For those from a Pentecostal tradition, the danger is elevating Spirit baptism to the central spot. I’m all for fullness of the Spirit (I wrote a book on it), but the Spirit of God is there to point you to the beauty of the gospel. Lose the gospel and you’ve lost the Spirit, no matter how charismatic you act.
For those in the Reformed tradition, it’s all about learning. I call this “transformation by education.” This group always wants more classes, more Bible knowledge. Again, I’m for it. The Bible is indispensable. It is our life. But transformation doesn’t come by education; it comes by revelation of God’s beauty. And we see that beauty in the gospel.
For those in a theologically liberal tradition (and, ironically, many in the conservative stream as well), the watchword is activism. Support this political movement, rally behind this agenda, and you can be assured that you’re fighting on God’s side. God cares about our activism. He cares about the movements that focus on the disenfranchised and the poor. But he wants our activism to arise from beholding him, not as a way of behaving for him.
It’s not what I do, what I learn, what I experience, that brings the power of the new life. It’s beholding what Jesus Christ did for me. As we sang in my church growing up, “Come for a cleansing to Calvary’s tide. There’s power in the blood.” Satan actually loves to promote religion, as long as it’s divested of the power of the blood. He’s fine with you going to church. He’ll encourage you to clean up your life. He doesn’t mind fixing up whole cities here and there, as long as no one is doing it by the power of the blood.
There are churches and pulpits that don’t put the gospel and the grace of God at the dead center. Avoid them at all costs. It doesn’t matter how long your family has gone there. It doesn’t matter how many good people go there. If the gospel is gone, get out.
Does that sound too harsh? It certainly is harsh. But as one scholar points out, harsh words are necessary for harsh realities. As the Apostle Paul writes continually, we should oppose counterfeit gospels with all of our being. These counterfeits may clean up the outside for a while, but deep down all they do is promote rebellion.
What do the teachers you listen to emphasize? Have they lost the thread or do they speak of the grace of God toward you and its power of new life? Or a list of things you need to do? Only the gospel gives life. So get yourself in the presence of the grace of God. It’s the only tradition you can always trust.
This article asking if we have lost the thread of God’s grace originally appeared here, and is used by permission.