Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
It crops up often--churchgoers who say they have gone to church for decades and heard legalism preached, but now they rejoice that the gospel of "righteousness by faith" is proclaimed. Thank God for any true change for the better!
But are there different kinds of "righteousness by faith"? Revelation 14 presents an "everlasting gospel" that validates itself by raising up people who truly "keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus." They prepare for the literal second coming of Christ (vss. 6-15).
The author of the Book of Revelation also writes a series of warnings against false claims of "righteousness by faith" in which "we lie and do not practice the truth"; "we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us"; "we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us"; "He who says, 'I know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (1 John 1:6, 8, 10; 2:4, etc.).
Apparently the apostle John wants us to discern any "gospel" that does not produce obedience to all the commandments of God (all ten!). A preacher who says he is proclaiming the "gospel" but himself continues to "break one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so," says Jesus, could be a highly sophisticated deception, yet not realize who he is (see Matt. 5:19).
There are those who say they belong in Revelation 14, but let themselves be fooled by a counterfeit "righteousness by faith." The true "everlasting gospel" must produce obedience to all those commandments in the one himself who preaches it.
Is this concern a reversal to "legalism"? "The everlasting gospel" of Revelation 14 is not legalism; it is a clearer understanding of the cross of Christ than has ever "lightened the earth with glory" (see its full development in Rev. 18:1-4).
The final crisis will be two opposite views of "righteousness by faith." One will spin the Emperor's New Clothes, multitudes rejoicing in "imputed righteousness" but not noticing it's not imparted. "Covered" by what they assume is a spiritual insurance policy, they will go for "the mark of the beast," which will be the most sophisticated counterfeit of "the everlasting gospel" the world has ever seen.
It's time to seek some "eye salve" that can impart discernment (see Rev. 3:18).
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: May 1, 2003.
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