O you dear idiots of Galatia, who saw Jesus Christ the crucified so plainly, who has been casting a spell over you? I will ask you one simple question: did you receive the Spirit of God by trying to keep the Law or by believing the message of the Gospel? Surely you can’t be so idiotic as to think that a man begins his spiritual life in the Spirit and then completes it by reverting to outward observances? (Galatians 3:1-5 J.B. Phillips)
Since the church’s conception there have been religious zealots who idiotically try to put God’s people back into the law in order to work out their salvation. These people are merely foreskin collectors who try their best, and unfortunately often succeed, to steal away the freedom we have in the gospel.
The Gospel is a Scandal
I got in some trouble a while back by using this word–scandal–when referring to the gospel. I understand the concern. A scandal is such a terrible thing. The Holocaust was a scandal — Nazis convincing Jews that they were getting onto cattle cars in order to take them to a safe refuge zone away from the war. Bernie Madoff scandalized a lot of people convincing them that he would take their hard-earned savings and turn it into millions.
But the gospel? A scandal?
The gospel is a Good News scandal!
The gospel of Jesus Christ offends religiosity AND reason.
The gospel is given freely. The shear amount of grace that comes along with this message is scandalous. Everyone gets to share in the grace and love and satisfaction of Jesus’ death. No matter who a person is or what they’ve done, Christ had everyone in mind on the cross. No amount of hard work or riches or generosity matters: Christ died for all and became sin for all people!
One man died for the wrongdoing of the entire world. One perfect man put his life on the line for the sin of everyone. Hillary’s email or Trump’s wall has nothing on the scandal of Jesus being murdered in order to make everyone holy! John 15:13 says it best: the strongest love anyone can have is this. He will die to save his friends (WE).
The religious are always after us “grace guys” because they think the message we bring is unbalanced. But the fact of the matter is this: the gospel is the most unbalanced message there could ever be!
The message is just so simple that it scandalizes all men! Jesus was caught saying the strangest things. He told his disciples to leave their families to follow him; when the one man told Jesus he wanted to go bury his father, Jesus told him to let the dead bury themselves!; Jesus made a whip and flipped over tables in the temple because he was angry–if I did that, I know I’d be called imbalanced.
One perfect man was murdered so that the sin of the entire world could be eradicated. One perfect man was murdered so that all of humanity could be reconciled to God and be able to forego their sin nature. One perfect man was murdered so that all would be saved.
That is not the balance that religious idiots know and love.
That is the gospel.
If you’re offended that I’m using the word idiot, blame Paul. He said it first.
But really...there are idiots among our ranks. There are today, just like in Paul’s day, people who want to steal away the freedom we have in Christ and make us go back to rules keeping and following a long list of laws in order to prove our salvation. There are countless idiots who want us to circumcise ourselves over and over again until there’s nothing left! The church has been circumcised so frequently it’s no wonder we’re not producing any fruit!
Salvation is not a thing. Salvation is not a mindset. Salvation is not turning from sin and going to Heaven instead of Hell. Salvation is a person. His name is Jesus. He’s Mr. Salvation himself!
Jesus proved our salvation on the cross when he because our substitute. Yes, Christ is our substitute. Jesus became our sin so that we could be saved. We are no longer our own, Christ is within us (that’s the mystical part of this religion). We have been bought and paid for and delivered.
The work has been finished. That’s why we call it the finished work of the cross.
Jesus paid it all. We have no debt left to owe.
There really is such a thing as a free lunch!
Our “job” is to rest in the mystery of Christ and rest in the glory of Jesus. We go around saying “Thank you, Lord” all the time because everything has it’s being in Jesus (Colossians 1:16-17). We rest in the salvation bliss of knowing God and being delighted continuously by his presence.