June 10th, 2011 by Guest Writer

Associate Editor’s Note: In Dan Juster’s message at a recent IHOP conference, he made reference to Christians assisting the Jews in establishing the modern State of Israel. This article from The Jerusalem Connection tells the story of one of those individuals.

By Victor Sharpe | From The Jerusalem Connection
 

This is the story of a remarkable Christian Zionist who did so much for the cause of Zion in the early years of the 20th century.

John Henry Patterson was the product of an Anglo-Irish family. He was born on November 10, 1867 in Ireland to a Protestant family and died in 1947 – one year before the rebirth of the Jewish State of Israel. Following the family’s military tradition, he joined the British army and served with the 16th Lancers in Lucknow, India. He was sent in 1898 to East Africa where he was engaged in building a railway bridge at Tsavo. The African workers were being terrorized by man eating lions and Patterson was successful in restoring order and killing the marauding lions. He later wrote a book about his exploits titled, The Man-Eaters of Tsavo.

According to the writer, Ami Isseroff, Patterson served in South Africa during the Boer War and retired from the army in 1911. At the outbreak of World War I in 1914, he rejoined the army, saw service in Flanders and was subsequently sent to Egypt. It was while he was visiting Alexandria that he met the two men who would transform his life and make him a lifelong passionate and ardent Zionist.

Yosef Trumpeldor and Ze’ev Jabotinsky, two Jews who had earlier left Russia were attempting in 1915 to form a Jewish brigade to fight with the British and Anzac Forces against the Ottoman Turks. They were meeting constant obstacles and refusals by high ranking officers of the British High Command who were often anti-Jewish and did everything in their power to prevent a Jewish military unit from seeing active duty. Turkey, which had allied itself with Germany at the outset of World War I, ruled Mesopotamia and vast swathes of the Middle East, including the geographical territory known as Palestine, and was resisting allied pressure to oust them from their 400 year old occupation of the region.

Jabotinsky, arguably the greatest Zionist leader of his time, had sought to revive the same long dormant Jewish fighting spirit that had led the Maccabees to victory over the Greek-Syrian invaders of Judea 2,200 years earlier. He and Trumpeldor met Patterson and they immediately became firm friends, sharing the same longing for a rebirth in its ancestral and biblical homeland of a reconstituted Jewish state. Indeed, Patterson was to become the commander of the Zion Mule Corps with the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

On March 31, 1915, Lt. Colonel Patterson officiated at the swearing in ceremony of the new Jewish volunteers for the Mule Corps. He invited the soldiers to pray with him that he should, “not only, as Moses, behold Canaan from afar, but be divinely permitted to lead you into the Promised Land.” He wrote in his diary about the military training camp that, “ … never since the days of Judah Maccabee had such sights and sounds been seen and heard in a military camp – with the drilling of uniformed soldiers in the Hebrew language.” Jabotinsky had made it a personal mission to help revive the ancient language of the synagogue liturgy into the new vibrant functional language of a revived and hoped for Jewish state.

Lt. Colonel Patterson. with Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky and Yosef Trumpeldor serving as a fellow officers, led the Zion Mule Corps onto V Beach during the ill-fated Gallipoli Campaign. Half of the Mule Corps had been arbitrarily seconded to Anzac forces who treated them badly and eventually sent them back to Egypt. Patterson, with the remaining 300 soldiers, saw action against the Turks during which time 14 of his men were killed and several more wounded.

The Mule Corps was disbanded in 1916, a result of relentless pressure by anti-Jewish elements in the British High Command. Patterson had been wounded at Gallipoli but eventually recovered and returned to Ireland where he commanded the 4th Royal Irish Fusiliers and the fifth Royal Dublin Fusiliers. In July, 1917 he was made commander of the 38th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, which happened to be one of three battalions of the Jewish Legion. The soldiers who comprised these three battalions were British and foreign Jewish personnel. Marching through the East End of London, prior to leaving to join the fighting in the geographical territory of Palestine, they were met with a tumultuous and joyful reception by Jewish and Christian Londoners who lined the streets of Whitechapel to cheer on the departing battalion.

