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

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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...]

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 about Ananias and Sapphira?

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Recently in Connecticut, a pastor stood in front of his church and confessed to the sin of adultery. Then the pastor fell down dead, right in front of everyone. This proves that God expects his people to live holy lives and if they don’t, he’ll kill them. Of course, that’s complete nonsense. The story is true - a Connecticut pastor really did die - but the interpretation is all wrong. The fact is, God doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve. But what are we to make of Ananias and Sapphira who, like the poor pastor, dropped dead in a church (Acts 5:1-11)? The bizarre deaths of Ananias and … [Read more...]

The 9 Lies of Religion

Truth v lie

“I came into the world to testify to the truth,” said Jesus. “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (John 18:37). These are strong words. If Jesus put them on his Facebook page he’d get roasted. “Jesus, how dare you claim to have the inside track on truth? Why must we take sides? How ungracious. How divisive. What gives you the right? Who do you think you are?” Jesus testified to the truth because only the truth can set you free. Religion, on the other hand, keeps you bound with half-truths, bent-truths, and damnable lies. By religion I mean the universal quest for … [Read more...]

Continue in the Grace of God

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In the New Testament we are exhorted to continue in God’s kindness (Romans 11:22), continue in the faith (Colossians 1:23), continue in the teaching of Christ (2 John 1:9), and continue in what we have learned and been convinced of (2 Tim 3:14). In short, we are to continue in the grace of God: When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God. (Act 13:43) In the mind of the secure believer, these are healthy exhortations that lead us in the path of life. But … [Read more...]

The Parable of the Shrewd Manager (Luke 16:1–8)

Unjust Steward

The strangest parable Jesus ever told was about a man who cheats on his boss and is then praised for doing so (see Luke 16:1–8). The parable of the shrewd manager (or the unjust steward) is puzzling. What is Jesus trying to tell us? That it’s okay to cook the books, diddle the figures, and engage in white-collar crime? No, Jesus isn’t encouraging dishonesty. He’s telling us how to plan for the future: And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. (Luke 16:9, NKJV) The punchline of the parable is “make … [Read more...]

Consider the Severity of God (Romans 11:22)

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Whenever I tell people about God’s goodness, I can just about guarantee that someone will call for balance and say I should also preach on God’s severity. Then they will quote this verse: Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in his goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. (Rom 11:22, NKJV) “You see, God is kind, but he’s also severe, so watch yourself! God has given you a chance to repent, but now you have to prove you were worth it by getting your act together, otherwise it’s the chop for … [Read more...]

Myth 8: Hyper-Grace Preachers Disregard the Words of Jesus

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“Hyper-grace preachers say the words of Jesus are not for us. They have no authority and are irrelevant to the modern church.” One of the strangest claims made against hyper-grace preachers is that we are dismissive of the pre-cross teachings of Jesus. In point of fact, hyper-grace preachers are the only ones taking Jesus seriously. When Jesus is preaching law, we say that’s authentic law, not to be taken lightly. And when Jesus is revealing grace, we bow in awestruck gratitude. We would not dare re-interpret his words with qualifiers and caveats. In contrast, those who preach a … [Read more...]

Conditional Acceptance? (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)

grubby kid

“God loves you just as you are and not as you should be.” That’s the gospel of grace in one sentence! Manmade religion says you have to clean yourself up before you approach the Lord, but grace shouts, “Come as you are!” So how do we explain this passage which seems to say something different: Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. (2 Cor 6:17-18) This sounds like conditional acceptance, as though we have to purify ourselves before … [Read more...]

Judged by the Lord (1 Corinthians 11:31-32)

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Are you good enough to take communion? To me, this is an absurd question. It is exactly like asking whether you are good enough to hear the gospel. But to many it is not an absurd question. It is a serious question because a wrong answer could make you sick and kill you! From whence comes this ridiculous notion? It comes from misunderstanding Paul’s instructions about communion (see 1 Cor. 11). If you’ve ever done communion in church, you may have heard that you need to examine yourself for sin and that if you don’t you could get sick and die. This is utter nonsense, as I explain … [Read more...]

Believing in Vain (1 Corinthians 15:2)

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“How do I know if my belief in Christ is in vain?” When a reader asked me this question recently, she was referring to Paul’s warning here: Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. (1 Cor 15:1-2) What you look through determines what you see. Read this scripture through works lenses and you will see an exhortation to “hold fast or die!” The message you get will be, “I’ve got to believe and … [Read more...]

Some Honest Answers for Michael Brown

Brown and Prince

CharismaNews has just published an article entitled “Some honest questions for Joseph Prince.” In it Michael Brown puts 11 questions to “Pastor Prince and those who embrace the modern grace message.” Unlike Pastor Prince, I’m not a busy man. I don’t have to preach four or five times this Sunday. So I have taken it upon myself to respond to these questions on behalf of all who embrace the gospel of grace. Regular readers will know that this is not the first time I have responded to something Michael Brown has written against the grace message. “Paul, why do you keep taking the bait?” Because … [Read more...]