How Do We Live at Peace in a Hostile World?

Spock_peace

Our world is marred by violence, greed, and all the fruits of sin. What this world desperately needs is a revelation of Jesus and his peaceable kingdom. But how do we live at peace in a world of hostile Herods and Pharisees? Jesus said, “When you go someplace to reveal the good news of heaven, let your peace rest on that place” (Matt. 10:12). This seems an odd thing to say, but it makes perfect sense if you grew up watching Star Trek. In the Star Trek universe, visitors from faraway places would arrive with unknown intentions. If they said, “We come in peace,” you knew all would be well. … [Read more...]

If We’re Holy, Why Does God Call Us to Be Holy?

be holy

Here's a question grace preachers hear a lot: “If we are already holy, then why does God call us to be holy?” Answer: He’s calling us to be who we truly are. He is saying, “You are my sanctified children. Act like it. Be who I made you to be.” As D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones once said: Holiness is not something we are called upon to do in order that we may become something; it is something we are to do because of what we already are… “Paul, I’m still confused. It seems there are a lot of scriptures exhorting us to become holy. How do we reconcile those with other scriptures that say that we are … [Read more...]

Myth 1: Hyper-Grace Preachers are Against Repentance

repentance bear

“Hyper-grace preachers say there’s no need for repentance. They dismiss repentance as unbelief.” Actually, hyper-grace preachers are for repentance, not against it. We say things like “repentance is essential” and “repentance is to be our lifestyle.” We are for repentance, for without it no one can receive the grace of God. But what is repentance? Repentance is one of those words that means different things to different people. Those with a performance-oriented mindset typically interpret repentance as turning from sin. It’s something you do (turn) as a result of something you’ve done … [Read more...]

The Hyper-Grace Quiz

THG_Nehorai

In the past few months, there has been an aggressive backlash against the gospel of grace. This backlash has been seen in the Christian media, the blogosphere, and in the publication of books by respected Bible teachers. I have come across articles with titles like “Confronting the error of hyper-grace,” “The deception of hyper-grace,” and the oddly-titled, “What’s wrong with grace?”The authors of these articles typically describe the gospel of grace as a “dangerous teaching,” a “false message,” and “a hyped-up, watered-down, seeker-friendly gospel.” Those who preach it are branded “false … [Read more...]

Grace Bumper Stickers

grace stickers_sq

Recently someone wrote to ask me if they could put EscapeToReality.org on the back of their truck along with a short grace slogan. I was honored to be asked. But their request got me thinking about grace slogans. In short, can the message of grace be reduced to a bumper sticker? The gospel is simple. You don’t need a degree to get it. Nor do you need to read Hebrew or Greek to understand it. So theoretically, there should be no reason why the message of grace can’t be reduced to a sound-bite. But grace itself is HUGE. Paul wrote of God’s hyper-grace (Rom 5:20) and Peter wrote of God’s … [Read more...]

Three Books on Parenting

Grace-Based Parenting Tim Kimmel

Recently, I have read three books on parenting. One of them was good, one was not so good, and the third was a surprise. Let’s start with the good one. Grace-Based Parenting, by Tim Kimmel Dr. Kimmel observes that many parents are motivated by fear rather than faith when it comes to raising their children. This fear manifests in both legalistic and permissive parenting styles that stifle potential and discourage healthy development. A better approach is to treat our kids the same way God treats us; with unconditional love, bucket loads of forgiveness, and steadfast … [Read more...]

Conversations about Hell

hell_harp_n_accordion

[The following are extracts from conversations I’ve had in the past month.] Paul, you’re opposed to inclusionism and you're skeptical about universalism. Why do you want to condemn people to hell? Me: Huh? I’ve come to embrace inclusionism (or universalism) because I cannot conceive of a good God torturing people for eternity. Neither can I, but what has that to do with inclusionism, universalism, or any -ism? Uni/inclusionism says God loves his enemies… Actually, the Bible says that – it’s Romans 5:10. It’s the gospel of grace. But the traditional church view is that God … [Read more...]

What about Those Who Never Hear the Gospel?

Palestinian kids

Everybody responds to God’s love and grace, one way or another. But what about those who die before they get a chance to respond? To pick an extreme example, what about those Palestinian children who perished last week and who presumably never heard the gospel, never heard that God loves them, and never heard about Jesus? What about Israeli children who have been killed by suicide bombers? And what about the children caught up in the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan? What happens to them? In my last post I asked the question, “What happens to babies who die?” It should be a … [Read more...]

What Happens to Babies Who Die?

Baby_thinking

What do you say to the parents of a deceased baby? What would you say to the families of the 80 children who died on flight MH17 last week? I’m not sure what you should say but I know what you shouldn’t say. Don’t ever tell them their children are in hell. “Paul, I would never say such an awful thing.” But you might if you have been taught that the kingdom of heaven belongs only to those who confess Jesus as Lord. So what about babies, young children, the mentally handicapped, and the mute who confess nothing? Are they hell bound? According to some theologians, they are. Apparently … [Read more...]

What If I Deny Jesus? (2 Timothy 2:11–13)

peters-denial_2

“Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” (2 Tim. 2:11–13) This is a trustworthy saying that comes in two parts and both parts are trustworthy for the simple reason that Jesus is trustworthy, even when you’re not. Destined to reign in life The first part of the trustworthy saying begins like this: “If we died with him.” The Christian life begins at death. This is what makes the gospel unique. … [Read more...]

Inclusionism – What Harm Is It?

danger_inclusionism

When I wrote about the dangers of inclusionism two years ago, few people cared. When I wrote again last year, everybody did. In this high-speed world, much can change in a short time. You probably know by now that inclusionism teaches that everyone – whether they believe it or not – was included in Christ’s resurrection and ascension and is now saved and seated at the right hand of God. In union with Christ, humanity is as righteous and holy as he is. As I have explained elsewhere, inclusionism complicates the gospel and draws on early church teachings you may not have heard of. It … [Read more...]

“Grace: The Power to Change” by Jim Richards

Grace_Richards

One of the misperceptions about the “modern” grace message, is that it makes people lazy. As I explain elsewhere, nothing could be further from the truth. But the misperception is understandable, since grace teaches us to rest from our works and trust in Christ’s finished work. “Is that it?” says the critic? “We’re just supposed to do nothing?” When it comes to saving you and sanctifying you, the answer is an emphatic Yes! Jesus has done it all. That said, there is an aspect to grace which is not well understood, and that is the responsibility we have to ourselves to work out the good … [Read more...]