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...]

Jesus and Divorce

Second Marriage

In the past year I’ve had a couple of friends go through divorce and each time it has torn our hearts. I won’t go into details, but what has struck me is how some in the church have responded to these divorces. Let’s just say there has been an aroma and it has not been the fragrance of Jesus. Divorce seems to bring out the ugly in some people. In a recent post I asked the question “Can divorced people remarry?” By the grace of God they can! (Whether one should remarry is a separate question.) While some may wag their fingers in judgment, the message I want divorced people to hear is … [Read more...]

Can Divorced People Remarry?

broken_heart_by_starry_eyedkid

Hmm, that’s a tough one. Let me see. Can sinners be forgiven? Can runaways come home? Can crooks get a second chance? Can the broken be made whole? No, it’s not a tough question. It’s an easy question. Of course divorced people can remarry! These questions are only tough because religion has told us that divorced people are unforgiveable sinners. They’re lepers who blight our perfect little churches. As long as they sit quietly and help with our programs, they are welcome. But the moment they start looking for love, they’ve crossed the line. They had their shot at love and they messed … [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...]

Keep Plowing or Die! (Luke 9:62)

cow_plow

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...]

Herod’s Death and the Wrath of God

Herod

The Old Testament writers record a brutal history of divine wrath that came to an abrupt end at the cross. Before the cross, wrath was poured out on… - a world hell-bent on violence and self-destruction (Gen 6:13) - Sodom and Gomorrah on account of their “grievous sin” (Gen 18:20) - the slave-owning nation of Egypt (Exodus 7-11) - a generation of sinful Israelites (Heb 3:17) - the Amorites because of the “full measure” of their sin (Gen 15:16) - Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu (Lev 10:2) - ten fearful spies (Num 14:37) - the rebel Korah and his men (Num 16:31) - the pagan enemies of … [Read more...]

Myth 5: Hyper-Grace Preachers say God is not Grieved by your Sin

Schultz

“Hyper-grace preachers say God doesn’t care when we sin.” Actually, we say God cares very much because sin hurt the objects of his affection—us! Sin damages people, fractures friendships, and destroys families. Sin hurts you, and that makes your Father sad. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Eph. 4:30–32) Is God oblivious to our … [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...]

Conversations about Hell

hell_harp_n_accordion

[The following are extracts from conversations I’ve had in the past month.] Paul, you’re opposed to inclusionism and you're skeptical about universalism. Why do you want to condemn people to hell? Me: Huh? I’ve come to embrace inclusionism (or universalism) because I cannot conceive of a good God torturing people for eternity. Neither can I, but what has that to do with inclusionism, universalism, or any -ism? Uni/inclusionism says God loves his enemies… Actually, the Bible says that – it’s Romans 5:10. It’s the gospel of grace. But the traditional church view is that God … [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 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...]