Recently, a leader in the contemporary grace movement admitted to a serious moral failing and resigned his position as pastor. I’ve written several posts related to this movement’s view of grace (Law and Gospel, Defining Law and Gospel, Critique of Contemporary Grace Movement, and Paul Preached A Lot of Law). There isn’t necessarily a uniform theology to the movement, but in essence there is such a focus on the grace of justification that people can’t see God’s grace in his commands (knowing right and wrong is good), in his threats to those who live in sin (warning signs are good for those going off the path), and in his exhortations to try hard (knowing how to live is good).
The critical point I want to make in this post is that God’s commands and his threats are means of grace to his people and we need them. I am committed to teaching these for the same reason I am committed to promoting spiritual gifts – because they are part of God’s chosen way of maturing his people.
I’ve read several articles where commentators stated this pastor didn’t stumble because of his theology. Of course, we don’t know why this failing occurred, and I have no wish to throw stones, being as susceptible to temptation as the next man. However, I want to change the language of the commentators slightly from “he didn’t stumble because of his theology” to “he may not have stumbled because of his theology.” Theology is practical, which is why I focus on it. It affects how we think and act. By removing or minimizing many of God’s means of promoting holiness, this pastor may have reduced his ability to fight temptation in his own life.
Here are some verses to train us in righteousness (emphases my own):
Philippians 2:12-13 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
2 Peter 1:5-8 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Revelation 2:5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.