I am just returning from the Mockingbird Spring conference in NYC, where I heard Nadia Bolz-Weber give a talk. Of course, I should be doing a whole conference review, and maybe I will. However, she told some extremely powerful stories that hinged on confession. Confession is of course a HUGE part of my idea of […]
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.
There is a transformation that happens to us right exactly when we believe. However, it is not the transformation we were looking for, having been immersed our whole lives under the threat of the law. The real change is a shift in trust away from self to God. If the change were a change in success at keeping the law instead of a change of trust, why would we need the new testament imperatives?
Whenever the devil harasses you, seek the company of men or drink more…
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.
You either operate under threat of punishment or you operate under unbreakable one-way love. These are two different universes, two different kingdoms. Which do you believe is true?
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.
It seems that Peter has something like this in mind. ‘Your sin’, he seems to be saying, ‘is a very serious matter. It set you in opposition to God and handed you over to eternal condemnation. From that situation there was no escape. You were hopelessly, irrevocably lost. There is no ransom from such a situation. And then, incredibly, unbelievably, a ransom was found.