December 14, 2009 in
The article that appeared on this page has been rewritten and expanded in my book, REVISE US AGAIN.
See my post, Legalism, License, Lordship, and Liberty, which summarizes and adds to that chapter.
Frank- This was an awesome Christmas Gift. Wow! The gospel the way it is supposed to be told is Good news. Thank our Lord Jesus!
As a brother put it in a conversation a while ago, “We have an identity crisis!” And it is true! Oh, that we would KNOW who we are IN CHRIST! And allow HIS life to flow though us. Very shortly after I had turned to the Lord He showed me the state of Christianity today. We say we are apart of the vine and yet go completely against its nature. I saw branches striving with all their might to get fruit to burst out. Like a branch could just magically bare fruit! And then the Lord showed me that if we would stop striving to bear fruit, but instead simply abide IN HIM, we would find that we are drooping down full of fruit!!
I find it beautiful that I read this today. This morning I listened to a sermon that I would paraphrase – “Go ahead and do whatever you want to. Just do it unto the Lord and use it to tell everyone about Him.” These are my own words and the sermon was in regards to Christmas but, I find this thinking throughout the Church today.
Frank I truly appreciate your humble obedience to the Lord. Thank you. I have read your books and the Lord has spoken mightily to me. Isn’t He WONDERFUL!!!!!!!!!!!! haha! On my heart lately has been the word Emmanuel. God with us! GOD WITH US!! YESSS!
Ryan Holt ~ Fairbanks, Alaska
“So then, the word of the LORD to them will become: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there—so that they will go and fall backwards, be injured and snared and captured.” (Isa 28:13 NIV)
I’ve heard the first part of this passage Isa 28:10 used over and over again by people saying we get in the word, pray, learn a little here, learn some more over there. But they never seem to get to verse :13.
The Lord didn’t want obedient SLAVES (law) – he want’s an obedient BRIDE (love) – people who are totally enamored with HIM. How much satisfaction do you get from a wife who HAS TO LOVE YOU?
What is sad is that in the end both the libertines and the legalists are wrong. It must be frustrating for God to constantly deal with our tendencies to go the wrong way all the time. That is the best evidence of God’s love, not giving up on the human race completely.
By the way, Frank, did you ever answer your own question, “What Perplexes You Most About the Christian Life and/or Christians?” Inquiring minds…
Jeff, no, haven’t. Someday I plan to.
Goodness! Of all the chapters to cut out, this is one that needs to be printed more than most!
You’ve expressed this very well – in fact, clearer than many of your other writings – and its a great appendix too. Thank you, brother, and thank God!
I forgot to mention that by understanding what Frank has written here and being part of a community of Believers who understand this and spur one another on–it helps you realize that you can truly trust Jesus. That is He almighty and wonderful enough to empower us–not condemn us! We have no fear of a legalist type of God or the of the wimpy libertine kind that doesn’t defeat our bondage!!
I completely agree. I think we often forget though that we are under the “law” of love now. Love is the standard. When Paul mentions why He would or wouldn’t do certain things he always points to love as the motivation.
For me having children helped me understand this so much more.
This hits home all too much being a modern day Pharisee myself (always in stages it seems). Anyway, I became a Dad last January and becoming a Dad is so much like being a follower of Jesus. Whether I liked it or not, I was from that point on…a Dad. From the day my daughter was born I had three choices in the way I handled my new life: (1) I could choose to be what I now am and grow into that role as I transformed into the Father that God created me to be; (2) I could choose to pretend like I wasn’t a Dad and continue acting as if I didn’t have a child, or (3) I could choose to pretend to be something I wasn’t in the way I “fathered” my daughter making myself like some “other” Dad’s I thought do it or did it “right”. Quite honestly, when I recognized this, it helped me to understand the freedom I had in Christ, and the ability I had to let His light (and mine) shine before men that they may see my good deeds and worship my Father, Lord, King, Husband and Savior. Reading this helped to make my “dry bones” come alive as I realized the “camp” that the Spirit in me has been leading me towards while defining (not condemning) where I’ve been. Thanks so much for the way you are able to articulate a point, it’s truly a gift.
I realized that I have been hearing shades of the legalist gospel for a good chunk of my life without realizing it. I thought I should believe more. Speak the word more. Pray more, etc. My prayers now are not so much “Lord, help me”, but rather “Lord, show me.” I think we focus too much on the earthly realm. But the key for me was reailzing that we live in TWO realms. Saints, let us fix our eyes on things above, wher Christ is, and where our true life is hidden! We are not what we seem. We are not what we appear to others or even to ourselves. We are … all that Christ is!
I think this is right on, Frank. I’ve run into more of the legalist mindset in my own experience, and it is still difficult to shake off sometimes. In my experience, legalists often think they aren’t being legalistic because they aren’t demanding the same things as another group/church/etc. But they often have their own set of laws.
It was very freeing when I learned that the “lists” in Paul’s letters were not Christian to-do lists, but a description of who we are now in Christ.
