Apalling Grace: A Response to Mark Galli’s “The Scandal of the Public Evangelical”

Filed under The Kingdom of God on July 4th, 2009 by Michael L. Brown

Appalling grace, how bleak the sound, that teased a wretch like me.

I still am lost, though almost found, am bound and still not free.

I was moved to pen these lines after reading Mark Galli’s recent article, “The Scandal of the Public Evangelical: What we really have to have to offer the world,” published July 2, 2009, in Christianity Today online. (Galli is the Senior Managing Editor for Christianity Today.)

Galli begins his article by noting that, “It’s been a tough couple of months for evangelical public figures,” pointing to the discovery of nude photos of Carrie Prejean, former Miss California, the adulterous affair of South Carolina governor Mark Sanford, and the impending divorce of reality TV stars Jon and Kate Gosselin. He rightly observes that, “It’s discouraging to see Christians who could have been models of our faith become merely examples of what G. K. Chesterton called the one doctrine subject to empirical proof: original sin.”

So far so good. It is the conclusion Galli draws from this sorry state of affairs that transforms (or should I say deforms?) God’s amazing grace into what could only be called appalling grace – if not a monstrous grace.

According to Galli, “There is something in the evangelical psyche that denies this reality [namely, of the failed lives of so many Christians]. Yes, we’re a movement that preaches repentance and confession of sin as a chief means of grace. But after conversion, our holiness heritage kicks in,” as if there is something wrong with having a “holiness heritage,” as if the Scriptures do not plainly state that “without holiness no will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14), as if Jesus himself did not teach that it is the “pure in heart” who “will see God” (Matt 5:8), as if the promises of God did not move us to “purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (2 Cor, 7:1, in light of 2 Cor 6:16b-17), as if the coming new heavens and new earth, which are the home of righteousness, did not beckon us to “to live holy and godly lives” here and now (2 Pet 3:11), as if we had not been chosen “before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” (Eph 1:4), as if “God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life” (1 Thes 4:7).

“But after conversion, our holiness heritage kicks in.” This is something negative? This is not a wonderful heritage in the Lord? Without a doubt, there is a rich, biblical foundation for this supposedly regrettable holiness heritage: “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” (1 Pet 1:15-16)

This, however, is only the beginning of Galli’s article. After claiming that, “We’re deathly afraid of cheap grace,” and that, “We assume that with sufficient exhortation and moral effort, our sins will become smaller than a widow’s mite and our righteousness larger than life,” Galli makes reference to “the long-standing evangelical myth that there should be something different about the Christian” (his emphasis).

Did you catch that? The idea “that there should be something different about the Christian” is nothing more than a “long-standing evangelical myth.” How remarkable! One of the fundamental truths of the New Testament, that salvation in Jesus transforms our lives, now becomes a “long-standing evangelical myth” – and this according to a senior editor of evangelicalism’s flagship publication.

So then, rather than recognizing that the current moral crisis in the evangelical church is absolutely tragic, a cause for mourning and repentance and self-examination before the Lord, Galli points to these failures as proof that real change for the believer – the type that the world will notice – is unattainable. What a poor conclusion to draw – and what an unbiblical conclusion at that. It is the fact that Jesus truly transforms sinners – that salvation really saves! – which empowers us to witness to the world, and it is a transformation that we are called to live out. (As I recall, Rom 12:2 does not say “be conformed to this world” but “do not be conformed to this world.”)

Galli describes the things we imagine will mark us out from the world. “A look. An attitude. A lifestyle. Something noticeable, something that causes the unbeliever to pause and wonder, ‘What does that person have?’” Yet he rues the fact that the reality seems to be other than this, and that, “we find, more days than not, that there’s not much to that something. We drop our coffee and blurt out a four-letter word, or we drink too much at the office party, or we fail to enquire about the welfare of a neighbor who just discovered she has cancer. Most days, we seem to be no different from the rest of humanity.”

But we are supposed to be different, by the grace and power of God. Consider Paul’s words to the Philippians: “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life . . .” (Phil 2:14-16). This is expected of us today!

Consider Peter’s exhortation to his readers, “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Pet 2:11-12). The unbelievers are supposed “to pause and wonder, ‘What does that person have?’”

We are called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world – a city set on a hill! – and our light is to “shine before men, that they may see [our] good deeds and praise [our] Father in heaven” (Matt 5:13-16; as explained by R. V. Tasker, as the salt of the earth, believers are “called to be a moral disinfectant in a world where moral standards are low, constantly changing, or non- existent … they can discharge this function only if they themselves retain their virtue.”)

James wrote that, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27). This has not changed, and we should we be distinguished both by our acts of mercy and by our lives of separation. “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you” (2 Cor 6:17). Has this somehow been edited out of our Bibles?

Paul was fully aware that in the society at large, there would be people practicing all kinds of defiling sins. But among God’s people, it was supposed to be different: “I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked man from among you.’” (1 Cor 5:9-13)

What would the evangelical church of America look like if we practiced this today? How many of us would be left?

I fully understand that, even on our very best days, we are all in need of God’s mercy, and that in ourselves, we are infinitely distant from God’s holiness. But that does not diminish the fact that the Son really does set us free, that, in Jesus, although we used to be objects of wrath fulfilling the desires of the flesh and the mind, we have been born from above and are new creations in Christ – meaning that our lives are truly changed.

Paul expressed this so well: “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.” That is who we used to be. “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:3-7).

Like the Corinthians, some of us were ungodly, unholy, immoral, greedy, idolatrous people. Yes, “that is what some of you were” – not are. “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor 6:11). All this speaks of real change.

According to the consistent and abundant witness of the New Testament Scriptures, through the new birth we are translated from the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of God (Col 1:13), from darkness to light (Eph 5:8, with the exhortation to “live as children of light”), from death to life (Eph 2:1-5), from slavery to sin to slavery to righteousness (Rom 6:1-23).

That’s why obedience to God’s commands is the hallmark of the believer: “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. . . . Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. . . . No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. . . .” (1 John 2:3-4, 6; 3:6). Succinctly stated, “in this world we are like him” (1 John 4:17).

Are we falling short of this mark in a very serious way as American evangelicals? Without a doubt, which is why we need to reexamine the message we preach to the world and to the church and humble ourselves before our God, acknowledging that something is terribly amiss. Could it be that our substandard message is producing substandard believers? Could it be that our conspicuous departure from the preaching of the cross and the preaching of repentance and the preaching of holiness and the preaching of the empowering presence of the Spirit has produced disastrous consequences? There are many, including me, who say it has.

And what of our fascination with celebrity Christianity, be it the latest superstar preacher on Christian TV or the latest “born-again” reality star on secular TV? The very fact that we could make a beauty queen who poses in lingerie and bikinis into a national voice for morality, however sincere she might be, should be pause enough for thought.

Long ago Alexander Maclaren wrote, “I am quite sure that nine-tenths of all the heresies that have ever afflicted the Christian Church, and are the cause of the weakness of so much popular Christianity, is none other than the failure adequately to recognize the universality, and the gravity of the transgression. If a word comes to you, calls itself God’s message, and does not start with man’s sin, nor put in the forefront of its utterances the way by which the dominion of that sin can be broken in your own heart, and the penalties of that sin in your present and future life can be swept way, it is condemned – ipso facto – as not a gospel from God, or fit for me.”

As Oswald Chambers explained, “Jesus Christ came to make the great laws of God incarnate in human life, that is the miracle of God’s grace. We are to be written epistles, ‘known and read of all men.’ There is no allowance whatever in the New Testament for the man who says he is saved by grace but who does not produce the graceful goods. Jesus Christ by His Redemption can make our actual life in keeping with our religious profession.”

In keeping with this mindset, New Testament elders were expected to be “above reproach”  and to have “a good reputation with outsiders” (1 Tim 3:2, 7), while it was shameful for any believer to suffer “as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.” In contrast, it was our glory to suffer because of our identification with Jesus (1 Pet 4:12-16).