Still smarting under British High Command reluctance to allow them to see active service in the front, Colonel Patterson and his Jewish Legion were forced to remain out of the fighting. Severe Allied losses however forced the High Command to finally let the Jewish Legion enter the campaign. By now some 5,000 Jewish soldiers were serving in the three Battalions.

The relentless anti-Jewish persecution by the British High Command towards the Jewish Legion and the serial disdain that Lt. Colonel Patterson received in reply to his long and valiant entreaties on behalf of the Jewish forces finally led him to resign in 1920. That he was never promoted, despite his outstanding record as an officer and commander, is a bitter reflection upon the endemic hostility by elements within the British Government and military towards both the Jewish Legion and the Jewish community in Palestine. Yosef Trumpeldor was later killed in 1920 while helping to defend a Jewish farmstead from Arabs at Tel Hai in Galilee.

Patterson went on to write two books about his experiences both as commander of the Zion Mule Corps –With the Zionists at Gallipoli (1916) – and the Jewish Brigade – With the Judeans in Palestine (1922). But after the war, John Henry Patterson grew yet more active in supporting Jewish rights in British Mandatory Palestine. Indeed, Jabotinsky who had served with Patterson and who was now a firm friend of the Anglo-Irish Christian Zionist, went to America with Patterson on a fund raising mission. According to Shmuel Katz, Jabotinsky wrote of Patterson: “I made an appeal for funds, then the collection began, but no one left the hall because they were waiting for Patterson to speak.”

Patterson himself wrote of Vladimir Ze’ev Jabotinsky: “… his mentality was ‘void of the peculiar inhibitions of a Jewish mind influenced and twisted by the abnormalities of centuries of life in dispersion. That was probably the main reason why his political philosophy was so healthy and simple, and why, with all his tremendous popularity, he never became the recognized leader of the Jewish People.”

John Henry Patterson traveled to British Mandatory Palestine in the 1930s where he remained a steadfast supporter of the Irgun Zvai Leumi Jewish forces resisting Arab aggression and British hostility. Both he and Jabotinsky worked together in the United States unsuccessfully to raise a Jewish army of 100,000 to fight Nazi Germany. Jabotinsky continued to fight for a restored Jewish homeland in Eretz Yisrael: The Land of Israel. He was a phenomenal giant within the Zionist Movement but ultimately felt estranged from his less assertive colleagues in the struggle to re-establish the Jewish homeland.

Jabotinsky warned the Jewish communities of eastern Europe of the impending German Nazi juggernaut that was descending upon them, which led to the Holocaust. He died in 1940 near New York of a broken heart.

John Henry Patterson, a great Christian Zionist, died in 1947 before he lived to see the rebirth of the Jewish state that he had devoted his life to fighting for. His wife of many years died six weeks later and both were cremated and their ashes sent to Mandatory Palestine. Their burial place remains unknown except to Almighty God.

 

Victor Sharpe is a freelance writer on Jewish history and the Islamist-Israel conflict. His books include Volumes One and Two of Politicide: The attempted murder of the Jewish state.

Posted in Featured Articles, Israel & The Jewish People Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

March 26th, 2011 by John Paul

For seven years there have been anti-messianic demonstrations in front of the home of Polly Sigulim.  Once again, when probing deeper into the life of this widow of 3 sons all who are IDF soldiers we have to ask what has she done to deserve this hostile treatment.  According to the Gur Hasidim she is involved in missionary activity for foster parenting several children whose Messianic parents have passed away.

