Simplicity in the Gospel

Matthew 11:25-26 – 25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.

Just after telling people that they are in deep trouble with God for not responding to the revelation of God they have been given, Jesus speaks aloud a prayer to his Father, a prayer of gratitude. He is thankful for the fact that God, the Lord over all, has done two things.

First, God has hidden the truth of the gospel from the smartest of the smart. Second, God has made the gospel available to people with childlike minds. And the Savior tells us that this glorifies God.

Jesus thanks the Father that he has hidden the truths of the gospel from the wise and understanding. Something about the ones that the world thinks are the best and brightest goes against the gospel message. The Christian faith is not for the super-smart, self-sufficient scholarly types. For God’s own reasons, those who are most praised for their brains in this world are the least likely to be the ones who come to faith.

1 Corinthians 1:18-21 – 18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.

Similarly, we know that the most successful, the rich and the famous, have always been among the slowest to believe.

Matthew 19:23-26 – 23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Why is all this so? Is it because there is something inherently wrong with Christianity so that it only draws the uneducated, the foolish, the outcast? No, the faith is not dumb. But the wisdom that the world celebrates and the success that the world seeks after is going in an opposite direction of the truth of God. It is when we think we are smartest that we are making our gravest mistakes. It is when we think we are strongest that we are in most danger of falling.

Instead of making the gospel only for the extra bright and super successful, God has given the gospel to little children. God has made the plan of salvation gloriously uncomplicated. You do not need a PhD to grasp it. You do not need some sort of special secret knowledge to believe it. You do not need to be of the wealthy, ruling class to get into the kingdom of God. No, God has sent salvation to the simple, because this is the most glorifying thing he could have done.

Let us be a people who thank God and praise him for his choice. He glorifies himself in a sweet, kind way. He does not focus his grace only on the strong and powerful. He focuses his grace on weak ones like me. Only a God secure in his own glory and power and position could do such a thing. And we should be truly grateful.

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Adding Nothing to the Gospel

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul is deeply concerned about the gospel and its purity. Early in the letter, Paul speaks as harshly as we ever see him speak in Scripture. Inspired by God, the apostle pronounces that anyone who preaches any gospel other than the gospel that Paul had already been preaching should be accursed.

Galatians 1:6–9 – 6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

In case the language of accursed is not clear, that is Paul saying that a person who would preach a false gospel, a warped and non-gospel gospel, should be thrown by God into hell forever. Thus, we can fairly conclude that this is a big deal.

When we see this strong language used in the beginning of the book, we should be asking two questions. First, we should be asking what it is that is being proclaimed by the false teachers in Galatia. What is it that Paul is speaking so harshly against? Added to that, we should ask if there is anything like that in our generation that we need to watch out to avoid.

For several paragraphs in chapters 1-2, Paul tells his story and defends the gospel as he has preached it. He is careful to let the Galatians know that he is not preaching what he preaches to be a man-pleaser. Paul heard the gospel as revelation from Jesus himself. And Paul preached the gospel with clarity. Paul did travel to Jerusalem to compare notes with the apostles after 14 years of being saved, but nothing in his gospel changed, not even a little bit.

So, what is Paul speaking out against? We see a hint early in chapter 2 as Paul talks about his trip to Jerusalem to conference with Peter and James.

Galatians 2:1–3 – 1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2 I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. 3 But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek.

To our modern ears, verse 3 seems to come out of left field. But, if we will pay attention, verse 3 brings to light a very significant element of the gospel that is in danger of being lost. The reason that Paul points out that Titus was not compelled to be circumcised is that this was what certain Jewish believers were attempting to add to the simple gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. These false teachers, known as Judaizers, believed that gentiles, because of their ethnicity and background, should be forced to submit to particular rituals and restrictions in order to be counted as Christians.

Now, we must grasp that, to some, this argument was quite persuasive. In fact, Peter almost falls for it as Paul points out later in chapter 2. Why was this persuasive? For centuries, there had been a clear difference in status between Jew and gentile in the Old Testament. The Jews were the chosen people of God. The Jews were the ones given the law of God, a good and perfect and holy law. And Old Testament gentiles who wanted salvation had to come to Israel and submit to the laws of God, including circumcision, in order to be forgiven.

