Isaiah 45:7 – Does the Lord Create Evil?


Whenever I tell people that God is good and he is not the One making them sick nor is he responsible for the bad things going on in the world, I can guarantee that I will get two cynical responses. (1) “Tell that to Job,” and (2) “That’s not what is says in Isaiah 45.” As I have looked at the foolish words of Job elsewhere, today I want to look at the words of Isaiah: I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things. (Isaiah 45:7) This is a stunning verse – as we shall see – but it has been used for terrible purposes. “Have you got … [Read more...]

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...]

Pure Religion (James 1:27)

Refugee Women

Religion is bad. By definition, religion is a kind of bondage, which means there’s no such thing as good religion. But what about James who said this: Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (Jas 1:27, KJV) There are two ways to read James’s words: 1. Religion is good Forget grace, forget the cross, forget the blood of Jesus – what really impresses the Lord is visiting the fatherless and widows. And if you really want to impress him, keep yourself unblemished from the … [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...]

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...]

The 9 Lies of Religion

Truth v lie

“I came into the world to testify to the truth,” said Jesus. “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (John 18:37). These are strong words. If Jesus put them on his Facebook page he’d get roasted. “Jesus, how dare you claim to have the inside track on truth? Why must we take sides? How ungracious. How divisive. What gives you the right? Who do you think you are?” Jesus testified to the truth because only the truth can set you free. Religion, on the other hand, keeps you bound with half-truths, bent-truths, and damnable lies. By religion I mean the universal quest for self-improvement. I … [Read more...]

Consider the Severity of God (Romans 11:22)


Whenever I tell people about God’s goodness, I can just about guarantee that someone will call for balance and say I should also preach on God’s severity. Then they will quote this verse: Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in his goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. (Rom 11:22, NKJV) “You see, God is kind, but he’s also severe, so watch yourself! God has given you a chance to repent, but now you have to prove you were worth it by getting your act together, otherwise it’s the chop for … [Read more...]

Myth 8: Hyper-Grace Preachers Disregard the Words of Jesus


“Hyper-grace preachers say the words of Jesus are not for us. They have no authority and are irrelevant to the modern church.” One of the strangest claims made against hyper-grace preachers is that we are dismissive of the pre-cross teachings of Jesus. In point of fact, hyper-grace preachers are the only ones taking Jesus seriously. When Jesus is preaching law, we say that’s authentic law, not to be taken lightly. And when Jesus is revealing grace, we bow in awestruck gratitude. We would not dare re-interpret his words with qualifiers and caveats. In contrast, those who preach a … [Read more...]