Discover the Gospel of Grace in your world and then take it to the whole wide world.
Many today ask, “Does Christianity have a future”? The Christian faith and the Church are no longer as popular as they once were. In most places, the social and economic benefits of being a church member are gone. Christianity is criticized and often ridiculed. Instead of a much hoped for spiritual awakening, we are on a slippery slope of moral decay where Christianity is increasingly irrelevant. This of course doesn’t mean that God has stopped saving people. No, many are coming to Christ, but the overall trend is obvious.
No wonder there is a call to righteousness. Preachers lament the current spiritual situation, and prescribe remedies to bring our nation back to God. Lumped together these ‘steps to revival’ can be summarized as: Stop doing wrong – Start doing right.
Stop same sex marriage, abortion, nudity on television, infringement on the rights of churches. Let’s get back to the 70’s, 60’s or 50’s, or whenever our nation was sufficiently godly. Start living holy, righteous and dedicated to God.
There is a problem because, “Stop the wrong – Start the right”, is at the core a humanistic effort. The very idea that righteousness comes by Christians getter better at doing what’s right and refusing the wrong is not only deceptive, it is “filthy” to God. Isaiah called it “filthy rags”. What then is the answer?
It is time to re-introduce the Gospel of the Grace of Jesus Christ.
Is Grace Weak?
Some think that grace is weak. Others condescendingly call it ‘hyper grace’ and suggest it is a license or a cover up for sin. While almost all Christians agree that God’s grace saves us, many suggest that the successful pursuit of the Christian life is through much effort. In short, we are saved by grace, but holiness comes by our performance.
Let me be quick to interject that every grace preacher I know desires high morals, holiness and right living. The question is how do we experience these? How does morality come? What causes holiness? Does it result from preaching morality, or does it happen by believing in the finished work of Jesus Christ, and by allowing Him to live through us?
There is really only one ‘good’ Christian – Jesus Christ. And God’s genius is that the Christian life if not us trying to be ‘good Christians’. That will always fail. Rather, it is that Jesus Christ lives through us. When we can’t forgive, love or have faith as we ought to, we yield to Jesus, who loves, heals and forgives through us.
This is all by grace. The book of Galatians makes it clear that any gospel that is not based on God’s grace, is not a gospel at all; it’s a perversion (Gal. 1:6-10).
The derogatory term “hyper grace” is to be expected. The Gospel of grace has always been highly contentious. Jesus’ first sermon is described as “gracious words proceeding out of his mouth” (Luke 4:22), and it caused such rage that the religious leaders wanted to throw Jesus over the cliff.
A few years later the Gospel of grace almost split the church in Jerusalem as one group wanted more of a “yoke” of religious rules and rituals on the “neck of the disciples”. Thankfully those who believed that salvation was through “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ” carried the day (Acts 15:10-11).
To be continued next week!