Archive for January, 2015

“JESUS PLUS NOTHING” SOUNDS RIGHT, BUT IS IT?

Posted in Blog Entry on January 19th, 2015 by James Barron – 2 Comments

A popular phrase among many believers these days, especially among those who have come to see by revelation of the Spirit the awesome grace of God in the finished work of Jesus, is “Jesus Plus Nothing.” The phrase is a response to the mixture of law and grace coming from so much of the teachings in so many of the churches around the world. It is so true that men have added to the message of the good news of the grace of God, requiring everything from water baptism to good behavior to church membership to giving money for the Kingdom of God and more in order for someone to be forgiven by God and born of His Spirit. To be sure, much ground has been taken in this regard as the message of God’s pure grace is spreading to more and more people causing the giving of thanks to abound from many to the glory of God! (II Cor. 4:15) A world-wide awakening is really happening right now in our generation regarding the grace of God and regarding what Jesus’ death and resurrection really means for mankind and this awakening is going to continue to spread with more intensity.

We need to remember that any expansion of the light into this dark world will stimulate opposition from the darkness. This opposition comes in many forms and in many ways. Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is breaking forth into the world and the violent are resisting it forcefully!” (Matt. 11:12) Religious men and non-religious men resisted Jesus and they will resist us who believe in Jesus. The apostle Paul said that we should not be surprised that Satan can make himself appear as an angel of light and his ministers as preachers of righteousness! (II Cor. 11:14-15) We have an enemy. He is first and foremost the enemy of Jesus and also the enemy of all who follow Jesus. The scripture calls him Satan. One of Satan’s strategies to stop the spread of the good news of Jesus is by false teachings, teachings from men that distort the glorious good news of Jesus. The apostle Paul said that we are not ignorant of Satan’s strategies or his ways. Some believers I know do not even believe there is a Satan, much less an evil strategy designed to stop the spread of the good news. Jesus said we are to be “wise as serpents but harmless as doves.” Jesus warned us that Satan would resist us as he resisted Him because we belong to Him and as His sons and daughters we carry the message of our gracious King to a broken world.

So what is wrong with saying “Jesus Plus Nothing?” True believers, born of God’s Spirit, can get off track in their thinking and adopt views that are contrary to the scriptures. They are still believers in Christ but their thinking needs to be renewed by the Spirit. Consider the apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians. There are well-meaning believers that become “carriers” of wrong thinking much like someone with a contagious disease, infecting other believers with their wrong thinking. The mantra “Jesus Plus Nothing” can be misunderstood to mean that faith is not required. Perhaps those who use this phrase intend for faith to be assumed, but we should never assume that the hearer understands that belief is necessary. We should speak with all boldness, calling people to believe on Jesus.

The truth is that it is “Jesus Plus Faith” that inherits the promises of complete forgiveness and eternal life. The writer to the Hebrews says that the good news of Jesus will not profit those who do not believe it. (Heb. 4:2) The apostle Paul said that only one law remains, “the law of faith.” (Rom. 3:27) Jesus said the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin because “they believe not on Jesus.” (John 16:8-9) The apostle Paul taught that if someone did not believe in Jesus then Jesus’ finished work would be of no benefit to that unbeliever. No benefit. (Gal. 5:2)

God was in Christ reconciling the whole world unto Himself, the apostle Paul tells us, and then he writes that the very Christ that died for all people was in Paul by the Spirit beseeching the world to receive Jesus’ work that they might be reconciled to God! (II Cor. 5:19-20) Jesus is a gift and a gift must be received in order to benefit the intended beneficiary. God has decreed that the gift of His Son be received by faith, for so it seemed good in the Father’s sight to do so. Those who receive this abundant grace and the gift of righteousness, which is Jesus Himself, shall reign in life by Christ Jesus. (Rom. 5:17)

God has given every human being the “ability to believe” but He will not believe the truth for man. It must be man’s choice. Men believe all kinds of things. Man was made to believe. Animals do not believe. Fish do not believe. Insects do not believe. Animals, fish and insects have instincts, they can learn behavior, etc., but only man can believe. When the message of the good news of Jesus comes to an unbeliever, the message itself brings light into their darkened mind and heart. The Gospel is the power of God and it can penetrate any darkness and bring light to the unregenerated mind. In His light we shall see light, the scripture says. (Psalm 36:9) Jesus said, “Believe in the light while you have the light that you might become the children of light.” (John 12:36) By that statement Jesus is clearly teaching that an unbeliever can believe. In another place it is written, “Today if you hear My voice, harden not your heart!” (Heb. 3:7) Man has a choice.

Jesus calls all people to believe on Him. Jesus said if you believe on Me you will not die in your sins and therefore not be judged for your sins, but if you do not believe in Me you will die in your sins and face the judgment for your sins. (John 8:24 & John 5:24)

Here are a few of the distortions out there regarding “faith” and the Gospel of Jesus. The following statements numbered one, two and three are all false and unscriptural :

1. God gives saving faith to only an elect few after sovereignly regenerating them and all others are doomed and have no choice in the matter. Since faith is a work, even faith is not from man but given from God so the person will believe in Jesus, otherwise it is not all of grace; (Calvinism or Reformed Theology)

2. Everyone will eventually believe and be saved whether in this life or after death and after death there is a time of purging where the unbelievers eventually believe; (Christian Universalism or Universal Reconciliation)

3. Everyone received the Holy Spirit automatically after Jesus died and was raised from the dead and therefore all people on earth have Christ in them and eternal life, they just don’t know it yet, so faith is not really essential. Faith in this life just helps you enjoy the blessings of God now but after death, because you already have the Holy Spirit, heaven is your destination. (Inclusionism)

Grace and faith. They cannot be separated. Faith is not a work of merit for which we can boast. Faith is simply a response to the finished work of Jesus through which we receive His gift of His righteousness that He extends to us! Without faith it is impossible to please God, the scripture says. (Heb. 11:6) As the apostle Paul said, “Therefore it is by faith, that it might be according to grace, to the end that the promise might be sure to all . . .” (Rom. 4:16)

See it?

Faith is “according to grace” or in other words “consistent with grace.” Faith is not contrary to grace as some teach. Faith is not a burden. Faith is the rest. We should boldly call people to believe on Jesus for the forgiveness of all sin and the gift of eternal life. Jesus said that we should shout it from the housetops the good news of forgiveness and life in Him! The word of His grace is spreading to more and more people and it is a word that calls for faith. The apostle Paul was sent to call the nations to the “obedience of faith.” (Rom. 16:26) What is the victory that overcomes the world? Even our faith, the apostle John tells us! (I John 5:4) What is the shield that dissolves all the fiery darts from our enemy? The shield of faith the apostle Paul tells us! (Eph. 6:16)

“Jesus plus faith in Jesus” is life and peace forever! Jesus plus nothing is a delusion and a distortion of the Gospel. Jesus said, “When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)

James Barron