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The Gospel of full disclosure

There is a danger in presenting the freeness of grace that we forget to bring along the obligations of being a child of God.  In the cross of Christ, all our sin debt is paid.  What is a debt that is paid?  It is nothing.  It is a memory, something annihilated and is no more.  Because of Christ, our salvation is complete, and nothing can be added to it.  Ye are complete in him.  (Col 2:10)

But we do a disservice to the unbaptized public when we announce this truth and stop right there as if there were nothing more to say.  The Bible continues.  Here’s an example.

21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled
22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight —
23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel…  Col 1:21-23  NKJV

If you sift through the New Testament, you can find this pattern repeated at enormous length.  The grace is free, but the Christian life involves what can only be described as a duty.  Our friends who rejoice in the freeness of grace tend to say that this detracts from the liberty we have in Christ, that it foists upon us a different sort of law, a new standard of performance-oriented works-righteousness which is, though appended to the back end, nonetheless a requirement for final salvation.

To this I reply: Not at all.  My kids were born or adopted into my family gratis.  It cost them nothing and never will.  Nothing of this world can make them somehow become “not-children.”  And yet they are members of a family, and families come with all kinds of obligations.  When they were little they had to pick up their toys, and when their mother is old, they may have to pick her up.

Full and honest disclosure of the Gospel requires that when we preach the freeness of grace, we need to also explain that this leads to entrance into Christ’s kingdom and into the household of God.  Households require some participation, and opting out isn’t going to be received well in heaven.  That’s not denying grace or adding post-requisites to the Gospel.  It’s just being straightforward about what it means to become a follower of Jesus.  It means you follow.

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