and that is why the Apostle Paul's Words in 2 Timothy 4:3 have some much meaning in today's world-  "For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths." All these supposedly great Men and Women of God who preach this Grace message have one thing in common – they all walk in LITTLE TO NO Kingdom power or impact in the world…even though Jesus and the Word makes clear in Mark 16: 17 – 20: "These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in My name, and they will speak in new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won't hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed." When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, He was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God's right hand. And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs."….

    …The power of God is sadly in little demonstration upon the earth – even though Jesus said, "these signs will follow those who believe." This has only gotten worse with the Grace Message…This begs the spiritual question: what actually do these Grace ministers believe if Jesus is NOT working with and confirming their words with miracle signs following?? The biggest difference between today's Church and the Early Church is that Jesus, the Apostles and Early Church preached the Gospel of the Kingdom with Kingdom power and impact dispelling spiritual darkness and transforming the world around them for the Kingdom of God. Today's Church is not transforming the world – it is being transformed by the world!

    But in general – pertaining to your "Grace teaching", you are in spiritual error on so many of your supposedly theological points that it's rather embarrassing – but let me just focus on the obvious, your misinterpreting God's Written Word:

    Firstly, you state: "When God visited Adam and Eve in the garden after they had eaten the fruit, did God ask them why they did it; what happened to them, and what in the world made them did it? Instead of asking those questions, our gracious and loving Father asked, “Where are you (Gen 3:9)?" He is asking, "Where are you my child? Where are you hurting?” The next question He asked was, “Who told you that you were naked (Gen 3:11)?” To paraphrase, this sentence could sound like, “Who told you that you are not good enough? Who told you that you are not qualified? Who told you that you are not complete?"….

    Dear author – I personally and regularly study God's Word on a daily basis using some seven Bible translations and I have NEVER come across your interpretations of God's Word. Do you have your own personal Bible translation? Or are you God's modern day Bible interpreter?? The context of God's Word has to do with the aftermath of Adam and Eve eating of the Tree of Good and Evil. Genesis 3:7 specifically states that after they ate of the fruit "their eyes were open; and they knew they were naked." When God asked them "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?" " Understand – before they sinned, God was the source of all knowledge, wisdom and life; since God didn't tell them, he asked a rhetorical question (remember: God knows all…God wasn't in the dark about what they had done) and based upon the fact that sin brings fear (opposite of Faith in God) and it brings death. God asked them why did they disobey him, why did they sin against His Word? God's love in action was to cover their nakedness (by making a blood sacrifice of animals that covered their sin …and their nakedness) and promising a savior to redeem mankind (Genesis 3:15)… No where in ANY translation does it suggest that God asks Adam and Eve, "Who said you were not qualified?" "Who says you are not complete?" Understand: they disobeyed God, they sinned – sin separates us from God. God is first and foremost love but also a God of Justice and that is why God had Adam and Eve kicked out of the Garden and put Cherubims and a flame of sword to keep the Tree of Life safely away from sinful and corrupt man. (Genesis 3:24).

     

    You state: "Also, our understanding of our body being the temple of the Holy Spirit needs to be calibrated. Apostle Paul was not referring to the physical body but the spirit (1 Cor 6:19)."…

    Oh really?? Try learning Greek original word meanings of Bible words (or invest in a Strong's Greek Dictionary): The word "body" in this scripture is the Greek word "soma", which means "the [physical] body of both men and animals" ….So the Apostle Paul WAS talking about the physical body not figuratively speaking about other spiritual things as you make up.

    You also state: “But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it, you will surely die (Gen 2:17).” Did Adam die after eating the food? No. Was God lying? No, but God was referring to the spirit man. Likewise, the Apostle Paul was referring to the Spirit. This is a classic example of how truths can be misunderstood."

    Once again that is YOUR inaccurate opinion, NOT God's Word: The Bible states in Genesis 5:5, "And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died." So, God was not lying – Adam would surely die if he ate of the Tree of Good and Evil and Adam: Through sin, he first died spiritually and then he physically died at the age of 930 years! Why did it take Adam 930 years to die? Because Adam had to learn to die…He was born immortal, sin brings death and separation from God's Zoe life. Adam, through the curse on the earth and being separated from the life of God through his sin, slowly brought his physical death.

