Too Much Grace?

One of Graham’s favorite sayings is, “God isn’t an evangelical.”

His point is that God isn’t worried about our sin because He has already dealt with it. He isn’t angry or disillusioned with us (“because He never had any illusions about you to start with.”)

Sin is the result of broken identity.

The conviction from the Holy Spirit is not about sin, it is always about restoring identity.

Our growth is connected to our understanding of God, and our responsibility is to deliberately cooperate with His Spirit in His work of restoration in our lives.

The evangelical perspective is on a judgmental God. The message of the gospel is first and foremost a message of repentance, that sinners face an angry God. Even if the focus is on the love of God, there is still an emphasis on getting right with God, and once saved, a focus on getting all of the details of your doctrine correct.

The missional perspective seems to be that God loves us while we are yet sinners and that our sins are already forgiven before we even repent of them.

I think one of the biggest offenses of the evangelical gospel has been confronting people on the basis of their sin rather than introducing them to the love, grace, and mercy of God.

Do we dare run around in the ridiculous lavishness of His grace and trust others with that abundance of grace? What could happen if we let people be free of judgment, willy-nilly, without the restraint of guilt? Could their mistakes be any worse than the mistakes of legalism?

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13 thoughts on “Too Much Grace?

  1. “I think one of the biggest offenses of the evangelical gospel has been confronting people on the basis of their sin rather than introducing them to the love, grace, and mercy of God.”

    Is really an either/or though? I’m not sure myself sometimes. I guess if I was really pinned down though I’d say we can go too far in both directions. I think it’s worth discussion.

  2. I have been wrestling with grace for quite a while now, the more I explore and debate the more convinced I become. My pastor and I had a discussion about it recently, he suggested I do a study about hell. Not to convince me other wise but to see what I came up with. The further I go there the more convinced I become on the absolutely awesome reality that nothing is too good to be true.

    Mike Clawson on http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com/2007/01/hell-q.html

    Has a pretty good Q and A.

    hmm

    Keep thinking grace.

    Paul

  3. “Do we dare run around in the ridiculous lavishness of His grace and trust others with that abundance of grace? What could happen if we let people be free of judgment, willy-nilly, without the restraint of guilt? Could their mistakes be any worse than the mistakes of legalism?”

    Wow. Good stuff!

  4. You said, “The missional perspective seems to be that God loves us while we are yet sinners and that our sins are already forgiven before we even repent of them.”
    I agree. Yet…we must repent of them and believe the Good News for it brings down the kingdom of heaven (so says Jesus).

    You said, “I think one of the biggest offenses of the evangelical gospel has been confronting people on the basis of their sin rather than introducing them to the love, grace, and mercy of God.”

    As Chris Tomlin sings … “It’s your kindness Lord that leads us to repentance”.
    “Who is a God like thee, pardoning iniquity?” (says Micah 7:18)
    “Repentance – The Joy Filled Life” is how Basilea Schlink titled her book about repentance.

    Repentance is not a drudge (though it may be painful to our pride) but rather it is joy, freedom, and peace.

  5. Freedom attracts, while condemnation doesn’t. It would be nice if more churches would recognise that fact. Telling people they’re sinners and God is angry with them is not the way to go. We definitely need to focus more on the grace and love of God, and the freedom he gives us because of that.

  6. I think you’re on the right track, Grace. In keeping with my post from yesterday, Jesus seemed intentional about distancing himself from any sort of legalistic equations for earning grace. “love the lord your God…” love your neighbor…” You just can’t turn that into legalistic doctrine without adding to it– which is what much of evangelicalism has been busy doing all these years.

    The message “repent repent or god’s going to get you” appeals to our need to be part of the solution–to be in control. The truth of grace is that we aren’t a part of the solution at all. It’s all Him.

