What Pleases the Lord?

boy scout

Scripture exhorts us to “find out what pleases the Lord” (Eph 5:10). Do you know what pleases the Lord? You do! You are his dearly-loved child and your heavenly Father is thrilled to bits with you. You need to know this otherwise you will spend your life trying to earn what you already have. You’ll fall prey to those who say, “You need to improve yourself to please the Lord.” Or “You need to clean yourself up before God will be pleased with you.” Such messages will distract you from God’s grace. They will draw your attention to your sin instead of his Son. They will cause you to fall from … [Read more...]

What is Godly Sorrow?

tears

“For godly sorrow worketh repentance…” (2 Cor 7:10). What is godly sorrow? Apparently it’s when the Holy Spirit makes you sorry for your sin. “God grieves over you, you sorry excuse for a Christian. You have become an enemy of God!” There are some who insist you must weep and wail when you repent. “You need to show some godly sorrow,” they insist. “Repentance must be marked by regret, tears, and grief-stricken anguish.” In other words, if you don’t weep, your repentance isn’t genuine. Spurgeon had a different view: A curious idea men have of what repentance is! Many fancy that so … [Read more...]

How Does the Holy Spirit Convict Us?

blinded by light

“Through the law,” says the mixed-grace preacher. “It is by God’s law that we are convicted. When you sin, the Holy Spirit will remind you of God’s holy commands and show you the way to go.” The Bible says you are not under law, but grace. But if we get rid of the law, how will we know how to please the Lord? How will the Holy Spirit set us on the straight and narrow? Or to use a recent example I read on Charisma News, how will we know it’s a bad idea to steal from Walmart? The mixed-grace preacher says the law shows us the way of life. Yet the hyper-grace preacher Paul said the law … [Read more...]

Myth 2: Hyper-Grace Preachers are Against Confession

confession-youfirst

“Hyper-grace preachers say it’s wrong to confess sins. They say confession is a form of unbelief.” Actually, every hyper-grace preacher believes in the power of confession. We say things like, “confession is good for you,” and “confession is healthy.” But what is confession? Like the word repentance, confession is a word that has been mangled in the machinery of manmade religion. Instead of bringing healing to the hurting and life to the dead, confession is seen as the cost of admission into the house of grace. “You wanna be clean? Then ‘fess up you miserable sinner! Tell God your dirty … [Read more...]

If We’re Holy, Why Does God Call Us to Be Holy?

be holy

Here's a question grace preachers hear a lot: “If we are already holy, then why does God call us to be holy?” Answer: He’s calling us to be who we truly are. He is saying, “You are my sanctified children. Act like it. Be who I made you to be.” As D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones once said: Holiness is not something we are called upon to do in order that we may become something; it is something we are to do because of what we already are… “Paul, I’m still confused. It seems there are a lot of scriptures exhorting us to become holy. How do we reconcile those with other scriptures that say that we are … [Read more...]

Myth 1: Hyper-Grace Preachers are Against Repentance

repentance bear

“Hyper-grace preachers say there’s no need for repentance. They dismiss repentance as unbelief.” Actually, hyper-grace preachers are for repentance, not against it. We say things like “repentance is essential” and “repentance is to be our lifestyle.” We are for repentance, for without it no one can receive the grace of God. But what is repentance? Repentance is one of those words that means different things to different people. Those with a performance-oriented mindset typically interpret repentance as turning from sin. It’s something you do (turn) as a result of something you’ve done … [Read more...]

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...]