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Is everyone saved?

19 Nov

It is popular these days to teach that the whole world was saved at the cross, that Jesus died not as humanity’s representative but as humanity itself. Those who preach this message typically ask, “Jesus came to save the world—did he fail?”

I am certain Jesus accomplished all he came to do, and yet not everyone is saved. If they were, why would the apostles risk life and limb preaching that we must be saved? Why would they write letters telling us that God wants us to be saved and that he commands people everywhere to repent and believe in the name of his Son in order to be saved? For that matter, why would the risen Lord commission us to preach the good news to all creation so that whoever believes might be saved?

The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men (Titus 2:11), but not all receive it. Consequently, not all are saved. Jesus said: “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved … (John 10:9, NKJV). Trusting in the Savior is the requirement for salvation (Acts 16:31). There is nothing wrong with telling believers they are saved and there is nothing wrong with telling unbelievers they can be. Believers need the assurance, and unbelievers need to hear the good news.

Paul Ellis

The Gospel in Ten Words, KingsPress, 2012, 46-7.

Unbelief vs Faith

5 Nov

The gospel is true whether you believe it or not, but it won’t do you any good unless you believe it. No one is going to force you to leave the jungle. The sole condition for receiving God’s gift of grace is you have to want it. The sinner must drop his guns and the saint must put down her offerings so that both may come with empty hands and faith-filled hearts to the table of his blessings.

The only thing that can render worthless the exceeding riches of God’s grace is unbelief. Unbelief prays, “God, please do this, and that, and the other thing,” but faith looks to the finished work of the cross and says, “Lord, you have done it all.” Unbelief gives—“Lord, look at what I’ve done/built/brought for you.”—but faith receives—“Look at what you have done for us.” Unbelief toils and accomplishes nothing; faith understands that everything comes to us by grace for free. Unbelief tries but faith trusts.

Paul Ellis

The Gospel in Ten Words, KingsPress, 2012, 9.

Beware Cheap Grace?

17 Oct

Only those who receive from God’s abundant provision of grace get to reign in life. One thing that can stop us from receiving is the lie that says we have to prove our mettle before God will bless us; we have to get cleaned up, straightened out, and dried out before can receive. This is a grace-killing doctrine of demons. It’s like telling sick people they have to get well before the doctor will see them.

Every blessing there is, whether health, deliverance, provision, or salvation, comes to us by grace and grace alone. To think we must work for the blessings of God is to try and buy that which is not for sale.

Those who don’t get this worry that those who do are pushing cheap grace. They fret that we are giving away the treasures of heaven without first requiring people to turn from sin, get baptized, confess, and do all the other things that supposedly describe the cost of discipleship. They don’t understand that grace comes first, that it is only by grace we can forgive the unforgiveable, love the unlovable, and do all the other things that followers of Christ do.

Beware cheap grace? There is no such thing. Grace is free or it’s not grace. Or rather grace is priceless and you can’t afford it.

Paul Ellis

The Gospel in Ten Words, KingsPress, 2012, 129-130.

Grace Must Be Free

5 Oct

The gospel is so simple that it’s hard for our grown-up minds to grasp. It can’t be that good. There must be a catch. Before I understood the simplicity of the gospel, my mind was like an ashtray—full of “buts.” God loves you but… Jesus died for you but… As I understood it, God’s gifts always come with a price tag. Only they don’t. They can’t. Don’t you see? Grace must be free or it’s not grace. Don’t let anyone charge you for what God has freely given.

Paul Ellis

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

What is the Gospel?

26 Sep

The gospel is bigger and better than you think. The goodness of the good news is directly proportional to the goodness of God and the newsiness of the good news is proportional to the level of revelation we have about him. Since God is infinitely good and infinitely big, and since there is always more for us to discover about him, there is always more to the good news than we can ever think or imagine. The gospel is simple but it gets bigger and better on closer examination until your mind is fried and you are floored with gratitude at the loving-kindness of a good God.

What is the gospel? It is the revelation of God’s love through Jesus Christ. Whatever your need, your answer is found in Christ alone. He is the Love who loves us and the Grace who helps us in our time of need. If you are a sinner in need of redemption, see Jesus. If you are a saint struggling with sin, see Jesus. If you are oppressed by poverty, you don’t need a sermon outlining seven steps to prosperity—you need a revelation of Jesus, who became poor for our sakes so that we might be rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). If you are facing a storm and don’t know the way forward, you need a revelation of the One who silenced the tempest with a word. If you are looking for a solution to one of the world’s many problems, Jesus has it. Since Jesus is the author of life, he is the first and last word on any and every subject.

Paul Ellis

The Gospel in Ten Words, KingsPress, 2012, 7-8.

Love that Stoops

17 Sep

God is love and love that stoops is called grace. The gospel of grace is really the gospel of his love. Grace is what God’s love looks like from our side. Grace is love come down.

An illustration may help. I love my kids with all my heart but I live in a different world to them. The things I enjoy are above their understanding. So if they are to know my love, one of two things must happen: either they must come up, or I must go down. Since I am their father, I take the initiative. I go down. I choose to engage with them at their level: to get on the floor and wrestle with them; to read them stories I would never read myself; to play and tickle and push their trikes until I’m spent. This is love in action and every parent knows it.

This is exactly how God loves us. He does not love us like a king but a father. This is the supreme revelation of Jesus who is grace personified. God came down that we might go up. Jesus became like us so that we might become like him—whole, healthy, blessed, and completely secure in his Father’s love.

In the greatest parable ever told, Jesus revealed that God is like a father watching for your return, who runs when he sees you coming, and who falls on you with hugs and kisses. You may come with your prepared speech, your good intentions, and a desire to serve but he’s not interested in any of that. He just wants you.

Paul Ellis

The Gospel in Ten Words, KingsPress, 2012, 18-19.