(The following article was written by Rev. Tom Brock of pastorsstudy.org. You can follow Pastor Brock on Facebook - here and Twitter - here.)
I fully believe the truth of Ephesians 2:8-9, that we are saved by the grace of God alone and not by our good works. Good works are the result, not the cause, of our salvation in Christ. But back in the Apostle Paul's day, people were turning salvation by grace into an excuse to sin. So Paul wrote "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be!" (Romans 6:1).
Today "grace abuse" is all over the Church. I drove by an LGBT-affirming Methodist church today and saw the pastor's sermon title (see below): "Just love, no strings". Later today I saw the cartoon (below right) posted by an ELCA Lutheran who endorses abortion and homosexual behavior. Both are teaching that it is unloving and unnecessary to tell people to repent. I think the opposite is true, it is unloving to tell people to stay the way they are. To do so hurts them for eternity (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) and it hurts those around them. And the first words out of Jesus' mouth in the Gospel of Mark are "...repent and believe in the Gospel" (Mark 1:15). "Repent" literally means "change your mind", and, yes, this is necessary for salvation. Does this mean that we are saved by what we do, by our repentance? No because repentance itself is a gift from God. We are helpless to work repentance up in ourselves, the Holy Spirit produces repentance in us (see Acts 11:18, 2 Timothy 2:25), so God gets the credit for all our salvation.
But repentance and faith in Christ are indeed necessary for salvation. This is why John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church in the 1700's, formed "holiness clubs" in which Christians met in small groups to keep their repentance and faith in Christ alive. I believe John Wesley would not be welcome at Wesley United Methodist Church. And Wesley certainly wouldn't preach "Just love, no strings attached, you don't need to change." Praise God He LETS us change from the miseries of a life of sin to a new life in Christ.
Sincerely in Christ,
Pastor Tom Brock
And see the church sign referred to above here.
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
1 Thessalonians 5:21
Former ELCA seminary student and former ELCA member who is fed up with the ELCA's consistent mockery of God's Word.
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Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. - Ephesians 5:11