Galli notes that, “It is God’s utter acceptance of us that allows us to look at our miserable sinfulness and not flinch. If that’s not the final step in sanctification, it is certainly a prerequisite to any other step.” Agreed! But he continues, “And it’s about all most of us will experience in this life,” to which we must reply, “That is appalling grace, not amazing grace!”

There are a legion of scriptures that speak of our calling to make clear and definite spiritual progress in this life, including passages such as 2 Peter 1:3-9, which proclaim that God’s “divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” Peter explains that is through God’s promises, which flow from his glory and goodness, that we “may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” Because of this, we are called to “make every effort to add to [our] faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.” Growth in grace is expected and called for (see also 2 Pet 3:18).

That’s why Paul, after exhorting the Colossians to put the death the deeds of the flesh, writes, “as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Col 3:1-14). This is certainly attainable, and it certainly distinguishes us from the world.

Galli does believe that moral exhortations are useful, but he argues that “we must never believe that ‘then and only then’ will we Christians have something ‘to offer the world.’ What we offer the world is not ourselves or our moral example or our spiritual integrity. What we offer the world is our broken lives, saying, ‘We are sinners saved by grace.’ What we offer the world is Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

Really? We tell the drunkard, “I too am a drunkard, hopeless enslaved by alcohol, but let me tell you how wonderful Jesus is and how He forgave my sins.” We tell the child abuser, “I too am a pedophile, but let me tell you how glorious God’s grace is and how he removed my guilt.” We tell the drug addict, “I too am bound by drugs, but you can join me in my brokenness and we can experience the power of the cross together.” What an utter travesty!

For Galli, however, this is the strength of our message: “Make no mistake, this is not cheap grace. Not cheap at all—it’s free. And it’s the most precious thing we have to offer the world.”

It may be free, but it is virtually worthless; and it is counterfeit grace more than it is cheap grace.

We do well to remember Dietrich Bonheoffer’s words: “Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. Grace alone does everything they say, and so everything can remain as it was before. ‘All for sin could not atone.’ Well, then, let the Christian live like the rest of the world, let him model himself on the world’s standards in every sphere of life, and not presumptuously aspire to live a different life under grace from his old life under sin….

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

That is not God’s grace at all. God’s grace transforms us. It forgives us and frees us; it deals with the penalty and the power of sin; it finishes what it starts. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:11-14).

I do not deny for a moment that we stand by God’s mercy and not by our goodness, that all of us are works in progress, that all of us are in the ongoing process of sanctification, and that we can tell others about Jesus even while we remain far from perfect. I also do not deny for a moment that by the blood of Jesus and the Word of God and the Spirit of God we can be profoundly different than we used to be – and that means profoundly different than the world. The fact that we are all too often not different than the world is not a justification for accepting a lower, unbiblical standard but rather a clarion call to turn back to God and receive His transforming grace afresh.

Galli virtually claims that our ongoing sinful state highlights God’s grace, which is perilously close to a dangerous notion that Paul was quick to refute: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Rom 6:1-4). Through grace we do live a new life.

“Appalling grace, how bleak the sound, that teased a wretch like me. I still am lost, though almost found, am bound and still not free.”

Some may prefer this new, diluted version, but I much prefer the original: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.”

For one whole generation (if not more), the evangelical ship has been taking on water. Mark Galli points to this sorry state as proof that sinking is to be expected. It would be far better – and wiser – to assess the damage, plug the leaks, bail out the water, and repair (or replace!) the ship. Only then can we fully preach Jesus Christ and him crucified. After all, our lives speak more loudly than our words.



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  1. The definitions of Christianinty, Holiness, consecration, love, salvation, faith, on and on… have been blurred for a long time. A Christian, at least in American society, is not necessarily synonymous with true diecipleship and faith in Yeshua. The apostasy has been occuring for a long time and it’s obvious we are at the time of the end. People make the mistake of slamming true Christianity because people who call themselves Christians do wickedly.

    The way is narrow to eternity with Jesus. Many fool themselves. Here’s a test: Is Jesus your all sufficiency? Does the thought of losing all belongings threaten your peace? Do people or things take all your time away from sitting and enjoying time alone with Yeshua?

    If we love God with ALL our heart, mind, soul and strength… there’s nothing else to give your affections to. This earth and all things in it must diminish.  We have been created for one purpose only and that does not include associations with the world: entertainment, pleasureable activities, events that are seperate from God. We are His children, the Bride of Yeshua Messiah. Friendship with the world is deep seated hate with God. The only involvement we should have in this world is activities glorifying God, reaching people for Jesus with the joy we have. If God is not our all in all, we need to seek wisdom from above. This doesn’t mean we can’t do things, it means our time with God is much much more than our time with the world.

    This is the problem that exists today. The integrity of many’s belief, trust and faith have been watered down, a lot. The apostasy is heating up and accelerating at an unprecendented rate. I don’t call myself a christian. I am a disciple of Christ’s, a disciple. Also, Grace is the unmerited power of God for the ability to shun sin and to consecrate one’s self. Since sin is abounding much more as the end approaches, more grace is needed to be and stay pure for Yeshua.

  2. This article is a solid answer and a wake-up call to the false views of grace in our generation. Thanks Dr. Brown…

  3. Dr. Brown,

    In reading this article, I got a rise in my spirit from the impact of the reality of what you wrote, that I just start writing and blathered on without telling you that I truly appreciate your teachings, writings and radio program. Your article is , like Bryan Purtle said, “a solid answer and a wake-up call to the false views of grace in our generation.” Thank You, Dr. Brown, for sharing your much needed, and sought after,  wisdom with me (us).      <*///  ><
    Blessings in Yeshua
    John

  4. John,

    All clear! As your shared your own heart, that was a sufficient enough expression of appreciation. Thanks for the gracious words.

  5. As one with generations before him who identified with Wesley, I thank God that my “holiness heritage” has kicked in big time. I don’t blurt out four-letter words when I drop my coffee, I resolved the alcohol issue many years ago by just eliminating it, and I’m working on that neighbor thing.
    The shallow walk that Galli espouses does not sound like Christianity. If that is “Christianity Today”  then I think I will just stick with the “old paths.”
    Methinks he doth protest too much. I get alarmed when people present Galli’s viewpoint, because in a generic sense, it frequently means their skeletons in the closet will soon be revealed. Sadly, many people want to pull others down with them.

  6. Oh, and then I went and read Frank Turek’s latest article on this site. Yeah, what he said.

  7. I am amazed when I read articles like this from “Christianity Today”. I feel like we have almost completely abandoned the scriptures, professing to be wise, we have become utter fools instead. We must get back to the Bible and confront these false ideologies. Like those who have gone before us and stood for truth when it was hard or uncomfortable, we too are being beckoned in our generation to stand for holiness and truth, regardless of the cost.

  8. It is good to here this message being preached.  I have read for years of the revivals in the past.  Nations changed, people healed and delivered from their sins.  People walking in something that they called “Sanctification” but they never told me how to get it.  And I longed for it. . . then I recently heard one little line in a message that exploded in my being. . .”sanctification is a gift”   wow.  And I looked up the word.  Five occurances in King James.  Five signifying “grace” to me.  And if that were not enough, the Greek word “hagiasmos” appears 10 time, (2X5) so for me, a multiplication of the same grace.  So it really is by grace we saved through faith, and we sanctify ourselves by this same grace through faith.

    thank you for preaching the whole Gospel.  When you leave out any of it, it is really not the good news any more.

  9. Mark,

    Not only is sanctification a “gift” it is do-able. That’s part of the Good News of the Gospel – the thngs that Jesus calls us to do are possible. That part that many do not want to hear is that it involves the crucified life.
    Be encouraged in your daily walk. Walking in holiness should be part of the normal Christian life.  If you have not already, fInd others who have the same desire and walk with them  – it makes it easier.

    Hebrews 12:14
    By the power of the Holy Spirit we are able to obey the command: “Be ye holy, for I am holy.”

     

  10. Thank you for standing up against a false gospel. It’s another reason the “church” is so anemic; that and an unhealthy dose of biblical illiteracy. It has been rightly said, “If your faith hasn’t changed you, it hasn’t saved you.” Lets press on to achieve the life of holiness the LORD expects us to live, and, by His grace, we can.

