I wanted to pause for a few minutes and review what is being said. If you get excited about any of this (and I hope you are) and you want to explain these ideas to a friend, I want you to have this ready on your lips; you should be able to walk away from this with the ideas firmly in your mind and ready to verbalize and explain to anyone who asks.
TREASURE. First, the kingdom of God is about desire and love and wreckless abandon. Sacrifice comes from joy over it. Remember the parables of the treasure and the pearl of great price. Not only is God a treasure to you, you are the pearl of great price to Him.
Love’s source. “Not that we love God, but that God loved us.” The pressure is off! He already knows that you can’t keep the commandments, even the big one. You don’t love God, you don’t have to. Love isn’t in that place. He loves YOU, first. When you fail, when you stop loving, it isn’t dependent on you. Your first calling is to realize that YOU are unconditionally loved, and the response will come.
The scandal of real grace. If you really take what Paul is teaching, the question is going to arise, just like it did for him, “What are you saying? Can we just sin all we want because of grace? Is that what you are saying?” If you aren’t getting that question then you probably aren’t talking a strong enough message. Do ‘sinners’ like to hang out with you? If not, maybe you need to rethink which camp you are in.
Not advocating sin. By saying so, we are not becoming ‘antinomian’ or ‘Calvinist’ or whatever. We don’t have to answer to brainwashed seminarians who seem to have little regard for the scriptures but tons of regard for obscure arguments from church tradition. Does that sound familiar? His kindness leads us to repentance, His kingdom is always about welcoming the prodigal, He forgives when you actually need forgiveness. Grace and mercy are the constant warp and woof of the Christian experience. The unconditional love of God is the soil in which true holiness grows.
Difficult passages. Harsh law-pushers want to take certain passages, such as James 2, and twist them against Paul’s writings, to nullify grace. Very simple reading and thinking about what James says causes such difficulties to vaporize. The whole message of scripture leads us to grace and grace again. It is what Jesus came for, the point of it all. Believe it!
There is so much more to say from here, even these points beg to be fleshed out and defended more. I also want to say that I need to hear your thoughts, your questions, your objections, don’t be shy. It only strengthens things to have a real dialog.