Is it possible, then, now that Christ has come, that there is no longer any sort of division that is to be made in the church between people of differing ethnicities and backgrounds? What if the gentiles had been previously cruel and oppressive to the Jews? What if the gentiles had lived particularly immoral lives in their worship of false gods before their conversion? Should those gentiles not be put on equal footing with the Jews by being forced to obey the law that the gentiles had previously not known? Should they not at least still be forced to go through circumcision?

No! Paul is emphatic here. Titus was not forced to be circumcised. No gentile should be forced to be circumcised. There is no differing requirement for the gospel based on one’s ethnicity. And to add such a thing is to warp and destroy the gospel. Look why Paul says that he would not submit to those who pushed the addition of law requirements for gentiles.

Galatians 2:5 – to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.

Paul did not allow the addition of ethnic laws to the gospel because he wanted to preserve the gospel. Get this. Paul would not allow an addition of something beyond the gospel to the gospel because to do so would lose the gospel. That is why not adding to the gospel preserves the gospel.

Do we face anything like this today? Are there any who would threaten the gospel? Yes, there surely are. Any person who adds to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ any element that is more than salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone is warping and destroying the gospel—they are preaching a non-gospel. We should beware, then, of who might be willing to add to the gospel. Religious cults add to the gospel. Legalistic moralists can come dangerously close to adding to the gospel. But what is most striking in our culture for today is the fact that, in some corners of evangelicalism in the United States, believers are bringing back into their discussion of the gospel divisions, and even at times new requirements for penance or shaming, based solely on ethnicity.

But the word of God is abundantly clear that, once we are in Christ, we take on brand new identities. No, we do not lose our ethnicity or culture. But we find who we are as defined by Christ and not by the past animosities that used to define us. Jews and gentiles hated one another. The supposed upper class looked down and mistreated the lower class. The rich often ignored the poor. But once we are in Christ, we take on the identity of Christian, and that identity is more important than all that went before.

Galatians 3:26-29- 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

The danger that we must avoid in today’s culture is to add to the gospel rules, laws, or penances that would elevate any group based on their ethnicity or past or denigrate any group based on their ethnicity or past. In Christ, we see that we are one family of God. The blood of Jesus Christ helps us to do away with all that socially divides us.

In Galatians, inspired by God, Paul particularly removes from the table any notion of making gentiles jump through extra hoops to be saved simply because of their gentile past. Paul also particularly removes any notion that Jews in the church were to be elevated to a higher position because of the oppression they faced at the hands of the gentiles. Instead, Paul was clear that, in Christ, we are now one family. And this principle must define the church of the Lord Jesus today. If we are going to keep the gospel, if we are going to preserve the genuine promise of God as Paul did in this book, we must not allow secular thought to bring additions to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ that divide us based on our pasts, good or bad. Because the gospel is so plain and so transformative, we must identify as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ first and foremost, and we must avoid anything else that we could welcome into our identities that would then splinter us based on social status, former religion, skin tone, native language, or anything else like these.

May God protect his church from any temptation to add anything to the only saving gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Rejecting a Warning from Heaven

One problem that some express with biblical Christianity is the concept of judgment. Those who oppose the faith have a strong dislike of the idea that God would cast into hell those who do not come to him for salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. They feel that this is unfair, unkind, or simply not open-minded enough.

But a look at the word of God, in just about any place in the word of God, will show that this has indeed always been the way of God. The Lord has had a particular way that he is to be approached. The Lord has defined a particular way that his favor is granted. And those who refuse him by refusing to come to him in the way he defines are subject to his judgment.

In the Old Testament, this was true of the sacrificial system. Individuals were told by God exactly what offerings to offer in order to be forgiven. God told them also what animals could be offered that would have been unacceptable. What do you suppose would have been the right response of God to one who would slaughter a pig on the altar instead of a lamb? That person would not have found the forgiveness of god, no matter how much that person wanted the pig to be the right offering. It simply was not acceptable to the Lord.

Or how about this warning I came across in my daily reading from Hebrews 12?

Hebrews 12:25- See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven.

In the Old Testament, people did not escape the judgment of God when they heard his warnings given from men on earth. Nobody called this unfair. If a prophet of God gave you a warning, it was your responsibility to follow the direction of that prophet to be in the favor of God. Well, take the argument from the lesser to the greater. If we know that ignoring a warning from earth leaves us under judgment, how much worse for us must it be if we ignore the voice of God warning us from heaven?

