Have you ever heard the expression which suggests the fact that believers are “just a sinner saved by grace”? Well, if you have been around churchianity for any extended period of time, regardless of which brand you select, chances are you have heard it a time or two in some form or fashion.
I lived most of my life with that thought rattling around in my head and serving as the impetus for my religious performance and actions toward God. With all of the rattling going on and the constant striving to carry out and accomplish what I thought God wanted from me, I did not realize that, over time, the thought ultimately settled into my heart and became the seedbed from which my identity sprang. The roots of that “JASSBG” mentality went deep. The fruit was plentiful but proved to be temporal and never eternal. Over the years, frustration and dissatisfaction surfaced in my faith journey as I knew there had to be more.
The “JASSBG” stronghold has a nasty streak to it. It dictates that you are, and always will be, no more than “just a sinner saved by grace.” This teaching is put forward as extremely doctrinally proficient and it attempts to make a believer feel grateful for such an incredible salvation received. That is as it should be. However, (here comes the nastiness) its primary motivation is a sense of guilt that so much was given to you and there is a constant reminder that you can never offer enough, serve enough or ever do enough to answer to what is actually required of you.
Such a mentality makes a believer to always be a debtor and hinders the believer from maturing and learning to enter into the fullness of God’s Grace. Despite what the “JASSBG” philosophy propagates, God’s goodness doesn’t end at the point where a sinner was saved and, now, since hell will be missed and heaven will be gained, all that is left is for a believer to DO what is required in order to prove their love and gratitude for God. Such nonsense makes the regenerated believer a slave/orphan and distorts the true representation of God presented through the genuine Gospel message.
The “JASSBG” mentality causes you to think like a slave. Thoughts such as, “What does God want from me?” or “Am I doing what makes God happy?” produce a haze of trepidation. As orphans, those who yield to the “JASSBG” stronghold believe that God’s provision and protection are directly related to their ability to DO whatever it takes to please Him. The “JASSBG” not-so- merry-go-round is a dastardly, vicious ride. It is not the existence Father has intended for his children!
In the parable of The Misunderstood Father, (most people know it by the inaccurate title of the parable of The Prodigal Son) the father is the central figure; not the prodigal son. In Luke 15:11 it says, “There was once a man who had two sons.”
In that opening sentence of the parable, what is the dominant subject? A man.
A certain man was in possession of or had two sons. I know over the years this has been taught with emphasis on the prodigal son returning because, after all, we are self-centered orphans and we appreciate the redemptive nature of that angle. But, if you really read the parable with the father as the central figure, you will realize that neither the younger son, nor the elder son KNEW their father. That is the point of the parable! This is Eternal Life, Jesus said, to KNOW God and the Christ He has sent. (John 17:3)
So, in not knowing his father properly, the younger son takes his inheritance and squanders it. Ultimately, he comes to himself in the pig pen and decides that even his father’s servants get their needs met. Through an orphan mentality, he rationalized and came up with a strategy to get his father to take him back so that HIS NEEDS WOULD BE MET! He planned to go back to his father, confess his sin and then declare his UNWORTHINESS TO BE CALLED HIS SON!
If his father would just take him back as a slave, he would be happy. Again, what is being portrayed is the “JASSBG” mentality that is religious and originates from our fallen nature. Such an approach is light years away from Father’s intentions!
As the son returns to the father, the father sees him afar off. The father brings forward an abundance of provision and blessing prepared for the son. Here’s the account found in The Message: (emphasis added)
“When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’
“But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.
Do you see the difference in perspectives and mentalities? Even though the son was prepared and willing to submit to it, the father did not employ the “just a sinner saved by grace” philosophy and cause the son to live as a slave/orphan for the rest of his days. NO! The father willingly showered the blessings of sonship upon the prodigal based solely upon his confession of sin; not based upon the son proving his allegiance or love for the father by any action. From that day forward, the father revealed himself to the son as a loving, gracious father having annihilated the “JASSBG” stronghold.
It was a glorious day for me personally, when in the process of pulling down the “JASSBG” mentality, the following scripture was illuminated to me by the Holy Spirit. In order to smash such a warped philosophy, may I present to you these words from Peter. I think he knew a little something about always attempting to please through performance, then failing God and feeling condemned. Listen when he says:
Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. (2 Peter 1:3; The Message)
As you destroy the “JASSBG” mentality and you begin to understand the true Gospel, what was accomplished by Christ in his completed work and what God is actually looking to accomplish in your life, your identity will shift away from that of a debtor/orphan and you will begin to understand your identity as a son of God.
God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun. (Romans 8:29; The Message)
Understanding God as your Father and having your identity as his son will revolutionize your relationship with God and you will begin to experience the true purpose for your existence.
Keep your peace!