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

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“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?

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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

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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...]

The Parable of the Beaten Servants (Luke 12:35-48)

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There are only two ways you can respond to Jesus; positively, in faith, or negatively, with unbelief. Consequently, it makes sense to speak, as Jesus did, of people dividing themselves into two groups: sheep and goats, wheat and weeds, good fish and bad fish. But on a few occasions Jesus spoke of three or even four groups. Think of the parable of the sower where there were four types of soil (Matt. 13). Or the parable of the master who came home to three types of servant in Luke 12. Here they are: The faithful and wise servant (v.42) who makes his master happy and is put in charge of … [Read more...]

Are there Degrees of Judgment?

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Jesus once told a parable about servants getting beaten up and cut to pieces by their master. It sounds like a sadistic version of Downtown Abbey. And it’s a story that fills many Christians with terror: That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. (Luke 12:47-48) What are … [Read more...]

How to Teach the Gospel of Grace

I know a church where the pastor preached a series of sermons simply titled “Jesus.” For several weeks he expounded on the character of Christ and what he has done for us. It was brilliant. It was heavenly. But then he stopped. The series came to an end and the pastor began a new series. I don’t remember what it was except that it wasn’t about Jesus, it wasn’t brilliant, and it wasn’t heavenly. The single greatest need in the world today, is for a revelation of the love of our heavenly Father and that love is revealed in Jesus Christ. The single greatest tragedy in the world today, is … [Read more...]

God Believes in You!

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Last night I caught my five-year-old son reading in bed when he should’ve been sleeping. I asked him to give me the book and he did, albeit reluctantly. I reminded him that it was late and he needed to go to sleep because he had school in the morning. Then I put his book at the end of his bed and turned to leave. Luke couldn’t believe his luck. “Haha – I can get that book when you go!” he said with a wicked grin. “I know you can, but I hope you won’t. It’s time to sleep. Good night, son.” I closed the door and waited outside for a minute. Then I opened the door a crack to see if he … [Read more...]

The X-Men Gospel

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In all literature, there may be only five or six truly Great Stories but these few stories are told again and again, a thousand different ways. I was reminded of this while watching X-Men: Days of Future Past. (Warning: spoilers ahead!) On the surface, this is a film about saving the future by altering the past. But there is a deeper narrative here, and one that connects to a Greater Story that has been told again and again since the beginning of time. I am referring to the ancient struggle between two kingdoms – a kingdom built on power, and another built on love. It’s Satan vs Jesus, … [Read more...]

What is the Greater Condemnation? (Matthew 23:14)

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Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. (Matthew 23:14, NKJV) What is the “greater condemnation” Jesus spoke of? It must be something because it’s mentioned in three gospels – this one and Mark 12:40 and Luke 20:47. But what is it? (Before you read on, why not try to answer this question for yourself?) Is Jesus saying there are degrees of judgment and that the Pharisees and hypocrites are going to get punished more than others? You might think so if you read his … [Read more...]

5 Signs of Nose-Punching Preachers

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A recent article in Charisma News warns about the dangers of ear-tickling preachers and their deceptive message. An ear-tickler is someone who tells you what you want to hear. In contrast, a nose-puncher is one who tells you what he wants you to hear, and typically does so with all the fervor of an Old Testament judge or prophet. A nose-puncher might appear respectable and religious, but he is nothing more than a bully with a Bible. He prefers doctrine to people, puts ministry before family, and he justifies his abuse of others by telling himself he is doing the Lord’s work. Jesus … [Read more...]

Who Would Be a Teacher? (James 3:1)

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Recently I read something that made me sad. It was a Facebook note penned by a noted Bible teacher and it went something like this: “I’m a teacher of the gospel, but you’re probably not a teacher, so best not to pretend you are because you could lead people astray.” This comment wasn’t addressed to me or anyone in particular, but it made me sad for two reasons: (1) We are all called to preach and teach the gospel, every single one of us (Mark 16:15; Heb 5:12), so don’t let anyone silence you just because you’re not as eloquent as the next guy. You have a story to tell – a God-written story … [Read more...]

1 John 1:9 – Ask the Right Question

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In many grace books it is common to find some discussion on 1 John 1:9. This verse is special because it is the only verse in the new covenant that appears to link confession of sins with God’s forgiveness. If this verse was in the old covenant it would be no great thing, but because it’s in the new it stands out. In his book Pure Grace, Clark Whitten writes: Whenever the subjects of sin and the need of confession are raised, this verse (1 John 1:9) is universally quoted and trotted out as a proof text. Why? Because there aren’t any others to quote! (p.91) 1 John 1:9 is often used to … [Read more...]