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Originally published in "The Lord's Coming Herald & Wesleyan Bible Prophecy Advocate," Winter Edition 2004

The Kingdom Of Grace

    The messianic kingdom that Jesus intended to establish, and in fact did establish, at his first advent is a kingdom of redemption through grace. "For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). "The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). "The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men" through Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11)!

    Modern holiness folks speak much of two works of grace. The term "works of grace," when applied to the experiences of being forgiven of sins, and of being purified in heart can be misleading, however, if we do not understand and emphasize the fact that all of salvation, from start to finish, is underlain and enabled by grace. Let us not then limit grace to only "two" works, for salvation is not a state of grace in which to park, it is a way, a path, or a journey, and we need to have a doctrine of perseverance just as much as we need to have a doctrine of entrance experiences.

    The modern holiness preacher's job is not to "park" people in a carnal Christian state of pre-entire sanctification experience. None of the children of Israel who wandered in the wilderness for forty years made it into the promised land except the two, Caleb and Joshua, who would have gone in at the beginning had they not been hindered by the unbelief of others. The lesson we learn from the wilderness experience of Israel is that the carnal are not going to make it into Canaan! In fact, there are no "carnal" Christians in the first place, for the expression itself is a misnomer based on a misunderstanding of the situation in the Corinthian church.

    The model of the believers at Thessalonica, not the example of the troublemakers in Corinth, is the proper portrayal of a pre-entirely sanctified condition. Though Paul does indeed set before the church at Corinth the high standard of true holiness (I Corinthians 12:31; 13:1-13; 7:1; 13:11), yet nowhere does he insinuate that the carnal at Corinth, who "walked as men" (I Corinthians 3:3), needed to be entirely sanctified! Rather, Paul counsels the church to put out of their midst those who walked after the flesh until they should do the first work of repentance (I Corinthians 5:7; 13; II Corinthians 7:8-11). Friends, a good case of old-fashioned Holy Ghost repentance takes care of many a "carnality" problem. Whether we like it or not, the fact remains, there are no troublemakers in the true church of God!

    The modern "carnal Christian" theory derives, not from primitive Wesleyan Methodism, but from the ideological constructions of late nineteenth century Calvinistic premillennialism. The twentieth century Holiness movement's widespread acceptance of the postponement of the kingdom theory of popular dispensationalism (based on SRA's erroneous interpretation of Daniel's prophecy of the 70 Weeks) has led to the destruction of the kerygmatic foundations of the Christian system, most notably of the doctrine of scriptural holiness, among us. Postponed kingdom thinking drives true holiness out of the world, because holiness IS the kingdom: postponing the kingdom means postponing holiness as well!

    Lord help us all get over the antinomian fables of Darbyism, and return to John Wesley's personal passion for God, and to his understanding of the realized messianic kingdom of grace! Amen.

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