I have been struggling with the fact that in preaching the gospel, I find myself compelled to tell People that they don't need to do anything except receive. Well, repent and receive. This is a difficult thing to navigate for one who has always been critical of portions of Reformed Theology and eager to assure people that there is a very real and distinct difference between those who work hard at pursuing Christ and those who are passive about their walk with Christ. I don't want to believe that if I sacrifice and suffer for Christ, that I will be in the same position as the man who wastes his life away drinking, chasing women, chasing wealth or playing video games. What is to motivate me to holiness and obedience and to taking the road less travelled if all are treated alike? But the fact is, the gospel is an announcement not a commandment. Jesus said that God "has sent me to announce release to the prisoners..." Nevertheless, it is an announcement that demands a response. What will you do with the announcement? Will you celebrate or will you turn away? When Jesus stood up in the Temple to read the prophet Isaiah at the beginning of His ministry, He announces that Isaiah's prophetic words were coming true in Him. This was the year of freedom for prisoners, sight for blind eyes, good news for the poor, the binding up of wounds and the favorable year of the Lord. As the people hear this message, Luke the evangelist tells us that the people "were astonished at the words coming out of his mouth--words of sheer grace." Luke 4:22. But by the end of the same chapter, the people were ready to throw Jesus off a cliff. I think that we must conclude that the Gospel is simply good news which one receives by a free gift of grace with joy and gratitude, and yet it is also challenging enough to stir our passions to the point of murder. To me it seems obvious that there is a work which we must do, that doesn't earn us anything but is nevertheless necessary to receiving the gift. Much like the gift of a new vehicle is useless unless one actually puts the key in the ignition and begins to learn how to use the car. Nothing that you could ever do would make you be able to say that the car was owed to you because you drive so well or you are a nice person, but neither could you take much delight in a vehicle that you do not use, nor could it get you were you needed to go if it never left the driveway. In conclusion to this somewhat rambling blog, I think what I am trying to say is that semantics will only get us so far. The Gospel is a free gift, but it will demand your life. Both of those truths are indispensable.