Saturday, April 26

Jesus Plus?

Reading this week about a Chicago church that has been in the news recently, the sign out front reportedly advertises it as "Unashamedly Black and Uncompromisingly Christian." From this "uncompromised" position it last year gave a vocal enemy of Israel, of the Christian Faith, and of his own native US a special award just for "embodying greatness!"

The rub was there from the start: To be Christian is to belong to Christ, Who said, "No man can serve two masters." Surely every Christian is at some point of growing in that direction, but what if he or she isn't? We can be grateful to God for our circumstances, whether it be our ethnic background, level of wealth or lack of it, our skills, any number of things. But to add anything to our faith in Christ as essential to who we are (which this pastor was plainly doing, to the great expense of the Gospel): Isn't that to say that our kind of Christian is better than your "kind?"

It used to be a common phrase in preaching, "Jesus plus nothing." The point then was that our salvation is based on Jesus, and only on Jesus, rather than setting our confidence in our own devotions and initiatives. Paul, in Galatians, warned that church that if they set their confidence in Jesus plus anything for their salvation they put themselves in a position of making that other thing their savior, and if we could gain Heaven any other way than by the Cross, then Jesus died for nothing. In other words, as Paul put it, "you have fallen from grace."

Am I writing this to condemn that preacher? Before the Lord, and before the Lord only, he stands or falls. What, then? That loving God is a lifestyle decision, outside and in. There are two races on this planet: Them that are born once, and them that are born twice, the second by the Spirit of God. There are two nations, or kingdoms, in this world. The kingdom of God, which is a kingdom of righteousness, and the kingdom of sin, which is of the devil. There is no room for compromise: in military terms what is considered lost, and a compromised person a traitor. But why would anyone consider compromise, or even gaze off in that direction? The kingdom of God is "righteousness, peace, and joy," everything our human heart could ever hope for, and, "in the Holy Ghost," means that it is the very love of God Himself that is there to perfect us in His love. "For the Lord is that Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."


  1. Also reminds me of the Sunday reading about wavering in faith "a double minded man - unstable in all his ways."

  2. Right on. Also the connection between being "driven by the waves" and the picture of Peter getting distracted from his focus on Jesus by those waves & nearly drowned by them!

  3. Paul, in Galatians, warned that church that if they set their confidence in Jesus plus anything for their salvation they put themselves in a position of making that other thing their savior, and if we could gain Heaven any other way than by the Cross, then Jesus died for nothing. In other words, as Paul put it, "you have fallen from grace."

    A good reminder Robert, for Christians that we must not allow our theology to contain 'add-ons' which in any way subtract from the gospel message.

    This is a reason I emphasize solidarity in essential Christian doctrines and friendly discussion on secondary issues. We need to maintain the core gospel message.



  4. Aye, the question, though, is whether we can have a minimalist "lowest common denominator" or do we allow that "all that He began to do and teach" is continued at least in the Early Church and its teaching...

  5. We stay true to the Biblical text.


  6. Sola Scriptura is a popular slogan. Has been for a long time, but to avoid conforming Scripture to our own expectations it is good to be in fellowship with those whose own experience in the Lord confirms Scripture in fresh detail, especially people not affected by the same presumptions that tend to prejudice our own understanding, and those whose earthly ministries span the whole Church Age so we can better see that what we believe is consistent with the sense of Scripture and not some "bold new discovery" such as Mormonism, Watchtower, Darbyism, etc. Otherwise, I've seen too many who say "We follow only the Bible" but wind up letting that mean, "We are quite sure that our opinions are direct from the mind of God."

  7. Sola Scriptura is a popular slogan.

    No disagreement. All interpreters have religious assumptions and while studying Scripture in context, clarity must be sought by God's guidance.


  8. Right on, Russ!

    What gets really good is when you've been in the Word for a number of years, learning from the Spirit (as well as you can tell) and then find that people way smarter had been seeing the same things, only in far better depth, some 300, 800, or 1800 years earlier. That's the kind of fellowship & confirmation we're talking about.

  9. "Jesus plus nothing." EXACTLY! Not Jesus plus my free will. He chose me, or I wouldn't have cosen him. It is ALL Jesus - and as you sccinctly reminded us using the old addgae - Nothing Else! P/O

  10. So, then are you saying that we have no relationship with Christ as His bride, no part with Him in continuing His work on Earth as His body, and no way of hearing His voice as His sheep?

    In that case, maybe Jesus blew the parable. Instead of dealing with the unwilling wedding guests as he did, the king would have better expressed the plan by hogtying the guests, without previous notice, carting them all to the palace, and force-feeding them by a feeding tube. Then go and slaughter the poor for not "responding!"

    You can have Beza-ism, or you can have a biblical God of love (1 Jn. 4:8) But you do have to choose.

  11. What causes you to suspect that a person chosen by God cannot and does not have a relationship with Him. The analogy of us being adopted sons (and daughters) is wonderful. When a little child is adopted, he doesn't have a say. The Father picks the child, and as the adopted child grows in his new family - he increases in depth of awareness and interaction in that family. He can love is Adoptive Father ever so much, even though he did not choose to be in that family.
    Does not the adopted child hear the voice and obey? Love is not love because God Chose me from the foundations of creation? I cannot love God, because it was His urgings, His mind and body he provided me, His guidance and protection e granted? Oh even more so I say I love my Fahe Who has chosen me. Yet, I know I could not have chosen to love Him had He not ordained it so.

    I'm not sure I fully understand the way you are referencing the "wedding" parable. Many are called, but few are chosen.

    It almost seems like someone with a background similar to mine has caused you harm, and you are now critical of that sort of faith. The intense responses border on being almost inordinate. Rejoice that we are brothers in Christ - that our Father has His work in our hands and we are moving ever closer to Him. God's Peace!

  12. Anon, I almost get the feeling I'm in a debate with a "liberal" for the whole thing of personal defense &c. I have no ill will or bad feelings toward you at all! What you see as intense responses, though, are probably intense for the fact how Beza-ism squares with Scripture and the intensely negative results that often result from its teaching.

    You say you cannot understand the parable of the wedding feast too well. There are probably quite a few passages that give you trouble. When we open the Book with a pre-supposed opinion that God's will, His love, and His eternal plan for the ages have to be defined according to an over-arching desire to prove His sovereignty over infinitely weaker beings, then that leaves a huge gap into which a great amount of Scripture is lost, and the passages which seem to remain are mis-read if only because the confirmation, affirmation, and information that draws them all together into one "Word" is lost. As a result, in everyday life,

    1. A clear understanding of the Bible as a Whole is lost. All, really, that remains is a collection of proof-texts for supporting a position which,

    2. Gives the Believer no reason to evangelise,

    3. No reason to seek holiness (as different from "trying to live better,"

    4. No reason to try to live better,

    And either,

    5. No assurance of salvation except hoping to be one of the "Elect,"


    6. (in modern, "quasi-Calvinism") No reason to seek to know or please God at all, as one's salvation is out of his, or God's, control.

    This puts the honest Christian in the position of either assuming that they are being perfected within, without bothering to involve themselves in the process, or assuming themselves to be exempt from the moral law and so living in blatant sin and calling it righteous.

    A seventh danger in this system is that it is presented in such a way that the hearers go away feeling quite pleased with themselves for understanding the rhetoric, and presuming that that sets them apart as the truly Elect with little or no respect for anyone seeing anything else except what is before their own eyes. In the thirty-four years since I believed so staunchly in Calvinism, I've come to think that that before their eyes is, at best, a pair of large blinkers.


So what's your take?