The Only Way Into His Presence?

In everything, what does he say? Give thanks because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. That step of obedience–to give thanks in everything for everything. That’s how he opened the door for me through everything to step into his presence. Enter into his presence for there is fulness of joy. The only way into his presence is through those gates of thanksgiving (transcribed from lecture given by Ann Voskamp, best-selling author of 1000 Gifts).

Does that sound like the Christian gospel? Do we gain access to God by our obedience and our thanksgiving? While being thankful for God and to God is admirable, Ann Voskamp has turned it into a false gospel of work’s righteousness. How obedient and how thankful must we be to have access to God? Are you being thankful enough?  The Bible clearly contradicts Voskamp’s false gospel:

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25).

As the book of Hebrews teaches us, we draw near to God through Jesus who is the high priest of the new covenant. A covenant that is not based upon our obedience or our thankfulness, but is based solely on faith in his finished work on the cross.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6).

Similarly, Jesus directly taught that we gain access to God through him, not through our obedience or our thankfulness. This is just a quick look at a portion of Voskamp’s false teaching. You can listen to a full critique of Voskamp’s message and a portion of her book over at the January 16, 2014 podcast from Chris Rosebrough’s Fighting for the Faith. I highly recommend it to help you discern the dangerous false gospel presented by Voskamp.

 

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “The Only Way Into His Presence?

  1. A passing thought: If you consider “giving thanks” (something we do) to be a “work” on which our righteousness is based, how is “having faith” (also something we do) not also a “work”? Or “drawing near to God” (an even more active action on our parts)? Is your position not just as based on something we do as the one you are rejecting? How is being obedient to God not also having faith or drawing near to Him? How can you have one without the other?

    I don’t know Voskamp and have never read anything by her, but I think you are being a little hard on her. At least in the quote you give you above, she doesn’t say or even imply that our thankfulness or obedience is a requirement of our being counted as righteous or the basis of our righteousness of any other such — merely that in being thankful and obedient to His will, there is fullness of joy. Is that not what Scripture teaches? Maybe it’s because I come from a different background than you, but I don’t read “entering His presence” as having anything to do with “our righteousness” or “our salvation.” In Charismatic circles, “His presence” is what we seek (we who are already saved) through worship and praise and thanksgiving, to experience the fullness of His joy and blessings, the fullness of His salvation — “His presence” as the Psalmist speaks, “in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11, etc.).

    I don’t want to pick at you just to pick at you, brother Dale, but it always leaves a bad taste in my mouth when you point a finger at someone else for teaching a “false gospel” (I guess since I have so often been the target of that) — especially when I am not sure they deserve that.

    Peace be with you, brother. I post this not to condemn but hopefully to give you something to think about. 🙂

    • Hi Joseph,

      Hopefully I can provide some clarification as you ask common questions. Faith is something I have, not something I do. And that faith is in the work that Jesus has accomplished on the cross for my justification. If it makes more sense, you can use the words “trust” or “belief” in place of “faith”. God has granted me faith in my regeneration. Once I did not have faith. Now, I have faith because the Holy Spirit has changed me through regeneration (I was born again). My nature has been changed. I did not work to obtain faith. Now, I can do things like study the Bible to increase or strengthen my faith. But, I could never work to obtain that faith or work to keep it.

      You could think of this in the opposite direction. Let’s use Mormonism as an example. There is no amount of “working at faith” that I could do that would allow me to believe that Joseph Smith was a true prophet or that God was once a man on another planet. I simply do not have the belief.

      As for the issue of seeking his presence… Since I have the Holy Spirit in-dwelling me as all born-again Christians do, I do not have to seek his presence. He is always with me. We do not gain access to God or special access to “His presence” through our works, obedience, thankfulness, Sacraments, pilgrimages, etc. I reject these ideas of the Charismatics as being non-Biblical.

      The reason you personally have been a target of the false gospel label is that you believe and teach the false gospel of the Roman Catholic church. It is a gospel that does not save. Frankly, I am not surprised that you would be hesitant to call something a “false gospel” considering you continue to call me a brother. And, in post-modern big-tent Roman Catholicism I am beginning to wonder if there is even a category to label anything a false gospel.

      Regards,

      Dale

      • Dear brother Dale, I don’t think going around and round with this will be fruitful, but let me make just a few comments:

        I think you are misunderstanding the idea of “seeking His presence.” It is not about “gaining special access”: it is about enjoying and delighting in one’s salvation. I direct you again to the Psalms and the attitude of David, who spoke frequently of being in the Lord’s presence through his joy and thanksgiving and praise. Rather than calling this “non-biblical” — well, read the Psalms.

        There certainly is a “false gospel” from my perspective and from the perspective of the Catholic Church — and I could very well point it out (and I needn’t look very far). But I’m much happier when I focus on what is the Gospel, what is His salvation. You are very quick to judge and label what “does not save”: do you really think that no Catholic has been saved?

      • First, David did not have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit throughout his life as Christians today do. Secondly, I would have to see the context of a specific example from the Psalms to review it in context to see if it fits your description.

        As for the issue of a false gospel, it can be just as important to delineate what is false to define a position as it is to focus on the truth. Because, particularly in our post-modern world, there is an assumption that there are lots of truths and no real falsehood – especially in matters of faith!

        So, let’s try to make it simple. I deny that the Roman Catholic sacraments are necessary for salvation. In fact, I go so far as saying that affirming the necessity of the Sacraments separates one from Christ. I deny that the Pope and the Magisterium are representatives of Jesus Christ. I deny that purgatory exists. I affirm that praying to the saints is idol worship. I could go on and on rejecting the teachings of various councils and popes. At what point would you, Joseph, say that I, Dale, believe in a false gospel that does not save me? I am really curious.

      • Please pardon me, brother Dale, I’m afraid I’m going to go far over your word limit in writing a full reply to this. You know I’m long-winded.

      • Joseph,

        I am holding up your comment until I have some time to reply. I may break it into several pieces since there are many different topics covered. I appreciate the time you put into the post.

        I do love how something can be “both necessary and not necessary”, put that is not post-modern! 🙂 Apparently the basic laws of logic do not apply. I wish I had more time today to engage.

        Dale

      • “How can the Sacraments be both necessary and not necessary?” is an obvious contradiction and a rhetorical question; the implied answer is that they can’t. My next statement, that what is really necessary is the grace of Christ, clarifies the apparent (but not actual) contradiction. Please respond to my whole argument — which I did spend a lot of time and care constructing — and not just pick a few phrases out of context to contradict.

        Please take your time to reply, since I would appreciate an honest and thoughtful reply to what I actually wrote. Contradicting me just for the sake of contradicting me isn’t very helpful.

        Peace be with you, brother Dale.

  2. Great post. It’s only through becoming One in Christ that we can hope to embody the Will of the Father. Faith, obedience, reason and detachment are but instruments we use to help us on the road to the unity of Christhood – they can never be the final end in and of itself. The only ‘end’ is the Eternal Perfection of ourselves through the Son of God.

    • Well despite your comment that it was a great post, it appears you totally missed the point. I am arguing against the mysticism-lite of Voskamp while you are going WAY, WAY beyond her to full-blown mysticism. You may be using some Bible-sounding words, but from your blog site I can see that you completely reject the Christian faith that saves.

      • I’m just saying that Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life” in a different way, from the subjective – while you are expressing parts of the Christian doctrine cataphatically. This is the difference.

        God is unknowable, except through Christ. In Christ we gain the Father, this is the only way. Christian mysticism and individual revelation goes hand in hand and not counter to doctrine. Mysticism is the individual’s personal experience of God, but this is only given meaning through the Church and its orthodox teachings. This recognised in the Eastern Orthodox Church and to a very large extent in the Roman Catholic.

        Many of the Saints and the Blessed, Revered theologians and mystics are just approaching God at times from the interior. St John of the Cross, St Theresa of Avila, Tauler, Suso, St Bonaventure etc are all very good examples of the Christian mystic tradition.

        What part of this is rejection of Christianity?

  3. Praise God for access to Him through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. Many think they can hold to teachings that contradict the Scriptures and the gospel and then somehow still be saved. Many follow a false Christ that cannot save and trust a gospel that is corrupted by the doctrines of man. Catholicism teaches that Christ’s work on the cross is insufficient and must be supplemented by reliance upon Mary, the cleansing work of purgatory and the continuous bloodless sacrifice of Christ through the mass, where the wafer is worshiped as Christ Himself the grossest act of corporate idolatry. God’s Word tells us that Jesus Christ has saved us forever because He ever lives to make intercession for us and that He has perfected forever those who are sanctified by faith in Him. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law appoints the Son who has been perfected forever. Hebrews 7:25-28 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once of all. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. Hebrews 10:10-14 Catholicism is the grossest heresy. God bless you:)
    http://holdingforthhisword.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/the-doctrine-of-jesus-christ-2/