Sunday, September 9, 2007
When Law Replaces Gospel
His enthusiasm is without question. He sweats out his messages before live TV with the zeal of a man on a life-and-death mission. And if you merely listened to the tone of his words you would have to be convinced that he speaks the truth of the Bible. At least until you listen to the content.
This morning I heard Rod Parsley deliver one of his fiery orations to his packed assembly and I was aghast at his horrible confusion of Law and Gospel. Now, I know that such is often the case with Pentecostal theology. Still, you want to believe that maybe this time he will see the Truth and get it right. Wrong.
The theme of the day was "Uncommon Obedience - Uncommon Favor." It came from the story of Saul in 1 Samuel 15. The idea he promoted proclaimed that "obedience reverses the curse." Thinking back to the Fall and the Curse, I remembered those key words in Genesis 3:15 where God promised that the Seed of the Woman would crush the head of the serpent. HE would be the reversal of the curse. Yet in vain did I listen for such Gospel. It never came. Instead all I heard was Law. If WE were obedient, the curse would be lifted. Huh?
Then he referenced Galatians 3:13 regarded our redemption from the curse. I was encouraged. Maybe now he would bring in the Gospel, despite the terrible confusion with the Law earlier. He read the passage. There is was, clear as day, pure Gospel. Christ redeems us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us. But what does the Rev. Parsley do? He immediately tells the people that THEY have to redeem their lives. They have to "sacrifice" their homes, families, etc. to God to reverse the curse and bring in God's blessings on all of it.
The confusion of Law and Gospel remains the most basic error of TV preachers like Parsley. I couldn't believe that he could make such a fundamental error, but there it was for all to see. Still, I had seen this error among Pentecostal before. The idea always seems to be that if I do something, even believe, then God will follow through on his blessings of the Spirit, of healing, and on and on. But Gospel comes first. Yes, we must be convicted of the Law. Yet God always acts prior to us. He redeems us from the cross. He washes us in the baptismal flood. He plans our salvation from before time begins. He does not wait for us to act first in obedience, because he knows we cannot without his strength. In fact, He knows that even our "good deeds" are as filthy rags. Why can't Parsley get this?
It is a shame that those who are spiritually hungry and thirsty are left without true food and drink, when the man holds in his hands the very Bread of Life.