The Holy Scriptures are the voice of God going out over the entire world. God has made it plain in the word of God that there is one and only one way to approach him. That way is broad, meaning that it is open to all people of all nations and all backgrounds. Any person, rich or poor, young or old, free or slave, man or woman, any person anywhere who will repent of their sin and come to Jesus in faith will find forgiveness.

But that way is also narrow. How? It is the only way. God is in no way obligated to make a second path to his grace. God has provided the entrance. God has provided the Savior. God has provided the only sacrifice that can cover our sins. To reject that in favor of anything else, no matter how nice it may seem is to reject the grace of the one who speaks from heaven. And there is no life to be found in that sort of rejection.

You Need a 100% Savior

The good news of the gospel is only the good news of the gospel because we know the bad news of our situation outside of the gospel. One problem in our society today is that many people do not have a clear understanding of the depth of our sin or the state in which we stand before our Lord. Many have a mistaken understanding of what is required to make it to heaven and how far short of that standard we all fall.

So, take a peek at this text in Psalm 24. (As a side note, I find it neat that this came up in my daily reading only a day or so after I had this very conversation with a friend.)

Psalm 24:3-5

3 Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.
5 He will receive blessing from the Lord
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

The poetry here asks a simple question: Who can ascend the hill of the Lord? More simply put, who can make it into God’s presence, or who can go to heaven? That is a good question, a reasonable question, and important question.

The answer to the question is a tough one to swallow. To make it into the presence of the Lord, one must have clean hands and a pure heart. One must be free from acting out our sinful desires—clean hands. And one must be free even from those corrupting desires—a pure heart.

Stop and measure yourself. Are your hands clean? Have you always done and said all that is right? Have you always physically avoided all that God calls sin? Have you lived out an absolute outward perfection? An honest answer here is no.

What about your heart? Even if you have been a pretty nice person, has your heart been perfect? Have you not only refused to act on evil desires, but have you also never had such desires? If your heart has ever shown a sign of corruption, you lack total purity of heart. And we see ourselves as twice guilty.

If we are measured by the standards of verses 3-4, we have no hope. None of us are clean and pure enough on our own. We have all failed. We have all had evil desires. Not one of us is pure enough to walk into heaven. WE must have something outside of us to give us the righteousness, the perfection, the goodness we lack.

Then notice verse 5, “He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” Who can go to heaven? That perfect person with clean hands and a pure heart can go, but not me. But then the psalmist tells us that the one who can go to heaven receives blessing and righteousness from God. Receiving righteousness indicates to us that God gives us righteousness as a gift. So the person who can go, the one with the clean hands and the pure heart, that person has those things because he has received those things from the Lord as a gift.

So, here is the truth. We are totally incapable of making it to heaven based on our own goodness. WE have nothing to bring to the table. Our hands are not clean. Our hearts are not pure. WE must receive cleanness and purity, righteousness, as a gift from the Lord. We need a Savior. We do not need a Savior who does a little work to make us a little better so that we can pull ourselves up to the throne of God. No, we need a 100% Savior who does 100% of the work to grant us 100% of the forgiveness and 100% of the righteousness we need. If we only have a 50% savior, we are damned. If we have a 99% savior, we are lost forever. Only a 100% Savior, one who gives us full forgiveness and perfect, God-level righteousness credited to our accounts can save us.

This is, of course the beauty of biblical Christianity. Jesus lived perfect righteousness as God the Son in human flesh. And Jesus will credit us with his purity, not because we have lived it out, but because he gives it to us as a gift. This is salvation by grace through faith in Christ and his finished work. And this is our only way to heaven. Jesus is the 100% Savior we must have to enter the presence of the Lord.

Speaking the Gospel Before the Powerful

How would you speak the truth of the gospel if you knew you were in danger? What would you say if you stood before someone who could hurt you but who gave you an opportunity to share openly? Would you be careful not to offend?

The apostle Paul found himself in a very curious position in Acts 24. After being unfairly accused by the Jews, Paul stood before a Roman official, Felix, and his wife, Drusilla. Felix had the power to release Paul or to abuse him. Felix was a harsh ruler who was guilty of having a Jewish high priest put to death. And Felix was blamed by many for causing the Jewish war from AD 66-70.

Felix’s wife, Drusilla, was a woman who left her husband to marry Felix. She was ethnically Jewish, though she was now a part of the oppressive Roman community. Married to Felix, Drusilla was very dangerous.

One might think that Paul would want to be careful with such a couple. Let’s see what Paul chose to preach when they asked him to deliver a little sermon for them.

