rader34icon.jpgLance B. Latham was one of the big influencers from my past. He was the originator of the church-based Awana program for kids. I knew him from Camp Awana and from the North Side Gospel Center. But I’m not blogging about Lance today. I’m blogging about a book that he gave away to anybody who received Jesus.

That book, Grace and Truth, was written by W.P. MacKay. MacKay was a medical doctor who became a preacher in the Scottish Presbyterian Church.  This is even more remarkable, because at one point he became president of a local atheist society.  MacKay composed several hymns, including “We Praise Thee, O God, for the Son of Thy Love.” He was killed tragically in an accident in 1885.

I figure that if Doc Latham gave away this book by the case, it’s worth a look.  I have two copies left, in new condition.  Here are the opening paragraphs. I’ll put MacKay’s words in blue italics so you can distinguish them from my effusive commentary.  You can find this excerpt in the Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society.

Man does not know GRACE: When unadulterated grace, unmixed grace, the grace of God, God’s own love to sinners, is preached, man cannot take it in: “Oh, this is downright Antinomianism.” This is the cry that was raised against Luther when he preached “full free justification by grace through faith without the deeds of the law.” The cry that was raised against Paul, that he made void the law, that he told the people they might sin that grace might abound. Now, unless our Christianity provokes this opposition, it is not scriptural Christianity. Unless the gospel we preach, when presented to the natural mind, brings out these thoughts, it is another gospel than Paul’s.

Can we get an Amen!?!  To all my preaching and evangelizing friends, do you preach a gospel message that offends and shocks the self-justifying sensibilities of postmodern pharisees?  When the gospel is rightly preached, the reaction will be an objection that you’re making it too easy.  That objection PROVES that you have correctly placed the burden on Christ alone.

Every Christian—mark, not some of them—has the Antinomian or God-dishonouring “flesh” within him to be watched over and mortified; but this is a different matter. People will readily quote “Faith without works is dead,” “We must have works,” and so on; and we most certainly coincide. But follow up the argument by inquiry about the works, and you will too often find that such have very loose ideas of Christian holiness. Such will quite go in for having a Christian name, going religiously to church, being able to criticize a sermon and a preacher, being acquainted with good people, abstaining from all immorality, being honest and respectable; but the moment we cross the boundary line that separates respectable and easy-going make-the-most-of-Christianity, into the rugged, thorny path of identification with a rejected Christ, separation from the world’s gaieties, splendours, and evil communications, dead to it and all that is therein, taking up Christ’s yoke, and denying self-we are met with the expressions “too far,” “pietism,” “righteous over-much,” “we don’t like extremes,” “legal preaching.”

Hey… I’m writing a book about the flesh as we blog… How to Stop Your Inner Mess from Trashing Your Outer World, or something like that.  Sign up for WISEGUYS! (top right corner of this site, click the mobsters) so I can notify you when it’s released.

olsen-forgiven.jpgHere, MacKay goes for the jugular of self-righteousness.  Do not argue against a grace-oriented gospel with one breath, and then argue against a grace-induced righteousness with the next.

The grace of man would be this, “Do the best you can by the help of grace, and then wherein you fail grace will step in and make up.” But the first thing the grace of God does is to bring “salvation” (Titus ii.11).

How about we keep first things first?  Either our salvation is all of Christ or it is not salvation at all.  The only contribution we make to our salvation package is our sins.

Thank God for Jesus.

shame.jpgI’m not hearing a lot of gospel preaching like this today.  I’m not hearing the kind of preaching that raises the objection, “Are you saying that we should keep on sinning so that grace can abound?”   The gospel, rightly preached, offends our self-justifying flesh.  It renders us incapable of contributing to salvation, and reduces even the best of us to charity-cases.

Instead, what I hear, is a costly salvation to us.  It just doesn’t make sense to me, though that really doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t make sense with Scripture:

 “4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. 5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,” Romans 4:4, 5, NKJV.

I’m glad that Doc Latham helped drum the gospel of grace into my head, and into the heads of countless others.  I just hope we can keep the drumbeat going.

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