The gospel of justification by faith is such a shocker, such an explosion, because it is an absolutely unconditional promise. It is not an 'if-then' kind of statement, but a 'because-therefore' pronouncement: Because Jesus died and rose, your sins are forgiven and you are righteous in the sight of God! It bursts in upon our little world all shut up and barricaded behind our accustomed conditional thinking as some strange comet from goodness knows where, something we can't really seem to wrap our minds around, the logic of which appears closed to us. How can it be entirely unconditional? Isn't it terribly dangerous?
. . . [W]e really are sealed up in the prison of our conditional thinking. It is terribly difficult for us to get out, and even if someone batters down the door and shatters the bars, chances are we will stay in the prison anyway! We always seem to want to hold out for something somehow, that little bit of something, and we do it with a passion and anxiety that betrays its true source--the Old Adam that just does not want to lose control.
--Gerhard Forde, Justification by Faith: A Matter of Death and Life (Fortress 1982), 24; italics original