I’m sitting here staring out the door of the she-shed into the garden and trying to figure out how to express my thoughts. Butterflies are floating around out there in record numbers this year, I guess because I’ve added one more butterfly bush and my lantana is especially loaded with blooms. It’s an idyllic scene and contrasts sharply with the burden in my heart.
It seems there are so many folks trying to rewrite the gospel. Now, I don’t think they would admit that. It’s an insidious thing.
It reminds me of someone I knew long ago who often referenced the love of God. “God is love,” he quoted from 1 John 4:8. Well, yes, yes, and yes. But I felt he focused on this aspect of God to cover over the wide range of his behaviors that were inconsistent with other attributes of God—among them justice, righteousness, and holiness.
When I fully surrendered to the Lord, I memorized a little booklet Campus Crusade for Christ (called CRU) publishes, The Four Spiritual Laws. These were put together from scripture by that great saint of God, Bill Bright.
Still today, I don’t know of any better way to tell the story of what God has done on our behalf. In summary, God loves us and has a plan for our lives, but we are separated from God by sin. Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for that sin and the way to experience his love and plan. We must accept him into our lives as Lord and Savior to know God’s plan and have eternal life. (I’ll give a direct link to the exact wording from Cru below. I receive no monetary remuneration for doing so).
The point is, yes, God is love, but we are separated from Him by our sin. If we weren’t, there would have been no reason for Jesus to come. It rips the heart out of the gospel if we remove the acknowledgement of ourselves as sinners needing to repent.
If we talk about the love of God without acknowledging our need for a Savior, what are we doing? What kind of gospel is that?
I turn to C. S. Lewis from Mere Christianity, “Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement; he is a rebel who must lay down his arms. Laying down your arms, surrendering, saying you are sorry, realizing that you have been on the wrong track and getting ready to start life over again from the ground floor--that is the only way out of a ‘hole.’ This process of surrender--this movement full speed astern--is what Christians call repentance.”
We can talk about the love of God and try to gloss over our sin, but God’s love is fully embodied in Jesus, who died for us. Our sin caused his death. There is no way around it.
I see people following a gospel which is no gospel at all. It has the appearance of all love and acceptance but skips this very essential step of repentance of sin.
I recently bought a shopping bag that had written on it, “Oh, happy day.” I don’t think its creators had any idea where those words came from. But some of us know it’s from an old hymn, “Oh, happy day, when Jesus washed my sins away.”
And let me testify right here, it was indeed a happy day, when I repented, and Jesus washed mine away and gave me a new life.
May we all find our happy day.