If You Think You’re Past Needing To Hear The Gospel, You Probably Need To Hear The Gospel

Gospel Glory

It’s Holy Week, and professing Christians are dutifully reminding themselves that people who normally sleep in on Sundays will be visiting their churches. These visitors will also feel dutiful, of course. And neither group particularly looks forward to another presentation of the Gospel, though they all expect it.

True Christians will be more enthusiastic about hearing their pastors preach the Gospel, but even then they most likely will welcome it primarily in reference to the unsaved friends and/or family members they brought with them. Often, seasoned Christians feel confident in their understanding of the Gospel, and want to progress to “deeper” subject matter. I say this from personal experience.

The truth is, all of us, no matter how mature we Continue reading

Cosmic Child Abuse Or Amazing Grace?

First LoveIf you want people to consider you a thinking Christian in this postmodern age, you must reject the whole idea of God’s wrath. Old Testament writers propagated that obviously misshapen view of God as a product of their unenlightened (and generally barbaric) cultures. The New Testament corrects this blasphemy by emphasizing His love for humankind, progressive Christians tell us.

I recently read some articles passionately protesting the teaching that Christ died in order to propitiate His Father’s wrath. Furthermore, one writer insisted that such a notion constitutes “cosmic child abuse.” Whatever atonement means, Continue reading

Flashback Friday: He Did It For Himself

I originally posted this article on April 30, 2016.

Cross of GloryAs Christians, of course we take great joy in the fact that Jesus shed His precious blood to pay the price for our sins. Indeed, the knowledge that He made that sacrifice fills us with awe, as we wonder why He would do such a outrageously generous thing.

Back in the 1980s, some evangelical churches taught that He redeemed us because He saw something in us worth saving. That explanation certainly boosted people’s self-esteem, but nothing in Scripture substantiated it. On the contrary, Ephesians 2:1-10 plainly tells us that nothing in us in any way merits the grace He has shown by taking our sin on Himself.

So if Christ had nothing to gain from us, why did He die for us? Obviously He loves us, although I don’t understand why He does. But Ephesians 2:7 offers an even fuller understanding of what motivated Him to such an incredible demonstration of love.

So let’s spend a little time looking at verse 7. Even though I’ll do my best to comment on this verse, I  hope you’ll take the time to look at the cross-references I’ll provide, as they offer deeper insight into the text. Scripture best interprets itself, so these cross-references will help you grasp the teaching in this verse.

But first let’s go back to the passage itself, shall we?

 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. ~~Ephesians 2:1-7 (ESV)

Paul begins verse 7 with the assuring statement that  God will, in the ages to come, give a fuller revelation

  • of the immeasuarable riches
  • of His grace
    • in kindness toward us
    • in Christ Jesus

Commentators differ on whether the “ages to come” denote succeeding generations of Christians who would understand the Ephesians’ conversions as a demonstration of God’s rich mercy or to the ages that will begin when Christ returns. The former interpretation finds support in 1Timothy 1:16, where Paul claims His own conversion as  an example of God’s mercy. Compare Titus 3:4-7, which states that the believers in the church Titus pastored experienced the same mercy as did the Ephesians. Yet 1 Peter 1:3-13 implies that God will display His mercy and grace at the time that Christ reveals Himself universally. I tend to favor the  latter understanding because Christ’s return is part of the Gospel.

God’s purpose in showering believers with grace and mercy benefits us, but ultimately it refers back to His character. Vincent’s Word Studies says that the grammar of the Greek phrase translated here as “He might show” implies that God does all this for His glory first, and then for our benefit. The primary emphasis on His glory,  over and above our blessing, must not be ignored!

The Lord showed similar mercy to Israel, not because they deserved it (they certainly didn’t!), but for the sake of His reputation (Ezekiel 36:21-23, Deuteronomy 7:7-8, Psalm  106:8, Psalm 115:1-2, Ezekiel 20:41). God bestows His mercy on us, just as He did on Israel, out of concern for His reputation among unbelieving nations. For this reason, as well as because of the way verse 7 flows from preceding verses, I tend toward the opinion that these “immeasurable riches” will coincide with Christ’s return when all will see Him (Matthew 24:30).

At the Lord’s return, He will at last become the focal point of all creation. While we will enjoy the privilege of spending eternity in His glorious presence, all the attention will center  exclusively on Him. Our only worth will come from His inexplicable love for us. And even that love, precisely because it refers back to His kindness, manifests  His glory. Truly, when He died for us, He did it for Himself.

Continue reading

Movie Night With American Gospel

Friday night I resisted the urge to put another Bette Davis movie in the DVD player. Instead, I forked over the $4.99 to rent American Gospel: Christ Alone from Amazon Prime (it can also be rented from YouTube). Although I felt somewhat uncomfortable with the appearances of Jackie Hill-Perry and Matt Chandler, overall the film presented the Gospel accurately and exposed various ways that we distort and counterfeit it.

Please watch this trailer. I pray it will encourage you to rent the movie.

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Saturday Sampler: March 24 — March 30

Tulip Sampler

Each Sunday, Phil Johnson features a devotional or sermon excerpt by Charles Spurgeon on the Pyromaniacs blog. This week’s quotation tells us How to meet the evils of this age. It always amazes me that things Spurgeon wrote over 100 years ago apply so accurately to 21st Century evangelicals.

