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When Grace Goes Sour
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The Christian Messenger

The Christian Messenger - Evangelism Through Journalism. The Christian Messenger is an evangelical monthly newspaper published from Chennai, India. Started in 2002 as a privately circulated periodical, its initial print run was 2,500 copies. A year later, it became a registered newspaper. Currently, the print order is 15,000 copies. It is perhaps the only Christian newspaper that spans the length and breadth of the country. The founders of the newspaper have a vision to make it India’s leading Christian daily.What we do: Good news, first! That's our burden. Good news is not just the Gospel but also the positive side of Christian living. But that doesn't mean we don't report bad news. Persecution, end-times watch, falling idols and Biblical prophecies that come true are part of our reportage. We are dependent on God and independent of any denomination, groups or organizations. Neither do we let advertisers influence news coverage nor do we print puffed up handouts. We are fair, neutral and non-judgmental. Because we believe in a God who tells the truth and expects us to be like Him. Why a Christian newspaper? At the heart of our media mission is this motto: Evangelism through journalism. The purpose of this newspaper is to report newsworthy religious events and activities within the local community, nationwide and around the world, to increase the awareness and activism of believers regarding the moral issues of today, to provide thought-provoking commentary, and to provide an effective advertising vehicle for Christian ministries and organizations, events and businesses that want to reach the Christian community in India and abroad. If you think you can support us or partner with us in this mission, do send us a mail today: editor@christianmessenger.in

 
By The Christian Messenger
Published on 02/3/2010
 
FOR me, the most stunning aspect of faith is grace. Grace is that unmerited, incautious favor of God that most of us never tire hearing about. There is just something about it—whenever it comes, it changes what is into something grander. That is what I love about the gospel. It is a message of grace, and because of that, wherever it goes, it brings change. But some groups who call themselves “grace” people make me nervous. I get the feeling that they spell grace g-r-e-a-s-e. They don’t talk about grace as something that changes them as much as something that lets them slide by with whatever they feel like doing—even sinful things. But grace yields freedom from sin, not freedom to sin.

Grace Is Never A License To Sin
FOR me*, the most stunning aspect of faith is grace. Grace is that unmerited, incautious favor of God that most of us never tire hearing about. There is just something about it—whenever it comes, it changes what is into something grander. That is what I love about the gospel. It is a message of grace, and because of that, wherever it goes, it brings change.

But some groups who call themselves “grace” people make me nervous. I get the feeling that they spell grace g-r-e-a-s-e. They don’t talk about grace as something that changes them as much as something that lets them slide by with whatever they feel like doing—even sinful things. But grace yields freedom from sin, not freedom to sin. Justifying sin by appealing to grace sours the grace experience by turning it into something God never intended to be. Grace never says, “Whatever.” It always says “No” to “ungodliness” and “Yes” to “upright and godly” living (Titus 2:12).

I’m convinced that the people who use grace as an excuse to sin aren’t experiencing it at all. They may have experienced grace in the past or they may have just heard about it, but they are not experiencing it now. You can’t experience the grace of God and continue being bad. If you are being bad today, it’s because you are not experiencing grace today. Grace doesn’t promise immunity from sinful consequences; it promises power to live above sin.

It’s true that if you miss grace to prevent sin, you can tap into grace that brings the forgiveness of sin. God has a very effective 911 system. But using 911 is not a thing to boast about. And if you use 911 flippantly, you get in trouble. Grace is never a license to sin.

In fact, it is the grace of God that brings judgment for sin. Just as God tells us to discipline our children, and that if we do not discipline them, we, in effect, hate them (Prov. 13:24), He disciplines us too—because he loves us. But there are folks in the “grace” crowd that think God never does anything quite so negative. He only wants us to be happy, content, always having a good time—even if we are naughty. He is just 'soooo loving'.

But I think they might have God confused with Grandpa. Grandpa tends to overlook wrongdoing, and he always avoids confrontation. Grandpa’s goal at the end of the day is only that all had a good time. But Jesus didn’t tell us to pray, “Our Grandpa in heaven.” He said to pray, “Our Father in heaven” (Matt. 6:9).

Scripture is clear. God is our Father, and He “disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness” (Heb. 12:10). God doesn’t just love us with a smile while He distributes playful impulses of joy into our souls. He sometimes gets hard with us and treats us in a way that doesn’t seem “pleasant at the time, but painful” (v.11). We are His sons and daughters. We are the chosen, His sent ones. He believes in us, He trusts us, and He calls upon us to represent Him. You and I matter. He isn’t kidding about destiny. He consistently asks us to be part of His salvation history. We are called to a purpose. The Bible applauds a guy who “served God’s purpose in his own generation” (Acts 13:36). That’s what He wants all of us to do. That’s why we are here.

If we say no to His plan, He will back off. That is a scary enterprise. When Israel said no to God, He said of them, “My people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices” (Ps. 81:11–12).

I don’t want to be left to my “own devices,” do you?

*New York Times bestselling author Ed Gungor has been in pastoral ministry for more than 25 years.

The Christian Messenger