This is ostensibly because she fostered some children from another Messianic Jewish family when their parents passed away. The Gur hold this up as some kind of proof of missionary kidnapping of children. This was a legal fostering according to Israeli law and in full accord with the wishes of the family. However be that as it may, Israeli law is not always as important to the Gur and other Haredi groups who often hold Israeli civil law as inferior to the law of their rabbinical courts. These rabbinical courts may very well serve their own communities adequately, but their rulings are not legally holding for other Israeli citizens who are from other communities, such as the Israeli Messianic Jewish community.

There were about 100 Arad residents on the side of Polly countering the protesters.  This news clip shows how the protest went.

It was great to see Polly’s neighbors who know her best stand in her support.  But there are ways we can help also even if we do not live in Israel.  It is time for the Body of Messiah, especially in America, to shift their funds from certain aid groups to directly nurture the growth of our Israeli brethren.  Subsequent to 1967, the resurgence of believing Jews in the land has lead to many organizations that not only further the gospel of the Kingdom of Jesus, but also provide humanitarian aid, even to Palestinians.  Would it not be best for the generosity of Christians to be expressed through the ones who can give a voice of eternal hope to the recipient?

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews does not function as a Messianic Jewish group.  The founder is a traditional Rabbi and does not have gospel purposes in mind.  While preparing for this post, I listened to a recent podcast of ‘The Line of Fire’ with Dr. Michael Brown and quest Ron Cantor. They graciously gave attention to this issue and is recommended for the reader.  (The discussion starts at about 1 hour and 19 minutes in the podcast).

So what are the alternatives for Evangelical supporters of Israel?  I’m glad you asked, and we have some suggestions for you.  Make it a matter between you and the Lord and follow His leading.

By channeling our giving to Israel in this manner our hearts and our treasure will be in line with the Father’s will of salvation by his Son Jesus.   The conflicts that may arise by these funds going to the enemies of the gospel will be mitigated.

The import of this is even beyond the physical and natural needs that will be ameliorated.  It is one aspect that leads to the salvation of Israel.  The seminal influence in Israel for this is the Messianic community of believers.  Let us do all we can with our funding of the gospel to ensure this promise even to generations to come.

 

John Paul is is an Associate Editor for Voice of Revolution, overseeing Jewish Issues.

Posted in Featured Articles, Israel & The Jewish People, News Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

December 31st, 2009 by M. French

  1. The Hollow Sound of Anti-Israel Protests
  2. Apalling Grace: A Response to Mark Galli’s “The Scandal of the Public Evangelical”
  3. What is the Difference Between Holiness and Legalism?
  4. Cleanse Our Eyes: A Call to Consecration in the Area of Entertainment
  5. Why Have Jewish People Been So Hated and Persecuted Through the Centuries?
  6. Missing Link Between Humans and Apes Found?
  7. God Has a Better Way: Official Statement to the Media
  8. What Does Turn the Other Cheek Really Mean?
  9. Hate Crimes Bill Passes House of Representatives
  10. God Has a Better Way Receives Protest, Praise from GLBT Community

Posted in News, The Kingdom of God Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

November 24th, 2009 by M. French

Jesus-followers from various denominations and movements have put together a document called the Manhattan Declaration, which Chuck Colson described as “a wake-up call—a call to conscience—for the church.  It is also a crystal-clear message to civil authorities that we will not, under any circumstances, stand idly by as our religious freedom comes under assault.” Colson drafted the declaration along with Robert George (Professor, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University) and Timothy George  (Professor, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University).  The declaration is summarized on their website in the following way:

Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.

We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are:

  1. the sanctity of human life
  2. the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
  3. the rights of conscience and religious liberty.

Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Dr. Brown had the following to say about the document:

In the words of this important declaration, this is a clarion call for us to rise up as a “truly prophetic Christian witness,” reclaiming our biblical heritage and the best elements of our historic, sacrificial witness, serving humanity as agents of good and as ambassadors of God’s grace. In this darkened and lost generation, our opportunity to shine as bright lights has never been greater. Let’s seize the moment, affixing our names to this document and investing our lives in the advancement of the Great Commission. If we don’t stand for truth and righteousness and moral sanity, who will?

