To Lose a Sense of Sin Is To Lose the Gospel

Written by Mark Farnham

On December 15, 2010

To speak of sin by itself, to speak of it apart from the realities of creation and grace, is to forget the resolve of God. God wants shalom and will pay any price to get it back. Human sin is stubborn, but not as stubborn as the grace of God and not half so persistent, not half so ready to suffer to win its way. Moreover, to speak of sin by itself is to mischaracterize its nature: sin is only a parasite, a vandal, a spoiler. Sinful life is a partly depressing, partly ludicrous caricature of genuine human life. To concentrate on our rebellion, defection and folly–to say to the world “I have some bad news and I have some good news”–is to forget that the center of the Christian religion is not our sin but our Savior. To speak of sin without grace is to minimize the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the fruit of the Spirit, and the hope of shalom.

But to speak of grace without sin is no better. To do this is to trivialize the cross of Jesus Christ, to skate past all the struggling by good people down the ages to forgive, accept, and rehabilitate sinners, including themselves, and therefore to cheapen the grace of God that always comes to us with blood on it. What had we thought the ripping and writhing on Golgotha were all about? To speak of grace without looking squarely at these realities, without painfully honest acknowledgement of our own sin and its effects, is to shrink grace to a mere embellishment of the music of creation, to shrink it down to a mere grace note. In short, for the Christian church (even in its recently popular seeker services) to ignore, euphemize, or otherwise mute the lethal reality of sin is to cut the nerve of the gospel. For the sober truth is that without full disclosure of sin, the gospel of grace becomes impertinent, unnecessary, and finally, uninteresting.

Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin (Eerdmans, 1995), 199.

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3 Comments

  1. craighurst

    This is a book I have wanted to read and now I want to read it even more!

    Reply
  2. Jose Sisco

    Just looked you up brother. I’m an old friend of the family and worked for your dad when I was 17 (Now I’m nearly 50). I was a member of Farmington Ave Baptist with your family in the 80s then Emmanuel in the 90s. I’m so blessed to see your maturity and happy to see you in the Reformed faith. While a fundamental Baptists I read and found the truth in reformed theology. When it clicked I felt born again all over again. Well I’m glad you are doing great. By the way Mike Healan (FABC) has also become a Calvinist and is the Assoc Pastor at Calvary Baptist in Windsor Locks (Calvinistic). I hope your sisters are doing good. I hope to contact your dad and maybe see him soon. I haven’t contacted or seen him in years but always loved him like a father and think of him all the time..

    Reply
  3. Jose Sisco

    Great comments by the way God Bless!

    Reply

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