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 Happens to Babies Who Die?

Baby_thinking

What do you say to the parents of a deceased baby? What would you say to the families of the 80 children who died on flight MH17 last week? I’m not sure what you should say but I know what you shouldn’t say. Don’t ever tell them their children are in hell. “Paul, I would never say such an awful thing.” But you might if you have been taught that the kingdom of heaven belongs only to those who confess Jesus as Lord. So what about babies, young children, the mentally handicapped, and the mute who confess nothing? Are they hell bound? According to some theologians, they are. Apparently … [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...]

5 Signs of Nose-Punching Preachers

nose-punch_med

A recent article in Charisma News warns about the dangers of ear-tickling preachers and their deceptive message. An ear-tickler is someone who tells you what you want to hear. In contrast, a nose-puncher is one who tells you what he wants you to hear, and typically does so with all the fervor of an Old Testament judge or prophet. A nose-puncher might appear respectable and religious, but he is nothing more than a bully with a Bible. He prefers doctrine to people, puts ministry before family, and he justifies his abuse of others by telling himself he is doing the Lord’s work. Jesus … [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...]

Questions Ain’t Questions

soils truck

Growing up in Australia, I was used to seeing trucks from a company called “Soils Ain’t Soils.” Strange name for a company but I get it. They’re saying there are different types of soils, and some soils are better than others. The same could be said of questions. Perhaps you’ve noticed an upsurge in the number of questions being asked by believers. More people are questioning things and this is generally a good thing. There is nothing wrong with asking questions. I love asking questions. I wrote a book full of questions. But we need to take care that the questions we ask are good … [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...]