All ships that land at the shore of grace weigh anchor from the port of sin… God didn’t overlook your sins, lest he endorse them. He didn’t punish you, lest he destroy you. He instead found a way to punish the sin and preserve the sinner. Jesus took your punishment. And God gave you credit for Jesus’ perfection… As long as the cross is God’s gift to the world, it will touch you but not change you. Precious as it is to proclaim, “Christ died for the world,” even sweeter it is to whisper, “Christ died for me.”
Grace: More Than We Deserve, Better Than We Imagine, Thomas Nelson, 2012, 35-6.
The doctrine of (historical) inclusion is a deceptively appealing but unbiblical message that minimizes the lostness of the lost and, as a result, diminishes the saving work of the cross. Telling unbelievers that they are already saved, righteous, and in relationship robs the gospel of its power to save those who believe. It does this by promoting a cerebral faith that is little more than an intellectual acceptance of an insurance policy whose main benefit is a ticket to heaven. But the most damaging aspect of this doctrine is that it stymies love. Instead of being invited into union with Christ, unbelievers learn that they are the unwitting participants in an arranged marriage. Jesus is not on the outside waiting to be invited in; He has already entered against their will and married them! It’s a fait accompli that you had just better get used to. If unbelievers then exercise their freedom in the only direction left open to them – refusing to participate through unbelief – their husband might yet pursue the eternal equivalent of an honor killing.
Happily, the gospel of grace that Paul et al. preached is nothing like this! Jesus has not violated anyone’s will but stands at the door knocking and waiting to be invited in. He will dine with anyone and everyone who accepts Him. For God so loved the world that He sent His Son Jesus to save everyone. He then sent the Holy Spirit to point people to Jesus. Whoever believes in Him shall not perish but enjoy eternal life in union with the Triune God. The life He offers is nothing like the one you were born with for it is His life. Jesus wants to live His life of unconditional love, divine favor, and supernatural power through you. To live like this is to experience heaven on earth here and now. It is knowing God – His love, His will, His joy and pleasure – today. And this life is available to all who would say, “Yes, Jesus!” Salvation is not an historical event. It is the present reality of Christ living in me. Now is the time of God’s favor. Today is the day of salvation.
There are a few things quite so boring as being religious, but there is nothing quite so exciting as being a Christian! Most folks have never discovered the difference between the one and the other, so that there are those who sincerely try to live a life they do not have, substituting religion for God, Christianity for Christ, and their own noble endeavors for the energy, joy, and power of the Holy Spirit. In the absence of reality, they can only grasp at ritual, stubbornly defending the latter in the absence of the former, lest they be found with neither! They are lamps without oil, cars without gas, and pens without ink, baffled at their own impotence in the absence of all that alone can make man functional; for man was so engineered by God that the presence of the Creator within the creature is indispensable to his humanity. Christ gave Himself for us to give Himself to us! His presence puts God back into the man! He came that we might have life – God’s life!”
Foreword, Classic Christianity, Harvest House, 1989, 7.