The full text of the Manhattan Declaration can be found here.  You can sign it by clicking here.

Posted in News, Revolution & Justice Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

July 4th, 2009 by Michael L. Brown

Appalling grace, how bleak the sound, that teased a wretch like me.

I still am lost, though almost found, am bound and still not free.

I was moved to pen these lines after reading Mark Galli’s recent article, “The Scandal of the Public Evangelical: What we really have to have to offer the world,” published July 2, 2009, in Christianity Today online. (Galli is the Senior Managing Editor for Christianity Today.)

Galli begins his article by noting that, “It’s been a tough couple of months for evangelical public figures,” pointing to the discovery of nude photos of Carrie Prejean, former Miss California, the adulterous affair of South Carolina governor Mark Sanford, and the impending divorce of reality TV stars Jon and Kate Gosselin. He rightly observes that, “It’s discouraging to see Christians who could have been models of our faith become merely examples of what G. K. Chesterton called the one doctrine subject to empirical proof: original sin.”

So far so good. It is the conclusion Galli draws from this sorry state of affairs that transforms (or should I say deforms?) God’s amazing grace into what could only be called appalling grace – if not a monstrous grace.

According to Galli, “There is something in the evangelical psyche that denies this reality [namely, of the failed lives of so many Christians]. Yes, we’re a movement that preaches repentance and confession of sin as a chief means of grace. But after conversion, our holiness heritage kicks in,” as if there is something wrong with having a “holiness heritage,” as if the Scriptures do not plainly state that “without holiness no will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14), as if Jesus himself did not teach that it is the “pure in heart” who “will see God” (Matt 5:8), as if the promises of God did not move us to “purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (2 Cor, 7:1, in light of 2 Cor 6:16b-17), as if the coming new heavens and new earth, which are the home of righteousness, did not beckon us to “to live holy and godly lives” here and now (2 Pet 3:11), as if we had not been chosen “before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” (Eph 1:4), as if “God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life” (1 Thes 4:7).

“But after conversion, our holiness heritage kicks in.” This is something negative? This is not a wonderful heritage in the Lord? Without a doubt, there is a rich, biblical foundation for this supposedly regrettable holiness heritage: “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” (1 Pet 1:15-16)

This, however, is only the beginning of Galli’s article. After claiming that, “We’re deathly afraid of cheap grace,” and that, “We assume that with sufficient exhortation and moral effort, our sins will become smaller than a widow’s mite and our righteousness larger than life,” Galli makes reference to “the long-standing evangelical myth that there should be something different about the Christian” (his emphasis).

Did you catch that? The idea “that there should be something different about the Christian” is nothing more than a “long-standing evangelical myth.” How remarkable! One of the fundamental truths of the New Testament, that salvation in Jesus transforms our lives, now becomes a “long-standing evangelical myth” – and this according to a senior editor of evangelicalism’s flagship publication.

So then, rather than recognizing that the current moral crisis in the evangelical church is absolutely tragic, a cause for mourning and repentance and self-examination before the Lord, Galli points to these failures as proof that real change for the believer – the type that the world will notice – is unattainable. What a poor conclusion to draw – and what an unbiblical conclusion at that. It is the fact that Jesus truly transforms sinners – that salvation really saves! – which empowers us to witness to the world, and it is a transformation that we are called to live out. (As I recall, Rom 12:2 does not say “be conformed to this world” but “do not be conformed to this world.”)

Galli describes the things we imagine will mark us out from the world. “A look. An attitude. A lifestyle. Something noticeable, something that causes the unbeliever to pause and wonder, ‘What does that person have?’” Yet he rues the fact that the reality seems to be other than this, and that, “we find, more days than not, that there’s not much to that something. We drop our coffee and blurt out a four-letter word, or we drink too much at the office party, or we fail to enquire about the welfare of a neighbor who just discovered she has cancer. Most days, we seem to be no different from the rest of humanity.”

