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Why It Is Untrue that God Accepts Sinners

April 22, 2013

Salvation is not God’s acceptance of sinners.

Salvation is God’s loving and gracious provision of Jesus who makes sinners innocent and therefore acceptable.

We come to Jesus just as we are.  God loves us just as we are.  But, a transaction occurs.  Our sins are removed and placed upon Jesus.  We are made acceptable.  Our current Christian climate is in danger of losing the need for this transaction and just concluding that God accepts sinners without it.

I once heard a self-proclaimed atheist rail against Christianity as a divisive and judgmental ideology.  His words were scathing and hateful.  His alternative was universal acceptance for everyone.  I must admit, it sounded good to me.  No judgment.  No values.  I’m OK, and you’re OK.

However, there are problems with his take.  First, he broke his own rule.  He didn’t accept Christianity as valid.  If acceptance is universal it would have to be extended to Christianity.  Second, everyone has limits to what they will accept.  Would this man accept genocide,  molestation, slavery, and murder?  Justice eventually calls.  We might have different places where we draw the line, but everyone draws the line somewhere.

The greater problem is the influence this cultural ethic of acceptance has on the church.  I’m afraid for many, God’s grace is defined as acceptance.  This is unfortunate.  It has led to the idea that God accepts sinners.  This idea is not biblical, and it undermines the power of the Gospel and true salvation.  If God accepts sinners, then there is no need for salvation.  I understand those espousing universalism holding to this belief, but it has crept into the mindset of those who seek to live an expression of biblical Christianity.

Isn’t it harsh and unloving to say that God doesn’t accept sinners?  Not at all.  God loves sinners (Rom. 5:8) and has provided Jesus to make us righteous before His eyes (2 Cor. 5:21) so that we can be accepted by God.  If we believe that God accepts sinners, then we must conclude there is no reason for the cross, faith, atonement, and salvation.  We are then guilty of skipping a vital step that leads to an insipid form of faith.  God does not accept you as a sinner, BUT He makes you acceptable through Jesus!  He makes you righteous, clean, forgiven, redeemed, innocent, and whole so that you could be in a right and acceptable relationship with Him.  A price was paid for this accomplishment.

If we believe that God accepts sinners without first declaring them innocent through the accomplishments of the cross, then we essentially remove the need for Jesus.  Our Christianity will be Christ-less and will resemble more of the cultural ethos than Jesus.  Grace isn’t acceptance.  Grace is God’s love that gives us the gift of Jesus so that we can be acceptable.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Cathytravis permalink
    April 22, 2013 10:51 am

    Excellent concept, Nathan! Excellent!!

  2. Rusty permalink
    April 22, 2013 9:41 pm

    Well said. Thanks Nathan.

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