    The point of my criticisms is that you have false Bible interpretations and you build a theological argument based upon false Bible interpretations – and that is the error of the Grace Message: It is full of half-truths built upon false interpretations of God's Word…What it does dangerously, it takes focus away from why Believers are here upon this earth: To expand and multiply the Kingdom of God upon the earth – to bring in the End-tie Harvest and prepare the way for the Lord's return. The Grace message focuses Believers, erroneously, to feel comfortable with a carnal lifestyle (although Jesus said in Matthew 7 that the way into the Kingdom is through the 'narrow way' and few find it) and to seek "stuff". This is contrary to Jesus' own words in Matthew 6:33  which states to: Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and God's righteousness (your right-standing in the Kingdom as Kingdom citizens) and all these other things will be given to you!

     

     

     

     

    • Dear Brother.

      You may not agree with the author in most of his article because you do not agree with the way he 'divides' it. He reads it to see the Father – God of Love and Jesus concelaed in the Law and Prophets but you divide it differently. So why not show LOVE and say we will agree to disagree agreeably. Let's keep pointing people to Jesus rather than pointing fingers at each other. Preach the Gospel of God rather than what we believe and think is the right Doctrines. Shalom!!!

    • Dear Will,
      Thank you for your unnecessarily strong rebuttal of Eugene's article. It only proves what he is trying to say : grace is absent when we are so puffed up about our own qualifications, experience and self righteousness. I am so glad that Jesus is different – He showed grace to the uneducated, under privileged, ostracised and pour scorn on the self righteous learned.
       

    • Dr Will,
      Thank you for your strong response to Eugene's article.
      It merely proves the point that Eugene was driving at : the lack of grace in the midst of pompous self righteousness and self glorification of your qualifications and experience.

      I am glad Jesus is not like that – He always had encouraging things to say to the outcasts and the unqualified common folk.

      This is Eugene first ever article anywhere the last 10 years. The overwhelming response that he gets (from the number of "likes" for this article) means many hearts resonanted with what he wrote.

      The church needs His grace ever more and needs to show grace so much more.

       

    • Dr Patin,

      I find your reply to Eugene’s article strange. Strange despite your accusation of Eugene’s lack of understanding in Scripture I find you being the one misquoting the Bible. Let me make my point. You make a general statement that the “"power of grace" is a self-centered Gospel that produces little to know true and demonstrable Kingdom Fruit upon the earth: Kingdom Expansion and Multiplication (Discipleship) – it focuses Believers upon an inward looking, low expectations and self-gratifying Gospel. It's main goal? For the hearer to feel more spiritually comfortable with 'not pressing towards the mark' and an emphasis on "getting more stuff"…”

      Here is what I am surprised with. You say that the “power of grace”  make the hearers  comfortable “not pressing towards the mark”. Pressing the mark is a term used by Paul in Philippians 3:14. For context sake let me quote the whole of Philippians 3:

      Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.

      Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.

      For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

      Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:

      Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;

      Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

      But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

      Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

      And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

      10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

      11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

      12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

      13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

      14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

      I beckon you to ask this question “what is pressing toward the mark?” If you look at the whole context of what Paul had just stated, he was saying that his whole life of achievement of accolades as having confidence in the flesh. That is to say what he achieved through being a pious practitioner of legalistic righteousness through the law of Moses: “touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.”  Yet Paul considers this “confidence in the flesh”. It is definitely not “pressing toward the mark”. Pressing the mark according to Paul starts by a believer ditching “righteousness that comes from the Law” which is confidence in the flesh ie. Boasting about who he is and what he has achieved. It is about this: “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;”.

      That is how we press for the mark. By recognizing we have no righteousness of our own by observing the law but by believing in Jesus. That is how we know him and the power of his resurrection! Sadly, you completely missed the point by rolling a list of credentials like Paul and totally miss the point is trying to make. I am rather astounded by how far you miss the point of the verse you quote.

      Secondly, Kingdom fruit is not produced by effort. It is produced by a righteousness that comes through faith and through grace. Galatians 5 speaks about this fruit. Hence if you had bother to look at the book of Galatians and its outline you would probably note the dichotomy that Paul spoke about. Law and Grace. Here is how it pens out:

      Chapter 1

       

      Message by the angel – Law                                   

      Paul’s Gospel which was received personally from Jesus – Grace

       

      Chapter 2

      Peter’s refusal to eat with Gentiles – Law

      The righteousness that comes by being already crucified Christ  – Grace

       

      Chapter 3

      Self effort – Law

      Signs and wonders from the Spirit – Grace

       

      Chapter 4

      Hagar/ Mount Sinai – Law

      Sarah/ Mount Zion – Grace

       

      Chapter 6

      Sowing in the flesh, Circumcision – Law

      Sowing in the Spirit, Right believing – Grace

       

      So guess what is chapter 5?

