What about Those Who Never Hear the Gospel?

Palestinian kids

Everybody responds to God’s love and grace, one way or another. But what about those who die before they get a chance to respond? To pick an extreme example, what about those Palestinian children who perished last week and who presumably never heard the gospel, never heard that God loves them, and never heard about Jesus? What about Israeli children who have been killed by suicide bombers? And what about the children caught up in the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan? What happens to them? In my last post I asked the question, “What happens to babies who die?” It should be a … [Read more...]

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

peters-denial_2

“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...]

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

servants

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?

Downtown

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...]

God Believes in You!

Shelby

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...]

Who Would Be a Teacher? (James 3:1)

judge_judy

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

Donald

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...]

How to Recognize a Mixed-Grace Gospel

carrots

In churches every week, you will hear one of two messages. You will either hear a mixed-grace gospel or you will hear the hyper-grace gospel. Do you know how to tell the difference? A mixed-grace gospel combines the unmerited favor of God with the merited wage of human-effort. “You are saved by grace but you maintain your position through right-living,” is an example of a mixed-grace message. “God gives you grace so that you can keep His commands,” is another. These sorts of messages contain an element of grace but ultimately push you to trust in yourself and your own efforts. Any … [Read more...]

How to Become an Unbeliever in 3 Easy Steps

Lost

How do you turn a believer into an unbeliever? How do you extinguish the flame of faith? These questions have been on my mind lately because I have seen people reject that which is good and shipwreck their faith. Perhaps you have seen this too. What causes someone to walk away from the Lord of Grace? I can understand how dead religion keeps people from meeting him in the first place. Religion kills grace and presents a distorted and unattractive image of the Father. But religion can’t be blamed for those who have walked out of the so-called grace camp. Those who leave are well aware … [Read more...]

What are the Consequences of Falling from Grace?

humpty_falling

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

groom-reading

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...]