The Disease of a Cheapened Gospel
I read a quote the other day suggesting that some professing Christians “don’t really want to be saved from their sin; they only want to be saved from the penalty of their sin.” It saddens me and I can’t seem to get it out of my head because of its ringing truth. This brand of Christianity has become nothing more than a prayer an individual once recited in order to avoid hell and go to heaven when he/she dies. Those who heed this particular gospel want heaven (mainly because it’s a better alternative to hell), but they have no desire to follow Jesus nor gather with His church. They see Jesus as a Savior, but not as their Lord and King. Obedience is optional (in reality undesirable) because they are forgiven. Therefore they fail to understand the nature and power of God’s grace. They don’t see themselves as new creations in the now. That’s something that happens in heaven. They don’t live for God as time slowly fades away. They live like an atheist, but hold on to the false security that believing God exists will cause everything to pan out in the end. However the Bible says that even the demons believe God exists and they shudder (James 2:29).
While every individual must take responsibility for their own unbelief, I believe the church is partially responsible for this epidemic. When the gospel is reduced to a repeat after me get out of jail pass, the product you get shouldn’t surprise you. Jesus suddenly isn’t the life giving King of a new creation who is restoring wholeness to individuals, society and the world through deliverance from the curse of sin and brokenness. He becomes heaven’s ticket (and maybe someone to call on when in a pinch). Nothing more.
The Bible never says that God just wants to forgive us from the penalty of sin. He does. But He’s doing so much more! He is reversing the curse on creation and bringing resurrection life and wholeness to this world and to those who honor Him as King! He doesn’t just want to take you into His Kingdom when you die. He wants to put His kingdom inside of you now so that you can live it out in the world.
Who is Jesus to you? If you were honest with yourself is he a genie that you once asked to give you access to heaven after you die and nothing more? Or is He your true source of life and purpose in this world and in the next? God has redeemed you so “that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).