Pristine Grace

Sugar Water
by Brandan Kraft
Sugar Water

"Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ," Philippians 3:8

    Have you as a believer in sovereign grace experienced someone else who confesses sovereign grace claim boldly to you that you aren't a believer even though you both claim to confess the Gospel?  It can be quite a shock to hear this!  I've never been told this to my face, not in any of our assemblies, but this is a popular thing to say online to people.  Why is that? I think it's because this other person has packaged God into a box!  Let me explain...

    The line of reasonsing that you usually hear on the internet by various folks in the sovereign grace camp that don't accept those who come to them confessing Christ usually goes something as follows: 

  1. It doesn't matter if you claim to believe the Gospel now...
  2. You first have to prove you have repented properly of your dead works, of your former religion in order to be saved.

    WOW, knock me over with a feather.  Belief in the Gospel is not what is important to these people.  You have to properly repent of your false religion they say.  Not only do you have to properly repent, but you have to prove it to them that you have properly repented (by answering their litany of questions), or you will not be accepted by their group and embraced as a fellow heir of the kingdom.

    Folks, this line of reasoning is DEADLY.  And I will go so far as to say it is another gospel.  It is a devious way to introduce conditions and extreme introspectionism which must be fulfilled in order to have a right standing with God and their groups.  It is just another form of putting God in a box and turning the Gospel into one extreme formula that must be followed in order to be saved.   Ironically, it's really no different than the other popular freewillism formula that these folks rail upon continually.   Here is the popular freewillism formula you encounter today:

  1. God has done everything for you except:
  2. You have to accept the gift in order to be saved.

    Do you see what I'm talking about?  On one hand you have the freewillers saying you have to "accept" a gift in order to be saved.  On the other hand you have some sovereign grace calvinists saying you have to "admit you weren't a believer when you were attending a freewiller church" in order to be saved.  There really is not much difference in these two thought processes.  Both lines of reasoning will have you adhering to a strict formula as a condition which must be fulfilled in order to gain salvation.  It's a way to package their god into a little box that must be opened properly, or else you will miss out on eternal life with Christ.  And in reality, these so-called sovereign grace believers have simply traded one formula (freewilism) for a new formula.  You can trade New Coke (freewillism) in for Coca Cola Classic (conditional sovereign grace), and it doesn't really make all that much difference, it's still just sugar water.

    Oh how sad, and how horrible to be boxed in with a powerless god with chains like these!  What if I don't follow the formula perfectly?  Oh woe is me if I cannot follow the formula just right!  I would have no assurance.   My stinking flesh cannot do anything right so how am I supposed to follow this formula?  If salvation was up to me in any way, I'd surely mess it up!

    Thankfully, the good news is there is no secret formula.  And the five points of Calvinism (TULIP) and imputed righteosness and doctrinal perfection is not all there is to the Gospel.  As Charles Spurgeon once said in a sermon,

"doctrines are but as the shovel and tongs of the altar, while Christ is the sacrifice smoking thereon... if you only know these things as they stand in the creed book, if you only understand them as you find in the catechism, I tell you that you know nothing yet as you ought to know.  If this is all your knowledge, you have just begun to learn.  May God help you to go further, and to mount to higher and clearer regions than these.  It is a blessed privilege to know Christ doctrinally, but it is only the beginning, the stepping-stone to something better, even as love longs for intimacy."

    I am eternally thankful that my Lord is not in a box.  There is nothing in my hands that I can bring.  And Christ is my all in all.  I'm thankful for the faith that He has given me by which I don't look back to my old religion or any past formulas, but only to Him.  New coke, coke classic, or that fancy mountain dew, it's all just sugar water.  My only hope is Christ.  Let us turn away from all sugar waters, from all formulas, and pray to be found only in Him.  "Foul, I to the fountain fly, wash me, Savior, or I die."