Jesus our Tithe

jesus-sign

Many of the laws and traditions of the Old Testament are shadows that are fulfilled in Christ. For instance, the circumcision of Jewish boys points to a spiritual circumcision “not performed by human hands” (Col 2:11). Your old self has been cut off by Christ, which is why some refer to Christ as our circumcision. But what about tithing? How is this old covenant practice a shadow of a new covenant reality? Tithing and circumcision have a lot in common. Both were practiced by Abraham, both were subsequently encoded into Moses’ Law, and both have led to controversies that divide the church. … [Read more...]

Should You Tithe?

Coins

For years people have been asking me for my response to the tithing question. “Should you tithe?” Here are two responses: You should tithe You should not tithe Since both responses are expressed as commands, and we are not under law, I care for neither. “Paul, you’re being tricky. Please address the issue.” Okay, check out two statements below. Which do you agree with? I tithe regularly, therefore I’m spiritual I never tithe, therefore I’m spiritual You will find both views debated on social media, but both sides are in error because each is boasting in what they are doing or not … [Read more...]

Tithing Under Grace

Two kings

Tithing has become the hot-button issue of our day. Just as the early church was divided on the issue of circumcision, the modern church is divided on the issue of tithing. “You should do it.” “You should not.” In this three-part series we’ll look at the tithe and its place in the new covenant. Abram’s tithe Let’s begin with the story of the first tithe. As you read this story, don’t go looking for principles or moral lessons. Instead, go looking for Jesus. (Hint: he’s represented by one of the characters in this story.) When Abram came back from his victory over Chedorlaomer and the other … [Read more...]

8 Signs that a Church Doesn’t Get Grace

Danger graceless church_MED

A while ago I listed eight signs of hyper-grace churches. A hyper-grace church is one that is so focused on Jesus that it begins to look like Jesus, talk like Jesus, and smell like Jesus. To highlight a positive it helps to accentuate the negative. So how do we get it wrong? What are the signs that a church is missing the grace of God? Here are eight of them: 1. They are self-conscious The message you hear is, “You must nail yourself to the cross every day.” So Christ’s sacrifice wasn’t good enough? “You have to cleanse yourself and make yourself holy.” You cannot succeed. A focus … [Read more...]

Who is the Unworthy Servant? (Luke 17:10)

Unworrthy servant

How do you see yourself? As a valued son or a worthless servant? As a beloved child of God or a mere minion? Jesus came to reveal our heavenly Father, so a good sign that you understand all that Jesus did for you, is you see yourself as God’s dearly loved child. But what are we to make of these words of Jesus: So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.” (Luke 17:10) This seems confusing for didn’t Jesus tell the disciples, “I no longer call you servants but friends” (John 15:15)? So which is it? Are we … [Read more...]

Why is the Narrow Gate Hard to Enter?

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What is the narrow gate? You probably know the answer to this question – the narrow gate is Jesus – but what does it mean to find the narrow gate, and why did Jesus say many would try to enter and fail? Make every effort to enter through the narrow gate, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. (Luke 13:24) As kids in Sunday School, we learned about the broad and narrow roads. We understood that there was a freeway to hell and nearly everybody was on it. There was also a narrow way to life, a secret passage that few would find. But Jesus said the narrow gate isn’t … [Read more...]

Is Grace a License to Be Lazy?

homer_sleeping

One of the complaints made against the gospel of grace is that it promotes sin and slothfulness. However, those who say such things know little about the grace of God that empowers us to reign in life. Elsewhere I have addressed the misperception that grace is a license to sin. Today I want to look at its evil twin, namely the myth that grace is a license to be lazy. Here’s the short version: Grace succeeds where law fails. Law leads to dead works and weariness, but grace leads to good works that change the world. Need an example? Let’s look at an issue that used to be a biggie, … [Read more...]

E2R is on Patreon

emperor joseph II

What do the following people have in common: Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven? Answer: You would have heard of none of them if it weren’t for their patrons. Without patrons there would be no Mona Lisa, no Sistene Chapel, no Hamlet, and no Goldberg Variations. And frankly, a world without the Goldberg Variations is a world I couldn’t imagine. In some ways patrons are as important as the artists they support. Consider Mozart. He had several patrons who funded him and in return he gave them – and us – some of the greatest music ever written. A world … [Read more...]

The Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-46)

Sheep and goats

In my ongoing series on eternal security, I have hammered one nail again and again: Jesus not only saves you, he keeps you, and the good work he began in you he will carry on until completion. This is good news that 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 of Jesus separating the sheep from the goats in Matthew 25:31-46, since he applauds the sheep for their good works and rebukes the goats for their inactivity? Some interpret Christ’s words as a recipe for self-salvation. “If I feed the hungry, clothe the … [Read more...]

The Terror of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:11)

Angry-God2

Many people picture God as a scary bookkeeper recording everything they say and do, and on Judgment Day he’ll shame them by playing the dirty tapes of their secret lives. As we saw in a recent post on the Bema Seat, this caricature is far removed from reality. God is not counting our sins against us. Because of Jesus we can have confidence on the Day of Judgment (1 John 4:17). You have nothing to fear. So what are we to make of Paul’s words in the verse that follows the one about the Bema Seat? Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. (2 Cor 5:11) Some … [Read more...]

The Bema Seat (2 Corinthians 5:10)

Judge-Judy

“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 religion of bookkeeping, which Christ came to end. So what are we to make of this verse: For we must all appear before the judgment (bema) seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Cor 5:10) How will we be … [Read more...]

Michael Brown and his Grace Controversy

Hyper-grace_church_awakens

The hyper-grace gospel that Jesus revealed declares that God loves you with an unconditional love. His grace for you is, to quote the apostle Paul, hyper- or super-abounding (Rom 5:20). The gospel of God’s grace is the good news that this world needs to hear, but according to some this message is controversial, divisive, and faddish. Dr. Michael Brown is one of the critics opposed to this “dangerous” message and he has just written a book. It’s called The Grace Controversy and an abbreviated version of it can be found on CharismaNews. In the CharismaNews article Dr. Brown says that the … [Read more...]