      Works of the Flesh – Law

      Fruit of the Spirit – Grace.

       

      Jesus never said we are to bear fruits. Bearing fruit comes from abiding in Christ and not self effort. Quoting Major Ian Thomas :

      “Fruit is not what we do, but who we are; not our activity, but our Christlikeness; not our relationship to people, but the condition of our character. Do you remember what James said in his epistle? “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26). The “spirit” there means breath, and a body without breath is dead. Stop breathing–and folk will bury you! In other words a living breathing body breathes, and a living faith breathes with divine action. A living faith breathes with the activity of Jesus Christ. That is why the Lord Jesus, in John 6:29, said. “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”

      That is the work of God. It is your living faith in the adequacy of the One who is in you, which releases His divine action through you. It is the kind of activity that the Bible calls “good works,” as opposed to “dead works.””

       

      So the “power of grace” does actually produce fruit. Let me move on.

       

      You then quote 2nd Timothy 4:3 and you say that grace is not sound doctrine. I am surprised you are “an Asia regional Christian leader of over 10,000 Asian pastors and Church leaders, who has been ministering full-time in Asia for the past 18 years” and yet you do not appreciate teaching the Bible in its context?

       

      Have you ever wondered what this passage actually means?

      Always read a statement in context and the culture of the times where the letter is written. The author uses this verse to accuse grace people as people to teach myths, not knowing these verses actually points to something totally irrelevant with grace. The message in fact that Paul is preaching is the grace message.

      This passage comes from the 2nd letter to Timothy. He warns them of the teaching that “their itching ears wants to hear”. The question is this: Is this the grace message?

      Let’s  look at verse 14. This will give us a clue as to what the message is: “14 Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. 15 You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.”

      Who is Alexander?

      “This may be the same individual as Paul had excommunicated from the church at Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:20). If so, then this might explain his personal animosity and opposition to Paul, now that their paths had crossed again. Alexander has also been identified with the individual of the same name who was put forward by the Jews during the mob scene in Acts 19:33, but he appears to have been an unwilling spokesman, not possessed of the steely character of Paul’s accuser here.

      Since Paul goes on to speak about his trial appearances in Rome, it may be that this Alexander had something to do with Paul’s arrest or the prosecution against him. Whatever the explanation, we learn from this how severely the Lord allowed his servant Paul to be tested and accused at the hands of evil opponents, even to the very end of his life.”

      Source:  http://thirdmill.org/answers/answer.asp/file/42695

      What was his message? Let’s look at 1 Tim 1:20 “20 of whom are zHymenaeus and aAlexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to bblaspheme.” Alexander shared the same message with Hymenaeus which was that the resurrection has taken place and there is no future resurrection. See:

      “Hymenaeus and Philetus are included among persons whose profane and vain babblings will increase towards more ungodliness, and whose teaching “will spread as a cancer” (2 Tim 2:17, NLT). The apostle declares that Hymenaeus and Philetus are examples of those just described, and he adds that those two persons “concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already, and overthrow the faith of some.” Then, for the guidance of Timothy, he goes on to say the seal upon the foundation of God is, “The LORD knows those who are his,” and “All who belong to the LORD must turn away from evil” (2 Tim 2:19, NLT).

      The inference intended is, that though Hymenaeus and Philetus had professed their faith in Christ, they did not turn away from evil. There is no doubt in regard to the identity of this Hymenaeus with the person of the same name in 1 Tim. Accordingly, the facts mentioned in the two epistles must be placed in the following order: That though Hymenaeus had,

      1.    made a public and Christian profession of faith in Christ, yet he had,

      2.    not turned away from evil, but by his profane teaching (see below),

      3.    went towards more ungodliness. This led to,

      4.    his abandoning his faith and a good conscience, thus he brought about,

      5.    the end result of his faith being shipwrecked.

