Why does it seem that EVERY TIME I write concerning unconditional love or God’s grace here or on other social media, or even have a conversation about it, someone invariably tells me that people need to hear the “truth”. And that by teaching grace and unconditional love in Jesus alone, I am encouraging/facilitating sin or delighting in evil?
So what is this truth that apparently the Bible tells us to preach? It is not what most fundamentalist think.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”. John 14:6
“For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.” John 17:8
“…and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” John 1:17
Listed above are a few verses found in Scripture that talk about “the truth.” This is what I see. It is true that Jesus came from God and is the embodiment of the truth of God and that in knowing and believing this, you will be free. I don’t have an argument about that.
“No! No! you have to preach the whole counsel of God which includes His wrath and judgment”, someone constantly reminds me. So, in other words, I need to use both the Hebrew texts and the Christian texts. Well I do not know all intricate details of all the of the Word of God in order to properly use or even judge anyone (and by the way, neither does anyone else), so I will just go with these passages…
John 1:1-4 “In the beginning was the WORD (Jesus) and the WORD (Jesus) was with God and the WORD (Jesus) was God. He (Jesus) was with Him in the beginning. All things were made through Him (Jesus) and without Him (Jesus) was not anything made that was made. In Him (Jesus) was life and that life was the light of men.”
“And the Word (Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
So by seeking to reflect Him by loving others unconditionally, I do present the whole counsel of God, because the whole counsel of God is summed up in Jesus.
“But the Gospel demands we confront people’s sin with the truth”. This is a blatant lie, that most Christians have unquestionably bought into over the years. Nowhere in Scripture are we told to point out to other people their sins. NOWHERE. Here is the Gospel message…
” Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you–unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…” 1 Cor.15:1-4
That is the Gospel. There is nothing to add to it.
So the next time someone tells you that you have to tell people the truth about their sinfulness, tell them that it is the job of the Holy Spirit to convict, and God’s job to judge, and that you will just stick to telling them the Truth of Jesus with grace and the unconditional love of God.
13 thoughts on “Truth About The Truth”
You speak the Truth!
I blame the Puritans. ;P
But honestly, one of the issues that leads to this attitude is the necessity for repentance for salvation. If you believe repentance is necessary then everyone must be convinced of their sin before they come to Christ.
I personally find places in Scripture where people repent when they come to Christ and others where they don’t. I find Jesus speaking to the woman at the well offering her living water and John the gospel writer saying her reaction which did not include repentance was the right kind of belief. And the woman caught in adultery didn’t need to repent to hear the words, I don’t condemn you. I think people can outwardly display their faith in Christ through repentance or through baptism or through celebration at the Lord’s Table or in prayer.
We need to remember Scripture says it is God’s kindness which leads to repentance.
Here are some of Jesus’ last words to his disciples before he ascended according to Luke’s Gospel. Words that speak exactly to what he instructed his disciples to proclaim: “Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” “Luke 24:46-47.
We should call sin, sin and not back away from it or look to minimize it because when we do, we cheapen God’s amazing grace. For instance, if we tell a woman racked with guilt and anguish every day of her life because she had an abortion something like “abortion may not be a sin you know, here are some verses that may suggest it’s ok” she may never know the incredible joy of having that sin that consumed her COMPLETELY forgiven! Or the Dad who coerced or maybe somehow forced his girlfriend to abort and now finds himself almost suicidal from the burden of that sin – he too can know total and complete forgiveness and amazing joy! When we lie to people and say that abortion is not a sin or any other sin is not a sin, we rob them of the true joy Jesus offers them – forgiveness of sins! All of our sins forgiven and forever removed from us as far as the east is from the west. Let’s proclaim what Jesus told us to – repentance and forgiveness of sins.
Don’t tell me my sin is not heinous and wicked and that I don’t justly deserve hell for even the “least” of my sins. Or that my sin is not against God and God alone! It absolutely is and yet it’s ALL forgiven because of what Jesus has done. I want all sinners to know that same incredible joy of forgivness not some false hope that tells them their sin isn’t really sin or not really a big deal or that God is ok with it because he loves everyone unconditionally. God is NOT ok with sin – so much so that He sent His one and only Son to pay for it and He poured ALL of his wrath on Him for it – for my sin and for EVERYONE who repents and believes. But not for those who remain in their sin – let’s tell people to repent and have their sins forgiven so they’re not in that latter group!
I believe in hell and I believe many will go there but ALL who repent of their sin will know the incredible joy of forgiveness of sin and will spend eternity worshipping the One who gave them that incredible forgiveness at the cost of His own life. An eternity that begins the day the repent and believe.
No one is suggesting lying as a way to minimize an individuals guilt over their sin. To suggest that this is what I am saying is a complete misrepresentation.
To the hypothetical woman who is experiencing grief over her past abortion, I would say this….
