“Can that faith save him?” - James 2:14
James asks a revealing question. Good questions have a remarkable way of producing good answers. James was defining the difference between true faith and false faith. “That faith” is only called faith, because it was void of motivation for good works. True faith includes within itself the motive that guarantees good works. According to James, two things were being called faith, but only one was the real deal.
Jesus' little brother, Jude, had to deal with similar controversy. Jude observed a group of "so-called grace" preachers who loved a false version of grace. These men were propagating a false version of grace as if it were real. Much of what they said sounded right, which made it difficult to pinpoint what exactly was off. One word - “Grace” - but two versions of it. Jude took the time to listen, observe, and respond.
Jude saw what other believers missed. Just because someone uses the word “grace” doesn't mean they are preaching the real thing. He observed men who had audaciously inverted grace by turning it into the means of sinful self-gratification! They “pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 4).
"So-called grace" preachers are still around today. They say just enough that is good and true and they suck Christians in by the thousands. Many of these “grace” preachers aren't using grace as a means for sensuality, but they still miss the mark. I want to help you distinguish between true and false grace preaching but looking at one central component.
False grace preaching really wants you to know “who you are in christ.” This one line and its emphasis are so important in our day. When someone preaches this version of grace the focal point of the teaching is about who you are. I have heard it so many times: “You just need to know who you are in Christ.”
That grace is no grace at all. There are some preachers who have the audacity to invert the grace of God into a means of self-exaltation. “God saw what no one else sees - your greatness! So he sent Jesus to come and get you!”
That is not grace at all!
For those who know true grace, there is more excitement about being “in Christ” than there is about realizing “who we are.” Real grace leads people to discovery after discovery of the glories of Christ! Real grace makes us so grateful to God for loving sinners. Real grace directs awe away from ourselves and onto Christ! Real grace leads us to give glory to God alone!
This is but one simple example that will help you differentiate between true grace and "so-called" grace. A grace that turns inward is no grace at all.