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License to Sin?

6 May

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Whole Bible Theology

3 May

Perhaps you have heard that “God won’t forgive you if you are harboring unforgiveness in your heart.” Under the law that Jesus preached, that was true. But the law-keeping covenant was fulfilled at the cross. Those who maintain we must forgive to be forgiven are confused about the finished work of Calvary. They will draw your attention to those scriptures that say forgiveness is conditional while ignoring those that say it isn’t.

We need to have a whole Bible theology but that does not mean “read everything indiscriminately and hope for the best.” That would be like going to the drug cabinet and swallowing every pill in sight. A whole Bible theology means you read the written word through the lens of the Living Word. It means you filter everything you read through Christ and his finished work on the cross.

Paul_EllisPaul Ellis

The Gospel in Ten Words, KingsPress, 2012, 29.

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You Died

29 Apr

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Grace and Faith Cooperate

5 Apr

A common theme that you detect in the writings of those who preach historical inclusion is that faith comes a distant second to grace: It’s all about Jesus and his work; it’s not about you and your faith. There is an element of truth here: Faith doesn’t save us, Jesus saves us. Yet Jesus often said, “Be it according to your faith.” The value of the gospel can only be realized through faith. Grace unmixed with faith is worthless.

It is true that faith does not change God. Faith is a positive response to something God has done. But faith changes just about everything else. “The prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well: The Lord will raise him up” (Jas 5:15)…

The grace of God is like a 200GW power station; your faith is like a tiny light switch. Flip the switch and the light goes on. Who made the light? Not you – the power comes from an outside source. If there was no power station you could flip that switch all night long and it would make no difference. This is why faith alone cannot save you. Faith apart from grace leaves you lost and groping in the dark. But the gospel reveals that there is ample power for everyone who chooses to flip the switch. God not only generates the power, He is the one who gave you the switch. He is the one encouraging you to flip it.

Paul_EllisPaul Ellis

The Doctrine of Inclusion: Why it Appeals, How it Misleads, (2012)

Obsessed With Sin

15 Mar

Do you know why so many believers have no peace in their relationship with God? They would tell you it is because God is angry with them and their sin, but the real reason is they are ignorant of him and his righteousness. In the kingdom, peace always follows righteousness. If you are more conscious of your sin than his righteousness, you will never enjoy peace with God.

The church has an unhealthy obsession with sin. We spend our lives watching out for sin, resisting sin, fighting sin, hiding sin, running from sin, owning up to sin, talking about sin, turning from sin, and hopefully, overcoming sin. With so much emphasis on sin, guilt, and shame, is it any wonder so many of us don’t feel righteous? We need the ministry of the Holy Spirit now more than ever.

Paul_EllisPaul Ellis

The Gospel in Ten Words, KingsPress, 2012, 95-6.

No Matter What

1 Mar

Under the old covenant we were restrained from sin through mortal terror but in the new we are restrained by love. Look again at Paul’s warning about prostitutes (in 1 Cor. 6:15). Behind the warning—don’t do it—there is a surprising and reassuring affirmation of union. Paul is saying it is possible, though not advisable, to unite the members of Christ’s body with prostitutes. Do you see it? Earthly marriages may break and fail, but your union with Christ is unbreakable. Sin cannot break it. Addiction cannot break it. The stupidest decisions you might ever make cannot break it.

This should not be taken as a challenge to see what you can get away with but as a stunning declaration of Christ’s absolute commitment to love you and stick with you no matter what. This is what changes us—not the weak influence of the rule (there is no rule; all things are lawful) but the relentless and determined passion of his love.

The love of God is the greatest force in the universe. Sin wilts before it. When you encounter the undaunted and unending love of Christ, it changes you. You know longer want to sin. The passing pleasures of this world lose their appeal because you have found a love that is truer and better by far.

Paul Ellis

The Gospel in Ten Words, KingsPress, 2012, 59.

