Steve McVey's Grace Walk
A One Nature Position
Overall, this book carries a very positive and Biblical message about allowing the Lord Jesus to live out His life in and through the believing heart. This is a good and needed emphasis. The key to it all is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
I have echoed this same teaching in my booklet, WHAT IS THE BELIEVER’S RULE OF LIFE, and I have stated it as follows (my words are in red):
A LOVE RELATIONSHIP, NOT A LEGAL RELATIONSHIP
The believer is married to Christ. It is a LOVE RELATIONSHIP not a LAW (LEGAL) RELATIONSHIP. This love relationship involves being joined to Christ and in vital union with Him. This is what Christianity is all about. Christianity is not a RELIGION, it is a RELATIONSHIP to a Person, the Son of God (John 17:3). It is not doing something but it is knowing Someone (John 17:3; 1 John 2:3-4). It is not a set of rules and it is not a system of morality (though rules and morality are involved). It is not a legal system of "THOU SHALT" and "THOU SHALT NOT." In its essence it is a unique and intimate and personal relationship with the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.
Many in our day have lost sight of this precious truth. For many the Christian life has degenerated into another legalistic religious system. It is common for people to get wrapped up in rules and regulations and requirements and duties. One could think that the Christian life is reading the Bible and praying and witnessing and memorizing Scripture and doing certain things and not doing certain other things. We know how a Christian ought to live. We know how a Christian ought to act and speak and think. We know the kinds of things a Christian ought to do and we know the kinds of things a Christian ought not to do, and without realizing it the Christian life has lost the very thing that makes it different from every other religion or religious system. We have missed the whole point.
C.H. Mackintosh has said it this way:
Christianity is a living and divine reality. It is not a set of doctrines, however true; a system of ordinances, however imposing; a number of rules and regulations, however important. Christianity is far more than any or all of these things. It is a living, breathing, speaking, active, powerful reality— something to be seen in the every day life— something to be felt in the scenes of personal, domestic history, from hour to hour— something formative and influential—a divine and heavenly power introduced into the scenes and circumstances through which we have to move, as men, women, and children, from Sunday morning to Saturday night.
Christianity is the life of Christ communicated to the believer—dwelling in him—and flowing out from him, in the ten thousand little details which go to make up our daily practical life. It has nothing ascetic, or sanctimonious about it. It is genial, pure, elevated, holy, divine. Such is Christianity. It is Christ dwelling in the believer, and reproduced, by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the believer’s daily practical career. [Footnote #16--THE MACKINTOSH TREASURY–MISCELLANEOUS WRITINGS BY CHM (Loizeaux Brothers, one volume edition, 1976), p.790.]
To emphasize this important truth, let us see what the Bible does not say:
1) Philippians 1:21– For to me to live is reading my Bible, memorizing Scripture, praying at least 15 minutes daily and witnessing at every opportunity.
2) Philippians 3:8– I count all things but loss for the excellency of trying to guard my tongue, trying to overcome my bad habits and trying to have my daily devotions.
3) Philippians 3:10– That I may do this and avoid doing that and that I may force myself to witness and avoid every appearance of evil.
4) Revelation 2:4– Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy daily Bible reading schedule and thou hast broken thy New Year’s resolutions and thou hast failed to keep the 10 Commandments.
5) 2 Corinthians 5:9– Wherefore we labour [lit., we are ambitious], that, whether present or absent, we may watch our temper, keep following our strict diet, memorize verses, get enough rest, and not watch too many bad television shows.
What do these verses really say? In the above verses the emphasis is upon KNOWING and LOVING and PLEASING a PERSON, even the Lord Jesus Christ. Read carefully Colossians 1:9-12. Notice the emphasis of this great prayer: to know His will (v.9), to walk with Him (v.10), to please Him (v.10), to increase in my knowledge of Him (v.10), to be strengthened by Him (v.11), to be joyful in Him (v.11), to thank Him (v.12)!
Consider again the illustration of the marriage relationship. There are many things the husband must do and there are many things the husband must not do. There are duties he must carry out, responsibilities he must meet and obligations he must perform. But why does he do all these things? It is because he has decided to love a person--namely his wife. The wife does many things as well. She prepares meals, washes the dishes, cleans the floor, vacuums the rugs, washes the clothes, etc. Why does she do all these things? Is it because her husband has given her a long list of "THOU SHALT’s" and "THOU SHALT NOT’s"? Hopefully this is not the reason. She is doing these things because she is responding to the love of her husband. The marriage relationship is based on love, not law.
What then is the Christian life all about? The Christian life is simply knowing a Person, loving Him, seeking to please Him, walking with Him, honoring Him, obeying Him, thanking Him, rejoicing in Him, delighting in Him, trusting in Him, growing in Him, talking to Him, talking to others about Him, abiding in Him, learning of Him, learning from Him, sitting at His feet and enjoying His presence. Note the emphasis on Him (on a PERSON).
As we go through each day, are we walking with a Person and enjoying Him or are we following a religious, ritualistic, legalistic routine? If we really have that unique, intimate, personal LOVE RELATIONSHIP with the Lord Jesus Christ, then this will change everything we do. This will change PRAYER because PRAYER is talking to the Person I love. This will change BIBLE STUDY because I want to get to know this Person better. This will change WITNESSING because I want to introduce others to this wonderful Person. I want others to know the Christ that I know.
