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Have you ever gotten one of those “too good to be true” offers in the mail from a credit card company? They arrive in brightly-colored envelopes proclaiming things like, “Zero percent interest on new purchases for your first 12 months!” And of course, zero percent interest is pretty great. But then you read the fine print, and what seemed like good news at first turns out to only last for that introductory period of twelve months. After that? The real interest rate kicks in, and 22.5% isn’t very good news at all!
I was just tossing one of these flyers into the trash the other day when it hit me how much offers like that are the exact opposite of the Gospel. Because the good news of the Gospel never expires! There is no “introductory rate” on grace – it’s just that good, forever! Listen to how the apostle Paul puts it: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1 NIV).
I love this verse, because it sums up the permanence of the Gospel so well. It’s not temporary good news, it’s permanent. And here, Paul reminds the Galatians of that truth, and then encourages them to “stand firm” in it, in order to resist being “burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
I think he’s speaking here to the human tendency to view God as a cosmic cop who’s watching our every move. Sure, he forgave us that one time, for that one sin, but what happens when I sin again? Won’t he count that against me? Won’t the “offer” of grace expire at some point? Won’t he give up on me and say I’m a lost cause?
Do you see how damaging that mindset can be? We shift from the promise of permanent good news, to one of temporary good news -- and the problem is, that’s just not the Gospel of Jesus. In Christ, we’re fully forgiven, forever, and that will never, ever change. God will not give up on those he loves. He gives us a new start so we can continue to grow up in him, so we can become conformed to Christ, healed and restored. His love will bring to completion the good work he began in us and among us. His love loves to wholeness and completeness. When we waver in that hope, we slip back into the “temporary good news” mindset, which Paul so rightfully calls a “yoke of slavery.”
So the next time you feel yourself being tempted to believe that the grace of our triune God is some kind of “introductory offer” that expires, do what I did with that flyer, and throw that thought where it belongs: in the trash!
I’m Joseph Tkach, speaking of LIFE.