  7. rich,
    I agree that it is definitely worth further discussion. My thoughts are that we damage the work of repentance that could happen naturally in response to God’s love by first pointing out sin.

    paul,
    I enjoyed reading Mike’s thoughts on hell. And I liked your phrasing of grace as an “absolutley awesome reality that nothing is too good to be true.”

    erin,
    Did you see my comment at Pam’s blog? You are just too cute! I love the pink hair with your blue eyes.

    inheritor,
    Thank you for bringing out that aspect of repentance. It isn’t about us being stooped down in shame, but rather about us being lifted into the freedom that is available to us.

    barry,
    Exactly, focusing on the love and grace of God leads us into freedom, while focusing on sin leads to despair.

    cindy,
    You said that so well, both here and in your post. It just amazes me how stingy we, the church, have been with what God gives so freely. I really liked the point in your post that this is one of the attributes of the emerging church, challenging the status quo and the view of the Bible as a rule book.

  8. Evangelical Christianity is still “sin” aware. Instead of being “righteous” aware! We need NOT to remind people of their sin but of their righteousness that is in Christ not in what they think, say or do!
    Sin according to John the Baptist was taken AWAY by Jesus! We should have no thought of sin! It is the church today that keeps people in “sin”!
    Jesus set all of mankind FREE to be human! And it is His belief and faith that mattered not mine, yours or anyone else’s. So why does the church continue to try and get people to be “faithful”?! When your faith matter not one iota! It is His Faith and Belief that mattered!

    Peace & Dis-Ease
    Geo

  9. grace, you pretty much summed up my weekend and what i was hearing in my spirit for ME. Grace, grace, grace….as in God’s grace (not a chant of your online name…:-) )

    the longer i go in this thing the stronger my belief is growing that neither the grace or love of God can be overstated.

    if i spend the rest of my life meditating and writing on the grace of god it would not be enough.

    ya know how graham encourages people to discover what it is about god that he most wants to reveal about himself to you? to graham it is God’s kindness. To me, it is grace. And if I could have two, and why not…I’d say God’s grace and God’s love.

    (my solitude weekend away at the monastery helped solidify this idea to discover more about the depth and width of God’s grace. It ended up becoming the theme of my prayers all weekend…I’ll blog about it later this week…….)

  10. I get the feeling that grace is just too scary and that most people want something to keep themselves in line.

    great post…and an excellent way to go to bed. I can rest in His grace.

  11. Grace,

    Does John, when referring to the ministry of the Holy Spirit, in John 16:8-11, help our thinking on the matter in question?

    In my long ministry I have never met an unbeliever who believed they needed salvation, and very few who believed that sin separated them from God.

    How can they know their need unless they are helped to understand that they are needy?

    Faith apart from repentance is presumption. Repentance without a knowledge of what it refers to is not repentance.

    The problem as I see it is that many evangelicals have sought, by fleshly effort, to be bring people under CONDEMNATION and FEAR. The Holy Spirit NEVER condemns, but does CONVICT.

    It is NOT a matter of either/or, because it is by the GRACE of God the Father that His Spirit CONVICTS of SIN and NEED. It is then, by this same GRACE, that people realize their sinful state and again, by GRACE, repent and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His unmerited favor of salvation by GRACE.

    God’s GRACE is a result of His graciousness and mercy towards hell deserving sinners like me. God forbid that preaching His GRACE, apart from the sinners sinful need, will ever become fashionable!

    The Gospel package is BOTH!

    Keep on keeping on,
    Aussie John

  12. I love your comments about grace, but they can only be applied to believers. I hate HATE HATE legalism, but the law has not been abolished. It should still be applied ‘lawfully’ (1 timothy), that is, to unbelievers. (The law should NEVER be applied to believers.) The law shows us that we are sinners and in need of a Saviour, once saved then everything you’re saying about grace becomes gloriously true forever!

    I do agree that if a person is already aware of their guilt then we can start right in telling them about God’s love and mercy as demonstrated on the cross (along with ministering healing,freedom from evil spirits, etc…you know, Jesus style). Then our explanation of the law and condemnation serves to explain why they feel such guilt–Satan has been their master and he is out to destroy their life.

    But we should never forget that the real gospel is, in the end, Good News.

    You might be interested in listening to some sermons by a guy called Rob Rufus. His life message is grace and I haven’t yet been able to listen to one without laughing or crying, or sometimes both! You can find them at this site if your interested:

    http://www.citychurchinternational.net/index2.html

    Thanks for sticking by grace.

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