      The error, therefore, of Hymenaeus and his two companions would amount to this: They taught that “the resurrection is past already,” circa 50AD–65AD, and that there would be no future resurrection, but that all that resurrection means is that the soul awakes from sin. This teaching of Hymenaeus had been so far successful: it had “overthrown the faith of some” (2 Tim 2:18)”

      Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hymenaeus_(Ephesian)

      This has nothing to do with grace! The myths people want to hear and that Alexander was preaching is that the resurrection has taken place!

      What then is the message that Alexander opposed? You will find it at the beginning of 2 Timothy:

      For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.

      He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and graceThis grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.

      13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”

       

      The sound teaching Paul is referring to is this: He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and graceThis grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.

      It is the “Grace” message. I really don’t understand where you have this notion that Grace makes us accumulate things.  You then quote “Mark 16: 17 – 20: "These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in My name, and they will speak in new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won't hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed." When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, He was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God's right hand. And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs."….

       

      …The power of God is sadly in little demonstration upon the earth – even though Jesus said, "these signs will follow those who believe." This has only gotten worse with the Grace Message…”

      Why do you make such assumptions? People who know me personally know of how many cases of healings the Lord has done through me, and how much deliverances that also the Lord has done through me. I was raised a Brethren and had never experienced such power until I believe the message of Grace. Today I can even pray for someone through a facebook conversation and the person will experience heat and be healed. I have even prayed for someone through the internet and the person receives the gift of tongues. Dear friend look at the very passage you quoted: These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe. What is the requirement here? Holiness? Steadfastness? No. Just believe.

      Look at what Paul says in Galatians 3: He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

      Here is another version of the same verse: I ask you again, does God give you the power of the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you as a result of your trying to obey the Jewish laws? No, of course not. It is when you believe in Christ and fully trust him. (Living Bible)

      Finally from the Message: “Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you?

      Let’s now look at your critique of Eugene’s so-called “embarrassing points”.

      Adam and Eve

      Let me quote what you had just written: “No where in ANY translation does it suggest that God asks Adam and Eve, "Who said you were not qualified?" "Who says you are not complete?" Understand: they disobeyed God, they sinned – sin separates us from God. God is first and foremost love but also a God of Justice and that is why God had Adam and Eve kicked out of the Garden and put Cherubims and a flame of sword to keep the Tree of Life safely away from sinful and corrupt man. (Genesis 3:24).”

      I have one question to ask you. “Where did God go after he “kicked out” Adam and Eve? In the Garden or did God join Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden? Did God not come out of the Garden with them?

       

      So why then did God forbid Adam and Eve to take the tree of life?

      I always thought God meant it as a punishment. Until I saw the word “take also”. Dear friends, it was not as if God did not allow Adam to take the fruit of that tree, He did not allow him to take ALSO. Mixture. You see dear friends, by now Adam has a complete warp idea of 3 things. God, himself and his home.

      God: While God is still loving and enjoying his fellowship, Adam now thinks of God as a demand, a judge, a prosecutor, a person who hates him.

      His home: His home was paradise, not just Eden but the very garden of Eden. Yet he was in a place which reminded him of his failure, a place which he lost his glory, a place where an animal had dominion over him, a place of defeat, a place where his perfect beauty wife became in his eyes an object of blame, a place where he felt nothing but shame, and not even the presence of God could rescue him from. Sadly Adam became even more afraid, when God came nearer. The love of God to him became the consuming fire which further condemns him.

      Himself: Adam now thought himself, a fugitive. A person who always wanted to pay. Pay for his mistake. He had to work.  A person who thought God’s goodness had to be earned. Things are no longer free. He thought himself a debtor. No longer a viceroy, no longer a prince. He no longer saw himself, a workmanship of God but an object of God’s wrath.

       

      Now if God allowed him to take the tree of life, he would live forever. AT THIS STATE! If he lives forever this way and in this state…. What is it called?

       

      Hell.

       

      So God had to banish him from his place, God had to satisfy Adam’s sense of justice. It was Adam who wanted to pay. Not God. Adam constantly would be looking as to how to pay. But he could never. He could never satisfy this debt he thought he owed. You see God did not send Jesus to satisfy His sense of justice. He gave His Son to satisfy Adam’s sense of justice. Adam’s sense of justice was to pay out of guilt. True forgiveness demands nothing. God freely gave His Son, the Bible says. Freely. He never expected anything back.

