Archive for category grace

How Jesus came to preach on Hell (a parable)

At that time Jesus and his disciples entered a prosperous land.  Hearing of his arrival, many of the people came to hear him speak.  Thousands gathered around him.

” I bring you good news.  God loves you, all of you.  You have no need to fear or worry. Eternal life is yours.  Peace and happiness are at hand. ”

The crowd began to murmur. They didn’t understand what he was saying.

“How is this possible? How do we get this eternal life you speak of ?” they asked.

Smiling, Jesus spread his arms wide. “Just follow me. I am living this life right now.  I have come to share with you  the Way of eternal life  and how to be in tune with God. You may hear all kinds of people on television pitching their self-help programs,  but there is good reason there are so many of them. They don’t work. Not for long. But follow me and I can assure you of eternal life.

” OK, so what’s the catch? How much does this cost? What kind of sacrifices do I have to make?” a man asked.

“There is no catch” said Jesus. “This life is free. No fees. No purchase necessary. No sacrifice.”

“Alright”,  another shouted.  “Tell us. What is this secret?”

“Simple” said Jesus. “Love each other as much as you love yourself and love God with all your heart.  The only way to love God is to love others.”

“How do we do that?” someone asked

“Always put the needs of others before your own” Jesus said. ” Visit the sick and  imprisoned. Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked.  Take in the homeless.  And -very importantly – forgive everyone, especially your enemies.”

“That’s crazy!” someone shouted.  “We don’t live in some sort of dream world. We have families to take care of – we can’t just bring bums and vagrants into our homes!”

“I have to worry about my kid’s college tuition!” another shouted “I can’t buy clothes for a bunch of slackers. Let ’em get jobs and buy their own.”

A woman stood up, shaking her fist. “What kind of fuzzy-wuzzy crap is this? Love your enemies?! I guess you expect us to love all those elitist god-haters that want to destroy this great nation?  You just want us to open our arms to foreign heathens as they pour into our country, taking our jobs, speaking their own languages, praying to the wrong gods and plotting violent revolution?  You’re just a sissy wing-nut that hates his own country!”

The angry crowd turned their backs and began to leave, grumbling and shaking their heads.  Nervously, Jesus glanced  around. Looking up,  he smiled and suddenly  jumped on a nearby boulder, waving his arms frantically.

“Wait! Wait!” he cried. “There is another way! A better way! Come back. Give me another chance.”

Most ignored him but some turned back.  “This better be good”, they said. They sat down on the grass and waited.

Jesus  sat down in the middle of them. ” OK, the other stuff was good, but that was only half the story. This is the real deal. You see, there are these two places called Heaven and Hell….



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No Hell = No Jesus

As long as I can remember  my mother has said, “As a Christian you have to believe in Hell but you don’t have to believe anyone is  there.”  This is her gracious understanding of an essential Christian doctrine.  Though she didn’t know it,  this understanding is a Christian “heresy” called Universalism, a heresy  that says all of us,  even non-Christians, will go to Heaven. And it was expressly against Catholic, and most Christian doctrine. But wasn’t she right about one thing:  Don’t you have to believe in Hell to be a Christian? This must be the case, if Universalism is a heresy.

Not long ago Rob Bell was  in the hot seat with many Evangelicals (and some Catholics)  because his recent book, “Love Wins”,  suggested that no one goes to Hell.  He set the conservative Christian bogs on fire and most of them essentially condemned Bell to hell for not believing in Hell.

The ensuing progressive  Christian defense of Bell was great.  Many Emerging Church and progressive Christian bloggers  busted the chops of people like the Three Johns ( Piper, MacArthur and Hagee) for accusing Bell of  Universalism . They rightly criticized the conservative Christian tendency to make Hell such a big part of their theology, to the point where this doctrine  obscures a lot of the Gospel message.  But, unfortunately, few of them go far enough.

Because in their defense of Bell they made it quite clear that they also believed in the doctrine of Hell, they just adapted it to make it more palatable.  Most seemed to accept the conventional orthodoxy  of a Final Judgment and the potential prospect of Hell (even with little or no scriptural support for it) coupled with the salvic solution of Jesus dying for our sins on the cross, as God’s blood sacrifice, to free us from eternal damnation.  Which, to me, flies in the face of what Jesus spends a lot of time telling us about God.  As I heard a pastor once say, God is either merciful or God is just, but God cannot be both.

I think one reason why so many Christians are unyielding about Hell, and why the progressives still can’t shake the doctrine off, is that, in reality,  Hell is the cornerstone of the Church, not Jesus.  Because without Hell, what is there for Jesus to do? What does he save us from?

No Hell = no Jesus. Or at least the Jesus that many Christians claim to believe in, have faith in.  Without Hell he loses his job description. He loses his purpose along with the primary meaning he may have for millions of Christians. So the idea that there is no Hell is just too damn frightening to consider.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

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A sure sign that you are not ‘saved’ is that you are wondering if other people are

It’s that simple.  Because that means that you just haven’t gotten the point of the Gospel.

