One of the most confusing messages that we give the world today is giving them the good news of the gospel of Jesus to get them in the sanctuary but then think it is wise to hit them with nothing but bad news, self-help, it is all up to you now, try-harder way of living.
Is this not what every other religion offers? It is all up to you to make things happen? Pull yourself up by your own righteousness way of life? Here is what you need to do for God?
Think about it…Every other religion and every other faith other than what the message of the gospel says; “Here is the reason why you do not have the life that you want and here are 10 steps of what you can do to have what you want in life or from God.”
Should we not then think “bucket of yuck” whenever we hear that in the pulpit rather than “here is what Jesus has done”?
Sometimes these wants are good wants….to be closer to God, etc…Sometimes we fast, pray, dance, say prayers like magic in hopes that we will get something from God. As if His favor, increase, forgiveness, direction and blessing are waiting to be poured on us as long as we come up with the right combination of holy living, prayers, posture, practices and position. “Turn right 3 clicks with prayer of Jabez, turn left 21 days of fasting, turn right 10 minutes of singing praise songs and, Yahtzee! God’s favor safe is popped open!”
Are doing any of these bad? No, of course not! Unless they are done with the purpose and intent of providing you with any other desire other than joy in the Lord. Unless they are done out of begrudging submission for what you think will be obedient to God rather than out of thanksgiving and worship of Him.
Reporter: “So Cain, why did you give God that offering?”
Cain: “You know, being obedient, just doing my duty.”
Reporter: “So Abel, why did you give God that offering?”
Able: “Um…to worship and give thanks to God.”
Cain would say he was obedient. Able would say he was thankful.
What if I told you that you had favor, increase, blessing, joy already in Christ?
What if I told you that God is not waiting on you to move but has moved already?
What if I told you that God’s grace covers more and provides more than you realize?
What if I told you that not only is God’s grace enough, but that it is satisfying?
What if I told you…that as a Christian…you have Christ in you and you are in Christ already…can you get closer to God this side of Heaven than that?
Remember feelings are feelings and are fleeting…
Not saying feelings are bad it’s just that feelings don’t last. What do you do when the music stops and everything is trying to suck the joy right out of you? How do you feel in those moments? How do you feel after getting bad news?
Not like dancing amirite?
Knowing, however, is so much better and sustains our joy and our life when feelings seem to run and hide.
What do we know?
- There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1
- I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
- 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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:4-10
- But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
- We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19
- The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10
- For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
- Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him. John 14:1-7
- I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another. John 15:1-17
- Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
- But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
Look at this and think about how it would look to those who do not have Jesus:
Before saved: Jesus set you free by covering all your sin.
After saved: You better not be sinning or you might not be saved….
Wait, so what we are saying is that the gospel will cover all of your sin unless you sin? That dog aint gonna hunt…and it is not the gospel. The gospel is good news forever because of what Jesus has done not temporary or potential depending on what you are and what you will do. If that were the gospel none of us would have a chance…that is effectively the gospel of every other faith/religion/cult….a gospel of “do” unlike the gospel of Jesus which is “done”.
How about our message be the grace of the gospel…24/7/52
How about we give them WHJD* and that salvation comes to us by GATFAICA**?
Until the world knows us by this message of grace, I really have a hard time thinking it is ok to focus more on anything else.
We are known by our message of judgement….not for our message of grace…
The biggest critique of Christianity is not that it offers too much grace to sinners…
Jesus, however, is looked at differently…Our identity is in Him and not in us (thank goodness).
Jesus came to save not to condemn…
Jesus offers grace to the sinner…
Jesus set you free by dying for you and giving you life.
Your sin? He drank it all down on the cross.
For the glory of the name of the Lord and because He loves you.
Are you praying, agonizing, sweating, stressing that God may not forgive you for the latest sin you did? Are you praying for, fasting for, begging for, pleading for things that you already have in Christ?
If so, it is like looking for your glasses while they are already on your face.
* What Has Jesus Done
** Grace Alone Through Faith Alone In Christ Alone