The law demands that we seek God, but the gospel declares that God seeks us! Death can’t even stop Him! We are so distracted, so sinful, so fearful, and so bad at persistence. We never seek with enough genuine fervor. We have not really striven to find God or obey Him (Hebrews 12:4, 1 John 1:10). But even death can’t distract Jesus Christ.
5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer […]
We will in all likelihood find it impossible to see change in one another on a day-to-day or even a week-to-week basis. Genuine growth happens slowly, like trees, and not everyone is even a healthy tree in the first place.
Leave as you are – because you have been eternally and completely loved beyond all measure by the God who is Real, no matter what. You have not simply been forgiven – you have been justified.
Here’s the real issue: do you really think that your strong moral stance is going to convince sinners to reform? Your harsh rejection is going to inspire them to get right? Isn’t that a little bit like the terrorists thinking that bombing the World Trade Center towers would help the cause of Islam? Mercy and kindness and acceptance and forgiveness are the things that lead us to repentance.
How is it that people make behavioral repentance a condition to salvation, and still call Him a savior? What is saving?
The unadorned naked real gospel of grace has unending power to cleanse us right down to our very conscience and secret mind. The gospel has the power to cleanse us so that when handed our dangerous freedom, we may screw up terribly, but we gradually learn to love the holy. The law cannot do so.
So, you may say, McNeely DOES preach forgiveness without repentance! We caught him! However, the real perspective is this: I caught you, friend of Bonhoeffer! You are preaching forgiveness based on “repentance.” You are preaching justification based on something other than mere belief.
This is exactly how behavioral righteousness works under the gospel. People think the basis of the gospel is moral pressure because it is written that it many times results in righteous behavior. However, the basis of the gospel has nothing to do with this.
We talk about the rich young ruler a lot in my house. His problem is not, as is commonly thought, his unwillingness to obey. He came asking the wrong question in the first place. He did not come asking, “How can I inherit eternal life?” He came asking, “What must I do that I may obtain eternal life?”