      So you see. Sin is the father of all religions. It demands that you make payment. So God allowed man to have a religion, a system of law for man to “try to make right” his relationship with God. To render him a temporal solution to a problem he created for himself. Man thought by this manner, he could bring himself to God by “installment”. An annual subscription.

      The writer of Hebrews puts it this way:

      10 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 2 Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. 4 It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

      You see we labored in our darken understanding that we can make these payments like “credit cards”. Except while we can draw near, but our conscience would condemn us. So we still think we can make these payments. The question here is this. Did God want man to pay?

      “5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:

      Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
      but a body you prepared for me;
      with burnt offerings and sin offerings
          you were not pleased.
      7 Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
      I have come to do your will, my God.’”[a]

      He obviously didn’t. You see forgiveness is free. God doesn’t love you just so that you love him back. He loves you. Period. when we love, we want to loved back. So we project our limitations on God.

      But the problem isn’t God. Its us. Even if God has freely forgiven us, do we really believe it?

      Truth is truth even if you don’t believe it. Where faith in Christ comes in is where the truth becomes an experience for us. For example, God loves you. Truth. When does it become truthTO you? When you believe. When thus does forgiveness take place? At the cross. When did it become real for me? When I believe him.

      That is why only those who believe, experience a forgiveness. That is why only through faith in this provision (Jesus at the cross) allow you to experience salvation. You see if you don’t believe that God has forgiven your sins, cleansed you and already made you perfect, you won’t experience it. You still think you have a debt to pay. You still think God will fry you. 

      So you pull away. You continue to be condemned. Not because God condemns you. You did.You are still Adam. You are still in the darkness. Your idea of God is still an angry judge. A bitter old man demanding justice from you. In reality you are the person who is demanding payment not for him but your restitution. YOUR RESTITUTION. You are doing that when God has already reconciled you to him.

      This is where repentance come in, the changing of your mind. So long there is no faith in believing that it has been paid, you will still be stuck in that mind set. You will run away. You will run into a presence with God. God does not sent us to hell. We do, because we are the ones who do not want Him. There is only one place where He is not there. Hell.

      Romans 4:5

      Amplified Bible (AMP)

      5 But to one who, not working [by the Law], trusts (believes fully) in Him Who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited to him as righteousness (the standing acceptable to God).

      See also how God demonstrates his revenge.

      Isaiah 61:1-3

      Amplified Bible (AMP)

      61 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and theopening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound,

      2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord [the year of His favor] [a]and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,

      3 To grant [consolation and joy] to those who mourn in Zion—to give them an ornament (a garland or diadem) of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit—that they may be called oaks of righteousness [lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

      To comfort those who mourned? That is how God takes vengeance on us?

      Isaiah 63:3-5

      Amplified Bible (AMP)

      3 I have trodden the winepress alone, and of the peoples there was no one with Me. I trod them in My anger and trampled them in My wrath; and their lifeblood is sprinkled upon My garments, and I stained all My raiment.

      4 For the day of vengeance was in My heart, and My year of redemption [the year of My redeemed] has come.

      5 And I looked, but there was no one to help; I was amazed and appalled that there was no one to uphold [truth and right]. So My own arm brought Me victory, and My wrath upheld Me.

       

      Do you see it? Who is the arm of the Lord. He is Jesus. Yet Jesus is mentioned as the one who brought victory and Jesus upheld His Wrath. So how does God take vengeance on us? By sending His Son, except that it was not to punish us. But that you will take note that his vengeance was also his favor. 

      “I am confused”, you may say. But is there isn’t it? The day of the Lord’s favor is the day of the Lord’s vengeance.

      Have you ever wondered why?

      Because God wants you to see that your sins have been paid for. Not for him. But for you. That you may see that your need for payment is paid in full. You don’t need to pay. Its’ been paid. In full! You don’t have to make restitution. That’s the law. Payment by credit card. It has been cleared. Once. Once and for all. Now that it has been paid. There is only one thing left.

      Believe.

      The truth won’t set you free. This is because freedom isn’t freedom until you believe it and then experience it. Only then you know the truth. When you “know the truth” the truth sets you free.

      So you see Eugene is actually correct. The condemnation did not come from God. It comes from Adam himself.

      Matthew 7: The narrow way

      Again I find you quoting out of context. What is the narrow gate?

