It finally happened.
This week someone said: "Matt doesn't emphasize the wrath of God enough. He talks about the grace and love of God too much."
Anyone that knows me, knows this is a MIRACLE. I've never in my life been accused of preaching too soft!
It's been a long road of speaking words of condemnation to people that already feel condemned and under the wrath of God. Years of not functionally getting the grace of God in how I Pastor people, and love people in general.
I've learned that people are defensive and deny that they are God's enemies because they don't feel like they have any other choice but to put up a moral front. When you don't understand grace you have to defend yourself, it's your only hope of salvation, you have to be, prove and strive towards being a "good enough person". How else will you be ok now and in the end?
I've found that once people hear about the scandalous grace of Jesus they open up quick about their struggles, addictions, and secrets because they can do so under God's mercy and grace. Why would anyone open up to be condemned more than they already feel? It's God'd kindness that leads us to repentance and those who have been forgiven much that love much. (Romans 2:4 ,Luke 7:47)
When you get grace. Really, really get it, you don't abuse it, you love Jesus more. You worship him more. You repent more.
Lots of people are trying to get right with God because they are scared of God's wrath. That won't do. It never has.
I preach grace more than ever, not because I don't believe in the wrath of God, but because people don't understand the gospel. I know there is not good news without bad news, I just haven't had to convince anyone of the bad news once they get the good news. Under grace, people are excited to get real for the first time in their lives.
The good news is that Jesus died under the wrath of God for our sins, to give us freedom, forgiveness, adoption and his righteous status. He rose from death, conquering it on our behalf. The gospel of grace isn't cheap, we talk about our sin in a way that we are so broken and guilty that God had to be crucified in our place to take away the wrath of God we deserve. THAT IS GRACE! But what I hear being preached under the guise of "holiness preaching" is bad news, not the gospel. Condemnation, not invitation through grace.
I'm so thankful God is changing me into a man who gives good news and not merely bad news. This is happening as I understand the gap more and more between God's holiness and my sinfulness and it's making the cross bigger to me everyday. God's grace is bigger to me everyday.
I'm encouraged to be in the company of men like Paul who were accused of emphasizing too much grace. (Romans 3, 6) At the same time I have a crazy long way to go in preaching and being a man who reflects our gracious, holy and, just, King Jesus.