“I am so glad that you and I have gotten to know each other well enough that you feel comfortable sharing about your abortion. Opening up about that must have been very difficult for you to do, knowing that I come from a Evangelical background. Thank you.
You asked me in one of our past conversations if God forgives all our failures, weaknesses and sins, and I told you that His does, and that is what the Gospel of Jesus is all about. There is nothing that we have or ever will do that will come between us and God when we come to see ourselves as we truly are, broken in our sin, and see Jesus has the only One that has come to bring forgiveness, restoration,and healing. If you are interested we can talk about this more now, or another time.”
I am not facilitating sin, soft on sin, or lying about sin. I just don’t think it is the job of the Christian to go running around and publicly condemning and vilifying people that we have never gotten to know, befriend and love.
Mark, I agree that we should not be in individual’s faces pridefully pointing out their sin. However, that does not mean we should not call sin, sin or stand publically against sin.
I would answer the question you pose in the first sentence of your post that folks may accuse you of encouraging/facilitating sin because there are times where you won’t acknowledge sin as sin in general. You give the good news of grace and forgiveness without the context of why people need grace and forgiveness. While most people wil generally acknowledge they’re not perfect, the vast majority of people will say they’re basically good people and they therefore give themselves some assurance that God will be ok with their “slip ups” here and there. It’s not until we realize how awful our sin is and that it’s a direct affront to God’s holiness and that we truly deserve hell that we KNOW we need a savior and God’s incredible grace, mercy and forgiveness shines blindingly bright.
As an example, you recently posted an article on fb that, at least in part, referenced some verses that were twisted to suggest abortion is not a sin. Our hypothetical woman could read that and conclude she has no need to repent and know God’s forgiveness so she remains in her sin. I understand the point of that article was to say that being anti-abortion is not a requirement for salvation which is absolutely true however, that can be said without bringing into question that abortion is one of our culture’s most heinous sins.
A recognition of our sin and repenting from it and trusting in Christ alone IS a requirement for salvation. Jesus came to save sinners, not the righteous and our culture is filled with people who remain in their sin and INSIST their sin is not sin and they are therefore “righteous”.
I hope that you would have read what my response would have been in talking with our hypothetical woman. You would see that in that conversation I do not minimize sin, or ignore it. I address it with her in the context of our dialogue. Tell me specifically where my conversation with her is not speaking of sin.
I do not need to be told how grievous and destructive sin is. I have seen and do see it at work in my life on a daily basis, and I fail in avoiding it more often than i am willing to admit. And because of this knowledge of self, I also thank God for the grace and unconditional love He extends to me every day in Jesus, in spite of my weaknesses, failures, and sin.
I have also seen sin wound and destroy people. it is innate within our nature. And it is because of God’s great love for us in our sinful lost state that Jesus came.
Now, if you are saying that as a Christian that I need to throw words like “fornicator, adulterer, murderer, liar, slut. druggie, drunk, in the face of people in order to prove that I am against sin, then I am sorry. I will never do that. I have not right, it is not my place, for I am an egregious sinner among a world of egregious sinners.
But in knowing that I also want to be someone that anyone can come to, so that I have the opportunity to share that because of and in spite of my sin look what God has done for me in Jesus.
I can totally see your point. HOWEVER, the point you are missing is that SIN IS SIN. When you suggest that Mark or I or any other Christian “take a public stand against sin”, what you mean is that we should stand against the really “heinous” sins like abortion, same sex marriage, and all the other hot button sins that Christians have some fictitious responsibility to free the earth of. I’m not saying those things aren’t sinful but so is heterosexual sex outside of marriage, gluttony, gossip, and hate, all of which the church has become quite complacent about. I don’t think Mark is suggesting that we view others’ sins as less “heinous” than they are, but maybe that his sins and my sins and your sins are just as deep, just as red, and just as disgusting to God as theirs are. The difference is that if they don’t know Christ, they don’t know any better. But you do. You know how powerful God’s grace is because you’ve experienced it. I bet that is because you caught a glimpse of it before you were pulled in rather than because some self righteous Christian whose sins “weren’t as bad as yours” came along and shoved your imperfection down your throat. Now I realize that you don’t see your approach as that overbearing, but I assure you that those heinous sinners will. And then when they see you mess up and sin they will dub you a hypocrite and they will turn their back on the one true and living God because of you. How do you think God feels about that?
