Jerry C. Brewer
Max Lucado is one of the most popular and best-selling authors of religious material in America. He’s also a dangerous false teacher who has led — and continues to lead — multitudes away from the truth. Like his father, the devil (the father of lies: Jn 8:44), Lucado is subtle and adept at twisting and perverting Bible teaching in order to deceive (cf. Gen. 3:1).
Of particular note is Lucado’s concept of the grace of God as it relates to the obedience of man. Paul said, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). The apostle describes the two sides of salvation in this verse — God’s side (grace) and man’s side (faith). The grace of God is completed. God purposed man’s salvation (Eph. 1:11), Christ paid the price for man to be saved (Rom. 5:6-8), and the Holy Spirit revealed God’s plan to save man (Jn. 14:26; 16:13). In these gracious provisions for our salvation, God has done all He will ever do to save man, and Jude said this plan has been once and for all time made known (Jude 3).
With these provisions already made (Titus 2:11-12) it now remains for man to simply reach up in faith and freely appropriate them. That is done through man’s response to God’s grace in obeying the gospel call to faith (Jn. 8:24), repentance (Lk. 13:3; Acts 2:38) and baptism (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38)
God was obligated to do none of the things He has done for all men. His plan to save man is a matter of grace. God was not obligated to save us, but His grace obligates man. That truth is expressed in the third stanza of the song, O, Thou Fount Of Every Blessing: “O, to grace how great a debtor Daily I’m constrained to be. . .” We are obligated to God’s saving grace, and when we obey the gospel, that grace saves us. But notice how Max Lucado perverts this Bible Truth:
“I was about 16, 17, 18, 19 — all the way until freshman in college. The last time I got drunk, I was a sophomore in college. I quit going to church, I quit anything of spiritual interest because I just didn’t think that God would have me back. Somehow I missed out on that message. And through the influence of good friends and through the influence of a minister, they helped me see that the whole reason Christ died on the cross is for people like me. And if we could save ourselves, we wouldn’t need a savior. And when that began to dawn on me, it was literally a Damascus Road type experience — the lights went on then. I thought, I can’t believe you mean grace is that great? I had had a view of a conditional grace… as long as I do my part, God does His part” (Max Lucado’s Wayward Days, Interview by Deborah Caldwell:http://www.beliefnet.com/story/148/story_14846_1.html )
Notice Lucado’s statement that, “I had had a view of conditional grace …as long as I do my part, God does His part.” His implication [as a preacher of a church in San Antonio formerly identified as a church of Christ, now a “community” church: Oak Hills Church ( ibid. )] is that this is what we teach. That implication is absolutely false. Neither my brethren nor I have ever taught that God’s grace is conditional — “as long as I do my part, God does His.”
It is not God’s grace that is conditional, but salvation which that grace provides. The grace of God was freely given to all (Titus 2:11) and God desires the salvation of all (2 Pet. 3:9) but not all will be saved, because not all will avail themselves of God’s grace (Matt. 7:21). The grace of God was extended to Noah (Gen. 6:8) but God’s grace obligated Noah — not God — and Noah laid hold on that grace by faith (Heb. 11:7). Noah didn’t reason that, “…as long as I do my part, God does His.” Through grace, God had already done His part in giving Noah a way of escaping destruction, and Noah availed himself of that way. Noah did not earn God’s grace, or obligate God to save him and his family. God’s grace obligated Noah to heed God’s instructions if he was to be saved.
Lucado’s implication is that what we teach obligates God to save us because we have “done our part.” That is part and parcel of Catholicism and Islam which teach salvation based upon works of human merit. But the Bible does not teach that and I have never heard a faithful gospel preacher teach that error. Lucado blatantly misrepresents the position of faithful gospel preachers. I personally knew the man who baptized Max Lucado. He was a faithful gospel preacher who never taught that, “as long as I do my part, God does His.” He did teach that the grace of God “hath appeared, …teaching us…” and he taught exactly what God’s grace has revealed in the gospel — that one must believe, repent, confess, and be baptized in order to be saved. He also taught that the free grace of God has been extended to all, but salvation is conditioned upon man’s obedience. God’s grace does not obligate Him. It obligates us.