  11. Thank you Dr. Brown:

    Like John I just want tho let you know how I truly appreciate your teachings and writings.  This message is so needed today.  May the Lord continue to richly bless you in all you do.

  12. Thank you Dr. B for exposing this issue.  We need to pray harder than ever.

  13. Dear Dr. B.,

    What a blessing to read this very important article.  Important, because Mark Galli’s viewpoint, in such an important and well-read periodical, has great power to bring many to destruction, especially those young in the faith.  He gives voice to “a strong delusion,” which if believed, would cause many to perish.  I am praying more than ever these days that God would purify His Church and separate the sheep from the goats.  Your article, and Mark Galli’s, are like clarion calls for the two to come forth.  Kol hakavod, Brother!

  14. “And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 NASB

    “Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’ (“We are Christians) for I say to you that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.” Matthew 3:9-10 NASB

    “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. Matthew 23:23 NASB

    It seems the same religious spirit that prophet John and Y’shua railed against in Judiasm is now; and has been for some time, prevelant in Christianity.  The whole of what is the American Gospel has been sucessfully infiltrated by a humanistic, self-justifying, self-indulging, man centered idol worship!

    This however, is to be expected. For the Father is painfully aware of man’s proclivities towards sin, and has thus shut up all men in judgement. As Jeremiah said in his day concerning the spiritual pursuit of the promised people; “An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land; the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority; and my people love it so!” Jeremiah 5:30-31 NASB

    All are guilty as this orgy of self-effacing spiritual tepidness abounds. Thank the Master Y’shua however, for those clarion voices that are one in a thousand that speak against the muddied waters of delusion emanating from prophetical and priestly “elite” in this country!

    Bless you Dr. Brown!

  15.  If all the holes in the proverbial ship were publicized (which will happen in this information age) there would be no ship left to fight for. The childish moralistic standards of many evangelicals evolve into a sick “holiness” hypocracy that feels like a blessing at first, but quickly turn into a self-loathing curse. Reality is the truth. Let’s start there. Fact is, people are people and will be having sex, getting divorces, and “committing sins”. If Grace means a power to live above these “horrific sins”, you must concede that the statistics are the same for those in the church than outside – No really…look into it. Just as many evangelicals get divorced as “non holy” heathen non believers – and some polls say that evangelicals get divorced more often. So assert a holiness standard all you want, and it will still have nothing to do with what grace really is all about…..and we ALL know what grace ACTUALLY is…it’s our fear that prompts us to point to other’s faults as holes in the boat.

  16. The Church started out a “Counter – Culture.” It ran ‘counter’ to the worlds system. It not only kept the laws of the land, the church exceeded the worlds righteousness. A counter culture exceeds the values of the culture, with no mixing of ideals. As the culture shifts to the left or to the liberal side, the counter culture remains steadfast, immovable.

    Culture Counter-culture
    (         The World )            (         The Church       )

    Now, the Church is a “Sub-Culture.”  It’s a stretch to see the elevation of ideals and values. Though much is spoken, very little substance of the original counter culture remains. A sub-culture is a “subset” of the culture and shares in the culture. As there’s a shift in the culture, the sub-culture also shifts. For instance, the church stood for certain values 50 years ago and the world’s culture shared in much of the morality of the church, but there was still a gap between the the righteousness of the church and the world. As the values of the world shifted toward the left, so did the church. Now:
    Culture
    Sub-Culture1   Sub-Culture2                    Counter-Culture
    (   The Wo[rld {The chu]rch}  )                 (   The Few Chosen  )

    I am not talking about the cults and other psycho organizations that, most definitely, run counter to culture. I am talking about what the Church used to be. We have, like Israel did many times, fallen back, left our first love. Paul was careful in talking about Grace. An like then, people are trying to take the easy road. Fall man wants their cake and eat it too. Salvation and sin. I can just imagine Paul explaining grace to the multitudes…”should we sin much so grace abounds even more?… God forbid.” Like then, mankind is still trying to get a free and easy grace. Undeserved favor!! so, the more I don’t deserve it, the more grace I receive. Man this is great!!! Come in in the water’s fine!!!  Man has never changed.

    We have been so saturated in this world, the health of the church is in question. Men like A.W. Tozer, Leonard Ravenhill, Duncan Campbell, Nee To-Sheng (Watchman Nee), were God’s weatherman of the churches environment. Mark Gallis is the perfect icon for what “today’s christianity” is like. Soon, and know is the time, we will be like Lot being vexed daily by the gross darkness of the land of Sodom. I am vexed daily by the teachings of grace, salvation and the lack of proper teachings of repentance, baptisms, sanctification. Oh, how I long for the “FIRE” the early church had in it’s gatherings and ministries. One day it will return, but not without much tribulation and persecutions…. get ready.

    “O Father, Yeshua, Holy Spirit, give us direction and the love and power to continue with an unconforming relevance in this chaotic, godless world.”

  17. Thank you so much for this message.  I am a disciple of Christ Jesus.  He has helped me to pick up my cross, and follow Him.  Praise and Honor to the Lamb of God!

  18. Shalom Dr Brown!

    I thank you for this article and that you stand as a voice in the nations, a plumbline in The Spirit to walk the narrow path!    We who are ‘called’ Yeshua’s disciples are to be the same!

    The wonderful grace we are given is the only way we can ‘die’ to self and to live for Christ.

    Many are ‘called’ but few are chosen!!!  It is I believe those who choose to go through the fires of affliction, those who are willing to become of no reputation, the crushed and broken who The Lord will raise up to be voices in these days!

    Elijah, had to wait at the brook cherith ( cherith means waiting!  Waiting also has a meaning of being pierced in biblical Hebrew) as The Lord was preparing him for confronting Ahab!  Many true disciples are now in preparation or already prepared and are now waiting!  The time is very near!   The Lord revealed to Elijah later on that he wasn’t the only one to stand for righteousness but God had 7,000 others who hadn’t defiled themselves!

    So it is in these days!  We are all waiting for the sons of God to be revealed!  The time is near!
    If a heart is truly for God, for His purposes, to live for Him and not selfishly, His grace is so awesome, so incredible!
    None of us are perfect.  We all fall! We all have weaknesses! We are all works in progress!
    Thank God for Yeshua!!!  Yes, the narrow path is a difficult path!  We are to take up our cross aren’t we!  He gives us more grace! 

    There has been so much compromise in His body. The Word has been watered down and become seeker friendly.  The Word is clear on that one!  Wo to the sheperds who dont teach and speak truth, who lead many astray!
    Fear of man is a snare, a huge trap and a pit that many fall into!  God’s awesome grace takes us through our deepest fears, if we will only allow Him to!
    Yes, it isn’t easy !  Yes, it is painful!  Yes, our flesh hates discipline.  Flesh wants it’s own way!

    The world is lost and looking for reality!   Do we take God at His Word???   Do we really believe???  When we are lead by The Spirit All things are possible!!    ALL things as He leads us!

    Joshua and Caleb were the only two out of the twelve who came back from spying out the land with a good report!   As in those times it is the same today!   There are Huge mountains in whatever form they take!  Again if we believe we can tell the mountains were to go!!!!

    We must all search our own hearts! Be delivered and set free from our own sin and shortcomings!  To let our selfish pride our thoughts our acts, wether good or bad be put through the refiners fire!  Only His grace will take us through!  Grace is amazing!
    Grace is to bring Glory to God, not ourselves.

    As we travel on this adventure and journey with Yeshua, the true sons of God will and are being revealed!

    God is coming for His Bride, Jew and Gentile!   I know from personal experience that the many times that I have spoken with Jewish people they do know and recognise when love is real!   I believe also that as The Love Of Christ is worked in us they can actually see Yeshua! That He reveals Himself to them!  
    His awesome grace works His love into our hearts!  Divine exchange!
      
    Thank you again Dr Browne!  Thanks also for the privelege of being able to write our comments and ponderings here!
    I pray for encouragment to be given for all who are seeking to follow our Lord and King!

