Saturday, March 19, 2016

Tullian, Grace, and the New Life in Christ

Pastor Tullian Tchividjian of Florida (the grandson of Billy Graham) was removed from another pastorate following revelations that he had had another affair.

Yes, another pastor who has fallen into disfavor because of an affair.

Let us not mince words about the truth:

1This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)6Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil." (1 Timothy 3: 1-7)

Tullian no longer has a good report with the world in regards to his behaviors.
Does this exposure make light of the Gospel? Does his failure diminish the Gospel of grace?

Let us recall Tullian's mission:

"In an announcement last month, the Liberate board said they had relaunched the ministry "whose mission was to connect God's inexhaustible grace to an exhausted world through books, conferences, television, radio, social media, and a variety of other mediums." It was suspended last year after Tchividjian's troubles began."

Now, is the Message of God's Grace at fault? Not at all, for grace is what gives us the power to reject sin!

"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." (Titus 2: 11-14)

Grace is never an excuse for sin! Grace does not produce sin!

So, what's going on? Tullian was another preacher expounding upon and expanding out the revelation of the Gospel in its fullness: "Through this Man [JESUS!], you are justified from all things!" (Acts 13: 38)

Yes indeed, when Jesus died on the Cross, He declared not just to the whole world, but for all eternity: "All sins are put away."

Do not take my word for it. Jesus said, and He is our High Priest forever.
John the beloved disciple affirmed this truth about Jesus, not just what He did for us at the Cross, but what He does now and forever:

"My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2And he is the propitiation [lit. Mercy Seat] for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 2: 1-2)

So, once again. What's going on? Tullian is preaching about the grace of God, and yet he sinned.
Some of Tullian's own testimony will reveal what is going on:

The process of repentance is progressive and painful. It involves ongoing confession, not just of what's going on in my life at the present but what's happened in my life in the past.

Whoa! We do not confess our sins to be forgiven. There is only one thing that cleanses away our sins: the blood of Jesus.

"But ...  but 1 John 1: 9!", critics will charge

John was writing to unbelievers in the first chapter. Consider this passage:

"If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:" (1 John 1: 6)

Now, John is not saying that he is walking in darkness. This is an editorial "we".

Then we find:

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1: 9)

Throughout the Old as well as New Testament, confessions of sins did not relate to itemizing every wrong thing we have done.

Sin is deeper than what we do. It's about who we are. Are we dead in Adam, or alive in Christ?

"For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 16And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. 17For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." (Romans 5: 15-17)

Repentance is all about faith. What do you believe? Do you believe in Him whom the Father sent for us (John 6: 29)? Do you believe that in Christ Jesus, all your sins are put away? All of them?!

"And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;" (Colossians 2: 13)

OK, first we have to believe that all our sins have been forgiven, in that God will never punish our condemn us for our sins (Romans 8: 1)

And yet, where is the power to overcome? Here is the problem which many Christians face. 

There is no strength in and of ourselves. Not only are all men sinners, but we are born "dead in trespasses" (Ephesians 2: 1)

Tullian Tchividjian
Tullian Tchividjian

"I've struggled with anger, with frustration, anger with God, anger with my wife, anger with the church, trying in some way shape or form to alocate blame for my bad decision on something or someone outside of me. And one of the things God is forcing me to face, I knew I was bad [but] I didn't know I was this bad."

Does this frustrating discussion sound familiar? Paul described this fight:

"For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 18For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me." (Romans 7: 14-20)

There is no good thing in our flesh, in our efforts. We need grace, we need life, we need to allow Jesus into every aspect of our walk!

In all of Tullian's discussions and struggles, there is one name not mentioned, one Person not revealed: JESUS!

Jesus did not just die for us, but He died as us!

In Christ, we are not only forgiven of all our sins, but granted a new life!

Jesus was not mincing words when He declared:

"I have come that you might have life, and that more abundantly" (John 10: 10)

and also

"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life!" (John 14: 6)

He is our life!

"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4When Christ,who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." (Colossians 3: 1-4)

Grace is not an empowerment for our efforts. Grace is a Person!

Tullian then starts to point to his flesh, to his efforts, and how he put trust in his efforts:

He explained that when his ministry took off and he became known for preaching a message of grace he started to believe his "own press" and admitted that it could have been a part of what led to the breakdown of his marriage.

The message of grace is the Gospel, and grace is a Person, Jesus, who came full of grace and truth (John 1: 14).

Tullian continues:

"I think when I went through the transition at Coral Ridge, it was obviously rough but we rebounded from that. God opened up a lot of doors, gave me a significant platform, writing books, television stuff, traveling, conferences, I became a different person. Not consciously. I don't think anyone who knew me well, would have thought .... but very, very subtle and tempting to believe your own press," he said.

Once again, there is no mention of Jesus.

People, He is alive! He is our life!

Tullian should not abandon the message of grace! He needs to go further into grace, in which Tullian not only sees sins forgiven, but rests in His life!

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