It is a gift of God’s grace that the good news of His grace never stays silent for long. There have been several “dark ages” in the past where the light of His grace appears to have been snuffed out by those who would lead us to believe that salvation comes with our cooperation and obedience to the law.
But God has always been faithful to raise up a people who will remember and rejoice in the reality and truth that it is all up to God and that salvation only comes to us by His unmerited favor. Names like Paul, Augustine, Martin Luther and more after years spent in tears, anger, exhaustion and hopelessness at the altar of the gospel of works were miraculously, amazingly and gracefully shown the gospel of grace.
The message that salvation comes to us by grace alone has changed so many lives. It has changed my life. To know that God has GIVEN me a gift of His grace, His unmerited favor, frees me from myself and my ability. Instead of leaving me alone to choose utilizing my own faculties, convictions and spiritual righteousness, God gives me by grace His choice, His convictions and the spiritual righteousness of His Son.
Just like in Luther’s day, the thought that God through Jesus has “paid it all” and that Jesus really meant what He said when he breathed out “it is finished” may seem lost in the mind of the Church today. One way to gauge whether or not the concept of God’s grace is championed in the pulpit across your country is to observe what the major critique of the church is from those who are outside of it. Is there a critic outside of the church today suggesting that the reason that they do not go to church is because the church preaches a message of grace and extends too much of it? It is no coincidence that any critic of God’s unmerited favor is usually found inside the church. This has always been the case. Just like the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son, it is always those who have never left Father’s house who grumble at the prospect that Father would unconditionally love and accept the wayward son without conditions or merit.
I believe that something is happening.
I believe that there is a great awakening or reformation that is happening. I see it in the sermons I hear on YouTube, in the conversations that I have with others, in the books that I read, blogs that I read, in the radio programs I hear, in casual conversation, in the sermons I hear at church, the message of God’s grace and the flame that it contains is growing hotter and brighter. I believe that you may have witnessed it too. Just like God began to rise up those who would be overcome and intoxicated with His grace some 1500 years ago, I believe we may be seeing a similar move by God right now. The spiritual darkness and bondage that was lifted off of so many people back then I believe is beginning to lift off of so many of us today.
For far too long we have exhausted and burned out our up and coming generations with the gospel of “do better”, “live righter”, “it’s all up to you now”, moral-therapeutic-self-help-deism version of Christianity and are left scratching our heads wondering how we lost them.
As we watch our young (and old) leave the church we have done everything to try to be cool, to be hip to bring them back with programs, ministries, concerts, fashion, skinny jeans, tattoos, beards, fog machines, strobe lights, free coffee, we’ve exhausted all resources to try anything to bring our loved ones back. The only thing that will bring back and hold the next generation and generations after them is the grace of God.
Tell them the truth that God loves them unconditionally, that they do not “have” to do anything for Him because He has already done everything for them and watch to see what they now “want” to do.
Bury the message of “do” and champion the gospel of “done.”
Burn the WWJD* bracelets and raise high the banner of WHJD**
It is time to once again cling to the gospel that salvation comes to us by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Correction: It is time to once again realize that it is by grace that GOD IS CLINGING TO US with the gospel that salvation comes by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
The dark shadows created by the current theme of “moralistic-therapeutic-self-help-deism” inside the church will be overcome by the message of God’s amazing grace. I thank God and praise the glory of His name for once again turning the lights on.
Post Tenebras Lux: After Darkness…Light (motto of the Protestant Reformation)
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
*WWJD: What Would Jesus Do
**WHJD: What Has Jesus Done