       

      Matthew 7:13-14
      13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

      I have always thought this a warning to those who didn’t follow the 10 commandments and that the narrow gate is to keep the law. I was wrong. Jesus was speaking to law believing Jews who were already keeping or at least trying to keep the 10 commandments. So why he did say it and what did he mean? In his culture and time everyone is Israel had only known of a righteousness that came from rule keeping. That was what everyone was doing. As such that was the wide gate. The narrow gate is a reference to himself. He alone saves. Not their rule keeping.

      Are you saying we are saved by our works?

      What is Matthew 6:33 really about?

      The key to understanding the Sermon on the Mount is this key verse: “20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:20.

      Note that the Sermon on the Mount thereafter continues by Jesus contrasting “what they (the teachers of the Law) say” and “what I say”?

      Here is an example:

      “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister[b][c] will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’[d] is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

      Dear friends, you must understand that what Jesus is teaching is that the teachers of the law has made the Law “keepable” by lowering down the unreachable standards. Jesus in the Sermon of the Mount is restoring the glory of the Law! I mean whom among us has never call another person an idiot. If you drive in Kuala Lumpur, you will know what I mean. If you see that standards Jesus set in the Sermon on the Mount, you will know that the Law is unkeepable. To be frank, the teachers of the Law did set high standards, Jesus however set impossible standards.

      Now the Sermon continues to Matthew 6 and to this passage:

      25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?

      28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

      The question here is this. What has this passage got to do with what Jesus is teaching about “righteousness that is surpasses that the teachers of the Law?” You see dear friends, if you had been on that Mountain, and if you were a Jew, you would be trembling in fear and worry. Just imagine you had followed the Pharisees for years and thought you were doing OK. Then someone says “Nope its not good enough!” How would you feel?

      Dear friends, few fail to appreciate the gravity of the situation here. This is because we are not Jews. If you are a Jew, you would in deep trouble and you will be “worried”. Here’s why, Deuteronomy 28. Reading from verse 15:

       

       However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you:

      16 You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country.

      17 Your basket and your kneading trough will be cursed.

      18 The fruit of your womb will be cursed, and the crops of your land, and the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.

      19 You will be cursed when you come in and cursed when you go out.

      20 The Lord will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put your hand to, until you are destroyed and come to sudden ruin because of the evil you have done in forsaking him.[a]21 The Lord will plague you with diseases until he has destroyed you from the land you are entering to possess.

       22 The Lord will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew, which will plague you until you perish. 23 The sky over your head will be bronze, the ground beneath you iron. 24 The Lord will turn the rain of your country into dust and powder; it will come down from the skies until you are destroyed.

      25 The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You will come at them from one direction but flee from them in seven, and you will become a thing of horror to all the kingdoms on earth. 26 Your carcasses will be food for all the birds and the wild animals, and there will be no one to frighten them away.

      27 The Lord will afflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors, festering sores and the itch, from which you cannot be cured. 28 The Lord will afflict you with madness, blindness and confusion of mind. 29 At midday you will grope about like a blind person in the dark. You will be unsuccessful in everything you do; day after day you will be oppressed and robbed, with no one to rescue you.

      30 You will be pledged to be married to a woman, but another will take her and rape her. You will build a house, but you will not live in it. You will plant a vineyard, but you will not even begin to enjoy its fruit. 31 Your ox will be slaughtered before your eyes, but you will eat none of it. Your donkey will be forcibly taken from you and will not be returned. Your sheep will be given to your enemies, and no one will rescue them. 

      32 Your sons and daughters will be given to another nation, and you will wear out your eyes watching for them day after day, powerless to lift a hand. 33 A people that you do not know will eat what your land and labor produce, and you will have nothing but cruel oppression all your days. 34 The sights you see will drive you mad. 35 The Lord will afflict your knees and legs with painful boils that cannot be cured, spreading from the soles of your feet to the top of your head.

      36 The Lord will drive you and the king you set over you to a nation unknown to you or your ancestors.There you will worship other gods, gods of wood and stone. 37 You will become a thing of horror, a byword and an object of ridicule among all the peoples where the Lord will drive you.

      38 You will sow much seed in the field but you will harvest little, because locusts will devour it. 39 You will plant vineyards and cultivate them but you will not drink the wine or gather the grapes, because worms will eat them. 40 You will have olive trees throughout your country but you will not use the oil, because the olives will drop off. 41 You will have sons and daughters but you will not keep them, because they will go into captivity. 42 Swarms of locusts will take over all your trees and the crops of your land.