But we are supposed to be different, by the grace and power of God. Consider Paul’s words to the Philippians: “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life . . .” (Phil 2:14-16). This is expected of us today!

Consider Peter’s exhortation to his readers, “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Pet 2:11-12). The unbelievers are supposed “to pause and wonder, ‘What does that person have?’”

We are called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world – a city set on a hill! – and our light is to “shine before men, that they may see [our] good deeds and praise [our] Father in heaven” (Matt 5:13-16; as explained by R. V. Tasker, as the salt of the earth, believers are “called to be a moral disinfectant in a world where moral standards are low, constantly changing, or non- existent … they can discharge this function only if they themselves retain their virtue.”)

James wrote that, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27). This has not changed, and we should we be distinguished both by our acts of mercy and by our lives of separation. “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you” (2 Cor 6:17). Has this somehow been edited out of our Bibles?

Paul was fully aware that in the society at large, there would be people practicing all kinds of defiling sins. But among God’s people, it was supposed to be different: “I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked man from among you.’” (1 Cor 5:9-13)

What would the evangelical church of America look like if we practiced this today? How many of us would be left?

I fully understand that, even on our very best days, we are all in need of God’s mercy, and that in ourselves, we are infinitely distant from God’s holiness. But that does not diminish the fact that the Son really does set us free, that, in Jesus, although we used to be objects of wrath fulfilling the desires of the flesh and the mind, we have been born from above and are new creations in Christ – meaning that our lives are truly changed.

Paul expressed this so well: “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.” That is who we used to be. “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:3-7).

Like the Corinthians, some of us were ungodly, unholy, immoral, greedy, idolatrous people. Yes, “that is what some of you were” – not are. “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor 6:11). All this speaks of real change.

According to the consistent and abundant witness of the New Testament Scriptures, through the new birth we are translated from the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of God (Col 1:13), from darkness to light (Eph 5:8, with the exhortation to “live as children of light”), from death to life (Eph 2:1-5), from slavery to sin to slavery to righteousness (Rom 6:1-23).

That’s why obedience to God’s commands is the hallmark of the believer: “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. . . . Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. . . . No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. . . .” (1 John 2:3-4, 6; 3:6). Succinctly stated, “in this world we are like him” (1 John 4:17).

Are we falling short of this mark in a very serious way as American evangelicals? Without a doubt, which is why we need to reexamine the message we preach to the world and to the church and humble ourselves before our God, acknowledging that something is terribly amiss. Could it be that our substandard message is producing substandard believers? Could it be that our conspicuous departure from the preaching of the cross and the preaching of repentance and the preaching of holiness and the preaching of the empowering presence of the Spirit has produced disastrous consequences? There are many, including me, who say it has.

And what of our fascination with celebrity Christianity, be it the latest superstar preacher on Christian TV or the latest “born-again” reality star on secular TV? The very fact that we could make a beauty queen who poses in lingerie and bikinis into a national voice for morality, however sincere she might be, should be pause enough for thought.

Long ago Alexander Maclaren wrote, “I am quite sure that nine-tenths of all the heresies that have ever afflicted the Christian Church, and are the cause of the weakness of so much popular Christianity, is none other than the failure adequately to recognize the universality, and the gravity of the transgression. If a word comes to you, calls itself God’s message, and does not start with man’s sin, nor put in the forefront of its utterances the way by which the dominion of that sin can be broken in your own heart, and the penalties of that sin in your present and future life can be swept way, it is condemned – ipso facto – as not a gospel from God, or fit for me.”

As Oswald Chambers explained, “Jesus Christ came to make the great laws of God incarnate in human life, that is the miracle of God’s grace. We are to be written epistles, ‘known and read of all men.’ There is no allowance whatever in the New Testament for the man who says he is saved by grace but who does not produce the graceful goods. Jesus Christ by His Redemption can make our actual life in keeping with our religious profession.”

