Beginning in the mid-1990s, author Steve McVey published a series of books on GRACE that took conservative American churches by storm. With forewords by evangelicals Bill Gillham and Gary Smalley, McVey’s books began seeding what I describe as a pseudo-piety within evangelical and fundamental churches and schools that purported to be a deeper understanding of GRACE.
It is my observation “from the front pew” that the GRACE movement, with its emphasis on Liberty, spawned a spirit of lawlessness in families, churches, Bible colleges, and seminaries that has been devastating to the cause of Christ.
Emboldened by their Liberty, the GRACE generation began disparaging their elders as legalists and dismissed long-held principles of Christian decorum. In a similar fashion to the scorn, liberals heap upon conservatives who hold to traditional marriage and conservative family values, a carnal generation began challenging Christian institutional disciplines and rejecting godly standards as legalism. While Bible-believing colleges, schools and churches catered to their carnality, the liberated generation moved on to reject pillars of Biblical sanctification. Disparaging God’s laws, Commandments, precepts, statutes, judgments and testimonies (Psalm 119), youth who professed faith began to openly reject the authority of God’s Word for practice.
Before someone calls me a legalist…I am not suggesting we diminish the doctrine of GRACE. Praise God for saving grace and the full redemption we have in Christ through His sacrifice for our sin!
Galatians 3:13 – “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.”
Praise God for the freedom [i.e. Liberty] believers have from the curse and penalty of sin and the Law.
Romans 8:1-2 – “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus… 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”
Are we legalists because we believe and teach God’s holy character is the spiritual blueprint for the Christian life? Declaring His holiness, God commanded Israel to be holy (Lev. 11:44; 19:1-2).
Leviticus 11:44 – “For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy…”
Leviticus 19:1-2 – “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.”
God not only commanded Israel to be holy, He also commanded His Church and Christians to be holy.
1 Peter 1:15-16 – “But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
God’s Word, Laws, and Commandments are not mandates for a bygone era; they are instructive in God’s command for His people to be holy and sanctified. Catering to the carnality of this generation has diverted schools, Bible colleges and seminaries from their para church mission of equipping and exhorting our youth to take the spiritual high road and aspire to godliness in the midst of a spiritually decaying, morally corrupt society.
I long for a revival when our homes, churches, and institutions once again fall in love with the Gospel and the Law of the LORD. I pray for a fresh stirring of revival when our youth echo the psalmist’s love for God’s Word and exclaim, “O how love I thy law [precepts; Decalogue, Ten Commandments; Pentateuch]! it is my meditation [prayer; devotion] all the day” (Psalm 119:97). I hope to see a day when our pulpits and platforms stop pandering to intellectual arguments and mirror the psalmist’s passion for God’s Word and say, “How sweet are thy words [commandments] unto my taste [mouth; i.e. palate]! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103).
We need a clarion call for revival in our homes, churches and schools. The pulpits of our institutions need to once again become firebrands for both Salvation and Sanctification! Christians are not only the custodians of the Gospel; we are models of God’s holiness as we fulfill our mission to be both “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-16).
Copyright 2016 – Travis D. Smith