      43 The foreigners who reside among you will rise above you higher and higher, but you will sink lower and lower. 44 They will lend to you, but you will not lend to them. They will be the head, but you will be the tail.

      45 All these curses will come on you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the Lord your God and observe the commands and decrees he gave you.46 They will be a sign and a wonder to you and your descendants forever. 47 Because you did not serve the Lord your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, 48 therefore in hunger and thirst,in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the Lord sends against you. He will put an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you.

      49 The Lord will bring a nation against you from far away, from the ends of the earth, like an eagleswooping down, a nation whose language you will not understand, 50 a fierce-looking nation without respect for the old or pity for the young. 

      51 They will devour the young of your livestock and the crops of your land until you are destroyed. They will leave you no grain, new wine or olive oil, nor any calves of your herds or lambs of your flocks until you are ruined. 52 They will lay siege to all the cities throughout your land until the high fortified walls in which you trust fall down. They will besiege all the cities throughout the land the Lord your God is giving you.

      53 Because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege, you will eat the fruit of the womb, the flesh of the sons and daughters the Lord your God has given you. 54 Even the most gentle and sensitive man among you will have no compassion on his own brother or the wife he loves or his surviving children, 55 and he will not give to one of them any of the flesh of his children that he is eating. It will be all he has left because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege of all your cities. 

      56 The most gentle and sensitive woman among you—so sensitive and gentle that she would not venture to touch the ground with the sole of her foot—will begrudge the husband she loves and her own son or daughter 57 the afterbirth from her womb and the children she bears. For in her dire need she intends to eat them secretly because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege of your cities.

      58 If you do not carefully follow all the words of this law, which are written in this book, and do not revere this glorious and awesome name —the Lord your God— 59 the Lord will send fearful plagues on you and your descendants, harsh and prolonged disasters, and severe and lingering illnesses. 60 He will bring on you all the diseases of Egypt that you dreaded, and they will cling to you. 

      61 The Lord will also bring on you every kind of sickness and disaster not recorded in this Book of the Law, until you are destroyed. 62 You who were as numerous as the stars in the sky will be left but few in number, because you did not obey the Lord your God. 63 Just as it pleased the Lord to make you prosper and increase in number, so it will please him to ruin and destroy you. You will be uprooted from the land you are entering to possess.

      64 Then the Lord will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other. There you will worship other gods—gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your ancestors have known.65 Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the Lord will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart. 66 You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life. 67 In the morning you will say, “If only it were evening!” and in the evening, “If only it were morning!”—because of the terror that will fill your hearts and the sights that your eyes will see. 68 The Lord will send you back in ships to Egypt on a journey I said you should never make again. There you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you.”

      Now wouldn’t you be worried? Now Jesus had just said that their righteousness had to surpass the teachers of the Law. Note here something very important, Jesus then said “your heavenly Father knows what you need… and he said “seek first his kingdom and HIS righteousness!” His Righteousness. Not the righteousness of the Sermon of the Mount which came from the Law. The Father’s Righteousness! That is ONLY righteousness that surpasses the righteousness of the teachers of the Law!

      And guess what? Your heavenly knows YOU NEED IT! And here’s the best thing. It is absolutely free!

      Here’s what Paul says in Romans 3:

      19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. (That is what Jesus set out to do when he preached about the Sermon on the Mount. The next part is about the Father’s righteousness!)

      21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God (the righteousness of the Father) has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in[h] Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,[i] through the shedding of his blood —to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished — 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”

      Dear friends,

      This is what our Lord asks us to obey. To reach out for the Father’s righteousness! It is Jesus!

      1 Corinthians 1:30-31

      New International Version (NIV)

      30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

       

      So dear friend, I am not writing to insult you. I am simply saying even the best of us can be veiled. I believe what Eugene is trying to show us is the aspect of grace that many of us failed to see. A aspect where grace really transforms. I pray that you may find grace. I believe this call for humility. I am sorry if I have offended you.

      But before you call Eugene a false teacher recognized that there is a more gracious way of doing this. I end by quoting what my brother Allan says: “Let's keep pointing people to Jesus rather than pointing fingers at each other.”

