Often, the way the ‘Gospel’ has been presented today is, ‘Jesus paid the price, but it’s not the full price. And until you repent of everything you have ever done and then live up to some standard, God can’t work in your life and you are not really saved.’
We are adding our own goodness, holiness, and effort to what Jesus has already done. That’s the message most churches are preaching today. And it’s wrong.
No doubt everyone of us have been exposed to this and are left with the feeling that we must do ‘things’ to earn God’s favour. Or worse, made to feel that we would never be able to measure up.
That’s also wrong.
Before I continue, in case anyone is wondering, the ‘Gospel’ is simply a term we use to explain the way to become right with God by accepting the gift provided by Jesus. Literally, the word is translated, ‘Good News’. And it is… when offered truthfully and without added conditions.
Please hear me.
You are accepted by God because of what Jesus did… plus NOTHING. All you must do is receive it by faith. If you are thinking, ‘Well, I know Jesus died for me and He did all that stuff for me, but I also must be holy’, you are undoing what Jesus has done. Although probably unintentionally, you are saying it wasn’t enough.
Please don’t believe this lie that you have been subjected to. It’s Jesus… plus NOTHING.
What the Bible Says
And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace.
But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
That’s just old English for, ‘you are either saved by grace [Jesus paying for all your stuff because He loves you] or by earning it based on our own merit’. It’s one or the other, but never by a combination of the two. That is very important.
Either you are saved by the grace of God and all you must do is received it by believing it is true OR you must be saved by your own goodness and merit [which cannot be done because then the standard is perfection]. It’s not a combination of the two.
It’s not Jesus providing the minimum payment and then you adding to it to earn the rest. Jesus paid it all! It is simply a matter of you believing and receiving or doubting and doing without. That’s how it works. The Bible could not be clearer.
Even after everything I have just said, most of us have fallen for this idea that there is more we must due to gain God’s favour. There are a few reasons for this.
First, we know ourselves. We know how we can be. We know how often we have messed up and how we will continue to mess up. Add to that we never get to see, in our world, the unconditional love that Father offers. In our world we always must give something to receive love. We have been taught if something sounds too good to be true it probably isn’t.
Second, because we have never seen it, we can’t imagine what it is like, so we change it to make it make sense to us. By doing so, our understanding becomes our god. The Bible calls that idolatry. We are not saying, ‘God’s not like that’. We are saying, ‘if I were God I would not be like that.’ ‘I would not forgive, I would make them pay’. I am very thankful I’m not God!
Third, you have been taught wrong. When Jesus came to the earth He presented His father [God] as someone totally different than people understood up to that time. Instead of a vengeful, fire-throwing God, that required total perfection, Jesus presented Him as a loving Father who welcomed His children home, offering forgiveness, reconciliation and peace.
Unfortunately, too many churches and Christians want to hang onto that old picture and insist that newcomers live up to sets of rules that they themselves could never attain. They want forgiveness for themselves but justice for others.
The Good News
The night before He died, Jesus met with His disciples. At that dinner, He introduced a new deal. He told them that the old way of ritual, sacrifices and being perfect was over. He said from here on there is a new way to be right with God. The new way was Him giving up His life for ours and by doing so paid for all our mistakes, wrongdoing and evil thoughts.
To those churches and Christians who tell you are not welcome, not good enough or beyond God’s forgiveness or there is more you must do I want to say this, ‘YOU’RE NOT GOD’.
Please don’t tie God’s goodness to your performance. It’s not how it works. He loves you, because you are you and you are His child. Period. Accept what Jesus did for you. And come home.
It’s not, ‘too good to be true’. It’s ‘nearly too good to be true’!
And... it's too good to pass up.