Preacher, Bible, sermon, sorted. Christian preaching. Perhaps. In this series I have been nudging us to consider whether our preaching is genuinely and fully Christian. We have considered issues of which God we preach, what it means to be made in His image, the full extent and nature of sin, and let’s finish with one more area of focus – God’s solution to the sin problem.
4. Fail to recognize the relational and transformative nature of God’s grace.
Grace is a tricky word. To read of sin and grace was standard fare in the past, but today there is often a push back against the notion of grace. I think this comes from a misrepresentation of God’s grace that goes soft on sin in some circles. This is so unfortunate. Grace is not just a reference to God’s goodness toward us in all the biblical dimensions, it is also used as a theological label to stand for God’s provision to overcome the sin problem. Here are a couple of thoughts on the solution to our sin problem:
A. God’s solution to our problem fully addresses our problem. We are sinners who stand condemned legally. Grace has to take care of that, and it does as we are justified and not under condemnation, it is by grace we are saved. And we are also sinners relationally – our hearts are dead toward God and we lack God’s Spirit as we are separated from the life of God. God’s solution to our sin problem is not merely to offer legal status change, wonderful and foundational as that is, He also transforms the heart and gives the Spirit (regeneration and reconciliation as well as justification!)
B. God’s solution to our problem results in genuine life change. When people focus only on the legal change brought about by God’s grace in justification, there is a tendency to fear the potential for that grace being abused. With good reason! If salvation were only status change, but no heart transformation, then the flesh would still rule in every situation. But the gospel brings change to the very motives and values of the heart. If people are inclined to abuse grace, the solution is not balancing grace with some sort of burden and coercion, but to do a better job of presenting grace in all its fullness (and clarifying that grace does not equate to nice-ness or lax-ness – God’s love and grace are written in the crimson red of Jesus’ blood).
C. God’s solution to our problem is not merely the plan for initiating the Christian life. Grace upon grace. By faith from first to last. Gaze fixed on Jesus. The Christian life is not about turning our focus back onto our own efforts, but about growing in our love for and response to the God who loved us first.
Preaching the gospel is a wonderful privilege. Let’s be sure to preach it both simply, and in all its fullness, with relevance to both the lost and to believers.