As we start a new year of walking in grace, I thought I’d take a moment to look back at some of the highlights and lowlights of the past year on E2R. If I was to summarize the year in a word, I’d say “conflict.”
Conflict is a normal part of life and it certainly was a normal part of life in the New Testament. Consider Paul. He battled with those who were opposed to his message of grace and he also had strong disagreements with his dear friends and brothers.
1. My most popular post – or least popular depending on your point of view – was my response to Michael Brown’s article in CharismaNews entitled “Confronting the Error of Hyper-Grace.” This post struck a chord (or touched a nerve) because everyday I would get up to find 50-70 comments waiting for approval. This was the first post where I had to turn comments off, otherwise I would still be reading dozens a week.
2. The second conflict of the year came as a big surprise. It happened when I speculated, surmised, and suggested with great equivocation that maybe hell is not a place of eternal torment. The fact is, none of us know for sure what hell may or may not be like. But when I challenged the traditional view of an eternal BBQ, I was BBQ-ed.
3. I also got rebuked for saying God doesn’t flog us with whips. Some folk were upset because I dared to suggest Hebrews 12:6 gives us an inaccurate picture of God. But all I did was interpret the written word through the Living Word – which is really the only way we can make sense out of scripture.
4. The final great conflict of 2013 came when I poked a stick into the beehive of inclusionism. Inclusionism is an idea that has gained currency with lovers of grace, but as I explained in September, there are at least 10 reasons why inclusionism is not good news.
5. One of the interesting things about inclusionism is how it particularly appeals to grace folk. This is understandable because the language of inclusion is the language of grace. Grace is inclusive but inclusionism is not grace. Don’t be fooled by words. I may be able to speak a few words of Chinese but that doesn’t make me Chinese.
6. Grace comes to us through faith but what is faith? Perhaps you have this idea that we have to faith our way into the kingdom, as though faith were a verb. But as I explained in August, faith is a noun. Indeed, faith is a rest. Our faith doesn’t compel God to do anything. Faith is resting in the happy revelation that he has done it all.
7. The great and humble Brennan Manning passed away in April. Since I am a fan, this provided me with an occasion to celebrate his life by listing some of my favorite Brennan Manning quotes.
8. In 2013 I wrote a book called The Gospel in Twenty Questions. After I finished writing it, I took a hard look at the manuscript and thought, It’s incomplete. I need a chapter called, “Should we do everything Jesus said?” An excerpt from that chapter, published here as “How should we read the words of Jesus?” resonated with many of you.
9. In the middle of the year, I shamelessly capitalized on the release of a certain movie to list 12 ways Superman is not like Jesus.
10. In 2013 I did two big series. The first one was on eternal security and began with the cleverly-titled post, “Once shaved, always shaved?” Well, I thought it was clever.
11. The reason I think our security is eternally secure, is because it rests on God’s promises to us. Indeed, this is what makes the new covenant new. God holds up both ends of the bargain. You may let go of Christ’s hand, but he will never let go of yours.
12. I also began a series on the wrath of God in the new covenant. A lot of people don’t like to talk about wrath, but our Father’s wrath should comfort, not scare you. You need to know the lengths to which God has gone to deal with those things which seek to hurt his kids.
13. At the start of 2013, E2R passed a million hits. Then at the end of the year we passed two million. This is encouraging for it says that the good news of God’s grace is spreading. Indeed, E2R is now read in 213 countries! But the downside is I am no longer able to answer all the questions or respond to all the messages that you send me. This saddens me because I love questions and I don’t want yours to go unanswered. So I wrote a post called 8 ways to get your grace questions answered. It has turned out to be the most ignored post I have written. Haha!
I want to thank all of you who have read, responded, shared, passed on, reprinted, translated, and otherwise passed on my message of grace.
Perhaps you did not agree with everything I wrote but that’s fine. Conflict and disagreement are a normal part of any healthy relationship.
Grace and peace to you!