A Gospel to get drunk on.
The love of this world will accept you when you deserve acceptance. “But God demonstrated His love in this, while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8) Now that is a verse to hear again and again and again, a verse that needs to rain down on our hearts like the kisses of the Father rained down on the prodigal son. We need to go away and receive that verse like kisses from heaven, until a thanksgiving is birthed in our heart, a thanksgiving that you can feel well up inside you to something like joy inexpressible and full of glory (1Peter 1:8). Only such a thanksgiving, brings a joy powerful enough to melt and remould the hardest of hearts (Luke 7:47, Luke 19:8,9). Only a repentance borne of the Spirit, a true metanoia, a true revelation of the heart of the Father, brings such a joy, such a strength to a believer’s life (1Cor.12:3). That’s why everywhere across the Church, were repentance has been watered down, to merely what we need to do for God, we find no-one drunk on the Gospel anymore, for true repentance is seeing, how completely God has saved us in Christ (Eph.2:8,9). It is seeing the heart, the generosity of the Father and through that “seeing by the Spirit”, finding His gift of faith in your heart (Rom.2:4).
There is no end to the generosity of our heavenly Father, for even the faith that receives His life, comes from Him. It is His faith in you, for as the apostle Paul declared, “we are saved by grace through faith and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph 2:8,9) Repentance is not a work of the flesh, but a work of the Spirit for, “No man can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ but by the Spirit.” (1Cor.12:3). In other words, the production of faith, is God’s part, not ours and it comes by the hearing of how generous He is; the hearing of the Gospel of His grace, not the gospel of our repentance!
Faith comes by hearing the gospel of what God has given, not the gospel of what He might give, if you repent. No-one gets drunk on that gospel!
Never tell anyone they need more faith. Just give them more of the Gospel that brings faith, the Gospel of God’s grace, not the gospel of their repentance, or their faith (Rom.10:17). Receiving is not a work of the flesh, it is a work of the Spirit, because it is seeing what no natural eye can see, or ear can hear, or heart can imagine about the nature of God, His love, a love that accepted us, while we were rejecting Him (1Cor.2:9,10, Luke 23:34). A love that didn’t say, ‘I will accept them when they repent of their ways and stop rejecting me’, but a love that declared in effect, ‘I will love them and give all I have to them, not in the hour they have repented, but in the hour when they are reviling me and rejecting me and spitting in my face and crucifying me. That will be the hour that I reveal to them the only love that has the power to set them free from themselves; the love of one who gives all He has to them, before they have repented.’ “For God demonstrated His love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. (Rom.5:8).
The more we see repentance as a work of the flesh, the more we will preach the Gospel as what men have to give to God, rather than how much God has given to men and such messages will always sound as earnest and necessary as the need that carried the prodigal son home to His Father, and by such messages men may find themselves back in church, but they will not find themselves drunk on thanksgiving with a joy inexpressible and full of glory (1Peter1:8), for in the modern church there is not the joy that throws such parties. Instead, there is a works ethic, that will more likely see prodigals brought into the house simply to be trained up for the fields, where they can quietly join their elder brothers and spend the rest of their lives working for God, in order one day, in the by and by, to be worthy of the inheritance they were promised. Church, I don’t think we had permission to postpone the party that the heavenly realm rejoices in, over one sinner who repents (2Cor.6:2). The whole earth is groaning for such a proclamation of victory, for the manifestation on the earth of the joy that is in heaven over the completeness of Christ’s work of reconciliation. To see it, is to see no man after the flesh and to beseech all men to be whom Christ sees them to be (2Cor.5:16-19).
For many years, whenever I heard anyone talk about repentance or faith, my heart used to sink because I wrongly understood these words to be words about me and that God was looking to me, to come up with a certain level of repentance or faith, before He would do something for me. No wonder my heart used to sink, because believing that you have to produce something ‘of yourself’ to move God, leaves your hope on yourself and do you know what I have found, after years of watching myself and others believe that repentance and faith were something we had to produce for God? A hope on yourself, is not a strong enough hope to get drunk on!
That’s because when my hope is constantly directed onto my performance, my repentance, my faith, my prayer life, my church service, I no longer can find in my heart a thanksgiving welling up, to joy inexpressible and full of glory, because I find it impossible to be thankful to a God who is always demanding more (Prov13:12). A hope in yourself, is not a strong enough hope to get drunk on.
Now the natural man cannot see/perceive God to be that generous, for he has never seen such generosity in this natural realm. As the apostle Paul said to the Romans, someone might dare to die for a good man, but God died for His enemies. (Rom.5:6-10). All men have ever heard of God, is religion (self-effort. You get what you deserve.) So, without a revelation of the Spirit, natural man cannot speak of a God who freely gives because he cannot imagine such a God, especially when all his natural vision can see around him is lack, not provision. All his natural understanding can deduct from that, is that God has not freely given, so He must be a God who is waiting on something from us. When such a man opens his mouth to speak, all that can come out, is what is in his heart, what he is believing and so the Gospel from this man’s mouth will always sound like a message on what men need to give to God.
How can I convince you that’s not the Gospel? I don’t have to. I only have to ask you to look into your own heart. If today, you cannot find there a joy inexpressible and full of glory, then ask the Holy Spirit to show you why. Ask Him to show you, why feet that were made to run into the streets with good news, can now only walk to church for more good advice.