The Truth About the Gospel Project Part 3
To the Ruling Elders of Southwood:
On September 4, 2011, our daughter and her family from Atlanta were here and we attended the Sunday worship at Southwood. After the service, our 13 year old granddaughter, who is well grounded in scripture, stated that she was very confused by the message. She had come away hearing that every good thing she does is wrong. Why would she believe that? We have gone back and listened again to that message, entitled “Duh,” and here is what we found:
The message is from Galatians 3:1-6. Paul is chastening the church for falling prey to the persuasion of the Judaizers, exhorting them again that God’s love for them was not by any of their own works but through the miraculous work of Christ and the Holy Spirit. Jean seems to take the written word beyond its intent. He subtly changes ‘God’s love’ to ‘God’s favor.’ He changes legalism to performance. He takes Jewish law and extends it to almost any action one does. Here are some paraphrased quotes from the sermon. “To keep God’s favor, the Galatians were believing they needed Christ and a dash of obedience which looks like those things called Christian disciplines. Christian walk Christianity is from the Devil. Faithfulness is feeling condemned for work you haven’t finished (as contrasted with faith: resting completely in Christ). Faith is a litmus test for teachers and leaders; the difference between faith in Christ alone and faithfulness is like the difference between truth and falsehood, between Heaven and Hell. Faith alone is all we will teach.” (Here Jean says this is what Paul is teaching but he gives no supporting scriptures to support his interpretation.) “Discern as false any book, sermon, or Bible study where you hear a dash of self justifying obedience. Self justifying obedience is from Satan.
Jean’s statements, combined with the tone and inflections in his delivery, imply that he is scornful of Christian disciplines, preachers, Christian writers, the Christian walk, obedience, faithfulness, good works, and an individual’s efforts. This message can lead to the conclusion that everything we do is evil and, by extension, that God and the Holy Spirit can do nothing through us. The message lacks balance and leaves sanctification out of the equation. A new believer under this teaching would be moribund after accepting Christ, hidebound in fear that he can do nothing right. While it is true none of us have all pure motives, it is also true that God commands us to go forward and that the Holy Spirit will be with us. God says we are His instruments for spreading the Truth. We cannot do this if we are strapped by guilt; we can do this if we seek partnership with the Holy Spirit.
From here Jean goes back to Paul saying “…since you were 100% depraved when you were brought into the Kingdom by the Holy spirit and by no works of your own, why are you trying to be perfected by your own human efforts? You are being deceived by the Devil.” I believe Jean is paralleling Paul in this. Jean then goes on to “We are like alcoholics ; we use Bible study, prayers, small groups, etc. as a crutch and the church rewards our ‘addiction’ with its approval. How would you know if you were addicted? Stop everything. If you feel anxiety, then you are afraid of leaving your ‘fix.’” So we ask: what does God have us do? Jean’s answer is “rest totally in Jesus.” So in turn we ask, what does Scripture say about resting totally in Jesus? But we hear no clear answer from the pulpit.