    Lavish blessings

    Janice 

  19. I agree with the majority of Galli’s article. Unfortunalely too many Christians just spend too much time trying to cover up their sin and living in denial. While we are called to live a holy life we are never going to reach perfection. Though the examples of explicit photos, adultery, and the like are rather extreme, I believe they pale in comparasion to the judgmental, self-righteous attitiude shown by many (but not all) Christians today. Maybe if the fact that failure and mistakes are a part of all of our everyday lives was more evident, Christians would be more approachable and real, and Grace’s true roll would be seen. Anyone who believes we are saved and then automatically holy is living in denial. Sin touches all of our lives in one form or another. Without the presence of sin, grace would no longer be needed.

  20. I think the biggest problem is denial of basic human emotions.

    As Carl Jung says, what you resist, persists.

    What you suppress, just grows stronger.

    So in my own opinion, there is no way for a Christian to be mentally, spiritually, and physically healthy if he or she does not accept him or herself and whatever comes up in the mind.

    Of course your actions are always something you can control to live by Christ, or whomever you believe in.

    But, since Jesus talks about guarding thoughts and emotions, this leads to suppression of the emotion and thought, not the release of it.  The thoughts, lusts, and doubts are still there, just buried and creating ulcers, obesity, and irritability, as well as the occasional Haggardly hypocrisy.

    What you can’t admit to others, covers your soul.

    What you can’t even admit to yourself completely buries it.

    I think it would be healthy for the Christian community to acknowledge that all thoughts, feelings, desires and emotions are ok.  I think the problem in the Priesthood is not celibacy but denial of lustful thoughts period.  This does not mean you have to cultivate your lusts, just accept they’re there, don’t resist them, and let them just pass like clouds in the sky.

    If you’d like to actually release these buried thoughts and feelings, I suggest the Sedona Method or Release Technique.  They have a more oneness spiritual perspective, but can work for Christians too.

    –Dan

  21. Shalom in Yeshua’s precious and mighty Name! Another way of saying this is “Greasy Grace.”  This has been a concern for a long time.  I am not a Christian – I am a Messianic
    Jew, and the ONLY agenda that will clear up this problem is to return to the TORAH. TORAH means Divine Instruction.  Yeshua/God – One with the Father  -  gave ALL of us,
    not just the Jew, His Laws to follow, not the denominational church manuals.  Churches
    are teaching that Yeshua/Jesus cancelled His Law!  Quite the contrary, He is the LIVING
    TORAH, and He came to show us how to live!    Yes, we are saved by Amazing Grace – and
    how Amazing it is, but then there must be discipleship – like His disciples  -  and they
    taught the TORAH!  Just reading the  “New Testament” is not enough.  You must read it
    in the context of the TORAH.  That is what is meant in the gospel of John where is reads:
    “And the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us.”  The Word is the TORAH – YESHUA THE
    LIVING TORAH!            Brachot!  Kathleen
     
     
     
     

  22. It is such a bad deal to see the world not persue rightousness, as grace is all they need and true in part. But we who truly love the LORD will obey him, that is what makes us different we obey!!! Works are a factor in it all, as YESHUA says the works i do you shall do also. “There’s that bad word works” As if we are free to act as we were before being saved!!!

  23. Dan

    You see many people who call themselves Christians fall to selfish temptation, base desires that most definitely are defeatable.  The “overcomers,” the ones who have victory over selfish and sexual desires, are not in the public limelight. The ones the mockers see, are people who put themselves in situations that invite defeat. Just because a person calls themselves Christians, including TV evangelists and many in pulpits across America, doesn’t make it fact. The Bible describes these people:

    Jude 1:

    10 But these, whatever things they know not, they speak railingly against; but what even, as the irrational animals, they understand by mere nature, in these things they corrupt themselves.
    11 Woe to them! because they have gone in the way of Cain, and given themselves up to the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.
    12 These are spots in your love-feasts, feasting together with you without fear, pasturing themselves; clouds without water, carried along by the winds; autumnal trees, without fruit, twice dead, rooted up;
    13 raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shames; wandering stars, to whom has been reserved the gloom of darkness for eternity.
    14 And Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied also as to these, saying, Behold, the Lord has come amidst his holy myriads,
    15 to execute judgment against all; and to convict all the ungodly of them of all their works of ungodliness, which they have wrought ungodlily, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
    16 These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their lusts; and their mouth speaks swelling words, admiring persons for the sake of profit.

    The Bible is “self-policing” and the book of Jude talks about people who have crept into the “gathering” (the church) and tries to fool and take advantage True Christians. This passage in Jude is for those who call themselves “christians.” These people are very visible in their very nature of being charismatic. The world identifies them as Christians, but the true Disciple of Yeshua knows very well who they are and what they’re up to. These people are further described as:

    Jude 1:4, “Certain men have got in unnoticed, they who of old were marked out beforehand to this sentence, ungodly persons , turning the grace of our God into dissoluteness, and denying our only Master and Lord Jesus Christ.

    Plenty of people I know, including myself, have experienced victory over “self.”  Jesus tells us to deny “self,” take up our cross (our death and ‘new life’ journey in sanctification) and follow Him. So many people are convinced by the so called great philosophers, but don’t listen to the greatest Wise Person ever, Jesus, the Messiah.  Here’s the reason: people want to indulge in any and all desires the mind can conceive without retribution. People don’t want to believe they are accountable for their actions.  God said certain things are not acceptable. Well, mankind says, “do what thou wilt.” by the “great philosopher” Aleister Crowley. hmmmm. So, phony christians play the game, while involving themselves in whatever pleases the flesh. GRACE says, God has favor on the undeserving, so I have God’s favor. That is “self-ish.” And that’s the reason so many “Christians” fall in front of the worlds vision.

    This world has gone utterly mad. The ones that CAN’T control their desire are the ones that say, ” go ahead, do what thou wilt.” LUST is controllable, if kept within God’s parameters. Celibacy is not in God’s parameters. But hey! Grace will cover you!  Well, that view is absolutely wrong. There are multitudes more people that have victory in the area of thoughts, desires and self-satifying, ungodly urges. It makes people froth with venom to think that they will have to pay dearly for many of their “uncontrollable lust-fests.”

    It’s too bad that makind goes through life as adherants to the world’s philosophical psychobabble, that really says a lot to say nothing at all. And to think I aced all my philosophy classes college. People deceived by this world’s god are so gullible. Sorry to be so “in ur face” but slicing up true christianity because  of the “certain men have gone in unnoticed” use this cheap, sleazy grace, stirs my spirit to wrath.

  24. John,

    I see a lot of judgments in your post, both on fellow believers and non-believers.

    –Dan

  25. This came at a time when God was speaking to me about Justice.  I appreciate you bringing this to light.  Your words are true and correct, stand in the light of God’s word.

  26. Dan,

    I wasn’t me. It was the Word of God you don’t believe in or hold yourself accountable. Unbelievers are perfect illustrations of what God’s Word says. When you or people like you say what you say, it both grieves me and strengthens my faith, because you prove the Bible true.  Not that I need anymore proof. It’s sad that people live lives that harm themselves and others in the name of pleasure. Grace is not a license to sin.

