Daily Archives: August 8, 2009

Grace Does Not Give Us Free Licence to Sin

It’s appropriate that Extreme Theology would reprint this sermon from Martin Luther, since Unreasonable Faith is trying to take a potshot at the Christian doctrine of salvation by grace alone.

Eternal life does NOT depend on works. If it did, we will all be in hell. Christ paid for EVERY sin, so how can I or you be judged BY GOD for a sin when the penalty was ALREADY paid. People judge but that does not matter.

Those are the words of George Sodini, the man who opened fire in a Pennsylvania gym, killing 3 and wounding 9 others. He used the above quote as his justification for the mass murder.

He’s right, of course. Eternal life is based solely on faith in Christ and not on works. However, he left the condition of repentance out of the equation. The sinner must repent of his former sins! This is a message that is left completely out of many churches today. Everyone likes the idea of eternal life with Christ, but not at the expense of the moment.

The above-linked sermon from Martin Luther points out that, while we Christians are forgiven our sins, this isn’t a license to continue to sin. As the apostle Paul put it:

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Rom 6:1-4)

We are dead to sin through our baptism. The apostle wants to make it clear that we are not to still live in sin. What George Sodini did was a clear sin–followed by the taking of his own life. He did not die in a state of repentance. That means that he is not with Jesus, which will likely come as a major surprise to him. But that’s what happens when bad theology mixes with an unstable mind. James White said it, and I’ll repeat it here: THEOLOGY MATTERS.

I think that is simply dishonest of Unreasonable Faith to draw parallells between Sodini and biblical heroes who also killed. The biblical heroes had a clear command from God to kill when they did. God doesn’t speak directly to us today. He has already spoken fully and finally through Jesus and the Scriptures.

Any quick perusal of Jesus or Paul should be sufficient to tell that we are not to take lives in the way that this man did. This is not living peaceably with others (Rom 12:18). This is not allowing the wrath of God to take its full effect (Rom 12:19-20).

Is every encounter with God therefore false? Probably not, but if it contradicts the revelation of the Scriptures then it most certainly is.

The final objection that can be raised is that even a command from God to kill is wrong, not to mention contradictory. But that is simply false. God gave us life and sustains our existence; he is unique in that he can give life. That gives him the right to take it away when he sees fit, and his judgements in such matters are perfect. We humans are not in the position to both give life as well as take it away. We are also not perfect, and therefore do not have a perfect sense of judgement and cannot know for certain that taking someone’s life is the right thing to do.

God, however, is perfect and can make such a judgement.

So, if humans are so imperfect, how do we know that the commands to kill in the Bible came from God? Could our perceptions not have mucked up the whole thing? Well, that would play havoc with biblical inerrancy, which is something that I subscribe to. Not only that, but the ancients were much more biblically literate than we are today, so they were in a better position to know if a command from God was contradictory to Scripture. Finally, Jesus promised that we who are his sheep will know his voice (Jn 10:27). Therefore, if someone is truly of God, that person will recognize God’s direct command.

But that raises another issue. How do you know something like that for sure? Well, the answer lies with the Holy Spirit and with Scripture. If one knows one’s Scripture, and is truly indwelt by the Holy Spirit, one will recognize that direct command from God. In such cases, our hypothetical person will also recognize false commands that don’t come from God because that person will know that they contradict Scripture.