You will never understand the way Christ loved the church if you do not first hear about and believe His love for you. You have to know the love of Christ if you are to give it.
How can I overcome the fear of failing an Almighty God? God is indeed almighty! You don’t understand God’s kind of love if you don’t understand that He is all-powerful and constantly ready to judge you for your secret shameful life. After all, you wouldn’t even be asking this if there wasn’t obvious sin in your life. But if you repent and make it stick, and get rid of the habitual sin in your life, and really make your life to be all about loving God and loving others, and never do any obvious sins like sexual sins especially, you can feel good about knowing that you are not failing God.
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.