For the terrible one is brought to nought, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off: That make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought.( Isaiah 29:20-21)
And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying, We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands. But neither so did their witness agree together. And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But he held his peace, and answered nothing (Mark 15:57-61)
I often teach people that there is no concept of “unconditional love” taught in scripture. The term is not biblical, it comes from the field of humanistic psychology, and has seeped into virtually all of the evangelical church, diluting discipleship, counseling and evangelism.
Don’t get me wrong. By denying “unconditional love” I am not saying that there was or is anything I could ever do to merit God’s love. There was nothing in me or you that compelled God to love us, He loved us “freely, without a cause” and Jesus died for our sins before we were even born. God’s love is a profound mystery, it is powerfully and truly amazing to me.
We can only receive the Love of God, and abide in it. It is always true that “We love him because He loved us first…” . Loving God is always a response to his initiative.
But it is not true that God’s love is unconditional. Divine love is not “love without limits and boundaries”. Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, but do we not all agree that any person who spurns the offer of salvation will never experience the Love of God?
A Christian who denies that personal sin alters the relationship with God is living in deception, and presumption, as John’s epistle warned us ,
This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.( I John 1:5-10)
The basic precondition for fellowship with God is “walking in the light”. It is not the attainment of perfection, rather it is the willingness to be known as you truly are before God, and to come into the basic moral agreement with God, that sin is transgression and is odious.
What a wonder that sinners came come to God and find forgiveness and acceptance!
But the psychologized teaching that would remove all conditions and boundaries leads men to presumption. A good many evangelicals are dangerously close to the outlook of the dying French atheist, who when asked “What if you find out you were wrong about God?”, He answered, “God will forgive me, thats his business!”.
See what I am saying ? This kind of “Unconditional love”was never emphasized and taught by the Apostles, it is very much a part of the invasion of humanistic psychology into the church which commenced in the late 1960s and has virtually taken over Christian counseling and even seeped into preaching as common wisdom.
That is what I have long taught, and that is in a nutshell why I have emphasized it, to deflect deception and presumption and to encourage a healthy Love, which is mixed with reverent fear of God.
But recently it came to my attention that such teachings of mine have deeply disturbed people, they now have to be helped to overcome my teaching, it took them a long time to be able to get to the point where they could trust God and feel loved by Him, because of their exposure to this teaching. One fellow Pastor thinks I should leave the ministry and prays for the demise of my church. I am considered a “legalist”. another minister and Bible teacher told me that “I scare him” !
What I said was simply this,”there is no such thing as the unconditional love of God… those who spurn Gods offer of salvation,based upon Grace(Love unearned) will never be able to experience God’s love, and that there are limits and boundaries to it.”
What has been made of what I said? That salvation is by works? That one can never be secure or have assurance of salvation? Is that what I taught over the years?
Jesus experienced this at his own trial. His own words were twisted and distorted , as though he profaned the Holy Temple, when he said “Destroy this Temple and I will Raise it up again in three days”, referring to his own body. No one asked him to explain it at his trial, they simply rushed to the conclusion that He had blasphemed…they made him into a serious offender for a Word.
Even though they couldn’t get the story straight, the High Priest of Israel gave the twisters of Jesus Word full credibility, because the narrative pleased their own Agenda. This is very much in keeping with the Spirit of this Age, the cynical Word Twisting Post Modern Spirit which demonizes good people by willing distortion of their own Words.
People are doing it in the secular world as well; good men’s careers are ruined when words or phrases are misinterpreted and distorted to make them racists or homophobes or mysogynists.
Isaiah says they do it to silence him who “reproves in the gate”,because reproof of any kind is seen as “judgment;l and legalistic” so they reprove the reprover and strip away all legitimate authority, by playing “gotcha!” Jesus lived in such times and so do we now.
Another thing I have taught that has lent itself to very much distortion, is the fact that all sin is a form of denying Christ.
It seemed pretty strait forward and simple to me, because denying Christ simply means saying “No” to Christ himself.
There is almost little or no attempt these days to truly define sin in all of its hideous deformity, in the current evangelical church. Sin is truly the ‘Evil of evils”, something to be recognized in its true nature and feared as well as shunned. Secret sins especially are dangerous cankers, tumors capable of sapping all life and killing Christians, cutting them off from Christ. One could spend a lot of time teaching on the nature of sin from a lot of different angles.
But what some one heard me say was “If you sin, you have denied Chrit and there is no salvation for you from then on…you are like a person put in a position of martyrdom that succumbed and denied your Saviour”.
Obviously anyone who would teach that would be guilty of heresy and would have denied Christ themselves. I have never taught anything like that, the thought is odious to me.
No one came and asked me if I taught that, (All of my teachings are publicly available and I have written ten books and never taught any such thing). In thirty plus years of teaching I have emphasized justification and substitution by Jesus.
The folly in this is in the definition of denying Christ. What does it mean to deny Christ? Is it always a “once and final ” renunciation? Or does it simply mean to say “No” to the one who loved you and bought you from your sins?
But for some, it fits the narrative, that I am a “false teacher…a legalist, and hurtful to those of a sensitive conscience”.
I do not bring this up for any other reason than to make of this a teachable moment. I am able to explain my self in a non hostile environment, (So far the Key board doesn’t interrupt me or talk back to me!) and also to warn that this is one of the ways Satan is currently attacking true Christians.
We Win, through the One who won for us! Maranatha!