  27. I could not believe what I was reading in Galli’s article. But I must admit I see it everywhere in churches of every stripe. Let me suggest a few things that I don’t hear anyone talking about:
    1. People don’t realize how far they were from God by nature.
    2. Therefore they don’t realize the immensity of the grace of God to bring us to himself.
    3. People think that this is about them and their distant future entrance into heaven.
    This is not going to answer all the questions, but let me explain:
    Ephesians 2 says that we were dead in our trespasses and sins. The trouble is that many Christians think they had made a few mistakes and needed God’s help to get back on track.
    Try this scenario: If you are walking down the street, stumble, and fall to your knees, bruising yourself somewhat, and a stranger comes to help you up and brushes you off, you may not remember the incident 50 years later.
    Try this scenario: You are walking down the street and suffer a fatal heart attack. While lying dead on the sidewalk God, as a man, grasps you in his arms, breathes his life into you, sets you on your feet, and offers to live his life in and through you. You accept, and he does. Now, because the Holy One lives in you, you find that you are organically joined with countless others who have had the same experience, and he calls you “the fellowship (communion) of saints.” I think you would remember this, and your life would show it!
    Instead of a sinner saved by grace, but unable not to sin, you now discover that you are a saint who sometimes sins, and you have the power to say NO to sin (see Romans 6). This is hugely different!
    Let me add one more thought. I think it shows how confused most Christians are when, in consecutive sentences–almost–they will speak of being “born again,” and of being “adopted” into God’s family. It doesn’t take a genius to know there is a difference between being born and being adopted. Natural man needs to be “born again,”–better: “born from above”–because there is nothing in his natural life that is salvageable. God is not interested in “better” people; he is in the “new people” business. God does not remodel, he rebirths.
    Admittedly the term adoption is used in the New Testament several times, but if you study those uses carefully you will note that it is speaking of something subsequent to our New Birth, not instead of it. God has only one way of receiving people, and that is through the new birth. See John 1:12-13, John 3:3-7, etc. The term “adoption” in the New Testament seems to have the meaning of a father’s acknowledgement of his son, as, for instance when God spoke of Jesus, saying, “This is my beloved son.” Jesus did not become his son at that juncture, but this was the public declaration of that fact. Another picture you might envision: Jesus’ father had a carpenter shop with a sign saying, “Joseph, carpenter.” One day when Jesus was in his teens, as he walked under the sign on his way to work that morning, he glanced up and saw: “Joseph and Son, carpenters.”
    There is much more I could say on the subjects under discussion here, but perhaps I have already wearied you too much. I welcome your responses.

  28. 1 Corinthians 4:8 “But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and , for an helmet, the hope of salvation.” 
    1 Thessalonians 3:13 “To the end He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”
    Revelation 22:11-14   “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be.  I AM Alpha and Omega, the Beginning, and the End, the First and the Last.  Blessed are they that wash their robes, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”
    God is not mocked-whatever a man sows, he will reap…
    I love Christ Jesus!  JESUS CHRIST IS LORD!
    He’s got the whole world in His Hands……..grace

  29. Having now fully read the original article, and Dr. Browns heartfelt statement above, I have a couple observations from my experience in the Evangelical community.

    For one thing, I really love how Frank Turek puts this concept.  A seeker says to him that the church is full of hypocrites.  He responds with “It’s ok, we have room for one more.”  He talks of church being a hospital for sinners, not a country club for saints.  Maybe I’m missing the greater context of his philosophy, but I agree with him on that point, if not more.

    Another thing I’ve noticed is that the more someone attributes their current morality and righteousness to Jesus, or any faith, the more holes there are for hypocrisy and blatant Christian relationship violations to sneak in.  This happens with Orthodox Jews and Muslims and Hindus as well, of course.

    Obviously this applies to none of you personally , since I have met none of you.

    What I’ve seen in others, however, is Christians who will credit Yeshua for every moment’s peace, yet on their ipod listen to A Perfect Circle’s radio hit Judith, the most blasphemous song ever put on public radio (It has the phrase ‘F– your God/Christ’) if that tells you anything.  I can’t tell you how many young Christians I met who rocked their head to that song.  After all, it’s a very catchy rock song, how else could a message like that get on mainstream radio?  When I asked why, they said they just ignored the lyrics.

    I also know way too many Christians who pirate music, movies, and software.  This is the Christian youth, not people over 35.  If you’re over 35, you quite honestly weren’t in the generation where at a young age, downloading the album of your choice for zero cost became easier to do than buying from a CD store next door, even if you had the money.

    In Christians of all ages I see judgement, pride, and raging egos.  This isn’t a Christian problem, this is a human problem.  I see people being judged for not attending Church enough, for not believing in every book of the Bible, or for any behavior that doesn’t match what their current Pastor says.  The advice from Jesus not to judge lest yourself be judged is ignored.

    I see someone do a good deed, and a Christian say that the deed is dead because he didn’t have faith in Jesus, so he must have been doing it for personal gain.

    I see young women who admit experimenting sexually with other women while being regular Church goers.  This isn’t a sexual identity struggle, just something they wanted to try out, and quite frankly, thought was quite enjoyable.

    And last but not least, I see angry posts all over from fervent 100% believers who say the modern equivelant of “Raca Raca” to anyone who doubts the veracity of the Bible, creationism, or whatever interpretation they think fits.  They call the well meaning scientists and liberal politicians evil and mercenary, with an agenda to overthrow the Kingdom of God.

    In my experience, the only true good standard happens from unconditional love for oneself and others.  I’ll take a statement from a non-Christian philosopher and paraphrase it.

    When you are in Spirit, you are always guided with no thought needed on what to do.

    When you don’t have Spirit, you act on Compassion and Love for all things.

    When you don’t have Compassion, you act on Morals, what you have been told is appropriate and inappropriate.

    When you don’t have Morals, you act on Legalism, with rules that will keep you out of trouble in this world.

    When you don’t even have Legalism, this is the beginning of Pure Chaos.

    I think most of the world falls between Morals and Legalism, and Christians are of no exception.  The transformation required where you act based on love definitely does happen, but I think it can happen with any faith, when you let go of your pride as an individual and embrace Spirit, Holiness, or whatever you describe.

    While excusing no one’s behavior, If you have to force yourself to be good, chances are you’re lacking love, and definitely lacking Spirit.

    –Dan

  30. Yep!! Sad commentary. The actual Church of the living God in Messiah Jesus, is quite unpopulated. The teachings in places with a name “as if they are alive”  have been prolific and deadly for those wanting to fulfill their created purpose in God. Only those who will deny their flesh, take up their cross and follow Jesus, will enter the Kingdom. Jesus said few will find it. The only way to know is to be so totally and sincerely unselfish, obedient to His Word, thereby showing your deep love of God. Myriads of people who call Jesus “Lord” will not make it into the Joy of the Lord.

    This is Jesus’ comments to the church in Sardis, a type of church existing today, but is huge:
    Revelation 3:1-4,

    “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.
    “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.
    2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.
    3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.
    4 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.

    Believe me, God is about the quality of one’s walk. It breaks my heart to know many sincere people will not make it. Many people sincerely wanting a relationship, but sincerely failing because of selfishness, cheap grace, because they were taught that they “can have their cake and eat it too!” The “Watchman” of the last couple of generations have been asleep at the “Shack.”

  31. I am deeply troubled of how people can use the term judgement, and take the side of dont look at me and say i have a fault. My brother is one who has used that card to avoid anything of a comment of “hey my brother who i love i see this harmful thing in your life. And uses the comment of dont judge me, and it is so miss understood” the scripture that is “dont judge”. It is obsurd to thing we are not to use judgement in lifes everyday things. If we walk around without some form of using our judgement, we would not be able to decern right from wrong. And if you remember the very words of the bible, take the plank out of your own eye, then you can see clearly enough to talk to your brother. Well i dont know about you but, i see the word tells me to live my life with love and prayer so i can use GOOD judgement. It is a trump card to not address ones issues, as with my brother he came around because i held to my word of the LORD. In leviticus the word says to the priests, teach the people common and uncommon. Let me me expand a little!!!!! WE are a people unto GOD a kingdom of priest, it is are place to teach the people. Those of us who truly are of the LORD, and know the word complete by the power of the holy spirit. The world is dying as the word says from lack of understanding, there will come a day where there is a famine for the true word of GOD. We are to have are life in order so when we do the unthinkable oops we use good judgement wow did i use the J word!!! I love you all and enjoy reading all your comments. I’m glad we are caring about the state of affairs enough to respond here. WE ARE LOVED AMEN

  32. Dan -

    I don’t know you, but I have certainly encountered many who sound like you and my experience tells me that you are either a) a shill for another group whose purpose is to undermine Dr. Brown and his efforts or b) one who is harmed & too educated for his own good.

    Your constant critique of every article and position betrays you as the very thing that you rail against. It is certain that you have been injured by the “church” (small “c” quotated), even if you are only a shill.

