Posts Tagged ‘the gospel uncensored’

4th February
2011
written by Alden

Here are a few of the comments we’ve received from readers so far:

“It’s well-written and easy to read.”

“I’m really enjoying the book … it’s like water to dry ground.”

“It’s excellent. Simply excellent.”

“Your book grabbed my heart…”

“Now I understand why I don’t like going to church!”

“I’m taking a long time to read through it, because it’s giving me so much to think about!”

Thanks for all of the kind comments! If you haven’t yet had a chance to pick up a copy, they are available at a discounted price (discounts are good!) from Amazon, and other online retailers.

7th September
2010
written by Alden

I was recently talking about my book with some dinner guests, and after hearing the title, one gentleman asked, “So what part of the Gospel has been censored?”

He asked a very perceptive question.

Typically when we think of something being censored, we think of something which has been hidden or removed, like bad words being bleeped out of TV broadcasts or black bars meant to erase words or parts of photographs which someone has deemed objectionable. Merriam-Webster defines censor as “to suppress or delete as objectionable.” This brings to mind the Jefferson Bible, in which Thomas Jefferson cut out the portions he didn’t like, or the complete suppression of the Gospel in places like China.

However, the unusual thing about the Gospel is that it is typically not censored in the Western world by removing anything. The Gospel is censored — suppressed and deleted — by adding to it.

The Gospel message according to the New Testament is this:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Eph. 2:8,9 NIV)

To change this “Jesus plus nothing” formula — even by adding good works like Bible reading, tithing and prayer to simple faith in Jesus — is to delete the Gospel completely. As Paul wrote to the Galatians, if we could gain righteousness through our works, then Christ died for nothing (Gal. 2:21).

The expectations that many churches put on people — things to make us “more holy” or “better” Christians — have the same effect as those black censorship rectangles. They censor the Gospel, eviscerating it, rendering it powerless. What is left is religion — a form of godliness, but without any saving power (2 Tim. 3:5).

The goal of The Gospel Uncensored is to rip off the black bars of censorship wherever we have found them, exposing the raw Gospel of radical grace.

9th August
2010
written by Alden

From Chapter 14, Understanding Internal Conflict:

If we try to live up to who we are in Christ by our own power, we become worse off emotionally than the person who still lives in the flesh. We have raised the bar, but without any power to reach it. Studies have shown that the least happy people in our culture are conservative, evangelical Christians, because they hold to a high standard to which they believe God has called them, but they are stuck without the power to reach that standard.

If the flesh cannot talk us out of God’s perspective, then the flesh will try whatever it can to keep us from God’s power. Galatians 5:22-23a says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Not the fruit of the law. Not the fruit of self-effort. Not the fruit of trying harder. Not the fruit of discipline. These are the fruit of the Spirit—the things that only the Spirit can produce in us.

The internal conflict is real; it’s crazy to deny it, and useless to try to resolve it by human effort. God’s perspective says, “Here’s where you are, and there’s where you’re going. Don’t fret about the gap; just check back occasionally to see how far you’ve gone.” Again, the gap is why we need grace.

4th August
2010
written by Alden

One of the first things I saw this morning was an e-mail update from a LinkedIn group I belong to discussing how to address issues with a certain well-known leader in the prosperity/faith movement. For whatever reason I clicked on the link and read some of the comments, and was shocked to see two or three people raising the “don’t touch the Lord’s anointed” defense.

What?

As we write in Chapter 5 — The Source of Authority, this concept arises from taking 1 Samuel 26:9-11 out of context. The passage states,

But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the LORD’s anointed and be guiltless? As surely as the LORD lives,” he said, “the LORD himself will strike him; either his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. But the LORD forbid that I should lay a hand on the LORD’s anointed.

The context for the passage is that David and his men were on the run from Saul and his men; Saul was a bit mad, and was attempting to kill David. While David was openly critical and in opposition to Saul, he refused to kill him because Saul literally was God’s anointed King over Israel.  He had been anointed with oil, and was one of the few individuals to have actually been anointed with the Holy Spirit.

Today, of course, all Christians have received the Holy Spirit; we are all anointed. No pastor or leader has any special status; no one is free from criticism and challenge.

We, of course, should be careful with our words when speaking about anyone, whether public figures or not. If someone is in sin, Jesus laid out a good course to follow in Matthew 18. If someone is in error, they should be confronted (Galatians 2:11).

The Gospel Uncensored addressed these topics in more detail. In a month or so, you should be able to read it for yourself. ;-)

14th July
2010
written by Alden

(Cross-posted at aldenswan.com.)

A great post today from Molly Friesen at Route 5:9, Forgiveness is an Investment: What it Costs. She’s blogging through Paul Tripp’s book on marriage, What Did You Expect. This, and Linda’s prior post,  The Dark “Benefits” of Unforgiveness, are worth reading. I’m guessing Tripp’s book is, too.

It’s interesting that so many legalists forget about the rule of forgiveness, which is a key element in Jesus’ teaching. He even went so far as to say that if we don’t forgive, our Heavenly Father won’t forgive us, either.  Seriously – it’s at the end of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:

12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Now, you can try to take the position that this “is more of a guideline than a rule,” but Jesus doesn’t seem to give much leeway here.

So how does this fit into a theology of radical grace?

It fits quite well, actually, with a proper understanding of forgiveness.  As many of us were taught in Sunday School, Jesus dies for the sins of the world.

1 John 2:2: “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.  (NIV)

Jesus’ sacrifice was not made for us individually; forgiveness was truly once and for all.  If we refuse to acknowledge and participate in this forgiveness for someone who has wronged us, we are simply refusing to participate in God’s forgiveness. Being forgiven means we agree that everyone is forgiven. Refusing to forgive someone means we are closing our heart, not that God is withholding anything from us.

Now, do we forgive perfectly?  I seriously doubt it. I don’t think I do, even if it is my intent. But, God’s grace–God’s power made real in our lives–is sufficient for that, too.

We have been set free, not to sin, but so we can live–and forgive–freely.