Are we walking with a Person or are we working at a religion? "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to Another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God" (Romans 7:4). In light of John 17:3, can we each say from our hearts: "I know this Person as my Saviour, as my Lord, as my Friend, as my Sovereign Master, as my Helper, as my Shepherd, as my ever-present Companion, as my Advocate, as my Comforter. (So many more things could be said!)."
I’m sure McVey would agree with these thoughts. McVey emphasizes that we are unable to live the Christian life in our own strength and that God must bring us to the point where we recognize that we can’t do it but God can. "Jesus Christ will do more through us than we could ever do for Him" (p. 9). "God’s purpose in the breaking process is to bring you to the end of your own resources so that you will be ready to understand that He is the only resource you need" (p.34). "Adverse circumstances may be the hand of God working to bring us to the end of self-sufficiency" (p. 36).
So with much of the book I would be in hearty agreement.
However, I found that the author has some questionable theology and unbalanced teaching which concerned me, and which detracted greatly from the overall value of the book.
In chapter 4 ("A Dead Old Man") McVey teaches that the believer no longer possesses an old nature. "The point is usually made that Christians possess an old and new nature. These two natures are supposedly in conflict with each other all the time" (p. 55). He goes on to say that the old nature was killed. He teaches that the divine nature "is the only nature the Christian possesses" (p. 58). "You don’t have two natures. The only nature any Christian has is the nature of the Lord Jesus Himself....The Old Man died...crucified with Christ" (p. 59). "The old man was crucified with Christ. He is non-existent, he is no longer there" (p. 61, quoting from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones). "The truth is that a Christian has only one nature" (p. 64). "For a Christian to sin is to act against his own nature" (p. 91).
But sin must have a source. If the source of sin is not the Adamic old nature, then what is its source? McVey teaches that the old nature (the old man) is dead but the flesh is still alive: "the flesh is still an enemy to be reckoned with every day" (p.92). "My flesh hasn’t improved—it’s just as ugly as it ever was" (p. 100). But here is where McVey is inconsistent. He argues that the believer no longer has an old nature because the Bible teaches that the old man has been crucified (Rom. 6; Gal. 2:20, etc.). But he teaches that the flesh is still alive! However, the Bible also teaches that the flesh has been crucified (Gal. 5:24). Based on this, McVey should also teach that the flesh is non-existent and no longer there, but he doesn’t teach this. His logic is inconsistent. For McVey, the crucifixion of the old man removes the old man but the crucifixion of the flesh does not remove the flesh.
On page 53 he says this about justification: "God only imputed righteousness to OT saints, but He imparted righteousness to you when you were saved. Imputing righteousness was a legal verdict, but imparting righteousness is a literal event that happens to NT saints. In these days of grace Christians are literally given the righteousness of Christ. Lot had righteousness credited to him, but you had righteousness created in you when you were saved." He seems to be saying that NT saints are not declared righteous but are made righteous, which is a faulty definition of justification. Romans 4 teaches that NT saints are justified the same way that OT saints were, by way of imputed righteousness, not imparted righteousness. If we were actually made righteous, then we would never sin. This is a very faulty understanding of justification.
On page 124 McVey says, "God has forgiven us our sin nature." This is not correct. God has forgiven us our sins, but the Bible never teaches that He has forgiven us our sin nature. The sin nature was crucified, not forgiven. It was utterly condemned at Calvary.
On page 125 McVey teaches that Christian do not need to confess sins but they simply need to realize that their sins have already been forgiven. This is a failure to recognize two aspects of forgiveness: 1) salvation forgiveness (all our sins have been forgiven—past, present and future); 2) fellowship forgiveness or family forgiveness (we need to confess our sins in order to have fellowship with the Father restored). If we truly hold to McVey’s position, then it would be like saying that Peter did not need to wash his feet since he already had his salvation bath (John 13). But Jesus told Peter that washing his feet was essential! See our paper on The Two Aspects of Forgiveness.
On p. 25 there is an example of his unbalanced teaching: "The key to enjoying success is not strenuous work but spiritual rest." While we do need to rest in the Lord, the Bible also speaks of "laboring fervently in prayer" (and the Greek word for "laboring" means to struggle or agonize in prayer). We are also to fight the good fight of faith. So there is in the Bible an emphasis upon strenuous work as well as spiritual rest, but McVey emphasizes only one side to the neglect of the other. See our study God's Working and the Believer's Working.
On page 128 McVey teaches that a Christian should see himself as a child of God, not as a servant of God. This is unbalanced teaching because the Word of God teaches that we should see ourselves as both. We are servants of God and we are children of God. Both are true.
On page 137 McVey teaches that "God never intended that we should live by the Bible. We are to live by His life." This is unbalanced teaching. God does intend that we should live by the Bible (Matt. 4:4) and living by the Bible does not contradict living by His life.
McVey throughout the book stresses that Christian are not to live according to rules. He defines this as legalism. This is unbalanced teaching. God does have "rules" for His children to follow, and it is a priority that we keep His commandments (1 John 2:3-5). Lawlessness is not God’s ideal. We are under the law of Christ. See our booklet, WHAT IS THE BELIEVER’S RULE OF LIFE?
In light of all of these problems, I do not feel that I can recommend this book, even though the author does share some things that are very helpful.
George Zeller, July 2011
The Middletown Bible Church
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