    Forgive me for being a frail person in a fallen world and forgive those who have hurt you. As I counsel many people with your same concerns, “Please don’t go to hell because we don’t yet fully function as the Genuine Body.”

    No clever argument can change your mind, nor would I want it to.

    I have added you to my prayer list in that you might encounter the Living God and be apprehended by the Holy God.

    Let us ENCOURAGE one another to love & good deeds. And, yes, that encouragement maybe in the form of a rod or a hug, but it is administered in Love…..finally…..to paraphrase Tozer…to concentrate only upon one aspect of God while diminishing the other aspects; it is the road to denominationalism.

  33. Love you and remember the path is narrow, and broad to destruction. Let us understand that there is so much we dont understand. Most who know me find me to be knowledgeable, and with LOVE and wisdom. Last nite i was in the presence of a man who was teaching way beyond my ability. And to have the heart of there is a problem with him is wrong because he has a better understanding than me. I was truly blessed by this man once the nite was over. This is why we must study and be concerned about the word of the LORD. The greek teaching of our lord is good, but taking it to the right mind set is better. Use a thayers lexical and you will find deep understanding of the new test, and yes without is enough to get the idea. But it is the difference of knowing and loving, please dont miss my passion for you and all. I love you and your place in the body of our LORD, I dont mean to make you feel you need to defend. We as life goes on learn that at times we stand for a cause we were not fully in understanding of, and it is okay to repent and say thank you for showing me Yeshua. But it is worse to reject without study and gain no wisdom, and find we are not okay where we once stood on a matter. SHALOM MY BELOVED

  34. Hello:

    A propos this topic, I have a challenge question for anyone willing or interested in answering. I have asked this question on similar evangelical Christian forums before without any complete answers.

    As a caveat, I ask this question from the perspective of an adherent to the Orthodox Jewish faith. Here is my question:

    A Christian missionary will cite the reason that non-Christians should embrace Jesus and Christianity is because “we have all fallen short” (i.e. everyone sins). According to this view, it does not matter how infrequent or small one sins, the fact remains that any amount of sin at any point in ones life will separate man from G-d and merit eternal damnation.

    As a means of sharing with you the Jewish perspective, we agree that man is created defective and entangled with sin, but elevation and transcendence from that state is achieved by attaching oneself to the Torah. Practically it is achieved by studying Torah in depth and following the commandments. However, unlike Christianity, this is a life long process, and not achieved immediately after a conversion. In other words the process demands serious work involved. Now we believe that the results can often be staggering and the evidence can be found in stories of our sages and Rabbis who distilled and purified themselves away from sin with this process.

    Now Dr. Brown seems to take the view that a part and parcel of a true Christian conversion will involve life transformation, and I will not deny that many Christians did become better people after their conversion and sinned less.  However, the issue I have is that that same person after the conversion is still a sinner from the Christian perspective since he/she, albeit sinning less, is still sinning. Such a person if he/she were not a Christian, at this level of sinning, would still be condemned to eternal damnation.

    Therefore, kind of seeing Galli’s view of the argument in a way, it is nice that Christianity and Jesus can produce change lives (and even radically changed lives), but from that very Christian perspective, what is the point if you are still a sinner in the end?

    Thanks for listening,
    Matt 

  35. Matt,

    As someone who’s been on both the Jewish and Christian side, I have a couple thoughts you may resonate with.

    Christanity and Judaism have a number of salvation beliefs in common.  Both agree man is far from perfect and falls into sin regularly.  Both acknowledge the need for divine forgiveness.  Both recognize this as a formal process.  In the old days, Jews used temple sacrifices.  Now they use rabbinical prayers, while still following Yom Kippur rituals as best they can without a temple.

    Both recognize you are never clean in action.  There is sin in you until the day you die.  This is why Jews keep praying for forgiveness, and Christians, while already forgiven in their minds, pray for the strength to live up to the clean slate God has granted them with Christ.

    Both Jews and Christians have an approach to living with less sinn than the common man.  Jews follow the Torah, a complex rulebook.  Christians try to live by the law of loving God, and loving one’s neighbor, believing that if you live your life in love and faith, the right behaviors will manifest naturally without micromanaging how you live your life.

    Both religions admit you’ll never be good enough to please God.  Never.  Do you know a single Orthodox Jew that felt he could skip Yom Kippur this year?  Christains also acknowledge that they still live in sin, yet are cleansed in spirit by Jesus, and do their best to live in his way.

    I think you’d really like Dr. Brown’s Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus series.  Whle I do not agree with the conclusion of them, they will teach you more about the relationship between Christianity and Judaism than any book I’ve ever seen on the subject.

    –Dan

  36. Hi Dan:

    It is good to hear from you. I am not sure exactly what perspective you are coming from since on the one hand I did disagree with what you said to a large degree, but on the other hand you said you ended up disagreeing with Dr. Brown’s conclusions in his “Jewish Objections to Jesus Series.” To reiterate for clarity sake, I am an Orthodox Jew.

    First of all this didn’t really address my question (perhaps you were not intending to, and that is OK, but it does tend to clutter discussion forums).

    Second of all, I believe you oversimplified some matters in your comparison between Judaism and Christianity. I will try to crystallize my views on the biggest practical difference between Judaism and Christianity when it comes to salvation (Christians, please correct me if you feel I am mischaracterizing your faith):

    In Christianity, any sin, no matter how small or infrequent can separate man from G-d eternally and earn him damnation. That is why the atonement process has to be so radically singular and complete: Jesus. Basically man is either totally connected to G-d or totally separate. In Judaism spiritual salavation is not such a binary process, but rather, man is rewarded exactly for the good he does, and punished exactly for the bad…and this is according to his spiritual set-point and abilities (i.e. someone raised in a family of murderers and decides he will now only steal will actually be rewarded for this spiritual elevation).

    Therefore, while true that it is a commandment for man to seek forgiveness from G-d, and this will to some degree erase his sins, there is still a degree of difference both qualitatively and quantitatively what that forgiveness actually achieves.

    As for temple sacrifices, I think that there is a misconception that they were only to achieve forgiveness for sin. A majority of both communal and individual sacrfices actually had nothing whatsoever to do with sin. And the sacrifices which did provide atonement really only did so for a minority of the possible sins one could possibly commit. So I think in essence, there was very little difference between how a Jew sought forgiveness from G-d in the days of the temple, and how he does so now.

    I wouldn’t say that Judaism says you are never clean in action. As a parable, after you take a shower there will still be a bit of dirt on your body somewhere, and maybe even the water wasn’t 100% pure, but you can still call yourself clean.  I think a more positive way of expressing this is that there is always room for improvement.

    I also disagree that Judaism says we can never do anything that pleases G-d. In fact, commandments in the Torah are divided into the positive and negative commandments. Performance of the positive commandments (i.e. kindness, visiting the sick, resting on the Sabbath) in fact we believe actually please G-d (as it were because from a philosophical perspective we do not know what it means for an infinite, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent being to be “pleased.”) As for Yom Kippur, although we believe it helps to erase sins we committed in the past, it is also one of those positive commandments we perform to “please G-d.”

    As for Dr. Brown’s Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus series, I would be very much be interested in reading them as I feel there are certain issues exquisitively difficult for Christians to reconcile (for example the differing geneologies between Matthew and Luke). That said, honestly, I have not been overly impressed with the “headers” of his responses found on his website (or some of the objections he responds to for that matter).

    Matt

  37. Matt,

    As I am not immersed in Orthodox Judaism, I clearly have no standing to tell you what your community believes.

    My thoughts just came from the observation that even the most pious Jews, there seems to be some chest pounding on the high holy days begging for forgiveness.  In the Yom Kippur service, I see prayers like “Who could stand before you if all sins were counted?”  It doesn’t seem to be something done just to please God, from what I’ve seen.

    Also, in the New Testament, John the Babtist’s parents are described as righteous and without sin, as Tanakh menches are.  Clearly, Christianity is binary in punishment for sin.  Either you’re completely left off the hook in Jesus, or you face eternal punishment of some sort or another.  Whether it’s in degree or not, it’s still eternal discomfort.

