Interrupting Love

9 Dec

 

What is salvation, really?

6 Dec

The doctrine of (historical) inclusion is a deceptively appealing but unbiblical message that minimizes the lostness of the lost and, as a result, diminishes the saving work of the cross. Telling unbelievers that they are already saved, righteous, and in relationship robs the gospel of its power to save those who believe. It does this by promoting a cerebral faith that is little more than an intellectual acceptance of an insurance policy whose main benefit is a ticket to heaven. But the most damaging aspect of this doctrine is that it stymies love. Instead of being invited into union with Christ, unbelievers learn that they are the unwitting participants in an arranged marriage. Jesus is not on the outside waiting to be invited in; He has already entered against their will and married them! It’s a fait accompli that you had just better get used to. If unbelievers then exercise their freedom in the only direction left open to them – refusing to participate through unbelief – their husband might yet pursue the eternal equivalent of an honor killing.

Happily, the gospel of grace that Paul et al. preached is nothing like this! Jesus has not violated anyone’s will but stands at the door knocking and waiting to be invited in. He will dine with anyone and everyone who accepts Him. For God so loved the world that He sent His Son Jesus to save everyone. He then sent the Holy Spirit to point people to Jesus. Whoever believes in Him shall not perish but enjoy eternal life in union with the Triune God. The life He offers is nothing like the one you were born with for it is His life. Jesus wants to live His life of unconditional love, divine favor, and supernatural power through you. To live like this is to experience heaven on earth here and now. It is knowing God – His love, His will, His joy and pleasure – today. And this life is available to all who would say, “Yes, Jesus!” Salvation is not an historical event. It is the present reality of Christ living in me. Now is the time of God’s favor. Today is the day of salvation.

Paul_EllisPaul Ellis

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

What Would You Do?

4 Dec

There are two ways to hide from God’s love – rebellion and religion. Rebellion, illustrated in the prodigal son, defies God’s love and seeks to cover up guilt and shame through the indulgence of sensual desires. Religion, on the other hand, is far more subtle. It seeks its cover-up through good works and obligation. However, like the prodigal’s older brother, it still denies the Father’s place in our lives and leads us no closer to knowing him for who he really is.

Simply, religion is keeping score – striving for acceptance through our own performance whether it be in our good works or in ritualistic activities. Those things put the focus squarely on us and what we can do to be accepted by God, thereby dooming us to failure.

Most of Paul’s letters were written because even the earliest believers found themselves trading relationship for religion. Instead of learning to live in the security of his love, they would go back to traditions, creeds, disciplines, and laws as an attempt to earn it themselves. He reminded them again and again that God’s love would take them further than their own efforts and achievements ever would…

What would you do today if you knew God absolutely loved you?

Wayne Jacobsen

He Loves Me: Learning to Live in the Father’s Affection, Windblown, 2007, 137-8

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Christ

2 Dec

Ritual vs Reality

29 Nov

There are a few things quite so boring as being religious, but there is nothing quite so exciting as being a Christian! Most folks have never discovered the difference between the one and the other, so that there are those who sincerely try to live a life they do not have, substituting religion for God, Christianity for Christ, and their own noble endeavors for the energy, joy, and power of the Holy Spirit. In the absence of reality, they can only grasp at ritual, stubbornly defending the latter in the absence of the former, lest they be found with neither! They are lamps without oil, cars without gas, and pens without ink, baffled at their own impotence in the absence of all that alone can make man functional; for man was so engineered by God that the presence of the Creator within the creature is indispensable to his humanity. Christ gave Himself for us to give Himself to us! His presence puts God back into the man! He came that we might have life – God’s life!”

Ian ThomasIan Thomas

Foreword, Classic Christianity, Harvest House, 1989, 7.

More Than Enough

27 Nov

“I’ve never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love, and more love!

Watch what comes next: I’ll bring my people back from the north country And gather them up from the ends of the earth, gather those who’ve gone blind And those who are lame and limping, gather pregnant women, Even the mothers whose birth pangs have started, bring them all back, a huge crowd!

The people will climb up Zion’s slopes shouting with joy, their faces beaming because of GOD’s bounty– Grain and wine and oil, flocks of sheep, herds of cattle. Their lives will be like a well-watered garden, never again left to dry up.

Young women will dance and be happy, young men and old men will join in. I’ll convert their weeping into laughter, lavishing comfort, invading their grief with joy.

I’ll make sure that their priests get three square meals a day and that my people have more than enough.”

Jeremiah the Prophet quoting God

Jer 31:3,8,12-14, Message Bible

Royalty

25 Nov

 

New Covenant Ministry

22 Nov

New-covenant ministers, essentially, can do only two things for others. First, we can help remove obstacles that are keeping people from carrying out what is written in their hearts and in their minds. These obstacles can be fears, misconceptions, habits, strongholds. Through love and witness, a minister can help remove these barriers and open the way for faith to operate freely. Second, we can help provide opportunities for God’s people to do what they have already been programmed to do by their new birth. Looking at ministry in light of these two tasks helps shed light on how best to minister without manipulation. It is not wrong, for example, for ministers to give us opportunities for service. Christians needed to be challenged to do what is in their hearts to do – to believe, to serve, to give. Placing opportunities in front of others is not necessarily manipulation. Only when the inner person is sacrificed to external behavior does manipulation replace ministry. Manipulation is playing God. That is a tiring and exasperating experience; you are just not equipped for it. If you fall into the habit of relying on manipulation in the service of ministry, your energy level will not hold out. In the long run, you cannot be successful. Ministry, on the other hand, is following God, immersing yourself in the reality of the gospel of grace and responding to his leadership as you lead others.

Dudley_HallDudley Hall

Grace Works, Vine Books, 1992, 198.

How to Spell Relief

20 Nov

God created humanity with a burning need for love. That’s why you’re sitting there needing love. If you didn’t need love, you wouldn’t need God. In fact, that’s why you were created with needs, period. God is the supreme authority figure who has the market cornered on being able to supply all our needs. Thus, He created a bunch of people who have a ton of needs. This way, some of us would recognize our need and turn to Him through Jesus to get our needs supplied His way. God spells relief J-e-s-u-s.”

Bill Gillham

Lifetime Guarantee, Harvest House, 1993, 18

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Thy will be done

18 Nov