Continue in the Grace of God

cycling uphill

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)

two-faced

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)

fatal_communion

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...]

Labor to Enter His Rest (Hebrews 4:11)

Migrant-Mother-Dorothea-Lange

The other day a strange man approached a young girl and offered her candy if she would get in his car. Thankfully, the girl knew all about stranger danger and quickly walked to a shop where she was safe. I know you’ve heard this sort of story before but this was different for us because it happened on the street where we live and the girl was a classmate of one of my daughters. She was walking home when it happened so you can guess what every parent in our school is now thinking. That could’ve been my little girl! I mention this story because a few years ago this incident would’ve sent … [Read more...]

How Do We Read the Commands of the New Testament?

House Rules

How should we read the commands of the New Testament? A legalist will insist we read them as commands that must be obeyed. After all, didn’t Jesus say, “If you love me, you will obey my commands?” He did, but he wasn’t preaching law-based obedience. He was saying obedience is a fruit, not a root, of a healthy, loving relationship. Live by the law – any law – and you fall from grace. You set aside the cross and trample the Son of God underfoot. It makes no difference whether you keep the law to be saved, sanctified, or sanctimonious. Being faithful to the law is being unfaithful to Jesus. … [Read more...]

Grace Disco – Out Today!

Grace Disco_med

In a couple of months Escape to Reality will be five years old. Five years isn’t a long time, but my goodness, a lot of water has gone under that bridge. Truly grace is a fast-flowing river that will take you a long way in a short time. Here’s a comment I received from a kind reader: “I have learned more truth in less than one month following E2R than I have learned in 21 years of religion.” Does this mean I am the world’s greatest teacher? Nope. But Jesus is the Truth I have written about in every article here on E2R. Indeed, he is the Reality in E2R. (Incidentally, I have a theory that … [Read more...]

Keep Plowing or Die! (Luke 9:62)

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Jesus said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62) Is Jesus calling you to a life of unswerving service? Is he saying, “You’re here to work and work hard”? Well if he is, then he’s contradicting what he says here: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matt 11:28) See the problem? In one verse Jesus exhorts us to “Plow” and in another he says “Rest.” Plowing is hard, back-breaking work. You can’t plow and rest at the same time, so which is it? “It’s both,” says the mixed-up … [Read more...]