    In Judaism, as I understand it, the reward/punishment is in degree across the board, but there is still grace attached to it, isn’t it?  Do the people in heaven believe that it was their works that got them there, or was it at least in part because of God’s overlooking their sins, and forgiving them on Yom Kippur, which he wasn’t actually required to do, considering their history?

    That’s all I meant.  I know there are very big differences between the two, so perhaps my two paragraph analysis was an oversimplification of two of history’s prominent faiths :-).

    –Dan

  38. Dan:

    Of course there is grace in Judaism. It is a profound kindness that G-d erases our sins just through our repentence and contrition. The chest pounding is a method of coming to term with the sin and separating ourselves from it. The prayers also are a way of highlighting the sin, so that we may do a more effective repentence. It is not just done to please G-d. In fact that should not really be the primary motivation, I’m just saying that in Judaism, we believe that we can please G-d by our actions.

    In terms of people in heaven, I prefer not to think in these types of terms. Our concepts of heaven and hell are also very different from Christianity. But I would suppose that someone who achieved a very high status in the next world did so through both Grace and their own works.

    I hope this clarifies things,

    Matt

  39. Hey matt,
    Love your response to all this we do believe the same on those points, storing our treasures in heaven is one. And we have Yeshua saying if you love me you will keep my commands, so yes we can please him by doing as he says.”keeping his commands”. And with that we will be rewarded, so it is in some respect the same. We believe we serve the G-D “for your respect” of Abraham, Issaic, and Jacob. So we must have the common ground, of the 2 walks of life. I dont feel that Hashem will have to apologize to the patriarchs. In this case he would to because he was partial to one generation to the next!! Meaning that us who follow Yeshua live under different set of guide lines, as far as thinking we must not obey his commands of old. He says to teach to all generations for the purpose of we must follow those cammands as well. So i have seen so much common ground that i feel is yet to reach my brothers in Yeshua. Perfection should not be the issue as if we are perfect, but are life should be as David in psalms 63. filled with such longing and desire to obey and please Him. That we wake and say OH G-D thou art my G-D, in my waking moments you are fresh on my mind, and my desire today is to please you!! AMEN
    My point is we must obey 1john 3:6 says to us who believe in Yeshua, that we must persue rightousness and like David in psalms 63. We have so much to learn from the Jewish people, as scripture says what is it that is better to be a Jew. That he was intrusted with the very words of G-D, romans is that verse. But I do believe that the time will come when us and the Jews will join in complete understanding. And it will be I feel thanks to the Jewish people, those who teach us about the Hebrew G-D we both love. Hope my words came out right, i have had a rough day and was glad to read your view.
    blessings

  40. Romans 8.30 – And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

    The fault of the Protestant Reformation was to push the line defining the Church back from glorification/sanctification to justification/salvation. Romans articulates the differences between these two phases of the Gospel – justification in Romans 3-5 (except 5.2-5) … sanctification in Romans 6-8 (including 5.2-5).

    The Tabernacle courtyard also reflected these two phases, with the altar available to all for cleansing, but the basin was only for the cleansing of the Priests.

    I trust that this clarification, amongst other topics such as reevaluation of the Trinity doctrine, will be part of the Voice of Revolution.

    Michael – I would be honored to sharpen iron with you further!

  41. Great article Dr. Brown.  Thank you for writing this and pointing out the weaknesses of the artricle from Christianity Today.  My prayer is that the Church would see a revival of holiness in our day.  How we need a passion for purity in the Body of Christ.

  42. DR. Brown,
    I recently have heard a pastor preach a sermon about “walking in the light”, however, after preaching such a great sermon, he added the comment that, “nothing changes your final destination once you are saved.” This statement appears to be much like the article you just critiqued. Am I understanding you in saying that it does matter how we conduct ourselves? Is what this pastor saying in line with an “appalling grace” attitude?
    Thanks for the article and to those Jewish friends who comment here, I say, it is great to know that we worship a G-D who has chosen a degree of mystery in some areas. We will never completely understand the ways of The Infinite One because we are not infinite. I say trust Him with your future and obey Him in all things.

    Norm

  43. Norm,

    Yes, the Scriptures clearly indicate that it does matter how we conduct ourselves once we are saved.

    Dr. Brown

  44. Dr. Brown,
    Several years ago, I was deeply saddened to hear a pastor & dear brother in the Lord make the statement that there is nothing we can do to keep our salvation.  The way he was ‘teaching’  clearly revealed that he had fallen for this doctrine of cheap grace which you have so succinctly described.  It was good to see this anointed and scholarly exposition.  Thank you so much for your passion for the Truth.   

  45. [...] as so many believe, we don’t need the tangible, objective, supernatural presence of God, nor as Mark Galli writes, any real difference at all in our lives from non-believers, to know that our particular doctrinal [...]

  46. Just want to thank you, Dr. Brown.  It’s clear you have the spiritual blessings of our Lord and Savior, Yeshua/Jesus.  It’s refreshing and wonderful to hear you take a stand against the spiritless, lukewarm, mealy-mouthed doctrine the so-called maintsteam Christian churches have been driveling for so long.  Denying the very POWER of God, they do.   Amen and Amen!!!

  47. [...] Apalling Grace: A Response to Mark Galli’s “The Scandal of the Public Evangelical&#8221… [...]

  48. [...] Apalling Grace: A Response to Mark Galli’s “The Scandal of the Public Evangelical&#8221… [...]

  49. Carrie Prejean deserves to have her crown. She is beauiful and is also entitled to her own opinion about gays. -’

  50. Landon,

    No argument with your statement, but does she deserve to be a spokeswoman for Christian morality?

  51. As Paul once said that ” not all Israel are Israel “, so also ” not all Christians are Christians”.

    Jesus Himself said that the way to eternal life is narrow and only a few find it, but the way to destruction is wide and many go therein.

    I cannot contain watching those televangelists garnered millions of dollars by deceiving  people with their prosperity message. How can you say that they are true Christians when Jesus Himself said that you cannot serve both God and mammon. They are what Paul categorized as preachers with itching ear. These preachers deceive lots of people and many of them are also like them who just want to use God and the words of God for personal gain.

    I believe that the mainstream Christianity are really not true Christians and they belong to the majority who go the wide gate. In Rev 22:11 it says “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still, and he that is righteous let him be righteous still. ”

    There is nothing we can do about this. It will go on like this until Jesus return to take his own.

    I believe that once saved is always saved and there’s nothing we can do for our salvation. It is all God’s work from start to finish. Yet I differ from the popular view that once you said that you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior you are already saved no matter what.

    In the case of the man who murdered several people and committed suicide to see God is an example of obsessed and evil person. He is far from being saved and sad to say that many so called born again are not far from this kind of person. Jesus said you shall know them by their fruits. How can a sweet mango bear sour or bitter orange?

    A truly saved person delights in God and the words of God. He is bearing the fruits of the Spirit and there is no way that satan can snatch him out from the hand of God. Of all that God had given to Jesus not one of them was lost because Jesus had kept them.

    In the case of Judas, he was not truly a believer. He was born the son of perdition and he did what he has to do.

    Now let’s compare scripture with the real life that we can see around us. We know many Christians and some even our good friends who testify that they were saved and some even become evangelists and preachers but later in their lives turned away from their faith and become unbelievers. What can we say about them ? Isn’t it that once saved always saved is erroneous doctrine?

    There is only one thing I can say about that. They were not truly saved. They fall short of being truly born again and being baptized by the Spirit of Christ. They did not bore the fruit of the Spirits and they lack what is called “faith”.

  52. Dear Matt, I am sorry that only recently I have found this site of Dr. Brown. I am interested with your question posted a year ago and may I give my humble opinion as a Christian who believes that Christianity is a continuation of the Torah. We believe in the same God of Abraham, Isaac , and Jacob. The God who is eternal, omnipotent, omniscient and never changes.

    Yes, I agree that all men have sin and fall short to the glory God and this happen after the fall of Adam and Eve. On the other hand I don’t agree that man was created a defective being. Adam and Eve were created a perfect being but susceptible to sin. They were given by God a free will or a freedom of choice. They had not sin if they chose to obey God.

