Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Scandal

I read this yesterday on Tullian Tchividjian's blog:

Gerhard Forde puts his finger on why the gospel is so scandalous:

The gospel of justification by faith is such a shocker, such an explosion, because it is an absolutely unconditional promise. It is not an “if-then” kind of statement, but “because-therefore” pronouncement: because Jesus died and rose, your sins are forgiven and you are righteous in the sight of God! It bursts in upon our little world all shut up and barricaded behind our accustomed conditional thinking as some strange comet from goodness-knows-where, something we can’t really seem to wrap our minds around, the logic of which appears closed to us. How can it be entirely unconditional? Isn’t it terribly dangerous? How can anyone say flat out, “You are righteous for Jesus’ sake? Is there not some price to be paid, some-thing (however minuscule) to be done? After all, there can’t be such thing as a free lunch, can there?”

You see, we really are sealed up in the prison of our conditional thinking. It is terribly difficult for us to get out, and even if someone batters down the door and shatters the bars, chances are we will stay in the prison anyway! We seem always to want to hold out for something somehow, that little bit of something, and we do it with a passion and an anxiety that betrays its true source–the Old Adam that just does not want to lose control.

(Justification by Faith: A Matter of Death and Life, pg. 24

Let’s take a moment to honestly interact with the above quote by Gerhard Forde. This is really crucial, don’t you agree? I mean, this is exactly where it is at. This is HUGE. If we get this… wow… think of the possibilities in regards to how our sanctification will feed off of our justification.

So, let’s dig into this a little. In what ways do we put conditions on what God has done for us in Christ? Or, what are some things we try to do to add our little bit to what has already been completely done for us in our justification? Why do we feel the need to add conditions to our justification? What do you think of Forde's comment that the true source of this is in our flesh (the "Old Adam") that does not want to lose control? Do you ever sense that there is a part of you that doesn’t want God to get all of the credit? That you want some of it?

Let’s try another angle that also relates. Do you ever get a little annoyed that you have nothing good in you that can contribute to your salvation? You know, “isn’t there some little good in me”? Does it ever annoy you that grace is free? Or maybe we don’t really like the idea that we had to be rescued.

We walk into court one day. We are ruined beyond repair, reputation destroyed, shame and humiliation overwhelm us. Our guilt weighs down on us. Our crimes are so great, so appalling that there is no cure and nothing can be done to repair us or the damage we have caused.

We stand before the Judge. We await the just verdict.

…and then, beyond all hope, we hear amazing words…

“You are innocent.” …

“But, but, but…” we stutter, “how can that be? I have done horrible, evil things. My crimes are beyond redemption.”

Then we hear these words:

“They are paid for.”

Then these words…

“I have no record of them.”

Then these words…

“They never happened.”

Then these words…

“You…… are…… free.”

Simply and utterly scandalous, wouldn’t you say? A criminal is let go without paying for his crimes? At all?

So, do we want this free gift? Or are we going to stay in prison, waiting for a better offer?

JLS

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