  2. Thank you, Eugene, for your insightful article. You have put it well that we should be patient – and not be so judgmental towards others – for their weaknesses and sins as God is a gracious God. “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 103:8). Just like what you shared – the Parable of the Prodigal Son. But He is also a holy God who cannot tolerate sin. And there is a limit to His tolerance for sin for He is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29, 1 Corinthians 10: 6-12). http://bit.ly/1bz3TUf

     

  3. Thank you Eugene for sharing your heart regarding the amazing grace of God. I personally think this is a great message. I sensed you've endeavoured to be balanced in your writing and thinking. And I don't find what you said to be unscriptural or exegetically incorrect or false.

    I suppose we could always read too much into what is said or written and find issues to contend. But if I read you correctly, you weren't writing a theological essay or arguing a theological point of difference between "law and grace" for a seminary but you were rightly sharing and reminding your readers how so often we can on the other side of observing the law that we forget that God is also a God who is full of mercy and grace. My apologies if I've misinterpreted you 🙂 But that is my one line summary of your writing for this blog response.

    In fact, when reading your article I'm reminded that Jesus said in Matt.9.27 quoting from Hosea 6.6, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." Now I'm sure many detractors especially our most learned Dr Will Patin with his long list of credentials and acclamations (God bless you) will also disagree with me here for wrongly picking a scripture to support what I'm saying in regard to mercy of God and be that as it may but the truth remains unchanged that God desires mercy not sacrifice.

    Like many who are in ministry, I worked with the poor and broken people in my community and I've often wondered why so many people falsely and inherently believe they can or must earn the love of God to be accepted. And sadly those who believed this lie are the ones who failed miserably and are unable to be loved and to love either themselves, others and God. This is truly very sad.

    Brennan Manning said in his book, the Relentless Tenderness of Jesus" page 23, "the unearned love of God can be disturbing." That I find to be so true. There's not enough space for me to contextualise what he was saying but perhaps your readers should get hold of Brennan Manning's books. And I assure you it will do a world of good for every soul and heart as it did mine.

    I thank God for His grace and thank you for reminding me. I agree with much if not all of what you said. Let me encourage you to share this message of God's unconditional love and grace to all people whether they be modern day Pharisees and/or classic sinners for we all need the amazing grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    with much blessings and love of Christ

    Michael

  4. Thank you for sharing your heart and in turn blessing me, and the many others who I have shared this article with. 

    People who state their qualifications to bolster their point or support their personal version of the truth clearly forget that Jesus was not an investment banker, was not a leader of 10,000 pastors, was never a regional editor of Reuters, did not hold noble citizenship and did not have family members who graduated from an ivy league college (glory to God if he's blessed you with these). 

    Rather he was of noble lineage born in the most humble of ways tasked with tearing down stifling laws and to bring freedom. He is the truest model of what real humility and servanthood looks like and the grace he bestowed on others was exactly what made him stand out from the Pharisees of the time who had the educations, nobility, wealth and followings.

    Thank you again for your strength and courage in writing this. It is an extremely refreshing article and I am personally blessed to be reminded of the true power of the precious gift that is grace. Reding this has brought me a little bit closer to Jesus and that should be a point worth praising Him for. 

  5. Dear Eugene,

     

    Thanks for sending me this write-up. While I feel inadequate to participate in the philosophical discourse that is ongoing I would like to state that as far as I am concerned, I know exactly where I stand with my Lord Jesus. He has taken me out of abject poverty and a miserable childhood and made me what I am today. The most precious gift I received from Him was the miracle he performed in my life in 2002 when he took away the cancer from my stomach even as my Surgeon was operating on me to remove the whole stomach which was infected with cancer. Because of this and other good works that He continue to shower upon me and my Family, I am steadfast and comforted in the knowledge that my God is a loving and forgiving God who sees no evil in any of us regardless of our sinful ways.

  6. Hi Eugene

    Loved your article.  Please do write more and boast of JESUS, the Grace of God who came out of God's unconditional love for us!  Amen!

  7. Hi Eugene,

    your writeup nailed it (no punt intended) on the meaning of Grace. It's very enlightening and I really feel sad for those who did not catch this revelation of Grace. I always see God as our father who loves me so much and wants the best for me. 

    • You have not really understand the message of Grace if there is no Transformation of your heart, when your heart continues to be very stony.

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