“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1, NASB.
‘Therefore’ means, to me, that there is a reasonable prologue to grace. There are premises, there is a progression, things have been thought through. As Isaiah writes of God:
“”Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Isaiah 1:18, NIV.
Grace may well be scandalous, but there is a clear line of thinking that leads to it. If you look at the ministry of Paul, and of Jesus, and of all the major NT figures, it is the message which is of critical importance. Jesus comes to declare and to teach the kingdom, and His miracles validate what He talks about. Paul was imprisoned and stoned and persecuted because of his message. We think we want to move beyond mere talking and get to the real stuff: helping the poor, miraculous signs, and such. These things are important, but the message, the Christian way of the mind, IS the real substance. There is a reason in John 1 that Jesus is said to be the word become flesh. The flesh is not what made Him amazing, it was the word. What we think, what we say, what we teach, what we hold intellectually as true and sound, is what is really true of us. We can neither act, nor serve, nor even sin, without reference to the way we think about the world. There is always a ‘therefore’ to our present state.
‘Now’ means that God’s mercy is not just active at some point of salvation in the past, nor is it true only in the future at the ultimate seat of judgement. Mercy, justification, and grace are meant for us NOW. The time to think, the time to speak, the time to forgive, the time to teach, the time to act, is now! Now is the most exciting and amazing time ever. Never have things moved so fast, never has the battle over ideas so raged. Never has there been such a challenge nor such an opportunity for the church. Now is the time we must go boldly to the throne of grace, because now is the time we need empowerment and encouragement and provision to see the harvest come.
The message that we are not condemned now, that our salvation and our ‘sanctification’ are directly existentially linked, is a huge part of our mission. We are shown forgiveness when we actually need forgiveness. It is only when salvation is at risk that its strength comes into play. It is of crucial importance that there is no condemnation now, when we so fear it. If we cannot go boldly to the throne of grace when we actually need help in our hour of need, when will we go? Belief is more about knowing you are loved and forgiven than changing your behavior. We go to the throne of grace to get help changing, we don’t change in order to have the right to go to the throne of grace.
Our mission is to bring this message to as many people as possible. Many Christians really believe this, but are unsure and therefore timid about its validity. We want to address every concern, every hesitancy. We want to bring this message to non-believers in a truthful and intellectually sound way. We believe that politics and other opinions that are not germaine should not get in the way of this message.
Therefore, now, I am launching this web site and ministry. We intend to use every means at our disposal to spread this message. Through writing, teaching, preaching, music, storytelling, and any other means, we want to make the message of this current grace the central focus of our lives. There is nothing more true, more liberating, or more joyful, than having the reality of the grace of the living God dawn over your life.
This is an exciting time, and I am thrilled to share it with you, my greatly treasured readers. Thanks for your invaluable attention!
- Jim McNeely