Unconditional Forgiveness

11 Feb

If God’s love is unconditional, then his forgiveness must be unconditional too. And it is! His forgiveness is not doled out in proportion to our acts of repentance or confession. It is lavished upon us according to the riches of his grace (Ephesians 1:7). You only need to look at Jesus to know this is true. During his time on earth, Jesus went around forgiving people who neither confessed nor repented, and while he hung on the cross he forgave those who put him there. The Son of God did all this to give us a picture of what true forgiveness looks like; it looks like love.

You need to treat God’s forgiveness the same way you treat his love—as a gift received by faith from start to finish. You don’t need to beat yourself up to get it; you just need to look to the cross and say, “Thank you, Jesus.”

Paul Ellis

The Gospel in Ten Words, KingsPress, 2012, 41.

Return to the Titanic

21 Jan

The lifeboat gospel is the idea that salvation is all about avoiding hell and gaining heaven. The problem with this gospel is that it has sidelined entire generations of believers by telling them the earth is nothing more than a waiting room for eternity. Afraid of being left behind, Christians with a lifeboat mentality have opted out of the game. They want nothing to do with this filthy world lest they end up entangled in it. “Forget the arts, forget politics, forget science. This world is destined for the fire anyway, so why bother.”

Lifeboat Christians are hands-off Christians. Yet their passivity, which is really unbelief, means they regularly get steam¬rolled by the circumstances of life. When this happens it only confirms their belief that “the ship is sinking—you’d best get off.” …

As you grow in the confidence that he who saves you also keeps you, you will leave the dubious comfort of the lifeboat and return to the Titanic where you will bring the good news of salvation to others. You will lay hands on the sick and they will be healed. You will proclaim freedom to the captives and they will be freed. You will find that supernatural signs and wonders follow this good news wherever it goes.

Paul Ellis

The Gospel in Ten Words, KingsPress, 2012, 51,55.

The Privilege of the Gospel

4 Jan

Some have asked me, “If we preach forgiveness as part of the finished work, isn’t there a danger of promoting apathy and indifference among the lost?” There is, but there is a far greater danger if we don’t preach forgiveness. The opposite of forgiveness or remission is sin retention (John 20:23). Although the sins of the world were taken away at the cross, many people remain chained to sin through hurt and unforgiveness…

Just this morning I heard from a young man whose friend killed himself because he could not cope with the guilt religion had put on him. This is an awful tragedy but it should not surprise us. The Bible shows us again and again that any religion of rules ultimately ministers death to those who would live by them. Grace-less religion kills people.

The only thing that can free people from the grip of sin is a revelation of God’s grace. This is why it is essential that we heed Jesus and follow the apostles’ example and proclaim the free gift of forgiveness. For some people it is literally a matter of life and death. They are dying for lack of forgiveness. The good news is that forgiveness is powerful. It heals, it restores, it liberates and brings reconciliation. Forgiveness saves lives.

The last thing this world needs is another guilt-shoveler behind a pulpit. What people desperately need to hear is the good news. They need to be told their sins have been forgiven and it is our responsibility to tell them. Indeed, this is the privilege of proclaiming the gospel.

Paul Ellis

The Gospel in Ten Words, KingsPress, 2012, 36-7.

Religion vs. Grace

7 Dec

Some say that a tsunami of grace is currently sweeping across the world. If this is so, then one of the signs of this grace awakening will be an increasing emphasis on the short and simple gospel Jesus revealed and the New Testament writers proclaimed.

The gospel of grace is wholly unlike the rule-based religion many of us are familiar with. Religion is complicated but grace is simple. Religion is vague but grace is crystal clear. Religion finds fault and does nothing to help, but the grace of God propels you triumphantly through life’s toughest challenges. Religion will give you a headache and leave you sick and tired, but grace gives strength to the weary and life to the dead. Religion seeks to bridle the free but grace liberates the prisoner and the oppressed.

It is my firm conviction that as more people come to appreciate the beauty and richness of the undiluted gospel, sermons on other subjects will disappear like yesterday’s news. The power of God is only revealed in the gospel, and we have been called to preach nothing less.

Paul Ellis

The Gospel in Ten Words, KingsPress, 2012, 12.

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