Summary: The importance of preaching a gospel that does not leave men in their sins and uncommitted to Jesus.
Grace and the Gospel
We must be careful not to preach a gospel that leaves men in their sins and uncommitted to Jesus Christ.
The Son of God made unmistakably clear the absolute necessity of repentance (Matt. 18:8,9 and Mark 1:14&15) and self denial (Luke 9:23-26) if we would have to do with Him. So important is our response to His message that He has attached to it the weight of eternal consequence (Mark 8:35-37). Many understand the requirement of repentance, but seem to balk at the idea of complete self denial.
I suggest to you that they are really one in the same. Isn’t self denial to follow Jesus simply a turning from our breaking of the first commandment “Thou shalt have no other God’s before Me.”? (Ex. 20:3) What a shock to a country so absorbed in itself and her luxury to learn that it is evil to walk “according to the stubbornness of his own evil heart.”! (Jer. 16:12) Isn’t self denial simply repentance from the idol of self to serve the living God?
It is the business of fools to change the clear teachings of Jesus Christ in order to conform to our seemingly sloppy and narrow understanding of the precious grace of God. We know that we are “saved by grace through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Eph 2:8). However, if we cannot reconcile our Lord’s clear call for repentance and self denial with our understanding of grace, then we desperately need to broaden our understanding of grace! Many seem to want God’s grace to mean that no changes or commitment are necessary, that nothing is expected of us but the assurance of heaven. God forbid such a sin encouraging weakening of the high standard set by the King of Kings!
Some would say that these are the words of a legalist; one who teaches salvation by “works”. Others may say our activities for God seek to nullify His grace, to pay an unpayable debt. This is terribly wrong. Faith and action working together is the way of God throughout the entire Bible. (James 2:21-23) How evil are the pious, righteous sounding arguments against obedience to the one we call Lord and Master! (Matt 7:21-22) The searching eye of God is able to discern those who would seek to disguise disobedience as grace.
The fact that we may find the words of Christ to be shocking or extreme is in itself instructive as to the condition of our hearts. For the humble child, His teachings pose no threat. (Matt. 18:3-4) Not so for the one still intrigued with the folly of sin and self. I sincerely hope and earnestly pray that on that great and awful day, you will stand before Jesus with nothing less that a new life lived for Him, your heart beating with love and anticipation with no mixture of fear. If this is to be the case, we must take heed to His word and not wait another minute! Because He has redeemed us with His own blood, and made us perfect with His own righteousness, isn’t it appropriate for Him to lay claim to our lives, seeing how he bought us with His own? Shouldn’t it be natural that we would offer Him all that He asks out of loving gratitude for the glorious love He has shown us? Only the unredeemed heart would begrudge the pouring out of all the love, worship, and devotion that are capable to One so worthy as the Son of God.
He accomplished all the Father required through His blessed perfect life, and sacrificed death. He conquered and made a spectacle of the great power of satan called sin and death, with His awesome resurrection being the astounding proof of victory. In light of all His heroism, should I refuse Him the offering of my silly life, and call it of all things, grace? May God forgive us for seeking to give Him as little as possible.
If you, my friend, have for the first time read the gospel that Jesus and the apostles preached, then know that you are not alone! The integrity of His holy message has been attacked since the birth of the church. Perhaps you find yourself asking yourself the same question as did the hearers of Peter’s first sermon on the day God founded the church. “Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ”Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” (Acts 2: 37-39)