Who’s Your Helper?

Creation of Adam_detail

History turns on small hinges and there has been no greater turn than the fall of man as recorded in Genesis 3. Everything that is wrong with the world – war, disease, death, genocide – can be traced back to man’s rejection of God. So we might say the saddest verse in the Bible is found in Genesis 3. Except that it’s not. It’s found in Genesis 2: The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name … [Read more...]

How to Cultivate Hope


Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. (1 Pet 3:15) We Christians ought to be a hope-filled people but a mixed-up gospel has made us a wishful people. We ought to be strong in the faith but religion has weakened us with disappointment. If you’ve been disillusioned and disenchanted, the good news is that God has hope for you, a good hope, the kind that lasts. Where is this hope found? In his grace: “God our Father has given us good hope by grace” (2 Th 2:16). Hope is a rope that links us to a truth not yet experienced. Your … [Read more...]

Seven Ways Religion Damages Hope


You can learn a lot about hope from watching the movies. When I was a kid I saw The Neverending Story, and for some reason one scene has endured in my memory. It’s the scene where Atreyu is confronted by Gmork, the wolf-like servant of the Nothing. Atreyu asks Gmork why he is helping the Nothing destroy the world and stirring up despair. Gmork the wolf replies: Because people who have no hopes are easy to control; and whoever has the control... has the power! Hope is a powerful weapon. Hope gives you strength and courage to endure. Hope keeps you free, and this is why religion hates hope. I … [Read more...]

Married to Jesus

Wedding rings

Jesus spoke of the joy that erupts in heaven when a sinner repents and comes to believe in the good news. We might imagine they have something like a birthday party to celebrate the new birth, but in reality it’s the rejoicing that accompanies a wedding. It’s a celebration of a new life wedded in union with Christ. Many of us are looking forward to the wedding banquet yet to come, but Jesus is returning for his bride, not his fiancée. You are already married to him. Your union with Christ is not a future event but a present reality that began the moment you first said “Yes” to Jesus. Jesus … [Read more...]

The Parable of the Two Sons


From time to time people ask me to write about the parables of Jesus. This is something I enjoy doing because I love the parables. The parables of Jesus are launch pads to revelation and if we have ears to hear they reveal the wisdom of God. Especially this one: What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, “Son, go and work today in the vineyard.” “I will not,” he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, “I will, sir,” but he did not go. (Matt 21:28-30) Great story! I … [Read more...]

Rewarded for What We’ve Done?

Rewarded for What We've done

The Bible says that we will be rewarded for what we have done. Not what we have believed, but done-diddley-done-done. So what do we have to do? In this three-part series, we’re going to look at some of the rewarded-for-what-we’ve-done scriptures, beginning with this one: For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. (Matt 16:27) Forget the gospel of grace, you are rewarded for doing stuff! Better get busy for Jesus. But let scripture interpret scripture and you will see that Jesus is not promoting … [Read more...]

Is Grace a Person?


People sometimes ask me, “Why do you say grace is another name for Jesus?” or “Why do you say grace is a Person?” They are referring to something I wrote in my book The Gospel in Twenty Questions: Grace isn’t a bunch of rules for you to keep. And grace is not God’s lubricant for greasing the cogs of self effort. Grace is a Person living his life through you. Living under grace is like being married, only more so. It’s the adventure of life shared with Christ. (p.2) Of course, I am not the only one who says grace is a Person. Many others have, including Joseph Prince: Grace is not a … [Read more...]

The Lord’s Prayer

Prayed hard

There’s a myth that we who preach grace dismiss everything Jesus said before the cross. According to the myth, we disregard the red letters of the Bible as law for to those under law. Nothing could be further from the truth! What sort of followers of Christ would we be if we ignored what Jesus said? Take the Lord’s Prayer for instance. It’s one of the greatest prayers in the Bible: This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,” (Matt 6:9) Jesus doesn’t teach us to pray, “Almighty God and Judge of the Living and the Dead,” but “our Father.” God is our … [Read more...]

Is Forgiveness like a Debit Card?

Forgiveness debit card

Are you completely forgiven or partly forgiven? It’s a simple question that reveals whether you appreciate all Christ did for you on the cross. Recently I heard a critic of the grace message say two contradictory statements: Christ paid for your complete redemption (amen!) but you are not completely forgiven (huh?). That’s like saying you’re saved, but not really. Or you’re holy, but sanctification is progressive. It’s the sort of mixed-up message you get from a mixed-up gospel. Forgiveness like a debit card? Some say that forgiveness is like a debit card. When Christ died he made a … [Read more...]

Is Humanity Righteous? (Romans 5:18-19)


If I gave you a million dollars, how would you react? If you were poor, you’d be thrilled. You’d thank me and tell all your friends how awesome I am. But if you were Bill Gates you might say, “Meh. Add it to the pile.” How you react to a gift reflects your need for that gift. Which is why I am dismayed by the teaching that says humanity is justified and righteous. This is a central claim of inclusionism: “All humans are justified through the faith of Christ… All people, past, present and future, are justified already.” In contrast, the Bible declares that the righteousness you and I both … [Read more...]

What Makes the New Covenant New?

Homer_New Covenant

There’s a classic scene in The Simpsons where 8-year-old Lisa is offered a large check. Monty Burns has made a $120 million from an idea that Lisa gave him and he wishes to give her a ten percent share. But the money represents ill-gotten gains from harvesting the sea, so Lisa says no. Lisa later apologizes to her dad for not taking the money. Homer replies, “I understand. But we really could’ve used that $12,000.” When Lisa explains that ten percent of $120 million is a great deal more than $12,000, Homer has a heart attack. Homer’s bad maths makes me think of Christians who don’t … [Read more...]

What about Ananias and Sapphira?


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 is true - a Connecticut pastor really did die - but the interpretation is all wrong. The fact is, God doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve. But what are we to make of Ananias and Sapphira who, like the poor pastor, dropped dead in a church (Acts 5:1-11)? The bizarre deaths of Ananias and … [Read more...]