I really like this post that can be found over at http://www.extremetheology.com/law_gospel/index.html .
I heard about this blog from my friend Melissa at http://exupciinuc.blogspot.com/ .
I haven't read the length of the whole blog, but this post speaks so much Truth to me... hope you can find a few minutes to read it sometime!
September 11, 2007
With All Due Respect Pastor Noble...
Pastor Perry Noble of New Spring Church in Anderson, South Carolina is one of the Pastors that I track online. He strikes me as a sincere and passionate man who speaks his mind bluntly and forcefully. He is not afraid to say things that offend people. In fact, he is up front about the fact that what he says and does will offend religious people.
He has a new blog entry that he’s written that I want to take the time to respond to because it gives us an opportunity to explore the issues surrounding law vs "law & gospel" preaching. The name of the piece is called “‘Nice’ Christian Boys and Girls Make Me Sick”. In his post he says that if his daughter were of dating age that the LAST person he would like here bringing home is a ‘nice Christian boy’. The reason, according to Noble is because:
"Nice" Christian boys are one of the reasons Christianity is not advancing the way Jesus has called us to. Why? Because a “nice” Christian boy will go to church, Bible study, raise his hands in worship and then go back to wherever he lives, sit at his computer look at porn and masturbate.”
In other words, Noble believes that Christianity is not advancing against the gates of hell as it should because ‘nice Christian boys’ are going to church and hearing information that they are not putting into practice. Instead they are snared by sin and disobedience and are therefore not truly effective disciples of Jesus. (John 14:15)
Pastor Noble then goes on to describe the need for Christians “who love Jesus” and defines them as those who will be obedient to Jesus no matter what people think.
So the problem with Christianity, according to Noble, is that Christians are sinning and the solution that he is calling for is less sin and more obedience.
Pastor Noble then admonishes us to look at the sins that we need to stop doing and become someone who is radically in love with Jesus. Noble then gives two examples of personal sins that HE overcame.
Nothing personal, but we’ve all heard this pep-talk before.
When I grew up in Christian schools the term we used was ‘sold out for Jesus’. We were told that we’d change the world if we would just ‘sell out for Jesus’. This meant burning our secular albums and only listening to Christian music. It meant committing yourself to never ‘petting or sleeping with your girlfriend’. As a young man, it meant promising to be a man of integrity. Every time, this ‘pep-talk’ would come around some pastor or person would give their testimony and tell a tale of how they looked sin in the eye and conquered it by following some program, method or advice. They would say that we would change the world for Jesus is we’d just be like them.
These pep-talks always sound so good and so practical and so achievable. But they never work and there is a Biblical reason why this method always fails. I’ll explain why below. But, in order to do that I’m going to have to get personal with Perry Noble to make my point. Hopefully he’ll understand because I don’t claim to be a ‘nice’ Christian.
With All Due Respect Pastor Noble...,
I don’t believe you for a second when you say that YOU’VE overcome your sin problems. Here is the reason why. God’s law demands perfect obedience in word, deed and thought. If you are a red blooded heterosexual male descended from Adam and Eve then I know for a fact that you, like me, entertain adulterous thoughts (Matt 5:27-28). I know for a fact that you do not always tell the truth, and that your publicly expressed desire to punch people in the throat makes you guilty of the sin of murder. (Matt 5:21-22) If you loved Jesus as much as you claim then you would not continue sinning like you do and don’t think for a second that God doesn’t care. His law demands PERFECT obedience and if you think you’re pulling it off then you are only deceiving yourself. (1 John 1:8-10)
Pastor Noble, neither you nor I have any right holding ourselves up as an example of ‘model’ moral Christians. To do so would be to engage in the worst type of pride. This is the pride that results in self-righteousness. We are both trapped in our sins and you know it. We are so mired in sin that there is no hope that we could ever set ourselves free from it or manage it into non-existence through better planning and life skills.
ONLY, shouting God’s Law at me and others will not make any of us love Jesus more. In reality, it will only make us hate Him. It will make us hate Him because this type of preaching turns Jesus into a new Moses. He becomes just another cloud that thunders threats and punishments at us. But rather than coming from Mt. Sinai these threats now thunder at us from Mt. Calvary.
I’m not certain I understand why you think that God’s law alone is the remedy for Christianity’s problems. Scripture is clear that the Law cannot save us. Furthermore, the purpose of God’s Law is to convict me of my sin and drive me to my knees in despair of my own righteousness. (Rom 3:19-20) The law points us to Jesus but the law is powerless to make us love Jesus more. (Gal 3:10-13, Gal 3:23-26)
So then what is the message that will make us Love Jesus?
Answer: It is the message of the Gospel.
We see this truth beautifully played out in the parable of the debtors from Luke 7:36-48:
Luke 7:36 Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 38 and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is — that she is a sinner.”
Luke 7:40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
41 “Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven — for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Pastor Noble, you will not motivate people to love Jesus through God’s law. But that does NOT mean you should stop preaching it. Please keep telling people about sin and its consequences. Keep telling them that their evil deeds will earn them hell. Through the preaching of God’s law make the people in your congregation feel their sin so heavily that they think of themselves as worse sinners than that woman who washed Jesus feet with her hair. Keep calling them to repent of their sins.
BUT THEN, tell them about the ONE true Christian. The ONE man who loved God perfectly FOR us. Tell them about HIS sinless life offered for our sins on the cross. Preach the good news in all of its comforting glory. Proclaim Christ’s full and complete forgiveness of their sins offered to them as a gift by faith. Give your people the absolution that they so desperately need to hear. Like Jesus, tell them that their sins are forgiven. This is the MOST important thing that you can tell them and you have to preach it Sunday after Sunday.
1 Corinthians 2:2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
1 Corinthians 15:1-3 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures...
And like the Apostle Paul, please don't hold yourself up to your congregation as one who has overcome his sins, but as the chief of sinners. (1 Tim 1:15)
Preach this message of "Law AND Gospel" week after week and those who’ve been forgiven MUCH will Love Jesus MUCH.