    I also believe that many sins and little sins are of the same category in regards to the requirement to enter the kingdom of God. God is very very holy and the kingdom of God is very very holy that not a single dot of sin can exist therein.

    That’s why the gospel is a good news that states that no man is able to enter the kingdom of God because no one is worthy, but because of the extreme love of God to his creation He made a way that man can be able to enter therein.

    In Isaiah 1:18 it says , “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”  This was the prophecy of Isaiah that the man who truly seek God, his sins will be blotted or remitted completely that not a tiny dot will be left that he may enter heaven. This is all God’s doing, not man’s ability or capability, or strength, or power, or persistence or labor, but it is because of the love and mercy of God.

    I also believe that God’s way for forgiveness or remission of sins is the same for both the Jews and the Christians.
    The most holy of holidays of the Jews is the Yom Kippur were they offered sacrificial animals to be slaughtered and the blood is sprinkled all over for the remission of sins and the animal should die in place of the sinner. “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.”

    In Leviticus 17:11 it says, “For it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.”
    As you can see it is not of man’s doing but God’s way by allowing an innocent animal to bleed and die in our place.

    In the Torah, God commanded that the sacrificial animal should be perfect. It must be without spot and blemish. It was examined thoroughly before it can be accepted as a sacrificial animal. But as you know nothing in this world is perfect. Though the lamb looks very healthy to the human eye, without spot, without blemish still it was not perfect and it must have some germ in his body.

    God had promised that He will provide a perfect sacrifice for us.

    Now the climax of the gospel is this:  God Himself, the creator of mankind and all things manifested in the flesh and gave Himself to be that perfect sacrifice. Jesus was a perfect sacrifice. Without spot and blemish. There is not a single germ of sickness in His body and had never sin in His entire life.
    The prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled. Perfect remission of sins by the perfect blood of Christ.
    ” Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

    Many Jews will not agree with this because they said that God does not require a human sacrifice. Yes I agree that God does not require a human sacrifice that’s why He commanded the Jews to sacrifice animal such as lamb, pigeon or any others, but this is a special case not covered by the law of God to Israel.

    This is not a human being created by God, but He is God Himself the creator of man and the giver of the Torah.

    It sounds farfetched, incredible, and strange. Yes but I agree that truth is stranger than fiction.

    It’s hard to believe, but once you accepted it and it settle in your heart you will be awaken from a deep slumber and realized the most beautiful story ever told. This is the beauty of the gospel that is beyond all ideas and understanding of humanity. The greatest love story ever told for all eternity. Every time I ponder about this I am thrilled beyond degree with joy unspeakable.

    Our God, The creator, The omnipotent, The omniscient, The all powerful, The Lord of lords, The King of kings humbled Himself and manifested in the flesh, offered Himself as the sacrificial lamb and died in our place that we might have the access to enter in his Kingdom where not a tiny dot of sin can exist.

    Now to answer your question regarding Christians are still sinning although of lesser frequency and magnitude, they are just like any others who also sin less though they are not Christians.

    A truly born again Christian seldom sin and never commit  grievous sins such as murder, rape, taking advantage of the poor and weak and other grievous things, because the Spirit of Christ guides them. Sad to say that many so called Christians like most if not all of the televangelists are not truly born again Christians. They deceive people to gain lots of many. They take advantage of the innocents and the ignorant.

    Our flesh are already corrupt and contaminated of sin after the fall. This body of sin is corruptible and cannot enter the kingdom of God. That’s why we need to be recreated, to be born again into a new creation perfect and incorruptible.

    When a Christian is truly born again, there is a new creation formed within him. God is protecting this new creation and continually washed by the blood of Jesus. When he die this corruptible and sinful body will return to dust and the new creation that was born within him will meet Jesus in the air when He return to take those who trusted in Him.

  53. Your response contrasts with the author’s own associations and remarks as to basic reference.  Your response highlights what every disciple of Jesus needs to know and do and be.  And these references which you cite are of what we have as being the guide of scripture, and obedience to the Message of the Gospel’s Lord and Savior.  What the author fails to understand is that discipleship requires that we all be together in the ship, working to keep it afloat and seaworthy.  It seems that the magazine cited may indeed be more of the culture than its title.  It seems simple enough, practice what He teaches, not the analysis which media of our culture offeres–even in this case so labeled as somehow being of Christ.  It is either slacker religion grace or Christ being formed in us, the Hope of Glory. Only one promises eternal life.

  54. What a wake-up call! the Truth is under attack!! The Truth must strike back!!

  55. Are you saying that you are pure in heart without sin?
    Are you saying that your good works will bring you acceptance to God and that Christ’s Cross was not enough and that is why you need to add your own good works? How do you define your own holiness? Are you indignant that someone has committed sin? are you with out sin? condemnation, gossip and envy are all sin, but they seemed to go by unnoticed and only adultery and other sins are brought to the light of judgment, why?
    Christ’s Cross is NOT cheap! it cost him so much to deliver us from the ugliness of sins and sin. How can His suffering be cheap! Instead of wasting time and effort judging each other, why don’t we repent from ALL sins and pray  constantly for revelation and obedience until something happens! The organized church is bussy counting numbers, dollars and sins and forgets to submit to Christ in obedience! When are we going to start letting Christ be Christ? Didn’t Christ come to redeem the SINNERS?

  56. Ana,

    You’ve asked many questions, some with what could even sound like an accusing (or even judgmental) tone, but rather than argue with you, let me understand what you actually believe: Does the cross of Jesus change us sinners in any real way, or does it merely pronounce us clean? How powerful is the cross in your view?

  57. Ana,

    One more note. I’m really not sure if you read what I actually wrote, based on the questions you asked, but to be sure that you didn’t miss this, I’ll repeat one of the paragraphs here:

    I fully understand that, even on our very best days, we are all in need of God’s mercy, and that in ourselves, we are infinitely distant from God’s holiness. But that does not diminish the fact that the Son really does set us free, that, in Jesus, although we used to be objects of wrath fulfilling the desires of the flesh and the mind, we have been born from above and are new creations in Christ – meaning that our lives are truly changed

  58. Dr. Brown:

    Thank you for being kind enough to reply. At first I read the first paragraphs, was tired and mixed your coments with Galli’s. I chose not to read any further and responded as though you were  Galli. My apologies to you and thank you for demonstrating the Grace you profess. I have read the full article. For those of us who have become one with Christ in spirit, transformation has happened, which by constant trust and obedience gives the fruit of Christ’s Life through our human experience.

    The finished work of Christ at the Cross has the power to clean from sins, give us a new heart, a new spirit and The Holy Spirit, it gives us the desire to live as true children of the Living God!

    ps. When you cuote someone in the future, would you cuote in italics, or a differnt font collor for people like me.

  59. Thank you so much Dr. Brown.  I have been feeling this way for so long, but could never quite put my finger on it.  The best I could do was describe it as the “fire escape” theology, and just knew, in my spirit that something was wrong with this.  You have opened my eyes in so many ways with your excellent teaching.  When I watch your videos, it reminds me of when the Bible says 10 men will grab ahold of the Jew….. Your debates have really given me insight into the rabinical mindset.  Anyways, thank you again for your intelligence, scholarship and your dedication to the Lord.

  60. I am with you Dr. Brown.

    2 Tim. 2:15″ Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth”

    I feel like some people from Calvinist camp love their doctrine of human depravity so much…. they cannot part from it and try to plug it everywhere where needed or not needed….

    1 Peter 1:15-16 “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;  for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.””

  61. I want to to share a comment here for you to let you know just how much i Liked this read. I have to run off to work but wished to leave ya a fast thought. I bookmarked you So will certainly be back again after work to go through more of yer quality posts. Keep up the quality work.

  62. awesome post, you’ve got a bookmark on Reddit from myself :)

  63. Thank you Dr. Brown, as always, you are preaching the whole counsel of God, grace isn’t greasy, its amazing and costly and powerful and if rightly applied, will lead to an inward and outward holiness.

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