The previous post laid out three of the five negative consequences I feel result from our traditional gospel message. Those three were:
- guilt and fear
- judgment and favoritism
- perpetuation of a system that promotes expectations and works.
Below are the other two negative effects that I see coming from the sin focused traditional Gospel.
4. Grace + law = Gospel
The Fallen Man Gospel (as I call it) is actually a mixture of law and grace. The traditional gospel declares we are “saved by grace and not by works” (Eph 2:8), but you can bet your bottom dollar that what follows this initial ‘grace message’ is works and lots of ‘shoulds’. The true gospel is not a morality gospel, nor is it about do’s and don’ts.
The pure gospel is about a new covenant, not of the letter. (2Cor 3:6) It has absolutely nothing to do with the law (Old Covenant). We cannot mix even a little law with the Good News of grace and expect any kind of fullness of life. Paul made it clear – even when we were dead in our trespasses, Jesus made us alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, having wiped out the hand-writing of requirements that was against us…took it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (Col 2:13,14).
The Greek word meanings, for the phrases “wiped out” and “took it out of the way” elaborate on what actually happened:
- wiped out – exaleiphό – I wipe away, obliterate; remove totally from a previous state with the outcome of being blotted out (erased)
- took – airό – take away, lift up, removed, I raised
- out of – ek – out from among, from out, suggesting from the interior outwards
- the way – mesos – middle, in the midst, within
Certainly no ambiguity with what He did! Do you realize that Jesus could take those requirements out of the way because He fulfilled the law, for us! (Mt 5:17)
Hey, did you grasp what Paul said in Colossians? We were dead in our sins – we were corrupt – in a bad place. But, in the midst of our corruption and failure He made us alive! Why? How? Because, He forgave us ALL our trespasses! That’s a big ‘Whoa!’! For goodness sake, since we are already forgiven, then why is the traditional gospel message focused on sin?!
The law cannot declare unconditional acceptance and forgiveness. The law states there is still stuff you have to do or not do. Sadly, many Christians continue to do ‘stuff’ not realizing they are living a mixture of law and grace. This is not the good news.
5. God Is Misrepresented
Misrepresentation is the most grievous harmful consequence from our traditional Fallen Man Gospel. God is presented as distant and separate – all because of our sin.
Further misrepresentation happens. The Fallen Man gospel implies that God is still angry about sin. But He will stop being angry with you if you are sincerely remorseful for your sins, repent, and ask for His forgiveness. Until then don’t expect any kind of relationship with God. Of course if you sin again, then you are separated from God and have to go through all the hoops of remorse, repentance, and asking forgiveness, in order to be reconnected.
This was my general understanding of God – loving, yet I had this sense of some distance and that He could be provoked. Well, doesn’t the Old Testament portray Him that way?! I used to think so. Now I see how tradition, the sin focused gospel, lies, and deception have veiled our eyes from seeing the fullness of the gospel of the glory of Christ.
By the way,
Robert Capon’s (oops) Paul Copan‘s book, “Is God A Moral Monster?”, sure cleared up my misunderstanding of God in the Old Testament. Maybe it will help you.
Have you ever wondered if your foundation, about God and who you really are, is built on lies or truth?
Paul said there is no other foundation than Jesus Christ. (1Cor 3:11) Then on top of this foundation He builds His temple. Us! ((1Cor 3:9,16) The big question is – what is the FULL meaning and implications of the foundation of Jesus?
Unfortunately religion has an unstable foundation of law and grace. Religion also likes to build its own temple! From this structure, that is a big part of our sin focused gospel, come many expectations and requirements. No life in that! No wonder there is so much uncertainty among many Christians today.
In contrast, God puts no expectations or demands on us. He has freely given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness. (2Pet 1:3) We have been enriched in everything by Him. (1Cor 1:5) He saved us with a holy calling…according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began. (2Tim 1:9) He has abundant life, unspeakable joy, and pleasures forevermore for us. Is it really that good? You bet. Check your foundation.
- Please know that the ‘law’ can be very subtle in your life. You might think you are living in grace but anytime you sense ‘I have to’, ‘I should’, or ‘God expects me to’, then you are living in a mixture. No fullness will be found there.
- If God seems distant from you – even a little bit, or occasionally – then know you are not believing the true good news! You are believing a lie, a misrepresentation. God wants to displace that with truth!
- Make sure your gospel foundation is based on Jesus and His good news, not man’s tradition. His good news is liberating and fulfilling.