The Gospel Man ministry held another “Grace and Men Conference” this past weekend at Perimeter Church in Atlanta. The two speakers were Scotty Smith and Tullian Tchividjian. Although I cannot do them justice for the content that they presented and the enthusiasm with which they presented it, I do want to give a summary of their teaching. The audio should be available soon. When it is, I’ll let you know and give you are hearty “imperative” that you must go and listen. 😉
This first post (there is just too much good stuff to cover in one post!) is primarly a summary of Tullian’s first message on Jesus + Nothing = Everything, based on Luke 4:18-19.
- Unless we are making folks nervous with our preaching of grace, we are not preaching grace. We are like a declawed cat—too safe. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said that if we are not accused on occasion of antinominanism, we probably have yet to preach the radical nature of the gospel.
- Why do people get so angry when grace is so emphasized? Dr. Doug Kelly says that if you want to make people mad, preach the law. But if you want to make them really mad, preach grace.
- Stop qualifying grace! When I say, “Yes we are saved by grace, but…” we lose the gospel. When I say, “Yes, grace, but…”, my flesh is fighting for its life.
- Grace is not an app. It is an entirely new operating system.
- We don’t need a different message every week. We need the gospel every week from a different passage, for each new passage will provide new grace-driven applications of the gospel for our lives.
- The gospel sets us free from self- salvation.
- Doesn’t unconditional grace lead to moral license? No! Grace doesn’t create lawlessness; legalism does.
- Attacks on grace always come from within the church. In the earthly ministry of Jesus, the folks who hated grace the most were the Pharisees.
- A big question: Do we primarily want outward, short-term behavior modification or heart oriented, long-term spiritual transformation? You can have the first without the second. But if you go for the second, you usually get significant behavior change thrown in for free. You can have the first and still end up in hell. Just ask the Pharisees.
- Grace is not an obstacle for obedience; it is the catalyst for obedience.
NOTE 1: It is this last point that emphasizes that justifying grace must not be disconnected from sanctifying grace. Theologically, they should be distinguished, but never separated, since it is faith in the justifying work of Jesus (John 15:4-5 / abiding in Jesus as my righteousness) that fills us with the Spirit and enables us to produce his fruit (Galatians 3:1-5; 5:16ff). This is why preaching and teaching on justification is so crucial, not just for positional righeousness, but for progressive righteousness (sanctification) and is why folks talk about “preaching the gospel to yourself every day.” In other words, it is the nature of grace to sanctify.
NOTE 2: When we speak of grace and gospel, we mean the substance of the person and work of Jesus, who died for our sin (as a legal substitute, not merely as a moral example). Grace requres law. It requires bad news (my total failure to fulfill the law) in order to have good news (grace=forgiveness, imputed righteousness, eternal love in adoption). So, to speak of grace and gospel is to speak of the person of Jesus and the benefits we receive from him through faith in his finished, redemptive, reconciling work on the cross.