It is an interesting expression—to die the death of a thousand qualifications. The idea comes to us from the Parable of the Invisible Gardener, an attempt to discredit claims of belief in the invisible God. While Christians have done well to expose the falsehood of the argument, I think the bad reasoning has infected us in other, deeper ways. The Lord may own the cattle on a thousand hills, but we have made the gospel to die on a thousand hills of our own making. Let us consider how the free grace of God dies the death of a thousand qualifications every day in our hearts.
Just as the man in the parable is dead-set on believing in the existence of an invisible gardener in the face of all contrary evidence, are we not dead-set on the existence of our own special case that somehow disqualifies us from the gospel? Do we not find ourselves taking the free mercy of God and marching it up these hills to die? We say:
Jesus “came not to call the righteous, but sinners” but I’m not a regular sinner. My sin is so bad that he is not calling me.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” but that’s for believers who don’t sin like I did after I was saved. My past sin as a believer disqualifies me from the gospel.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” but the sin I’m dealing with right now means I am condemned. First I need to overcome this, then there will be grace for me.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” but my feelings are too powerful for him. I change too much for the grace of God.
“Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” but my trials are unique. The way my life is going proves that I am outside the kingdom and beyond gospel hope.
What makes us so unique, that we are the exception to the gospel rule? Nothing! Who do we think we are, sticking our little buts in God’s eternal gospel and dragging it up the dunghill of our pride? For that is what these hills are, pride. Pride commands us to feel special, even if we are only special in our misery. My dear soul, leave your petty, self-important arguings with God and go to the cross. And don’t do the prideful thing with your pride when you get there. Instead, let it go in the strong currents of his mercy.