This year our son Jonathan is graduating from high school. The baccalaureate speaker, a clergyman, in focusing his attention to the graduating class, references a Matthew passage that talks about the interaction between Jesus and the Jewish religious leaders. He proceeds to point out how the religious leaders were intent on keeping the law so long as the eye could see it. Jesus brings out that they should love God and love their neighbor as themselves. The speaker then closes his sermon by saying, “so graduating class of 2019, what will you decide?”. One innocent listener heard this message and said, “what a great message about God for those young people” as if to say “loving God and loving man is the answer, I will do it!”.
Here’s the deal, this man’s presentation contains truth. It is how it is presented that creates confusion and is deceptive. Allow me to explain…
The speaker correctly shows the religious leaders are about performing external deeds of the law. However, what the speaker does not realize is that he is actually presenting a repackaged form of religious deeds (works) but instead of the deeds being merely external they are internal and about having good intentions. In other words, the speaker merely changed keeping of the 10 commandments to keeping 2 commandments (which according to Jesus sums up the Law). Neither means has the ability to grant the person righteousness. The law cannot justify. Not the kind God accepts at least.
nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.Galatians 2:16
To point out even further, no amount of good intentions – even love from a ‘pure’ heart, can make right the wrongs I have committed. An example could be a lawbreaker who is sent to prison for committing a crime; just because this person is extremely sorry (I mean heartfelt, emotionally, and truly regretful), this person will not be condoned by the law for his actions. A transgression against the law requires it to be satisfied. To break the law is to incur a debt to the law. The law demands just payment, not wishful thinking or even good intentions.
This well-intended, simplified message is being proclaimed all over, sad to say, even from pulpits. Undaunted, people are taking the Gospel (which is the means people are saved) to be a thing they do. All they need to do to have eternal life is ‘love God, and love their neighbor‘. The thing is, who can do this to perfection?
Unfortunately, it comes to us as no surprise since most theologies today are not fact-based. They are not based on reality, because to be the truth it would have to be built on real hard biblical facts and not human fancies (like Scripture taken out of context to make it say what one thinks it should say). Sad to say heresies like this are sweeping all over the world. People are buying into it believing the lies that man can do this or that and be saved. It’s nothing more than a repackaged “just keep the law” that the Israelites were sure could be kept…
Moses, go up close and listen to the LORD. Then come back and tell us, and we will do everything he says. CEVDeuteronomy 5:27
Let me give you some examples of teachers who are deceptive and teach half-truths. I would like to say that the men I will quote have a large following. I do not wish to offend you if you happen to still be one of those people. I also do not hold anything personal against these people. My purpose is to expose this false teaching for what it is…
The grace of God is absolutely free, and it costs you everything. Balancing this out is a trick…John Piper (https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/is-gods-grace-really-free-or-does-it-cost-me-everything)
Salvation for sinners cost God His own Son; it cost God’s Son His life, and it’ll cost you the same thing.John MacArthur, Grace To You, an updated quote from his book ‘Hard To Believe’, page 93.
But if you profess to have gone through the narrow gate, and yet you live in the broad way … just like all the other people who are carnal and wicked … the Bible wants you to know that you should be terribly, terribly afraid — you know not God.Paul Washer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuabITeO4l8)
Can you see how this is no small matter? In other words, the gospel is ‘free’ but you’ll pay God back everything. This epidemic is taking out souls everywhere. People are not clear on the Gospel and cannot tell the difference between the truth that saves and lies. The devil loves religion because it deceives people into thinking they can sacrifice enough of themselves and appease the Law’s righteous demands. To be clear, according to the Bible, if I am going to pay for my own sin debt, I will need to pay for all eternity in separation from God in Hell.
There’s a way God has made for justice to be served in full and absolute. Not by religious good works (external or internal). It’s by a separate means. God sent His Son to become a man and in representation of man died to all the crimes committed against the law of God for all time. It was observed and recorded by the people of Jerusalem in ~30 AD. The particular facts about 500+ witnesses given credence to his resurrection and undeniable evidence. The truth explains that the resurrection fact is because God’s righteous standard, His law, was completely satisfied and could not bear down upon the person of Jesus to hold him in the grave. God promises that this payment is credited positive righteousness towards any individual who will change their thinking about religion or good works and believe the truth that Jesus died in their stead for their sins, he was buried and on the third day he rose from the dead in confirmation of his payment for sin being acceptable. This is the message found in the Bible. This is the story of God’s amazing grace, not the other way around.
So, the options between keeping the law or loving God and man are not the true options for a high school graduate (or anyone else). Either accept God’s gift of forgiveness completed on the cross by Jesus Christ or refuse it and go on the basis of your good works and stand trial before God on that basis and pay for all eternity. Christ’s offer is friendship with God and finally eternal life by means of promise, not by any sort of human good that was done.