6-Week Series: Against All Odds

Sermons

Summary: There are many within Christianity who may unknowingly deny God’s free and eternal gift of salvation by requiring a well-meaning, but a misdirected emphasis on adhering to the Law.

There is a belief, known as Pelagianism, that has lingered in the church for over 1600 years, which does not accept that the sinful condition of humankind was inherited from Adam and Eve in the Fall (Gen 3). It is the belief that motivated the ministry of Charles Finney, who is known as the father of large alter call (aka: "the anxious bench") style evangelism.

Pelagianism is named after Pelagius, a 5th-century British monk who was condemned by three church councils in the 5th and 6th centuries for his heretical teachings. Pelagianism emphasizes the essential goodness of human nature and the freedom of the human will and holds that sin is a voluntary act against God's law, and human beings are free to choose between good and evil. It argues that the sin of Adam and Eve was their own, which means people aren’t accountable for a sin they did not commit.

Therefore, because human beings are not sinners by nature, they can choose to make more good choices than evil ones to redeem themselves by being a good person, which is why there is no need for faith or a savior. Primarily, it is believed that good works and keeping either the internal law of conscience or the old Mosaic Law will suffice when they ultimately stand before God.

As a result, it is believed that human beings can seek God apart from any movement of the Holy Spirit, which will lead to salvation and the sustaining of it by one’s efforts. At first glance, this appears as a fair and reasonable argument that people are born innocent into a corrupt environment that makes them corrupt, so they only become sinful after they have sinned.

The teachings of Pelagianism are contrary to sound biblical theology and historical church doctrine because they actually support the idea that it does not matter whether God exists or not because only the good a person does for others by being philanthropic and moral is what matters the most, rather than through grace alone, by faith alone, in Jesus Christ as God, the Son, which is the great distinction between Christianity compared to other religions of the world.

The Bible says that "Only in Him (Jesus) is found salvation; for of all the names in the world given to men, this is the only one by which we can be saved" (Acts 4:12 NKJV). Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." (John 14:6 NKJV).

Abiding by the Law

There are many within Christianity who, perhaps unintentionally through misunderstanding, deny God’s free and eternal gift of salvation by requiring a well-meaning, but misdirected emphasis on adhering to the Ten Commandments, as well as the other 603 moral and legal codes (365 thou shalt not’s and 248 thou shalt’s) in the Old Testament.

The Mosaic moral, ceremonial (including all sacrifices and feasts), and civil Laws served as a guide to holiness and as a teacher for the preservation of Israel (Col 2:16; Eph 2:15; Gal 4:9, 20). The Law is a dim “shadow of things to come” in the future but the reality is the body of Christ, which is the real substance and antitype of all the Old Testament shadows that have been completed or accomplished in Jesus (John 1:17, 19:30; Rom 10:4; 2 Cor 1:20; Gal 4:10-12; Col 2:17; Heb 8:5, 10:1). Many scholars believe that the Feast of Trumpets and Day of Atonement point to the second coming of Jesus (Lev 23:24,27). The Feast of Tabernacles will continue to be observed in the Millennial reign of Jesus by the “nations,” those who have yet to receive salvation, until it comes to an abrupt end on the eighth day of the feast (Lev 23:34; Micah 4:1-7; Zech 14:16-19; 2 Thess 1:1-10; see also 2 Cor 5:1).

The Born-Again Christian is no longer bound to observe them, but they should not criticize anyone who chooses not to observe them (Col 2:16-17; Rom 14:5). It is “through the Law comes knowledge of sin” which is why it was necessary to display humanity’s guilt and unrighteousness because of their sinfulness and ultimately point them to the need for God and His merciful grace found through Jesus Christ alone (Heb 8:5, 10:1; also Rom 1, 2, 3:20). What every Born-Again Christian should celebrate is Jesus Christ who is at the center of the celebration as the One who came to fulfill the prophetic significance of each of them.

The Law was destined to be retired once the plan of God was fully revealed in the life of Christ (Heb 8:6; Gal 3). There are not two plans of God, one of grace and one of works, but two phases of the same plan of redemption: preparation and fulfillment. The unity of the Law and the work of Christ fulfilled the Law in its entirety. Either Jesus fulfilled the Law, or He did not. God’s love is unconditional which means that good works or religious piety have no effect on it.

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