A law-based Gospel annuls the cross and re-establishes what Jesus delivered from – the law of sin and death. The truth is Christ our life.
Our topic here is life in Christ versus the contract as a form of self-salvation. Legalism reduces our wholeness to skeletal proportion, sours our relationship to self and permeates the self with a smugness born of entitlement and ignorance. As nice Christians we can live smug in our little formulae of distinctives and icons.
We can live rich, simply by living Christ our life – which is our living incarnated with God. Or we can live in the frustrations of the law and call it our perspective.
The common reductionist view of self-validation as a contract stifles real holiness and denies the development of the whole person. It promotes temple money-changing on a personal and community level.
Douglas Campbell observes that, “
The result of inserting this legal/contractual arrangement of complex human society into the relationship between God [and the self] .. restricts God's love to the inside of a contractual arrangement.
[We think]
God will love us only if we fulfill the conditions that he stipulates for us to enter into a relationship of this nature with him, and outside of this relationship, his love does not apply! Many Protestants who think in this way claim that we can activate this contract by believing - which is rather harder than they realize,
But assuming for the sake of argument that this is how
we get into a proper relationship with God, then and only then will God love
us. God loves only believers. Everyone else relates to God in terms of justice,
and things are probably not going to work out well for them, even in terms
of justice, because everyone is supposed to embrace the gospel contract. So
nonbelievers are almost certainly going to fall under the harsh side of God's
justice, and retribution and punishment await.” (1)
This explains why experiences of Christianity are so superficial in some quarters and why there can be such a disconnect between what politician’s tout as their Christianity and their public policies. Not to mention the addiction of many evangelicals to blind guides as their political messiahs.
The worst aspect of contractual Christianity is the effect on the self. What could have been the joy of participating in God in the adventure of daily life becomes a regime of works and sometimes triviality. You are included in God as a fact. To live in this inclusion is to be a son rather than a slave and an agent of the Kingdom instead of a thief of Christ’s life from those who need Him.