“There’s no such thing as a
free lunch.” & “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” These are well-known facts of life that personal experience
drills into every one of us again and again. But the Christian gospel runs
counter to them. The gospel does sound too good to be true. It does
offer a free lunch.
The late Trinitarian
theologian Thomas Torrance put it this way:
“Jesus Christ died for you precisely because you are sinful and utterly
unworthy of him, and has thereby already made you his own before and apart from
your ever believing in him. He has bound you to himself by his love in such a
way that he will never let you go, for even if you refuse him and damn yourself
in hell his love will never cease” (The Mediation of Christ, Colorado
Springs, CO: Helmers & Howard, 1992, page 94).
That definitely sounds too
good to be true! Maybe that’s why most Christians don’t really believe it. Maybe
that’s why most Christians have the idea that salvation only comes to those who
earn it through faith and a moral life.
But the Bible says that God
has already given us everything — grace, righteousness, and salvation — through
Jesus Christ. We can add nothing to that. Such complete commitment to us, such
indescribable love, such unconditional grace, is not something we could ever
hope to earn in a thousand lifetimes. All we can do is trust him to be true to
Still, most of us have the
idea that the gospel is primarily about getting us to improve our behavior. We
think that God only loves those who “straighten up and fly right.” But according
to the Bible, the gospel isn’t about us improving our behavior. 1 John 4:19
tells us that the gospel is about love— not that we love God, but that he loves
We all know that love
cannot be coerced or forced or enforced by any law or contract. It can only be given
freely and freely received. God freely gives it, and he wants us to freely
receive it so that we, as Christ lives in us, can then love him and love one
1 Corinthians 1:30 says Jesus
Christ is our righteousness, our holiness and our redemption. We have no
righteousness to offer him. Instead, we trust him to be everything we are
powerless to be for ourselves, in our place. It is because he first loved us
that we are freed from our selfish hearts to love him and to love one another.
God loved you before you
were even born. He loves you even though you are a sinner. He will never stop
loving you, even though you fall short of his righteous and godly behavior every
day. That is good news — gospel truth.
I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking