It seems inevitable that every time I teach the good news of the gospel of grace to a gathering of religious, dedicated, Christians there will be a few that are furiously mad at me. They make a point to correct me not only privately but publicly. Actually they are not mad at me, they are upset by the message of grace. The message of grace is always disruptive to all of us before it becomes good news. Here are four reasons grace is so unsettling:
- It eliminates our ego. It eradicates our ability to boast and take credit. (“Then what becomes of our boasting? It is gone.” Romans 3:27). We like to take credit for our relationship with God. But the reality is the more responsibility we take the more we will resist grace. We want to contribute something to the deal. There is a sense we should earn what we get. And so grace is an upsetting invitation to surrender.
- Grace seems unreasonable and scandalous. We have never experienced a similar one-sided and one-way relationship before and so we believe one cannot exist. Paul calls the idea of such a relationship “a stumbling block” (I Cor 1:23). Our English word “scandal” is the transliteration of the Greek word for “stumbling block” (skandalon). And so we don’t give God permission to do something that is outside our comprehension.
- When we know we are guilty, the gift of God’s grace does not feel like it costs us enough. We feel as though we should pay for what has already been purchased for us. If we pay for something it is no longer a gift (“…for by grace you have been saved…it is the gift of God” Ephesians 2:8,9).
- We are in a spiritual battle. Oh it is disguised in a lot of subtle ways, but the essence is always the same – to get us to substitute our performance for the work of Christ on the cross. Darrel Bock writes this, “Any presentation of the gospel that adds human works to grace is not the gospel…”
Scotty Smith in his notes on John 15 says “The gospel sabotages all forms of self-salvation.” That is really good news.
PS: If you have read my book, Lay it Down – Living in the Freedom of the Gospel, it would be so helpful to leave a review on Amazon…especially if you liked it!! Click here.