Acts 24:24-25 – 24 After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.”

Paul delivered a sermon about faith in Christ. This is no surprise. It is never a surprise to see that a Christian might call on people around him to believe. That is common, and generally acceptable. People like to believe in believing in general. And had Paul stopped there, his message would have likely done him no harm. The Romans like believing in all sorts of deities. Adding one more, Jesus, to the mix should have been no problem.

But then note the three topics in Paul’s little message: righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment. These were dangerous. Righteousness is living rightly, guiltlessly, before the Lord. Paul tells us in Romans 3:10 that there is no one righteous, not even one. Paul tells us in Romans 3:23 that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. Did he look these two in the eye and tell them that they too needed a righteousness they personally lacked? That is a dangerous message.

Paul next talked about self-control. And Paul was standing before a murderous official with his adulteress wife. Righteousness would not have been a comfortable topic. Self-control would have been even worse. These two were guilty of great sin because they both lacked self-control.

Then Paul preached on the coming judgment. We know that Paul had a well-developed eschatology, even by this time in his ministry. In 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Paul writes clearly about Christ’s return, the blessing of God’s children, and the wrath of God on the wicked. Paul had to talk about the fact that Jesus would come back and judge. He had to talk about the fact that only those who are covered by Christ’s grace and righteousness will go to heaven. He must have talked about the fact that those who refuse Christ will stand before God and be found wanting for their lack of righteousness and self-control. This would lead back to the preaching of faith in Christ as the only way that any person can be forgiven for their wrong and granted by God the righteousness they need to enter his eternal kingdom.

So, when Paul stood before a dangerous ruler, what did he do? He preached the gospel. He held nothing back. He told an unrighteous man that he needed righteousness that he could never personally achieve. He told a woman without self-control that she was guilty before God. Paul told both that they faced a judgment to come that they could not survive without personal saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

May we be people who are bold enough to tell this kind of truth, in love, to all. May we never hold back just because we want to impress a government official. May we never hold back just because the person we preach to could do us harm. May we honor the Lord Jesus and let his gospel message do its work.

God Shows no Partiality

At the present moment in American Christianity, much is being said about ethnic differences and backgrounds. And, for certain, there are many people who have personally been the victims of ill-treatment from others based solely on their nationality, skin color, or accent.

How should the church deal with people who come to Christ from differing backgrounds? How does the church deal with people who come from groups who are at odds, groups who have oppressed one another or who are still oppressing one another? What extra requirements does the Lord have for those who come to faith from a privileged group?

In Acts 10, we have a situation that could certainly speak to our modern moment. Peter is a Jew, an oppressed people under the government of Rome. Peter is a Christian, following a risen Savior who was executed by a corrupt Roman official. Peter had lived his entire life knowing that his people were hated or at least looked down upon by the Romans. And Peter knew that the Romans who had some knowledge of Christianity were certainly not apt to treat him with kindness.

But then God sent a message to Peter. It came in the form of an initial vision involving unclean animals. The Lord told Peter, “What God has made clean, do not call common” (Acts 10:15). Though Peter did not know how to handle that vision at first, it became plain that this was going to be the Lord moving Peter to take the gospel to gentiles.

Later, as you probably know, the Lord brought Peter to the home of Cornelius, a Roman. But Cornelius was not just any Roman, he was a centurion, a Roman military leader. This man was one of the men living under Roman privilege, empowered to have success and unfair advantages over people like Peter.

What then would Peter conclude about the Lord sending him to Cornelius’ home? What would be the outcome of the meeting?

Acts 10:34-35 — 34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”

Peter is amazed by the working of God in this situation. He realizes that, as it comes to the gospel and the church, there is no such thing as allowable partiality. Neither the Romans nor the Jews have the right to treat the other group as somehow second-class. Peter speaks nothing of the Romans needing to take extra steps to make up to the Jewish Christians for their oppressive treatment. Instead, Peter simply points out that God shows no partiality.

Then, when Peter finishes talking about the gospel of the Lord Jesus, God does something glorious.

Acts 10:44-48 – 44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.

Peter sees that God saved the Romans. And Peter immediately commands that the new believers in Christ be treated, not as Romans who have to make up for their Roman-ness, but as brothers and sisters in Christ who are saved by the grace of God and sealed by the Spirit of God.

Later, in Acts 15, at the Jerusalem counsel, the early church had to deal with the gentile problem. The determination among the leaders of the church was that no special obligation was to be placed upon the gentiles. They were simply to be treated as Christians. They were merely to act like all believers were to act. As James said, “Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God.”

