The Gospel Is for the Broken
As I post this I have tears in my eyes as I once again acknowledge that I came mighty close to being “one of the sad ones” that this man writes about. God preserved me and saved me yet again, and I am blessed and thankful beyond words.
But all around us the church is messing up—and messing up bad. We will be held accountable for the “sad ones” that this man writes of, and all of the little children who are lost from the grace of Christ. The gospel is the most freeing and joyful message in this world.
If you’re not feeling free and joyful, then something is wrong. It may not be with the message you are hearing, or with the messenger. But on the other hand—it might be.
When the major stress in pulpit and curriculum shifts from “Christ outside of me, dying for me” to “Christ inside of me, improving me,” the upshot is always the same: many broken, sad ex-Christians who despair of being able to live the Christian life as the Bible describes it. So they do what is really a sane thing to do — they leave. The way it looks to them is that “the message of Christianity has broken them on the rack.” To put it bluntly, it feels better to have some earthly happiness as a pagan and then be damned than it feels to be trying every day as a Christian to do something that is one continuous failure — and then be damned anyway.
The key question here is a very basic one: Can the cross and blood of Christ save a Christian (failing as he is in living the Christian life) or not? Most of us would say, I hope, that the shed blood of Christ is sufficient to save a sinner all by itself. So far, so good.
But is the blood of Christ enough — all by itself — to save a still-sinful-Christian? Or isn’t it? Is what Luther said about the Christian being simul justus et peccator biblical or not? Can Christ’s righteousness imputed save a still-sinful Christian? And can it save him all by itself? Or not? I think the way we answer this question determines whether we have anything at all to say to the “sad alumni” of Christianity.
Has the Law done its killing work on these “sad ones?” Boy, has it ever. They need more of the Law like they need a hole in the head. For them, the gospel often got lost in a whole bunch of “Christian-life preaching.” And it “did them in.” So they left. And down deep there is a sadness in such people that defies description.
C.F.W. Walther said that as soon as the Law has done its crushing work, the gospel is to be instantly preached or said to such a man or woman. What the “sad alumni” need to hear (perhaps for the first time) is that Christian failures are going to walk into heaven, be welcomed into heaven, leap into heaven like a calf leaping out of its stall, laughing and laughing as if it’s all too good to be true.
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