The Gospel of God’s grace is the greatest news one could ever receive. And yet, the Christian gospel is anything but good.
There is something wrong with Christianity. I’ve been away from this blog for a couple of months now, the longest I have ever been without writing because I’ve been noticing a loose thread. Something about the Christian gospel just didn’t add up. How could I possibly preach the good news when, in actuality, nothing about it was good?
The Christian gospel is an inherently hypocritical one. Atheists have tacked onto it for centuries and understood the contradiction inherent in the Christian religion. When they’ve called the church hypocrites, our instant reaction was to defend ourselves by arguing that none of us were perfect. Our focus has always been on what we do, rather than on what we teach, but the hypocrisy is not in living up to a so-call “godly” standard we set for ourselves, rather, it lies in the fable we’ve been preaching this whole time. It is a corrupted, fearful, and wholly unbiblical idea. It is known as free will.
The Christian religion tells us that Jesus saves. But Jesus doesn’t really save, He merely provided an “opportunity.” The cross didn’t save anyone. Salvation lies in the willpower of you and me, the final authority.
But friends, if it doesn’t, and the reality is that Jesus really did save us, that the cross really did accomplish something, and that the work of salvation has been finished, then it would follow that ALL HUMANITY has been saved. The cross has saved all because Jesus is the one who saves.
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. (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV bold mine)
Yet, it is obvious that not everyone comes to believe in Christ on this earth. Could that mean He has failed, or that He simply chose a select few and left others to the fate of eternal torment and suffering? It is true that God gives faith to a select few on this earth, however, Christians and reformers have missed one of the most glorious truths of God’s plan. The J.B. Philips paraphrase puts it beautifully….
For God had allowed us to know the secret of his plan, and it is this: he purposes in his sovereign will that all human history shall be consummated in Christ, that everything that exists in Heaven or earth shall find its perfection and fulfilment in him. (Ephesians 1:9-10 the J.B. Philips paraphrase, bold mine)
The wonderful, non-hypocritical truth of the Gospel is that everyone has been saved. The cross worked. It is not a fable nor the sorry attempt of a do-gooder, but a law that transcends our own behavior. I do not believe, as the universalists do, that Jesus has saved all simply because He is nice and that all in their death will immediately be in paradise. No, the grand consummation will be in a future eon. But I do believe in God’s sovereignty, His astounding goodness, and His overwhelming grace. And I believe that He is the saviour of all.
….or to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. (1 Timothy 4:10 ESV, bold mine)
Notice how Paul says that Christ is the saviour “especially” of those who believe? Salvation is not an exclusive club one must enter into by their own works, but rather those who believe, those who have realized the truth that they have been saved, will know the joy, the blessing, and the practical freedom and redemption that that knowledge and thereby relationship brings. I cannot tell you how excited I am about this truth. Christianity does not believe in the finished work of the cross, it does not believe that the final enemy to be defeated is death (1 Corinthians 15:26), and it does not believe that Jesus is the saviour. Christianity will tell you that Jesus saves (it is never that Jesus has saved, in the past tense, for that will demolish the idea of free will), that death has been defeated, and that the gospel is good news, but once you step into the walls of the church you’ll be told that you must make the choice to confess and believe or else your fate will be eternal punishment and separation from God. Jesus merely tried to save you, but ultimately, it lies with you. And yet, Paul confidently quotes,
“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.” (Romans 3:10-11 ESV)
Jesus may draw us to Him, as He said He would (John 12:32) but when it comes to crunch time, to making that all important decision, He leaves us completely alone. He will not interfere with our free will, it has been said, so Jesus hopes that we break free from our total depravity for that split second and accept Jesus into our lives.
The Christian gospel is, quite literally, surrender or die. I have believed that nearly all my life. However, if you’re reading this, allow me to take you on a journey into the real good news. The Gospel of Grace. No church will tell you this, for the church loves to boast in their separation and righteous decisions, but they are unwittingly hurdling the biggest stumbling block at the feet of non-believers. Martin Zender, author of The First Idiot In Heaven, presents the greatest skeptical response to the Christian religion that I have ever come across,
Did Jesus save me, or didn’t He? If He didn’t, then what am I supposed to believe, even if I could believe? Am I supposed to believe that Jesus didn’t save me? What would be the use of believing a falsehood? If Jesus did save me, then I’m already saved and my subsequent belief—however it comes—affirms a truth, not a fable. Because honestly—who affirms a fable? Lies are to be denied, not affirmed. You Christians laud Jesus Christ in all your colorful brochures, heralding His death and
resurrection as though it actually accomplished something—up until the time I must “believe or burn,” at which time salvation turns from a done-deal wrought by a spectacular Savior into a job-op proposed by a Wanna-Be Hero. Jesus didn’t save me after all; it was false advertising. What you mean to tell me is that Jesus merely provided me the opportunity to save myself if I could somehow
break through a God-enforced, Adamic stubbornness. Is that the exercise? Then present salvation as an exercise, not a grace. (Martin Zender on Romans 10:9-13 – http://martinzender.com/ZWTF/ZWTF5.26.pdf
Indeed, if Jesus has saved us, why does the church present our salvation as a challenge? Step up to the alter, make the wise decision, believe, and give your life to Christ. Theologians can cover it up with fancy words but the simple truth is that the church has taught us that salvation comes from will power and the exercising of our free will. They tell us that salvation comes from works, and not of the grace of God. They tell us about the finished work of the cross while inviting us to complete it on our own. But if salvation is of the grace of God, and your faith is in His hands, ready to be given to you at His appointed time (1 Corinthians 15:22-23), then the cross becomes the greatest work in history and not a simple means by which we can save ourselves.
I was given this verse years ago and I never understood what it meant. I have it sitting on my shelf in clear view and I make a habit of reading it every day. And yet it is only now that I truly understand the very thing that Paul was saying and oh how good it is. How right is it to follow-up our look into the Resurrection of Jesus with the very work that it had accomplished.
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. (1 Timothy 1:15)