February 9, 2014
“I’m telling you, when you truly taste grace, life is a freaking blast!” – Bart Millard, lead singer of MercyMe
The above is a quote from Bart Millard’s recent tirade on Facebook after many conservatives called him out for tweeting accolades for Bruno Mars’s Super Bowl halftime show. In case you are not familiar with MercyMe, they are one of the leading contemporary Christian music groups of today and have been around for many years. If you visit their Facebook page, you will find they have over 1.1 million “likes.” And, if you visit their website, you will see they are about to release a new album entitled, “Welcome To The New.” On Feb 4th, Bart tweeted that “The grace message will be in full swing!!!!” on the album.
Why am I highlighting this information? Because the “grace message” as promoted by MercyMe and so passionately embraced by today’s mega-churches and mega-church wannabes, has hijacked modern Christianity. The hijackers boarded the Old Gospel Ship disguised as regular passengers, but soon had the passengers shaking to a new beat and the ship on a difference course. Tradition, holiness, and reverence were tried by the court of popular opinion and found to be significantly in the way of having a “freaking blast.” So, they were promptly tossed overboard and guiltless Christianity rushed in to fill the void. Even the most revered hymn of all time was no longer fit for such a church; a new tag was needed…
“My chains are gone, I’ve been set free.”
Overly dramatic? I don’t think so. Over the last several years, grace has become the most prominent word in religious circles. Why? Because the “grace message,” is embraced by a materialistic, consumer-minded American audience, and therefore, it fills the pews (sorry, I meant it fills the padded chairs…pews are way too traditional). It is low-impact religion, allowing people to live life as they always have and to feel good about themselves while doing so. It proclaims God’s love for people while making no demands for holiness. The only “sins” for which you may not be forgiven are a judgmental attitude or legalistic theology. Both of these are out-of-bounds.
But is this teaching in line with the Word of God? In short, no! Why? Because the gospel message has been supplanted by the “grace message.” Faith in the person of Jesus Christ as Redeemer and Savior has been replaced with faith in the message of grace. This false salvation does away with the need for repentance and remorse over our sins and absolves man of any responsibility. Much like the prodigal son, adherents to the grace message have broken free of the responsibilities imposed by the Father and have demanded their inheritance now. The riotous living fed by this freedom and funded by a seemingly endless wealth of grace has produced a church happy to wallow in the ways of the world. The command to “love not the world” was apparently lost in the scramble to freedom.
Sin, in the grace-driven church, is a nebulous creature that lacks definition. Sometimes, it seems as though sin no longer exists. And if it does exist, this church denies the power of God that enables Christians to rise above it. Bearing the burden of the cross has also been relegated to the past. This idea is simply unappealing to pleasure-seeking Americans. However, even a casual reading of the New Testament will show that the apostles knew nothing of having “a freaking blast,” nor were their desires in that direction. They knew the cost of their salvation. And therefore, they sought to glorify God with their lives and taught others to do the same. This is typified by Paul’s words to the Corinthians,
“For ye are bought with a price: therefore, glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Cor 6:20)
The apostles witnessed first-hand the terrible price paid for their salvation: the horrific death of Christ and the pouring out of His blood. It wasn’t a far-removed theological idea that gave license to their lust. It was painful. It was sobering. It was life-changing. It is no wonder then that Peter would write:
“Wherefore, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13)
An unholy people will never reclaim control of the Gospel Ship and right its course. And, the “grace message” will never produce a holy people. It is well past time for the American church to lay aside our sins, to come out from among the world and be a peculiar people. We have been hindered for too long. May the judgment begin at the House of God and in each of our individual lives.