In keeping with this mindset, New Testament elders were expected to be “above reproach”  and to have “a good reputation with outsiders” (1 Tim 3:2, 7), while it was shameful for any believer to suffer “as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.” In contrast, it was our glory to suffer because of our identification with Jesus (1 Pet 4:12-16).

Galli notes that, “It is God’s utter acceptance of us that allows us to look at our miserable sinfulness and not flinch. If that’s not the final step in sanctification, it is certainly a prerequisite to any other step.” Agreed! But he continues, “And it’s about all most of us will experience in this life,” to which we must reply, “That is appalling grace, not amazing grace!”

There are a legion of scriptures that speak of our calling to make clear and definite spiritual progress in this life, including passages such as 2 Peter 1:3-9, which proclaim that God’s “divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” Peter explains that is through God’s promises, which flow from his glory and goodness, that we “may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” Because of this, we are called to “make every effort to add to [our] faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.” Growth in grace is expected and called for (see also 2 Pet 3:18).

That’s why Paul, after exhorting the Colossians to put the death the deeds of the flesh, writes, “as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Col 3:1-14). This is certainly attainable, and it certainly distinguishes us from the world.

Galli does believe that moral exhortations are useful, but he argues that “we must never believe that ‘then and only then’ will we Christians have something ‘to offer the world.’ What we offer the world is not ourselves or our moral example or our spiritual integrity. What we offer the world is our broken lives, saying, ‘We are sinners saved by grace.’ What we offer the world is Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

Really? We tell the drunkard, “I too am a drunkard, hopeless enslaved by alcohol, but let me tell you how wonderful Jesus is and how He forgave my sins.” We tell the child abuser, “I too am a pedophile, but let me tell you how glorious God’s grace is and how he removed my guilt.” We tell the drug addict, “I too am bound by drugs, but you can join me in my brokenness and we can experience the power of the cross together.” What an utter travesty!

For Galli, however, this is the strength of our message: “Make no mistake, this is not cheap grace. Not cheap at all—it’s free. And it’s the most precious thing we have to offer the world.”

It may be free, but it is virtually worthless; and it is counterfeit grace more than it is cheap grace.

We do well to remember Dietrich Bonheoffer’s words: “Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. Grace alone does everything they say, and so everything can remain as it was before. ‘All for sin could not atone.’ Well, then, let the Christian live like the rest of the world, let him model himself on the world’s standards in every sphere of life, and not presumptuously aspire to live a different life under grace from his old life under sin….

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

That is not God’s grace at all. God’s grace transforms us. It forgives us and frees us; it deals with the penalty and the power of sin; it finishes what it starts. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:11-14).

I do not deny for a moment that we stand by God’s mercy and not by our goodness, that all of us are works in progress, that all of us are in the ongoing process of sanctification, and that we can tell others about Jesus even while we remain far from perfect. I also do not deny for a moment that by the blood of Jesus and the Word of God and the Spirit of God we can be profoundly different than we used to be – and that means profoundly different than the world. The fact that we are all too often not different than the world is not a justification for accepting a lower, unbiblical standard but rather a clarion call to turn back to God and receive His transforming grace afresh.

Galli virtually claims that our ongoing sinful state highlights God’s grace, which is perilously close to a dangerous notion that Paul was quick to refute: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Rom 6:1-4). Through grace we do live a new life.

“Appalling grace, how bleak the sound, that teased a wretch like me. I still am lost, though almost found, am bound and still not free.”

Some may prefer this new, diluted version, but I much prefer the original: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.”

For one whole generation (if not more), the evangelical ship has been taking on water. Mark Galli points to this sorry state as proof that sinking is to be expected. It would be far better – and wiser – to assess the damage, plug the leaks, bail out the water, and repair (or replace!) the ship. Only then can we fully preach Jesus Christ and him crucified. After all, our lives speak more loudly than our words.

Posted in The Kingdom of God Tagged with: , , , , ,