2006-10-04 - Excuses: 4
Acts 4:12, "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved."
Little by little we have been working through some thoughts concerning excuses that people come up with for either not coming to faith in Christ or excuses people make for not following Christ once they have professed their faith in Him. The first of these we looked into in June, and then the Summer Questions began, and then we did numbers two and three in September and here it is October and we have reached number four. The fourth excuse I would like to list concerns the doctrines of the grace of Jesus Christ.
You might wonder how this is an excuse. It might seem foolish to you that if an offer of free grace or mercy is extended to someone that they would turn away from it. After all, who of us does not cherish grace extended to us, especially when it is undeserved? The stumbling block is really Christ. Most people are very happy when we talk about how Christ is virtuous, or kind, or loving, but when we get past that and talk about Christ's mission to save sinners from the just wrath of God, there is an obvious hesitation. However, we can't sugar coat this, it is the heart of the Christian faith. Coming to faith in Christ and accepting His mercy involves a submission of our will to His will. It is hard to admit that we are rotten to the core and need mercy to escape the wrath of God due to us for our sin. Hence, it becomes a stumbling block.
There is a sad tendency to erase or gloss over concepts like Election, Predestination, Justification, and Calling when we look at the doctrines of grace, but that tendency is to water down the message of the grace of God in Christ, and we must not do it. If we try to present or believe a gospel that is more acceptable to our sensibilities by avoiding those "four" letter words like election, and predestination we end up with half a gospel at best, which is no gospel. I don't even feel compelled to present here the litany of verses that talk about Effectual Calling, Election, Predestination or Justification by Faith alone. I will simply say, "See Bible."
There are many who cannot endure this. In effect they end up having a low view of the glory of God and a high view of themselves. They would rather perish in their sins than acknowledge that God is sovereign over His creation. They would rather blindly trod through life hopeful that their false hope is true. For those of us who are Christians and who long to see our friends, family, and others that we know come to a saving understanding of the grace and mercy of Christ it is a frighteningly attractive temptation to speak of a gospel that will more easily be accepted, but we must not do it. And we don't need to do it either. Even though those doctrines are true, and we risk losing the true gospel if we forsake them, there is something that we should never forget about the gospel.
Let us never forget the simplicity of the gospel. Christ says, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me." (John 10:27) We don't need to complicate the gospel when believing it ourselves or speaking of it to others. Christ promises in John 12:46, "I have come as light into the world, that everyone who believes in Me may not remain in darkness." Whatever stage you are at, seeking Christ or seeking to share the love of Christ to others, I urge you to keep to the simple understanding of faith in Christ alone for the forgiveness of sin. Let those doctrines and their full explanation sit for another day. Let them not become excuses. They are not excuses to anyone who knows of their desperate need of sin forgiven and the imputation of Christ's righteousness in replace of their sham self-righteousness. May we never forget that, "whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life," John 3:16
Soli Deo Gloria,