No Liars in Heaven

Butterfly

With our new identity securely grounded in our union with Christ, we can begin to understand why the Bible draws big fat lines between who we are and who we used to be: Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor 6:9–10) This sounds like God hates slanderers and swindlers. He doesn’t. He loves slanderers and swindlers! When Jesus walked … [Read more...]

Is Humanity Righteous? (Romans 5:18-19)

briefcase

If I gave you a million dollars, how would you react? If you were poor, you’d be thrilled. You’d thank me and tell all your friends how awesome I am. But if you were Bill Gates you might say, “Meh. Add it to the pile.” How you react to a gift reflects your need for that gift. Which is why I am dismayed by the teaching that says humanity is justified and righteous. This is a central claim of inclusionism: “All humans are justified through the faith of Christ… All people, past, present and future, are justified already.” In contrast, the Bible declares that the righteousness you and I both … [Read more...]

Tomorrowland and the City of God

tomorrowland-city

The gospel of grace is the happy gospel of the happy God who loves you like a beloved son or daughter. This good news comes from a book that begins gloriously and ends better. Preachers used to say of the Bible, “I’ve read the end and Jesus wins!” Those who love God ought to be the most optimistic people on earth because if his gospel is anything, it’s a gospel of hope (Col 1:23). It’s the emphatic announcement that what you see is not all there is, that fear and death are doomed because Jesus has come! But in many churches the shelves of hope are empty because the good news has been … [Read more...]

Strike Her Children Dead (Revelation 2:23)

hooded woman

Five years ago I began Escape to Reality by looking at Jesus’ words to the churches of Revelation. My question then was: How do we reconcile Jesus’ harsh words with his heart of grace? And there are no harsher words than these: Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit … [Read more...]

Rewarded for their Labor? (1 Corinthians 3:8)

ICC_500

I have been asked this question again and again: What are heavenly rewards? Or, how do rewards fit in with grace? Some say there are no rewards, yet Jesus spoke about storing up treasure and Paul spoke about being rewarded for our labor. I have a long chapter on Eternal Rewards in my book The Gospel in Twenty Questions. In that chapter I talk about heavenly treasures and how to store them up. The following is an extract: --- The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. (1 Cor 3:8) Rewarded according to his labor? … [Read more...]

The Chief of Sinners

muhammad-ali

The apostle of grace called himself the “chief of sinners” (1 Tim 1:15) and ever since then Christians have been confused about their identity. They say things like “I’m a sinner saved by grace” even though the Bible declares they are a saint (Eph 1:1, Php 1:1). So what are you? A saint or a sinner or a bit of both? “Look at my messed up behavior. I’m not perfect. I’m obviously still a sinner.” That’s not true! Stop speaking lies over yourself. The Bible declares that in Christ you are a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). Not an improved person, but a totally new kind of person. “But if I … [Read more...]

The Parable of the Minas (Luke 19:11-27)

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Jesus told two parables about servants entrusted with money; the parable of the talents and the parable of the minas. In both stories a nobleman goes on a journey (okay, so we know it’s Jesus), and before he leaves he entrusts his servants with his wealth. In both stories the man returns and promotes those who have got a good return on their investment. And in both stories there’s one displeasing servant who does nothing and who subsequently loses what he has been given.  Parable of the Talents  Parable of the Minas  Where?  Matthew 25  Luke 19  How many … [Read more...]

The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30)

Parable of the Talents 504

Once upon a time there was a man who went on a journey and before he left he entrusted three servants with his money. When the man returned, he praised the two servants who had doubled his money, but the third servant, who had done nothing, was thrown outside into the darkness. The parable of the talents (Matt 25:14-30) is used by some to say, “Jesus paid a great price for you. If you don’t work hard to give him a return for his investment, he will toss you into the outer darkness. So get busy for Jesus.” This resonates with those who see themselves as servants rather than sons of God, … [Read more...]

Grace Party – Out Today!

Grace Party E2R

My new book, Grace Party, comes out today. I’m super-excited about this one because it may be the most prophetic book I’ve written. By prophetic, I mean it paints a picture of life as it should be. It bears witness to the abundant life that is ours in Christ. Here’s an excerpt: Christians ought to be the most joyful people, yet many are not because they have been sold a joyless gospel. They’ve been told they have to maintain their salvation or make themselves holy, and since these are impossible tasks they are as miserable as Pharisees. Sure, there is joy for the repentant sinner, but … [Read more...]

The Kingdom of Heaven is a Party

Grace Party square

My new book, Grace Party, comes out next week. Here’s a taste... One of the best parties I have ever been to was a surprise party. It was a hot, humid Friday night in Hong Kong and Camilla and I were running late. We were supposed to be at church for our weekly prayer meeting, but one of us was taking her sweet time getting ready. No need to mention names. When we finally arrived at church, the place was dark. I flipped on the lights and was greeted with a shout of “Surprise!” I was shocked to find a room full of people, all dressed in colorful sixties’ gear, waiting to celebrate my … [Read more...]

What Makes the New Covenant New?

Homer_New Covenant

There’s a classic scene in The Simpsons where 8-year-old Lisa is offered a large check. Monty Burns has made a $120 million from an idea that Lisa gave him and he wishes to give her a ten percent share. But the money represents ill-gotten gains from harvesting the sea, so Lisa says no. Lisa later apologizes to her dad for not taking the money. Homer replies, “I understand. But we really could’ve used that $12,000.” When Lisa explains that ten percent of $120 million is a great deal more than $12,000, Homer has a heart attack. Homer’s bad maths makes me think of Christians who don’t … [Read more...]

What is the Law Written on Our Hearts?

Law in our hearts

Six-hundred years before Jesus came, the prophet Jeremiah spoke of a new covenant that God would make with his people: “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.” (Jer 31:33-34) What is the law that God writes on our hearts and minds? Here are three things it is not: It is … [Read more...]