He died on a cross and was made the vile sinner I am, yes, even as if he were all the vile sinners who ever lived. The perfect man became the perfect substitute for imperfect sinners. The wages of sin is death, so he died that death for every man. We accumulated the debt, and he paid the price in his own blood. (Gal. 3:13; 1 Pet. 2:24, 3:18)
He now invites all to come and share in the salvation he has provided. It cost him everything; it costs you nothing. (1 John 2:1, 4:10; John 3:16; Eph. 2:8-9; Romans 11:6)
The sole condition for salvation is repentance/faith. Repent—acknowledge your worthiness of judgment and eternal death. Faith—give up all other confidences, and believe on Christ as God come in the flesh, who paid the price for your sin and offered himself as the only way to God. (Acts 16:31; John 3:15, 36; Acts 11:18; Acts 5:31; Acts 20:21)
But, this is not all. This is only half of the gospel.
Cat’s Concerns: The Nature of Sanctification
Christ alone, faith alone, grace alone. These are the core tenets of the biblical gospel. We have previously discussed imputation, but here we see that in NGJ’s terms, it’s actually a matter of appropriation:
So, here is what most Christians have missed. When a person believes on Jesus Christ, God immerses him into the very body and life of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-14)…Christ’s actions become the actions of all who are in him (1 Cor. 15:22; Rom. 6:8). Just as when Adam sinned, I sinned (Rom. 5:12), so when Christ didn’t sin, I didn’t sin (2 Cor. 5:21)…
…Here is the crux of sanctification. When Christ died, he not only died for sin, he also died to it (Rom. 6:10)…As sin was defeated in Christ, and because I am now in him, sin was likewise defeated in me. I am as dead to sin as is Jesus (Rom. 6:7; Romans 6:2; 1 Pet. 2:24)…
The believer’s responsibility is to believe that what God says is true—that he is dead to all sin and alive unto God, that is, he is now freed from the power of sin. We should and can sin no more! (Rom. 6:11 especially, but all of Romans 6; Gal. 2:20. 5:24; 1 John 2:1; Col. 3:1-4; Rom. 8:3-4; Col. 2:11-15)
In listening to Pearl’s audio sermons, I heard great weight placed upon the necessity and efficacy of our “believing and receiving.” In tracing the threads of the doctrinal statement, what emerged was the idea that one sin will cast a believer into a state of lost salvation. Elsewhere, Pearl says he believes in “once lost, once saved, twice lost, never saved again.” I did not understand precisely what this implied until I began to look at his idea of sanctification.
NGJ teaches that salvation is maintained by not sinning, moment by moment. They claim that everyone retains the ability to sin, distinguishing believers from the sinless Son of God in that Jesus did not have the ability to sin. A contradiction in thinking immediately emerges: If Christ did not have the ability to sin, how then did He die to it? What moral character did He have to learn and earn?
Pearl presents some confused teaching on the imputation of sin to Christ which implies that Christ became a sinner in somewhat different than an imputative sense–again, the word “appropriation” comes to mind. While I’m sure it could be sifted to some degree by listening to his Romans 6 teaching (which he eagerly references on repeated occasions as key doctrine that will grant extra enlightenment not available elsewhere in Christendom), I will likely save that for the editing phase when we go to compile this as a PDF document for easier sharing.
At this time, the main concern is that we can see the reason for the core emphasis on training children to reflexive obedience, and the reasons Pearl refers to this as a sort of pre-salvation “sanctification.” His behaviour-modification technique appears intended to impress a reflexive obedience that will equip the grown child to retain their sanctified state through obedience and avoid falling into irrevocable condemnation. We encourage you to go to the NGJ doctrinal statement and read the verses associated with the statement of faith where it touches on sanctification for illustration.
Dave on Doctrine
This reminds me of talking with some friends from our former church. “He says salvation is through Christ alone and His sacrifice on the cross. That’s good enough.” Initially, I may have agreed, but for those who’ve been following this, you can see that he adds to that. This is where things go awry.
But, this is not all. This is only half of the gospel
Only half the gospel? The other half is for us to achieve and maintain. I’m sorry, that just can’t happen. I used to say that all teachings have to be taken back to the cross and if they don’t line up there, then something is wrong and has to be scrapped or changed. No, I’m not going emergent and saying we need to change the cross. The point is, that there is a step beyond that. The cross is a reflection of the character of God Himself and as such HAS to line up with His person and word. The idea that Christ had to learn sanctification before it could be passed to us, or that there is any way we could lose our salvation once we are in Christ, or do anything to ‘prepare ourselves’ to receive salvation is outside of the character of the infinite God of the scriptures.
I love it when preachers say things like “here is what most Christians have missed.”
They are bookmarking where they are going to stray from Scripture and head off on a new track. I’ve been reading up on the emerging church and that is one of the most used phrases (or a variation of it) when the spinners begin their rants about what needs to change. The reference that Pearl uses (1 Cor. 12:12-14) about being immersed in the body and life of Christ does speak of being in the body of Christ, but makes no mention of the life of Christ. It’s referring to all believers as the body of Christ. This connection of our salvation to the life of Christ is rather disturbing. “Christ’s action become the actions of all those that are in Him.” WHAT? I have a will, it gets me in trouble ALL the time. 1 John 1:8 says, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” This is active, current, not past tense.
I guess Paul just didn’t get it. He wasn’t godly enough. Therefore he won’t be in glory to meet those of us who do measure up because he says “..I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.” Rom. 7:15b And in v. 17 and 20″…But sin which indwells me.” And again in v. 18, ” …but the doing of the good is not.” v. 21 “I find then the principle that sin dwells in me…” Whoa back Tinfoil, how can he say this? I thought he was saved on the road to Damascus? I thought that
Christ’s actions become the actions of all who are in him (1 Cor. 15:22; Rom. 6:8). Just as when Adam sinned, I sinned (Rom. 5:12), so when Christ didn’t sin, I didn’t sin (2 Cor. 5:21)….
Ok, then to follow this logic, then when Paul says that sin dwells in him, that as the body of Christ, sin dwells in Christ? So when I DO sin, that Christ sins? I’m sorry, that doesn’t line up with the character of the creator God that I’m familiar with.
“Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind m serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh, the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Paul always admitted his sinfulness. Even so far as to refer to himself as the chiefest of sinners. He knew he wasn’t able to ‘not sin’ and that any righteousness that may be found in him was not his own, nor the work of the life of Christ, but the gift of Christ through His sacrifice on the cross.
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)
We’re not sinless yet, but we will be. Praise the Lord.
At this point, if Michael Pearl expects to enter heaven based on what he has done and his obedience to God and Scripture, it seems safe to say in terms of doctrine, at least, that the man stands without a scrap of eternal hope. This is a grievous, grievous thing–no cause for joy at all.
The “hope” expressed in NGJ doctrine is entire loss. We are sobered to consider it.
 See Pastor Matthew Raley’s article summarizing the toxicity of using Behaviourism to promote religion. Further expansion of the topic is contributed by commenters.