What are the Consequences of Falling from Grace?


I am so glad the book of Galatians is in the Bible because we can learn a lot from other people’s mistakes. The Galatians lost their liberty in Christ by allowing themselves to be enslaved to the yoke of the law. In their case the issue was circumcision, but for us it could be anything that puts a price tag on grace—church rules, confession of sins, the spiritual disciplines, whatever. I’m not against these things. I’m saying there is nothing we can do to add or improve upon Christ’s perfect work. We stand by grace alone. The Galatians had a different view. Some guys with long faces … [Read more...]

Jesus and the Wrath of God

blood-stained cross

Are you familiar with the hymn In Christ Alone? Do you know this hymn is not hundreds of years old? It’s not even 20 years old. In Christ Alone is a very modern hymn. It was written in 2001 by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend. I mention this hymn because it has these wonderful lyrics: Till on that cross as Jesus died The wrath of God was satisfied For every sin on him was laid Here in the death of Christ I live “Wait a second, Paul. Are you saying God poured out his wrath on Jesus? That sounds twisted.” I agree that there is something dreadfully wrong with the picture of a father … [Read more...]

The Bible is not a Rule-Book


Imagine it’s your wedding day. You’ve had the ceremony, and you’re starting to relax when the minister hands you a gift, a thick book of Marriage Rules. “Read this,” he says. “The secret to a happy marriage is found within.” You open the book with interest. Inside you discover many rules and guidelines: “Be honest, be kind, always tell the truth, listen well, keep your promises, say ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ freely forgive, don’t covet your neighbor’s wife,” and that sort of thing. Initially you think, This is gold! I want a successful marriage, so I will do everything this book … [Read more...]

The Wrath of God in the New Covenant


This is the third post in my series on the wrath of God. To see how well you have been paying attention, I want to ask you a question: In the new covenant, what is the connection between sin and wrath? Answer: There is none. Yes, I know the Bible has many scriptures showing how God is angry with sin and judges sinners, but all those scriptures come before the cross. Jesus changed the game. His sacrifice was the once and final solution for sin. So when I see cranky Christians protesting at gay rights parades and trumpeting on about the judgment of God, I want to tell them, “Didn’t … [Read more...]

What about God’s Wrath?


The other night my little girl was on the toilet when she started yelling. “There’s a spider!” Normally, I would encourage my kids to face their fears and deal with spiders on their own but I could hear panic in my daughter’s voice. Poor kid. Stuck on the porcelain throne she was in no position to deal with a terrifying spider. Time for Daddy to be a hero! I charged into the bathroom like a grizzly bear. “Where is this terrible creature that dares to frighten you, sweetie?” She pointed and I saw a tiny black spider on the floor. I pretended not to see it. Then I planted my foot on it as … [Read more...]

Grumble and Die? (James 5:9)


If you went to Sunday School you probably know that the Israelites grumbled in the wilderness. And you may also know what God did to them when they grumbled. He slaughtered them (see Ps 106:25-26)! “So let this be a lesson to you, children,” says the historically-minded teacher. “You grumble, you die.” What a frightening thing to hear, especially if you are a child. Will God really kill us if we grumble? “Oh, no Paul. That’s so old covenant.” Okay. So how do we read this verse which is found in the New Testament? Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The … [Read more...]

First Adam vs Last Adam


Universalism and inclusionism are twin towers built on the same foundation, which is this:When Adam fell, he took all of us with him. We had no choice in the matter. If Jesus only saves those who meet certain conditions – those who repent, believe, etc. – then first Adam is greater than last Adam. Since that cannot be true, then Jesus must save everyone.If you think everyone will end up in heaven saved, you are a universalist. But if you think everyone is already saved, then you are an inclusionist. Since I am neither, I am often hit with the two-Adam argument, which goes like this:Just as the … [Read more...]

Faith is a Rest


The gospel declares God’s grace comes to us through faith. So if you wanted to undermine the gospel, there are two ways you could do it: 1. attack grace – put price tags on it or obscure it by referring to grace as a “doctrine” 2. attack faith – either make it a work or diminish it, belittle it I usually talk about grace but today I want to talk about faith because grace without faith is worthless: For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. (Heb 4:2) The gospel … [Read more...]

Everybody Responds


In the film The Wedding Singer, there’s a scene that captures the story of God’s relationship to us. A waitress called Julia is preparing for marriage but she’s marrying the wrong guy. We know it and eventually Julia begins to realize it too. What she doesn’t know is that the right guy is closer than she thinks. He’s a singer who works the same weddings where Julia waitresses. This guy is crazy about her. He thinks about her all the time and he’s torn up that she’s chosen the wrong guy. But everything turns out fine in the end. On an airplane ride to Vegas, the man who sings at weddings … [Read more...]

Matthew 10:28 – Fear God Who Can Throw us into Hell?


“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in Hell.” (Matt 10:28) This verse is a puzzle because of what Jesus says next: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Mat 10:29-31) Be afraid? Don’t be afraid? Which is it? I’m confused. Is Jesus sending a mixed message? No, he isn’t. But there is no doubt … [Read more...]

Take Up Your Cross Daily (Luke 9:23)


Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luk 9:23). What does it mean to take up your cross daily? I’m going to give you two interpretations and then you can choose. Interpretation #1: Jesus is preaching self-denial Following Christ is all about self-denial and going without. If you are not in the daily habit of denying your appetites and desires, you are not a real Christian. The more you deny your own needs and wants, the holier you’ll be. So fast everyday and you’ll be just like Jesus. But there's a problem with … [Read more...]

Hebrews 12:6 Does God Scourge His Kids?


Everyone has a mental picture of God. Perhaps you think he is distant, aloof, angry, even terrifying. Possibly you envision him holding a whip in his hands… For those whom the Lord loves he disciplines, and he scourges every son whom he receives. (Heb 12:6, NASB) Yet your heavenly Father is not like this. How do I know? I’ve seen Jesus. Jesus is none of these things. Rather, he is loving, gracious, kind and desires to share his life with you. Jesus said he was about his Father’s business and that business is not the condemning business but the adoption business. God loves you and wants to … [Read more...]