Echoes from the Past…

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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8 thoughts on “Echoes from the Past…

  1. Hi, just wondering how to order books by some of these great Christian writers like Lance B. Latham and W.P. Mackay?

  2. Hi Mollie,

    You should be able to find copies of Grace and Truth by searching http://www.bookfinder.com or other used books sites.

    I don’t think that there are any books by Lance B. Latham available. If you find any, let me know.

    The biography of Doc Latham’s life was written by our dear, late Dave Breese. It is called, Lance: A Testament of Grace. I have a copy, and I’ll sell it to you for a million bucks. Or else you might find it cheaper on the internet.

    Let me know what you find!

    Bill

  3. Pastor Bill,

    I once heard (not sure if it is true) that the Puritans used to say, “The fruit does not fall from the root of the tree.”

    One might speculate that the proclamation of grace is (of itself) such a “work” (better stated, out”work”ing) or result of the fruit of the faith in salvation by grace alone.

    The proclamation of grace is the “fruit”; and the “root” (to use our Puritan aphorism) is faith alone in Christ alone.

    In other words, the forth-telling (preaching) of grace is the “work” that “justifies” (evidences) the faith in believing God by His Word.

    Examples: The result of Abraham’s faith (out”work”ing) was offering Isaac. The result of Samson’s faith (out”work”ing) was to let his hair grow (Heb 11:32) . The result of our faith (out”work”ing) is to reckon our old (Adamic nature) man dead. &c.

    Grace.
    Joe

  4. A quote from Martin Luther on Matthew 11: “Who stumbles at Christ? All that (sic) teach you to do works, instead of teaching you to believe. Those who hold forth Christ to you as a law-maker and a judge, and refuse to let Christ be a helper and a comforter, torment you by putting works before and in the way of God in order to atone for your sins and to merit grace.”

    –Quoted in newsletter from http://www.gracedagain.com

  5. Hi,
    I already ordered the book! My weakness is “old books”. I have not been disappointed yet by any of your recommendations. My favorite as of yet: Grace: that glorious theme by Lewis Sperry Chafer.

    thanks so much!!!

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