I saw a head shaking headline about NBC adding a financial guru to give viewers advice. The headline was obviously not from NBC as they would never have advertised it this way: “NBC brings on Robert Smith to offer financial tips, fails to mention he paid $139 million to settle tax probe”. On the one hand, I give the guy props that he apparently had $139,000,000. On the other hand, that’s a hefty settlement for a tax debt. Then I got to thinking he really is an expert because one usually learns more through failures than success. He can probably proclaim the pitfalls people should avoid!
It occurs to me that God often has the same “hiring” mentality. He hires people who have faced their failures. When the Apostle Paul called people to turn from their sin and be forgiven, he knew exactly what he was talking about. Paul said he was the least of the apostles (1 Cor 15) and the greatest of sinners (1 Tim 1). So when Paul called people sinners and gave people advice about turning from their sin, he was an authority on the matter. Every sinner saved by God’s grace who calls others to repentance is an expert on the matter. On the other hand, one has to wonder about people who proclaim that God loves them just the way they are and does not desire them to change. Do they really know what they are talking about? Have they experienced the forgiveness found only through repentance? Or have they bestowed upon themselves the cheap grace that Deitrich Bonhoeffer warns about:
“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance… Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
Only forgiven people know the meaning of the Good News. So when you hear me or any other preacher preaching and sin, repentance, and forgiveness, you can rest assured that we know what we are talking about.