I remember talking with some friends about a member of our church, an old gentleman who had just passed away at a fairly advanced age. He had been a member of the church for a very long time, longer than any of  us had been members. A bit standoffish, more than a little grumpy, he was the type of fellow who didn’t invite folks to get to know him very well.

One of my friends said that he regretted not getting to know this man, that he hadn’t taken the time to sit with him, especially in the last few days of his life. He regretted never having asked the man if he was ‘saved’. My other friends heartily agreed.

I was fairly blown away by this. In fact, I  remember this conversation as the beginning of the end of my romance with Fundamentalism.  It was the first time that I realized how different my understanding of the Gospel was from theirs.

What was the point of asking an old man, that you never bothered to know over the years, what his beliefs were on his death bed?  What did the question really mean and what would he have said anyway?   I think that what this question really meant was “Do you believe in precisely what I believe? Because if you don’t then you will go to hell”. I think my friends would have no problem admitting that.

I won’t bother explaining why I think that this is wrong. If you get it, then you get it. If you don’t, we’ll, then you won’t.


If God Cannot Tolerate Sin, and if Jesus was God, then how come Jesus only got pissed off at religious people?

I listened to Alistair Begg on the radio this morning ( it’s always good to hear the other side of things – helps to affirm me) and he was preaching on how God, being perfectly holy, can’t even stand to look at sin.  That’s why he had to send Himself,  as Jesus, to pay the price (God’s price, btw) for all the world’s sin. In fact,  at that  point, hanging on the cross, in which Jesus “took on” all of our sin (whatever that means) God completely abandons Jesus, his Son (whatever that means).  “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”

But if Jesus was God (or at least bearing the character of God) then where was his wrath for sinners?  If, like God, he would recoil in the presence of sin, then why did he seem to prefer hookers, thieves and a whole slew of other sinners over the upright and uptight with their 1st century crew cuts and their clean white sneakers?

I read a great line in Sarh Mile’s new book “Jesus Freak”: the pastor asks the congregation  “Who believes that God is merciful and just?”  A bunch of hands fly up.  “Wrong” he says.  “God is merciful”.

Can’t be both.

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Burning Bibles again in…Baptist-stan?

Gotta thank Theopoet for this scoop. I find it funny – no, actually it’s sad – that so many of these mixed up people belong to communities called “Grace”. They don’t have any idea what the word means.

On October 31, Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Canton, North Carolina will celebrate Halloween by burning Bibles.  Here’s the description of this upcoming shindig:

Come celebrate Halloween by burning Satan’s bibles like the NIV, RSV, NKJV, TLB, NASB, NEV, NRSV, ASV, NWT, Good News for Modern Man, The Evidence Bible, The Message Bible, The Green Bible, ect. These are perversions of God’s Word the King James Bible.

We will also be burning Satan’s music such as country, rap, rock, pop, heavy metal, western, soft and easy, southern gospel, contempory Christian, jazz, soul, oldies but goldies, etc.

We will also be burning Satan’s popular books written by heretics like Westcott & Hort, Bruce Metzger, Billy Graham, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, John McArthur, James Dobson, Charles Swindoll, John Piper, Chuck Colson, Tony Evans, Oral Roberts, Jimmy Swagart, Mark Driskol, Franklin Graham, Bill Bright, Tim Lahaye, Paula White, T.D. Jakes, Benny Hinn, Joyce Myers, Brian McLaren, Robert Schuller, Mother Teresa, The Pope, Rob Bell, Erwin McManus, Donald Miller, Shane Claiborne, Brennan Manning, William Young, etc.

We are not burning Bibles written in other languages that are based on the TR. We are not burning the Wycliffe, Tyndale, Genevia or other translations that are based on the TR.

More here from Waco’s

According to the church website, BBQ and Fried Chicken complete with all sides will be served at the event.

Influences include Billy Sunday, A.W. Tozer, Bob Jones Sr., J. Frank Norris and R.G. Lee.

There have been some (tongue in cheek?) comments on Theo’s site saying, to the effect, that this type of behavior won’t land these folks in hell, but it sure reflects badly on Christians. And that it does. But though burning books may not send someone to a mythical place called ‘Hell’ it is a good sign that these people are already living there. Because hell is surely a place without grace, no matter what you call it.

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Two Hundred Proof Grace

Absolute Truth

“The Reformation was a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered, in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellar full of fifteen-hundred-year-old, two-hundred-proof grace—of bottle after bottle of pure distillate of Scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saves us single-handedly. The word of the gospel—after all those centuries of trying to lift yourself into heaven by worrying about the perfection of your bootstraps—suddenly turned out to be a flat announcement that the saved were home before they started…Grace has to be drunk straight: no water, no ice, and certainly no ginger ale; neither goodness, nor badness, nor the flowers that bloom in the spring of super spirituality could be allowed to enter into the case.”, [Robert Farrar Capon]


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