Judged for Our Work and Living in Fear

August 25, 2022 // 20 Comments

A reader asked me how to read the following verse through a new covenant lens: If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth. (1 Peter 1:17) Hmm, sounds scary. Didn’t Jesus say something about having to [...]

The sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46)

June 2, 2016 // 95 Comments

For the past ten years I have hammered one nail again and again: Jesus not only saves you, he keeps you. The good work he began in you he will carry on until completion. This good news is meant to free you from the anxiety of works-based religion. It’s meant to bring you peace and rest. So what are we to make [...]

The Bema Seat (2 Corinthians 5:10)

May 12, 2016 // 46 Comments

“One day you will stand before the judgement seat, the books will be opened, and there will be a reckoning. If your good works outweigh your bad, you’ll be safe. But if your bad works outweigh the good, you’ll be toast.” You may have heard a line like this, but it’s not in the Bible. It’s the age-old [...]

The axe at the root (Matthew 3:10)

December 9, 2015 // 47 Comments

A ravenous wolf, such as Jesus described in Matthew 7, is someone who uses threats to extort money or service from others. If you were such a person, God forbid, you might to use the following verse to threaten the saints: The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good [...]

Judged for what we have done

September 24, 2015 // 33 Comments

The good news of heaven declares that everything comes to us as a free gift from our heavenly Father. But the bad news of earth says you better work baby, because there’s no such thing as a free lunch! Your choice is grace or works. Either the favor of God is given or earned, but it can’t be both. The gospel [...]

What about Ananias and Sapphira?

April 9, 2015 // 183 Comments

Recently in Connecticut, a pastor stood in front of his church and confessed to the sin of adultery. Then the pastor fell down dead, right in front of everyone. This proves that God expects his people to live holy lives and if they don’t, he’ll kill them. Of course, that’s complete nonsense. The story [...]

Judged by the Lord (1 Corinthians 11:31-32)

February 19, 2015 // 51 Comments

Are you good enough to take communion? To me, this is an absurd question, like asking whether you are good enough to hear the gospel. But to many it is not an absurd question. It is a serious question because a wrong answer could make you sick and kill you! From whence comes this ridiculous notion? It comes from [...]

Herod’s death and the wrath of God

November 6, 2014 // 123 Comments

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 [...]

Conversations about Hell

August 1, 2014 // 129 Comments

[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 [...]

The Parable of the Beaten Servants

July 9, 2014 // 35 Comments

There are only two ways you can respond to Jesus; positively, in faith, or negatively, with unbelief. Consequently, it makes sense to speak of people dividing themselves into two groups: sheep and goats, wheat and weeds, good fish and bad fish. But sometimes Jesus spoke of three or even four groups. Think of the [...]

Are there degrees of judgment?

July 1, 2014 // 29 Comments

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 [...]

What is the Greater Condemnation? (Matthew 23:14)

June 12, 2014 // 38 Comments

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. (Matt. 23:14, NKJV) What is the “greater condemnation” Jesus spoke of? It must be something because it’s mentioned in three gospels – this [...]