Dear Christians, may we be a people who acknowledge that God shows no partiality regarding ethnicity. May we stand strongly opposed to all forms of racism. But that stand must include a stand against favoring oppressor or oppressed, strong or weak, formerly guilty or formerly innocent. In Christ, we are one body, one people, one holy race. God did not favor the Jew or the Roman in this story. God did not favor the put-upon or the one in power. God simply saved people and then showed that they are all one family. Let’s work hard to be that family.

Noah, Anthropology, and a Bigger View of Grace

What do you do when your view of humanity and the world around you is actually different than that of the Bible? Are you willing to let God, with his holiness and perfect knowledge, define humanity instead of you? You and I look at the world from our limited and corrupted perspective. God sees all of the world and all of humanity from the vantage point of absolute, perfect, and complete wisdom and knowledge.

Start with these questions. Is humanity basically good? Are people basically good? How does the human race deserve to be treated by our Creator?

Look at the writings and proclamations of all sorts of people, In them you will find a common praise of the human spirit and the general, innate goodness of mankind. We lock arms after tragedies and call ourselves strong. We put together t-shirts and hash tags that pronounce our hope in the good hearts of people all over the globe. And in doing so, we demonstrate that we have no clue of a biblical anthropology.

Reading through the Bible in a new year will most often start us in Genesis. As we read, we want to be careful not to let ourselves miss the important things that are said by God about us. A look at some of the verses around the account of the flood and Noah help us to see some true things about God’s view of humanity that are not popular preaching points.

Why did God flood the earth?

Genesis 6:5-7 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.

How does that match your understanding of humanity? How does it match your understanding of yourself? God said that every intention and thought of the hearts of mankind is only wicked all the time.

But wait, maybe that is just humanity before the flood. Here is what God says immediately after the flood.

Genesis 8:21 – And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.

After the flood, when Noah and his family were rescued, God evaluated the world. No, God would never again flood the world like he did with Noah. But how does God still evaluate mankind? The Lord said, “for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”

You might argue at this point that such an evaluation does not match your view. You might say that this does not fit your experience. You might say that you have run into good people in the world, that you like people, that you have seen the kindness of man to man. And I would agree. There have been countless expressions of kindness, graciousness, helpfulness, and general goodness of human being to human being all over the world all through history.

Does this then make the biblical assessment of humanity wrong? No. Why? First and foremost, the evaluation of the goodness or evil of the hearts of mankind is being evaluated by the holy God and not by other people. Second, though we do not see it here, part of what brings about the decency of one man or one woman toward another in our world is the common grace of God and the restraining power of the Holy Spirit. God acts to prevent us from acting out the natural evil in our hearts. And so, when any of us, before being transformed by God, does any good thing, we must understand that our behavior is not matching the true heart of humanity. Thus, any good behavior must be credited first and foremost, not to the person, but to the acting grace and presence of God.

What must this do to our worldview? If we are willing to let the word of God lay for us the framework of how we view the world around us including all of humanity, we will find that God’s grace is all over the place. Every good is from God. Every decency in humanity is the restraining power of God. And God has a better perspective to see this truth than we do. We cannot see into our own hearts. WE are corrupted by the fall. WE do not understand how desperate is our condition.

It also changes our understanding of the gospel. The good news of Jesus Christ is not that God sent Jesus to offer heaven to people who are naturally pretty good, but who do need a little help to make it the rest of the way to heaven. No, the gospel is that God sent his Son to pluck from a wicked and rebellious people a bride, a church, a temple of God. Jesus came to plunge himself into the mess that is humanity and to bring out of the world people who, if left to themselves, would do nothing but hate God and hate good forever.

Yes, this is a dark anthropology. But it shines the truest and brightest light on the glory of God. God is holy. God, even today, is restraining humanity from being all we could be if we were left to our wickedness. God shows us that we have only evil intentions in our hearts. But God sent Jesus and rescues out of that mass of rebels a people for himself. Jesus transforms wicked hearts into hearts that find their greatest joy in the glory of God. And this is grace, absolute grace, perfect grace. This is the grace of a God who saves God-haters, not basically good folks. This is a grace that gives all the credit, 100% of the glory, to the Lord and none to the rescued sinner. This is the grace that we magnify when we have a truly biblical grasp of who we are when left to ourselves.