Do you know The Early Symptoms of Spiritual Danger? Writing for the Ligonier blog, Sinclair Ferguson discusses apostasy, using a passage in Hebrews 6 to explores how someone becomes an apostate.

In Christians and Coming Out Redux, John Ellis of adayinhiscourt uses personal experience to illustrate the world’s wholesale rejection of Christian values. If you have any doubt that non-Christians lack tolerance for Bible-believing Christians, I urge you to consider this article.

For years, I’ve wondered how progressives would respond when the Muslims they supported refused to support LBGTQIA concerns. Stephen McAlpine sees this unraveling of causes beginning, and writes about it in Secularism’s (Misplaced) Confidence. Maybe I’m not so crazy after all.

Michelle Lesley encourages us, using Scripture as authority, not to be Frightened by Freedom.

I appreciate the candor of Andrea Burke in The One Life Dream That Makes a Girl Blush, featured in For The Church. The post takes me back to my days as a single woman and the guilt I felt for wanting to be married.

Drawing from 1 Samuel 4:1-11, Elizabeth Prata of The End Time shows us that “The more things change, the more they stay the same” rings true. This Old Testament episode should sober us as we consider how we approach life.

It’s a Christian’s greatest fear.  And Mike Ratliff addresses that fear with his article in Possessing the Treasure entitled What is Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? If you genuinely love the Lord, you’ll find this short Bible Study wonderfully reassuring.

Let’s have a second one from Elizabeth Prata, shall we? “God Told Me:” About those whispers to the heart evaluates claims that God speaks to people personally. It distresses me that we still need instruction on this matter. Be sure to watch the videos by Gabe Hughes and Mike Abendroth that Elizabeth includes in her post.

SharaC, the purveyor of Into the Foolishness of God, challenges the popular notion that the Bible is muddy and therefore difficult to understand by writing Deconstructing Faith. While I disagree with her comments about doubt, her overall argument for the clarity of God’s Word makes this article essential reading. I wish more bloggers would stand this resolutely against efforts to dilute the Word!

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Funny That I’ve Grown Serious

ThankfulKittyBlack02Back in the 80s and early 90s, my reputation for practical jokes was such that I got blamed even for those I didn’t orchestrate. My personal favorite was in honor of my friend Bob’s birthday.

Bob shared my dislike for cats (which we both greatly exaggerated for the purpose of teasing each other). When his birthday rolled around, I gave his phone number to my friend Terry, whom Bob had never met. At my instruction, Terry told Bob that he was from the SPCA, and wanted to deliver a kitten to him that afternoon.

Bob declined the offer, and wandered out of his room in bewilderment telling his housemate, “I just got the strangest phone call.” Before he could recount what Terry had said, his housemate doubled over with laughter, causing Bob to remember that I’d spent time with that housemate a week earlier. “DebbieLynne!” he shouted knowingly.

I’m still proud of that one!

These days I have fewer opportunities to play practical jokes, largely because I don’t have an accomplice. Also, I have less energy than I did back then. Practical jokes take work!

But, as much as I miss that part of my life, I have changed into a more serious woman. Oh, I still laugh a lot — a robust sense of humor is downright necessary Continue reading

Saturday Sampler: February 24 — March 2

penguin-samplerThankfully, Phil Johnson relies on Scripture rather than the accepted wisdom of the Social Justice Movement in his Pyromaniacs article, One More Plea for Impartiality in That Virtue We Call “Justice”.  If only more of us let the Bible inform our thoughts!

Can you identify The Common Denominators of false religions? If not, Leslie A of Growing 4 Life lays out a helpful and comprehensive outline to assist you in your discernment. As a bonus, she includes a little background on the origin of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Absolutely, Christians need to exercise more civility on social media! But let’s not go to an opposite extreme that causes us to condone sin. In Girl, Same Here! How our desire to be relatable is hurting our morals, Jillian McNeeley cautions against being agreeable when someone is in sin. You’ll find her blog post on Biblical Woman.

Erin Benziger has imported her blog, Do Not Be Surprised, to WordPress recently. I want to welcome this dear friend of mine to the WordPress community by sharing her devotional, The Sufficiency of Christ and His Word. Erin zeros in on a key reason that so many evangelicals lack discernment today.

Praise the Lord for Denny Burk‘s report that African Christians Rescue United Methodists by influencing them not to weaken their official position regarding LBGTQ matters. Will this decision lead to a denominational split? Probably. But how encouraging to see people stand for truth!

You’ll find encouragement from We Never Stop Needing the Gospel by Rebekah Womble of Wise in His Eyes.

Morning by Morning features Brianna Lambert’s piece, The Fruit of Self-Control: What is Your Hungry Soul Telling You? Before you roll your eyes, assuming that she’s just writing another dreary lecture urging us to be good little girls, give her a fair hearing. Her conclusions might not be what you expect!

In Context Matters: Forgetting What Lies Behind, Peter Krol of Knowable Word clears up erroneous teaching on Philippians 3:13 by showing us how this verse relates to everything leading up to it.

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