You can always tell when someone is preaching the true message of grace because that’s when the “You mean to tell me…” people show up and begin their mantra:
- “You mean to tell me that my aunt Suzie, who is the nicest person I’ve ever met is going to die and go to hell just because she’s an agnostic?”
- “You mean to tell me that all a person has to do to get to heaven is put their faith and trust in Jesus and, just like that (snap your fingers here), they’re in?”
- “You mean to tell me that a mass murderer could believe in Jesus on their deathbed and they’d go to heaven in spite of all they’ve done?”
- “You mean to tell me that even the most sincere of Buddhists, Mormons, Muslims and Hindus are going to hell just because they don’t accept Jesus as the only way of salvation?”
- “You mean to tell me ____________________________________?” (Fill in the blank)
You can always tell that you are preaching the true gospel when the “you mean to tell me” people come out and criticize, question and critique your grace-based gospel message. Why? Because, in their self-centered, humanistic point of view it’s not fair that a murderer would receive salvation over nice little, old aunt Suzie just because the murderer put his faith in Jesus in his last moments.
But who said salvation was fair? The word “grace” itself means “underserved favor.” In other words, if God were just fair we’d all be going to hell. It is only by his divine grace than any of us are saved from the wrath to come.
Some of the “you mean to tell me” people attack the gospel message by pointing out how easy you’ve made it for the sinner to receive the gift of salvation. These messengers imply, say or flat out shout that faith alone in Christ alone is not enough. They post lists of demands and commands that must be obeyed until the sinner can truly be saved. Their “gospel” messages sound good and godly, sacrificial, serious and somber. Their gospel presentations are packed and stacked with ideas that sound good to the human ear. But at the core of their gospel message there is no real gospel (aka “good news”) at all. Instead they have re-packaged a “work your own way to heaven” message that would make the average Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness “amen” out loud!
The entire book of Galatians was written to believers in, you guessed it, Galatia who had been deceived into thinking that they needed to add one little teensy, weensy work to truly be saved…circumcision. But Paul cut to the chase when he called this message anathema in Galatians 1:8. He tells the “foolish Galatians” (his words not mine) that, if they wanted to add circumcision as a prerequisite for salvation then they needed to commit themselves to keep the whole law all of the time. (BTW, that is impossible!) Listen to what he says in the second to the last chapter of Galatians,
“Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be. Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!” Galatians 5:3-12
Ouch! Those words hurt! But Paul is telling the “you mean to tell me” people who had invaded the ranks of the Galatian believers that they were wrong. He calls the true believers to take the scissors to the false gospel that was being peddled among them and start embracing the true message of grace instead.
When you preach grace you agitate the agitators. When you preach the message of grace people cry “unfair!” When you preach the message of grace the “offense of the cross” is in full force (in other words the “you mean to tell me” people start whining!) When you preach the message of grace lives are changed from the inside out, not the outside in.
When’s the last time the “you mean to tell me” people attacked your gospel presentation because it seemed too unbelievably simple? If you can’t think of the last time that happened then one of two things is true: you’re not preaching the gospel of grace enough or your not preaching the gospel of grace at all.
Think about it.