When I think of the number of bad teachings that could bloom among self-focused Americans and ambitious young entrepreneurs, it is like asking how many bugs will stick to your windshield when you drive by a swamp on a hot summer night.
Revivalists ask of each of these waves of “new thinking” instructionist teaching if they are just going to be unfruitful, or conversely and frighteningly, if they are capable of leading someone in suffering for all eternity.
I think of the words of the Apostle Paul who said to the Romans, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:1-2, NKJV). If there are two all-encompassing enemies of the true Gospel which encapsulates most false teachings, it is any teaching that presents a type of Christianity which avoids the subject of sin and which does not require service or sacrifice. The enemy of our souls can ease us into complacency and then sell us on the false gospel of “easy believism.”
I once visited a large United Methodist church in Georgia in a very affluent part of Atlanta. I was disturbed to see the following statement, centrally located on a large bulletin board in the middle of the Sunday School classrooms: “All the World is Born Again!” Wouldn’t that be wonderful, if only it were true? However, it is not true, and millions will be eternally lost if they spend their lifetime believing such false teachings.
What we as true Christians fail to realize is how bad it can get when, for generations, no one calls out such damning false doctrines. The early Methodists were once so full of the Spirit that people called them the “wild eyed Methodists.” However, error always follows the same path when the Church preaches what people want to hear, instead of what people need to hear from God’s Word!
I’ve recently caught a podcast online. A young couple was promoting their counseling services to anyone who has been a victim of “performance-based Christianity.” I am hearing that term more and more lately. Not surprisingly, such teaching emerges from the camps that promote a “hyper grace” Christianity. My immediate response to the podcast was, “Is not all true Christianity performance based?”
James, the half-brother of Jesus, taught in James 2:17, “In the same way, faith also if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” The simple truth about the difference between good works and bad or religious works, is that good works are works that God by His Holy Spirit calls us to do, through prayer and our ongoing relationship with God in Christ. God never called us to do anything for Him. He does, however, call us to work with him.
Dead religious works, in contrast, are things we try to do for God in order to earn His favor. Jesus died on a cross for our sins, and we receive His favor only by His grace. No amount of works will ever purchase that favor. However, because of that grace we can now do good works for Him through the leading of His Holy Spirit.
In Matthew 25:23, Jesus said, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.”
It sounds to me like Jesus was building some form of “performance-based Christianity!” Our true calling is to be living so close to Him, and to be so biblically astute, that our whole lives bring glory to His name in the process.
Rev Nolan J Harkness is the President and CEO of Nolan Harkness Evangelistic Ministries Inc. since 1985. He spent most of his adult life working in youth ministry. He also felt the calling of Evangelist/Revivalist and traveled as the door was open holding evangelistic meetings in churches throughout the Northeast. His website is www.verticalsound.org.