A close friend of mine was explaining the importance of not adding anything to the Gospel. It is common practice for us –when we’re sharing that good news– to also let the hearers know that changes in lifestyle are expected. Here’s Nghi’s parable …
Read in Vietnamese.
One day a King sent forth an ambassador to a faraway country to extend a hand of peace to a lower kingdom that was ready to make peace with Him. But this kingdom had fallen so far, and had committed so many evil acts, that they felt that making peace with this King would eventually mean severe punishments for which they sorely deserved. They wanted to make peace, but they dreaded the punishments; because they remembered at least one law that said: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” ().
The King knew this fear that had been torturing their hearts for generations, so He sent His ambassador commanding him to send them this treaty (also known as the New Covenant):
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him would not perish but has everlasting life.” (John 3:16), and “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)”
The ambassador on his way to the foreign country did a lot of thinking; he remembered these were very sinful and wicked people, became tormented between the thoughts of simply delivering the message of reconciliation the way his King ordered him to do, or to embellish it a little to make sure that once they come back, they will be more fit for the Kingdom from which he came. So he began to add more clauses to the treaty. Such clauses as: “Once you sign this treaty, you should begin to act and behave in the way expected of the accepting Kingdom, you must determine to forsake all of your old ways, you must … This is so that the King will be pleased with you.”
Upon receiving the ambassador, the people of this condemned kingdom asked him for some time to study the treaty and will respond in a timely manner. After they read the entire document, the first clauses of the treaty sounded wonderful and brought them much hope, but they soon receded into the background to yield to subsequent clauses that greatly alarmed them. They talked among themselves: These are great demands of us who have had this sinful condition since the beginning of time. The King knew we wouldn’t be able to do these things … why did he set such conditions if He wanted us to return to Him? Could this be a trap? He asked us to come back so He could kill us?
After some deliberation, they decided this was not the treaty they wanted; not that they didn’t want to come back, but because they thought this Kingdom was now out of their reach because they had fallen so far. So they sent the ambassador home empty handed.
Upon returning to his home country, the ambassador reported the sad news to the King, who was also greatly saddened due to the rejection of His treaty which He was so proud of because of the great sacrifice of His Son, and He was hoping to see tears streaming down the eyes of the returning wretched people filled with thanks for His great kindness.
After some period of poring over his treaty, He couldn’t believe that they wouldn’t accept such a generous offer; He asked the ambassador to enter His chamber and asked him to report in detail what had transpired.
To His great dismay … He found out the ambassador had altered his treaty …
The ambassador attempted to achieve a transformation of these wretched sinners by himself … and at the wrong time. He should have let the Special Counselor, the Third Person in the Trinity –The Super Shrink– who alone can transform them; because flesh will give birth to flesh, only the Spirit will give life. The people of the condemned kingdom seemed to understand their wretched condition better than even the ambassador; thinking that the added clauses came from the King, they were honest enough to reject the treaty citing their inability to comply. The ambassador should have known this already, that asking them to do the things set forth in the added clauses is the same thing as asking them to be born again by going back into their mothers’ wombs ().
In counseling principle, the counselor must earn the trust of the one being counseled before the treatment can be effective. God may have sent forth a wonderful treaty to Man, but in so many Scriptures, He keeps working in their hearts to show the height, depth, and breadth of His love, which will make fertile the ground of the hearts of believers so the Counselor can do His mighty work.
Many of us commit this terrible sin, like the ambassador, to try to take over the Counselor’s work without preparing the soil with God’s grace and mercy. So many people signed the treaty without a full understanding of it’s liberating power, especially when it’s tainted with “disclaiming clauses” as the ambassador did. These clauses nullified the full effect of the treaty.
The only thing this ambassador should have done was to convince them of the trustworthiness of the One who sent forth the treaty, and the full pardoning power of the treaty without adding to it or taking anything away from it. If he had done it, he’d have done right as a teacher of the Word to lead people in the right path.
“For Christ’s love compels us” ()
“For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. ()
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” ( )
“But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.” ()
“No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (; ))
“It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.” ()
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” ()
“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” ()
“We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.” ()
“Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other.” ()
“But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.” ()