The truth is, it is our great commission to bring the lost to Christ. It is our job as Christians to show the dirty hateful sinful world that He is Love and that He accepts them AS IS IN SPITE OF THEIR SIN. Then, He will take over from there and begin the work in their heart to recognize and turn from their sins. I grew up in a baptist church where children learned Bible stories about Jesus and lambs in Sunday school and then graduated to “big church” in adolescence where they learned the 1,000,000,000,073 sins that were going to send them to hell. My home life was not pretty and neither were any of the people who looked down on me on Sunday because I wore jeans to church. I walked away from them and God. Fast forward 15 years to me living with my boyfriend and our two kids. One day God spoke to my heart and before I knew what I was saying I asked my boyfriend if we could go to church. He laughed. Where were we going to find a church that would let us in the doors he asked me. I shrugged and told him that I thought we should try The Jar. It’s a nondenominational church who claims to accept people where they are and the pastor says he wears jeans. That was over 3 years ago. We’ve hardly missed a Sunday since. We were married on October 10, 2010 and baptized together on November 21, 2010. I am on the hospitality and evangelism teams and my husband works in the children’s ministry. We lead a small group in our home. I would like to also mention here that our “church” is actually a gymnasium at a YMCA for every hour of the week except for two on Sunday morning so when we decided to get married, we needed to find a place to have the ceremony and I wanted it to be a church. As I was calling around looking for a church who would allow us to be married there (by our pastor) I talked to a good number of places who didn’t allow “people like us” to get married there. Some had written rules against people “living in sin” being allowed to marry in their church. Tell me Mike, do you feel that they were being good Christians because they were standing up and speaking out against sin? Now please understand that our pastor believes that it is a sin to have sex outside of marriage. But he didn’t remind us of that each time he saw us. He didn’t ask one of us to move out leaving our children with a one parent home until we got married. He didn’t ask us to go to the courthouse and get married immediately or not come back to the church. He asked us to let God lead our lives and promised to walk beside us and encourage us as we went down that path and that is what he is still doing. Do you feel that he “cheapened” God’s grace or forgiveness because he didn’t cast us out like last week’s trash?
Here’s the heart of the matter. I didn’t change my heart. My pastor didn’t change my heart. The love and acceptance of Jesus Christ changed my heart. Coming to see God as my father, who loves me unconditionally, but wants the best for me changed my heart. I no longer wanted to do things that I knew in my heart disappointed Him. No other Christians told me what they were or where they ranked on the sin scale according to them. All the glory goes to God. Just as it should.
You can call things what you want, but until you have earned trust and respect from someone you don’t have any right to speak into their lives. You can’t earn trust and respect from someone you are looking down on and judging for their decisions, lifestyles, mistakes, hurts, habits, or hangups. So let it go. Love people like Jesus asked you to do and leave the rest to HIm.
I love this from your response…
“You can call things what you want, but until you have earned trust and respect from someone you don’t have any right to speak into their lives. You can’t earn trust and respect from someone you are looking down on and judging for their decisions, lifestyles, mistakes, hurts, habits, or hangups. So let it go. Love people like Jesus asked you to do and leave the rest to HIm.”
It is exactly my sentiment. Thank you too for being so open and sharing as you have here. My God comtinue to move and work and speak into your life as you seek to lead others to the only One who can bring us to wholeness.
Peace my sister,
I think that the conflict between the views of “loving and accepting everyone aka facilitating sin” versus “standing up for Christian values aka telling everyone what their sins are” lies in the misconception that by not calling people out to their face you are condoning and approving their behavior. This is not so. It is possible to love someone who is an alcoholic without supporting their drunkenness or engaging in such behavior with them. It is possible to love someone who is “living in sin” with a partner (of the same or opposite sex) without believing that behavior is acceptable according to scripture. It is even possible to love someone who has a different view on politics than you do and we all know what a horrible sin that is! It is even possible to love someone with a Godly love who you don’t like and don’t want to be around. You can still pray for these individuals, treat them with dignity and respect, and help to meet their needs even if it means sacrifice for you. God doesn’t stop loving us or choose not to love us just because he doesn’t like our behavior and that is the model we are to follow.
Thank you Sarah, this was very well said.
Peace to you.
Sarah, Thanks for sharing your thoughts and testimony of what God has done in your life. I was truly blessed to read it.
I think you and Mark may be missing my point. I would not for a minute suggest anyone’s sin is worse than my own or that there is some category of acceptable sin. In fact, that’s exactly my point – we should not back away from calling sin, sin REGARDLESS of what the sin is. That doesn’t mean I think it’s some sort of requirement that we all should boldly proclaim homosexual behavior or abortion is sinful. I’m simply saying we should not say it is not or may not be sinful. I appreciate that you did not do that. As you made your point that some Christians seems to have “acceptable sins” you issued the disclaimer “I’m not saying those things (i.e. abortion, same sex marriage and all other hot button sins) aren’t sinful”. My point is Mark does not do that with those hot button sins and has on occasion written posts and linked to articles that would lead people to believe those sins are not sins and that is simply not helpful to folks who are caught in those sins. I know the LAST thing I need is for someone to tell me that the sins I really struggle with are ok. It’s amazing to know the sins I struggle with are forgiven – not that they’re “ok”.
I really like what you said once about how “love the sinner, hate the sin” is often overused to be an excuse just to do the latter. I want to see Christians loving before they hate the sin.
So do I. Sadly, we have a long way to go.