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The “grace of God” is foundational to the Christian faith. So why is there so much confusion regarding its meaning? Here’s an exercise to prove my point. Ask ten of your friends, separately, what grace means to them. How many different answers did you get? How many come close to the Biblical definition?

If your experience is like mine, many of the answers you receive will be limited to some work of God. Most Christians in America equate God’s grace with Jesus’ death for their salvation. This is what they have been taught or allowed to believe.

From the Outline of Biblical Usage (https://www.blueletterbible.org), we find that the charis of God is “the merciful kindness [goodwill and favor] by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.”

Did you get all that?

Grace is not an act of God, nor is it an event. Talking about grace in this way diminishes its meaning – and our understanding of God. Grace is a facet of God’s nature. God is gracious. Those that enter His presence are blessed by His gracious character.

I have heard someone say that grace is the disposition of God toward mankind. This sounds right to me. They go on to say that the grace of God produces things that are beneficial to man: justification, salvation, gifts, fruit, etc. It is important to remember that these benefits are not grace, but its products.

Furthermore, most have been taught or left to believe that grace and its benefits are free. This is wrong on two accounts. First, grace, as a nature of God, cannot be labeled as free (or costly). The Bible never speaks of grace in this way.

Some will acquiesce to this point, and move to argue that the benefits of grace are free. There are several passages they might reference. Let’s start with a couple from Romans. Read the rest of this entry »

Summary

  • The parables of Matthew 25 are very clear about the Final Judgment of mankind. Neither mentions the word “faith”, or “believe”.
  • John 3:16 must mean something more than many (most?) are being taught.
  • Paul encourages us to judge ourselves; Peter, that we would make our call and election sure.
  • Is it wise to presume about any of the qualifications found in these parables?

In a previous article, The Sky is Falling!! Again?, we proposed that – in speaking about the signs of His coming and the end of the Age, Jesus strongly encouraged His disciples (including us) to avoid deception, endure to the end, resist being troubled; and, above all, be prepared.

Continuing His discourse, Jesus explains what that preparation looks like. He also highlights the rewards for preparing; and the consequences of failing to do so. With that in mind, take all the time you need to read Matthew 25… prayerfully and carefully. Then, please prayerfully consider the following.

The parables of Matthew 25 are very clear about the Final Judgment of mankind. If you have enough oil you will get in to Heaven. If you properly invest the talent that has been entrusted to you, you will get in. If you feed, clothe, etc. the brethren of Jesus Christ, you will get in.

If you fail at these, you will be shut out, cast into outer darkness (where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth), and cursed to the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. In simpler terms: You will go to Hell.

I know this is challenging to many. Jesus said – right there in John 3:16 – that God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son; that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. Nothing there about bringing enough oil to the party, being a wise investor, or ministering to the brethren.

At this point we must ask ourselves a few questions: What does believing in Jesus mean? Does it include the requirements of Matthew 25? Is what we know as “faith” enough for salvation; without oil, or return on invested talent, or ministry to the brethren? Is faith without works dead (i.e., ineffectual for our salvation)? How will our faith be judged? Read the rest of this entry »

Bible with Cross ShadowEnter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14

There was a time when this saying of Jesus was well known to all Christians; now, perhaps not. Even those of us who have heard it many times have failed to grasp – or have lost – the gravity of its meaning. Entering the kingdom of God is not as easy as we would like to think; nor communicate.

First, let’s deal with the meaning of the narrow gate. The Greek word used here means: Well, it means narrow – as in not wide. Jesus intends for his disciples to visualize a gate that is difficult to pass through. Maybe not the eye of a needle (for everyone), but certainly narrower than a standard doorway.

In a later conversation, he made this abundantly clear.

Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” Luke 13:23-24

Nothing short of striving will get us through the narrow gate. Whatever striving looks like for you, I am sure it is not easy. It is important that we search this out – for ourselves and for those whom we are responsible to God. These articles will help: Call to Action: Strive to Enter; and A Storm is Coming – Strive to Enter into Community. Read the rest of this entry »

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