A post by Joel over at Grace Roots has inspired me to think about the statement "I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.." (Rom. 1:16).
The real gospel - grace - is powerful to save! I want to be unashamed to say what the true gospel is - that by grace God accepts everyone as they are, because of the finished work of Christ, not because of any of our own righteousness, and that acceptance is a purely free gift with no strings attached. We receive the gift - and the very life of Christ - by simply believing this news!
The old so-called "gospel" that I heard or believed in my legalistic days is truly one to be ashamed of. It said I had to jump through hoops to get the favor of God, had to perform to be accepted, had to do it all on my own to be worthy. It disdained anyone coming as they were, with no requirements put on them at all. It never freed people from the law; it simply bound them under new "Christian laws". It saw grace as heresy.
I actually read in a Christian magazine once that the idea that God accepts people as they are is "heresy". What? The idea that God accepts people as they are is THE GOSPEL! This statement in the magazine broke my heart, because it seemed the writer was so bound up in law-thinking that the true gospel seemed like heresy to him!
I wish that the whole world knew how loved they are by God, that they can come just as they are to Him and know they ALREADY have His full acceptance and love. No clean up required before OR after their coming. The gift of life and righteousness is so free it's ridiculous, and it goes right on being free after we're saved - no changes or improvement required then, either. The whole point is to walk through life now with a Real Friend, someone who has been our friend from all eternity! A friend named Jesus who will live inside us...you can't get a closer Friend than that!
I am not ashamed to say that God accepts me just as I am!
I am not ashamed to say that Jesus gave me His righteousness for free as a gift without me doing a thing - I just grabbed that present and grinned!
I am not ashamed to say that the whole wide world is reconciled to God - made friends, totally forgiven - by the cross of Christ without them lifting one finger!
I am not ashamed to say that all the world stands completely forgiven because of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus, and no sacrifice on their part is ever required for that to be true - it already IS true!
I am not ashamed to say that Jesus loves me as I am, not as I should be in my thinking!
I am not ashamed to say that every child of God is perfect before Him right now no matter how they blew it yesterday or will blow it tomorrow!
I am not ashamed to say that as a child of God I am not under the law at all and am free from all demands and requirements and rules.
I may not understand grace completely, but I know one thing: law-based living and the performance "gospel" STINKS! I'm sticking with the beautiful "heresy" of grace that freed me with the power of God called LOVE...that said to me "Come just as you are! All is forgiven; come into My arms forever!"