This title is obviously meant to be ironic, but it also highlights something that’s been on my mind lately.
I read a great quote from C. Baxter Kruger the other day. He said, “We make a mistake when we start the Gospel with, ‘we are sinners separated from God,’ instead of starting with Jesus–Who is the Father coming after us to embrace us.”
When we preach the Gospel in Christianity, why do we feel the need to start so terribly? Why can’t we just start with grace? (Actually, why can’t the whole presentation just be grace, period?)
I guess I understand why we often preach the Gospel the way we do. I used to for several years! I used to believe I couldn’t preach the Gospel of grace properly until I had first preached the law of sin and death! (Those were my fire and brimstone days!)
But I’ve come to realize that people don’t need to hear what’s wrong with them. They also don’t need to hear about a (mythical) god who is angry at them! 1 The world needs to hear about God’s grace, love, and acceptance!
I don’t think our message should be “this is what’s wrong with you, and this is how you can get better.” I think our message should be “this is how much value God see’s in you, and this is how great His love is for you.”
I don’t think we preach an unconditional Gospel. I think, especially in the west, we preach a conditional Gospel. In doing so, I believe we make salvation something we can earn, not something we are freely given through grace.
It’s common to hear the Gospel like this: “God is a (legally) holy God who hates sin. You are sinner, separated from Him, and under His wrath. BUT! Jesus stepped in and took that wrath for you. Now, if you repent, believe, and confess your sins you can be saved from hell.”
We say God has done all this great stuff for you, but it doesn’t work until you do something. Yes, we give lip service to grace, but we act like salvation is kind of up to you! If you don’t do the right things, you go to hell! (Right? Isn’t that a fair assessment?)
But the Gospel is the astounding message of what God had already done for the human race in Jesus Christ! It is the good news of God’s unconditional acceptance, love, and grace for all mankind!
The Gospel is an unconditional message! Add a single condition to the Gospel and you are no longer preaching the Gospel!
The Gospel is not “God accepts you if…” The Gospel is “God accepts you, period!”
So here’s my proposal. Let’s stop preaching “You are bad, and God is far from you, here are all the steps you can take to get right with God.”
Instead, try this out for a change:
“God loves you! He is for you! Jesus has reconciled you back to His Father! He is no longer holding your sins against you! You are forgiven! Therefore, repent (change your mind) and believe the Gospel! See the love of God, and be astonished at what He has done for you! You are His child and He loves you. He wants you to know that love!”
That, my friends, is good news!
What do you think? Leave me a comment!
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