Solid Food

Misuse of "Grace" to Cover Sin?

Tom M. Roberts


The pioneer preachers who blazed the trails in truth that we have come to regard as the “Restoration Movement” were able to do so only as they wrestled with sectarian doctrines and creeds and returned to the “old paths” of Bible truth. Much of the religious error of early America with which Barton W. Stone, Walter Scott, James O’Kelley; the Campbells, Ben Franklin and other noble preachers contended was that known as Calvinism.

So far as the churches of Christ are concerned, the fundamental teaching of truth during the Restoration Movement was so effective (cf: “The Scheme of Redemption,” by Robert Milligan) that it eradicated practically every vestige of Calvinism among Christians. From the early 1800's until our generation, classic Calvinism (TULIP) has been recognized as the error it is and has not been a source of internal strife (must less a cause of division) within local congregations. However, history will record that it has become the task of our generation to combat these errors again.

Renewed emphasis by some brethren on certain aspects of Calvinism (“Neo-Calvinism”) has made it necessary to get back to basics on the Bible doctrines of the nature and grace of God, nature of man and his ability, faith, works, gospel, law, doctrine, the nature of Christ, imputed righteousness, justification, and sanctification among some of the weightier subjects. Too many brethren seem to be sitting at the feet of Evangelical scholars instead of at the feet of the inspired writers, drinking from the polluted wells of Augustine, Calvin and Luther than from the pure streams of truth. Terminology previously familiar among sectarians is rampant today, resulting in the charges of “Pharisaism, legalism, perfectionism, too much doctrine and not enough gospel, too much about the church and not enough about Christ, too much law and not enough love” against those who do no worse than preach “sound doctrine” (2 Timothy 3).

It is for our generation to fight old battles again, to root out sectarian error, to revisit the Bible basics. It must be our lot to reclaim a love for scriptural preaching, to turn the hearts of our young people to

I. The Universal Need of Grace - Let us never tire of preaching it (Ephesians 2:4-10)

II. What is the difference between Calvinism and New Testament Christianity that they are antithetical to each other? The New Testament is predicated on the premise that God has addressed man as a free-will, moral creature of God whose nature has not changed since Creation. Man (though a sinner by choice) has the ability to understand the word of God and respond in faith to God’s grace. Faithful obedience is blessed by saving grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) and righteousness is given to man as a result. Calvinism rejects man’s ability to believe and obey since it avows man is born in total depravity; man is totally passive, God must do everything in salvation; sinners cannot read and understand the Bible without supernatural help from the Holy Spirit; grace saves, doctrine sanctifies; election is unconditional; justification is by faith alone (with faith being a gift by God to the elect only; the saved cannot be lost. The two systems of religion cannot be reconciled.

III. God’s answer to Departures from Sound Doctrine

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