I was reading a book that had aspects of the gospel in it. The author is a well respected Christian minister, a reformed Calvinist in his theological position, and he unpacked the story about The Prodigal Son in a way that I've never heard it before. It was so glorious that at times I re-read sentences just to make sure that I was grasping the full extent of the love, compassion and mercy that he was expounding out of the story. He captured the grace of God in ways that would make Hyper Grace preachers nervous. I cannot explain how he unbundled the truth of the magnificence of our Father's grace, love, mercy, kindness and patience. It was marvelous. Truly marvelous. He cracked open truths about how the God of Heaven has such mercy on sinners, welcomes the degenerate, cleanses the most evil of us and accepts the worst of the worst into His loving arms. I'd never heard The Prodigal Son story like this before. It's the sort of painting an evangelist would paint of God when sharing the good news with a sinner; on how he can lay himself bare before the God of Heaven and receive forgives and cleansing. It would have made the most hardened heart soften as the character of Jesus was shared. I will most certainly "steal" some of his truths when I share the Gospel in future. How could I not share such good news?!
But then I got to the next chapter. And it went down a corridor that I'd encountered years before and then I hit a few sentences that made my inner alarm bells ring "WARNING! WARNING!". I encountered the mixture. I encountered the rules. He went about describing, and let me paraphrase but still with words he used..."Now that you're a Christian, you are hemmed in on the straight and narrow, and you better watch how you live. If you wander off to the left - WHACK! - God will smack your spiritual knuckles. And the same if you wander to the right. This road is stern, strict and precise and if you wander off, the chastisement of God will bring you back in line." My jar dropped. My heart sank. How could you have seen the Father of love in such an amazing way in one story and then conclude that He would treat his sons this way once they came home?
It reminded me of a story I heard that so summed up this subject of mixture. There was once a man walking through the amazon jungle shouting "Free bananas! Free bananas! Free bananas!" Monkeys came from everywhere to see these free bananas. The guy tossed them bananas, left and right, behind him and in front of him, and he carried on walking. The monkeys came from everywhere and grabbed the bananas and followed him as he carried on calling out "Free bananas! Free bananas! Free bananas!" He walked into a huge metal structure and tossed the whole bag of bananas down. The monkeys followed inside and went for the bag of bananas only to hear "SLAM!" The guy had shut the gate to a giant cage. From then on the monkeys had to now pay for the bananas.
The message of salvation has been clear - "Come to Jesus! Believe in Jesus only and have your sins forgiven. Salvation is free. Jesus already paid the price. He has made the payment for your sins, nothing you can do will earn forgiveness. Jesus paid the price. Come and receive your salvation." However, after they accept Christ and receive their "free bananas", there is an invisible SLAM behind them as now they are 'taught' how to pay for their bananas from now on. Locked into a cage of bondage for the rest of their Christian life...unless revelation comes that infact, there was never meant to be a cage. It IS free. Jesus DID pay the price. It IS for freedom that Christ has set them free. No need to pay God back for anything He has done for them. Salvation IS actually what the Bible says it is: A GIFT. Have you ever had to work for a gift? Pay someone back for a gift? Made to feel guilty for a gift?
People who are locked into the mixture of law and grace have missed a biblical truth: HOW MUCH MORE. If while we were sinners (hated God, evil to the core, didn't desire Christ, lost in sin and loved sin) God died for us - he reached out to us and loved us SO much; HOW MUCH MORE does he actually love and extend even MORE mercy and grace to those who are now actually His children. Think about that!? Paul described this in detail in Romans 5. But people caught in the bondage of mixture think that God extends more mercy to the sinner than He does the saint. They expound marvelous truths about the grace of God to the LOST PERSON and then distort the "truth" of God's ridgidness, harshness, severity and anger towards the SAVED PERSON. (And for those who think I'm speaking against discipline as Paul describes in Hebrews; please don't assume I'm saying something that I'm actually not saying.)
Christian, please ask the Holy Spirit for discernment. Ask Him for revelation like never before. I was once a Christian who was swimming in the mixture of law and grace. And I didn't even know it. I was zealous. I was "on fire"! But I wasn't free. I was in fact still paying for my free bananas.