Right on, Mark! it’s so awesome to see the lives of the saints in Gainesville changing so dramatically in such a short period of time. Understanding how the Lord sees us, who He really is, and knowing Him together so profoundly changes how we view things, ourselves, one another, and God. The old “we’re not doing enough, we fall so short, we need to do more good works, etc. etc.” that marks the way that most Christians think and talk just disappears. I wish every believer would have the experience of knowing Jesus Christ in authentic community and living from the throne. There’s nothing quite like it on this earth.
this article really helped me, I was slipping and now I can get up.
Thanks Frank for the reply. I couldn’t agree with you more. To make Jesus Lord of my life I need to know Him personally. His Spirit (Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control – most importantly love) needs to fill me and move me.
Thanks, God bless!
WOW. I believe it would be an outstanding tool for discipleship if this was available in booklet form. I have done some studies of this nature on my own. But have never seen it presented so comprehensively. This is a ‘keeper,” in more ways than one.
Ruth Ann – Lititz, PA
Well said. I would add that Paul’s gospel is likely the same as Jesus gospel of the good news of the kingdom of God. The gospel message that Jesus and His disciples shared from town to town. At the core was that Jesus was King, that we can let Him reign or rule in our lives now and into eternity. When the focus is put on Jesus being King or Lord, there is no room for either extreme of focusing only on faith or on works. When we focus on Christ as Lord we focus on follow His leading in our lives – allow Christ to love us, guide us, and work through us.
Jon, yes, it’s the same gospel. However, we must remember that when Jesus preached the kingdom, people saw and heard and encountered HIM … that is, he presented his love, grace, compassion, glory, beauty, power to them. (“We beheld his glory, that of the only begotten of the Father.”) Therefore, the gospel of the kingdom can only be presented rightly today when the messenger presents Jesus Christ in his riches (Paul preached the unsearchable riches of Christ to the Gentiles) where people come away with a seeing — a revelation of Him. that’s the missing note among many preachers today, so the gospel is not longer a HIM but an “it” and it gets morphed into religious duty, guilt, and condemnation rather than an unveiling of “the mystery” as Paul put it in Colossians, Romans, and Ephesians.
Yesterday I tweeted this statement, as it’s fitting. “To faithfully represent Jesus Christ in our day requires re-presenting Him. The Jesus that’s so often proclaimed today is just too small.”
Amen, brother. This resonated with me the first time i read it in “FETH”, and resonates today.
WOW THAT WAS AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YES YES YES was all the Spirit in me was shouting!!!!! Thank you! Wish it had been in from eternity to here — but glad I got to see it now instead!!!!!!!!!!!! LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
i couldn’t agree more with you frank!!! how terribly sad that the gospel that paul preached isn’t heard more….but i’d like to add just a personal perspective…it is strange how the Spirit can give a tug within ourselves to show us the way (when we’re on one extreme perspective and fall to the other)…but for me the most frustrating aspect has been HOW? i know that the Lord is capable of doing the work WITHIN me…but how? and i believe you can’t know the gospel that paul was talking about, outside of realizing who he was writing to…and how Jesus lived on earth….the big word being…community…outside of other like minded believers encouraging and engaging in our walks, we get burned out and disolusioned with how this new creation really looks….we either say, see there is no right way to live….or we believe that there is only a black and white God who rewards and punishes…it’s taken me a while to figure out what was missing in my walk as a new creation…what greater way to know who i am IN CHRIST than a community of mirrors who love me enough to call me to the higher way of living….by bringing to light, the real me…. thanks again frank for causing me to think and discuss….
Frank – brilliant, succinct and the place God has been driving home for months. It’s evangelical in every way. love, t
Thank you, Frank. As is usually the case you saved the best for last. I like this, “Only Paul’s gospel . . . the glorious gospel of grace . . . the gospel of Jesus Christ . . . has the capacity to bring you and me into the full liberty that is ours in Christ. And the end of that gospel is the ageless purpose for which our Lord burns.”
Excellent post Frank! Unfortunate that it was not able to be part of From Eternity to Here. I have lived through all three “gospels”. Libertinism was by far the easiest and longest lived “lifestyle”. This was before I really understood anything – in fact, I hadn’t even ever read the Bible. But, once I started to learn and the Lord opened my eyes, I feel into Legalism. It was easy to tell myself that there are certain rules to live by to obtain God’s Spirit… don’t do this… must wear this… don’t do that…. must attend all these services. Thankfully, that “gospel” was very short lived. I saw the red flags quite quickly. It was living through these two “gospels” that evenutally brought me to the third gospel, The New Testament Gospel. Thank the Lord! I haven’t figured it all out yet (nor do I expect to), but your writings have definately helped bridge the gaps. It’s good to know that I am on the right path – and I have the Spirit of the Lord to lead me and guide me. As Forrest said, “Bless you for reminding me to walk not just for Christ, but *by* Him and *through* Him as well!”
This is fantastic, Frank! I’m planning on using this as a family study. Thank you for being real! Merry Christmas to you & yours!
Thank you, brother, for this post. These past few months I have been struggling with a sin that had not plagued me since before I became a Christian. Last night I pleaded with God to show me the way out of this bondage (not to earn His acceptance, but to better show my gratitude for all that He has done for me), and praise God, He answered me sooner than I even imagined! I know that the truths you have presented here are the key. I had fallen into legalism, approaching obedience from a self-improvement point-of-view. Bless you for reminding me to walk not just for Christ, but *by* Him and *through* Him as well!