Last week many of you helped me give away 13,000 copies of The Gospel in Ten Words. It was truly a team effort. If you told your friends they could get a free Kindle download, perhaps by sharing a message on Facebook, then you had some skin in the game. Thank you! Be encouraged because many are now hearing the good news of God’s unconditional love and grace for the first time. Go team!
And if you don’t believe me when I say many are hearing about grace for the first time, you should see my in-tray. It has been swamped with emails, messages, and questions, questions, questions!
This is wonderful for it means people are thinking and checking things out for themselves. They want to know more about the undiluted gospel of grace.
The downside, however, is there is little chance I’ll be able to answer even a tenth of the questions that are now coming my way. If you write to me, the odds are high that you’re not going to get a response. I’m sorry about that. I would love to sit down with you and just chat. But it’s not going to happen. There’s only one of me and a lot of you.
But your questions are good! And since they may speak to deep shifts in understanding that the Holy Spirit is working out in your life they deserve good answers.
So how can you get the answers you are seeking? Here are 8 suggestions:
1. Ask the Holy Spirit. I am serious about this. We have a teacher-centric culture in the modern church that promotes an unhealthy dependence on men. I can say that because I am a teacher. But the Holy Spirit is the Teacher of all teachers (John 16:13). He really is the highest authority on every subject, every problem, and every question.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been puzzled by something, asked the Lord for wisdom and understanding, and he’s given me revelation, often immediately. Perhaps this is easier for some people than others, I don’t know. What I do know is that the sooner we all learn to rely on the Holy Spirit, the better we will be. So I strongly encourage you to take your questions directly to the Lord and put James 1:5 into practice.
Of course, the Holy Spirit works through people. But if you take your question to someone with a mixed-up theology, you’ll likely get an answer tainted with an unhealthy mixture of old and new covenant theology. In view of that, I also recommend the following approaches to asking questions.
2. Search the archives. Want to know my least favorite kind of message to receive? It’s the one that begins, “Paul, have you written anything on…” Please, please, PLEASE, check out the subject index or use the search box at the top-right corner of this website.
3. Search the scripture index. This brand-new feature, added at the end of 2014, will direct you to hundreds of posts on hundreds of scriptures. If you want to know my take on, say Matthew 6:14 or Hebrews 10:25, that’s the place to look.
4. Join an ongoing discussion here on E2R. How do you do that? Search the E2R archives, find a post on the subject you are interested in, and ask your question as a comment in the discussion thread underneath that post. That way you will attract responses from others with an interest in the same subject. I personally have learned much from the discussion threads under posts.
5. Post your question on E2R’s Facebook page. Don’t send me a private message – I don’t often check my messages and they back up big time – but post your question on E2R’s Facebook page for all to see. Do keep your question short (2-3 sentences max), and phrase it like this: “Does anyone have any insight into….” Invite people to contribute. E2R readers are an amazing bunch of people who love to help others.
6. Put your question on someone else’s FB page. E2R is hardly the only grace-based page/group on Facebook. There are dozens, if not hundreds of good grace pages with more being added every day.
7. Write about it. This may surprise you, but many of the posts here on E2R were written because I was puzzled about something. Writing helps me organize my thoughts and as I write the Holy Spirit guides me. I know this doesn’t work for everyone but it may work for you. Give it a go.
8. Send me a message, but do so knowing that I probably won’t be able to reply. How can you increase the chances of getting a reply from me?
(i) Keep it short. (Unless you’re writing to encourage me, in which case lengthy essays I can frame and show Camilla are welcome!)
(ii) Don’t think of me as The Answer Guy. If I am able to answer your question, don’t hit me with five follow-up questions. Milked cows need a break.
(iii) To avoid disappointment, don’t ask me to join your online group, Skype you, phone you, or weigh in on some argument you’re having on Facebook. Do feel free to invite me to lunch though!
(iv) Understand that my goal is to reveal Jesus and help you experience the Father’s love. So don’t ask me about politics or obscure Bible passages pertaining to the Nephilim or what-have-you. Neither of us has time to waste on controversies or godless chatter (2 Tim 2:16).
(v) Don’t expect me to have an opinion on everything. I am quite comfortable saying, “I don’t know.”
(vi) Don’t ask me what I think about another man’s ministry or the latest controversial article from Tom, Dick, or Harry. I love my brothers and sisters and I’m not interested in creating fracture lines in the body of Christ.