Translation: You can work hard enough to stop your sinning so you can be good enough to get into Heaven (only you can’t so give up now).
I’ve heard it too many times. As a child nobody ever showed me a gorgeous redeemer or a beautiful savior or sat with me to give me all the little details of Jesus that my soul craved. If there’s one thing I remember from church as a teen it’s that God can’t love me because of the thoughts in my head and He hates people like me. It didn’t matter what Christ came to do, I was detestable and was worse than human wreckage- at least wreckage can be sifted through and the bits used for something else; I was totally without hope. And it shaped much of my emotions. Add abuse at home and at school to the point of having major stress issues for decades, and what you get is someone ripe for plucking by a magnificent Christ.
Transparency: Dear preachers who taught me a hateful God and a powerless Jesus, I still resent what you did. You can’t understand the depth of my revulsion of the hate you preached. You served a powerless god and a cross barren of blood and a grave with my name still on it. I’m still very angry with every one of you. But your error has been redeemed by someone far more noble and righteous than any god you preached. I think you did your best, don’t get me wrong. But please ask yourself before your every sermon, “could my words reveal a hate-filled Jesus?”
ENOUGH of me. A while ago I saw a tweet from a major megachurch pastor that made my head spin in 5 directions at once. There was no hope in it. There was only condemnation. There was no grace, no mercy.
“Basic message of Jesus: “I’m God. You’re in sin. Repent to me or you will go to hell.”” [The person who posted it isn’t important but I’ll cite the source if you really want it.]
Let me ask you, the more you learn about hell does it make Jesus any more important? Any more needed? Does God’s mercy need you to apply contrast against the deep dark of where death goes to live? Is the Holy Spirit so powerless to speak into people’s hearts that only the threat of eternal damnation can push people toward Jesus? Many people seeking Jesus already know they’re screwed up, or at least something major is going on and they need help, that’s why they’re listening to you in the first place. They probably already know there’s a hell and they may be living in a very real one at the moment. Show them to Jesus. Don’t show them the gates of Hell trying to scare the Hell out of them. And if people are already indifferent do you think teaching about damnation leads them anywhere else? It’s called Saving Grace. There’s no such thing as saving terrorism.
About God’s grace,
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:16-18 NIV)
So who saves? Why is someone condemned?
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:17-19 NIV)
So who Reconciles? What is God’s message? Where is the count of sin?
Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? (Romans 8:34, 35 NIV)
Who is it that stands in the pulpit and preaches condemnation?
Jesus said, “If I am lifed up from the earth I will draw all men to myself”. If Jesus is the one doing the drawing and the wooing why is there so much Hell and Death being preached? Jesus said, “all that the Father has given me will come to me” so why do we act like God and Jesus are in such desperate need to have a Gospel of mercy and grace and reconciliation amplified and punctuated by the stench of hellfire, threats of eternal torture, and being victimized by demons for eternity?
You CANNOT magnify God by preaching Hell!
PREACH CHRIST AND HIM CRUCIFIED!
Grace: The absolute most glorious and undeserved and unending favor of a creator God who knows every detail of our lives down to the vibrations of the Strings that He created to form every sub-atomic particle of your entire being. Grace is being a Father and knowing your kids will mess up but you always make a way for them to be made right with you even if it costs you everything. Grace is an all-powerful Love that loves the hand made so much that he will pay every penalty for sin himself just to be reunited.
How could anyone be in awe of God when looking into a chasm filled with death threats?
But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even though we were dead in transgressions, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you are saved!— and he raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, to demonstrate in the coming ages the surpassing wealth of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2: 4-9 NET)
Can I tell you a secret? You can’t make God love you. If you doubt He does, just ask Him to show you.