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...]

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...]

The wrath of God has come upon them at last (1 Thess 2:16)

earthquake_1

In our ongoing series on the wrath of God, there is an important scripture we have not yet looked at. It’s this one: For you, brothers, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last. … [Read more...]

Why Did Jerusalem Fall?

jerusalem_seige

Ever had someone come up to you and say, “Why do you think Jerusalem fell in AD70?” That’s probably never happened to you. But it speaks to the circles I move in that I get asked this question a lot – probably because I have lately been writing about the wrath of God. If you missed it, the story of Jerusalem’s fall is as follows: The Jews rose up against their Roman occupiers in AD66. In AD68 the Roman general Vespasian was sent to quash the Jewish rebellion. In AD69 Vespasian returned to Rome to become the new Caesar and in AD70 his son Titus besieged and utterly destroyed Jerusalem. The … [Read more...]

What is the “Coming Wrath”?

Homer_wrath_of_God

“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?” When John the Baptist said this to the Pharisees and Sadducees, what did he mean (see Luke 3:7-8)? What is the coming wrath? And is this something we should be concerned about? Some commentators say John was referring to the destruction of Jerusalem. The venerable Victorian Adam Clarke says the coming wrath refers to “the desolation which was about to fall on the Jewish nation for their wickedness.” But this doesn’t square with what Paul said to Gentile Christians: They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve … [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...]

The Wrath of God in the New Covenant

angry_Christian

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...]