People tell me all the time, their main goal in life is to go to heaven when they die. In fact, I’m quite certain I’ve said the exact same thing before. I’ve always thought that was the very best goal a person could have, but I’ve changed my mind. The more I think about that phrase, and especially the context in which it is usually stated, the more I think it often reveals a misunderstanding deep in our hearts. Here are a few thoughts on having heaven as a our main goal in life.Continue Reading...
Archives For grace
When the children of Israel were going into the Promised Land, God gave them a law. The law was part of His covenant relationship with them. But after Jesus came, many Jewish Christians wanted to know what role the law should continue to play in their lives. Were Christians obligated to keep the law? If not, what was to keep them from living sinfully? The apostle Paul boldly claimed that Christians “are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14). Could that really be true? If so, what would that look like? What would that mean?Continue Reading...
I recently had a rather unfortunate debate on Facebook that revolved around a conversation I had with my son. I posted that I had told my son, people don’t go to heaven because they are obedient, they go to heaven because God is gracious and sent Jesus to die on the cross. Of course I wasn’t undermining the importance and necessity of obedience, but I was making the point that God saves us, “not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace” (2 Timothy 1:9). But it seems many are rather uncomfortable with that concept.
So I want to address the question, “Are we saved by grace or not?”Continue Reading...
The word “grace” appears over 100 times in the New Testament. One could easily say that grace is one of the most dominant themes of the New Testament. The apostle John began his gospel account by saying, “The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). Therefore, it is only right for Christ’s church to be known as a people of grace. Or, in other words, the church of Christ should be the church of grace.Continue Reading...
It seems there are a lot of people who wonder, “Am I good enough to go to heaven?” They wonder if they’ve done enough good, if they’ve helped enough people, if they attended worship services enough times, if they have taught enough people about Jesus. And then, on the other hand, they wonder if they’ve been too bad to go to heaven. I want to attempt to answer some of these questions.Continue Reading...
My last post addressing the question, “Is it Time for Churches of Christ to Fellowship Other Groups?” has sparked a great deal of discussion concerning the issue of unity. I would like to share with you a thought about why I believe the church struggles so much with this issue of unity.Continue Reading...
Imagine walking into an expensive restaurant and seeing an old friend, already enjoying his dinner. When you see the half-eaten feast on your friend’s table, you think to yourself, “Wow! He’s really pigging out tonight. That’s going to be huge bill.” You wave to your friend and he waves back. When you finish your dinner the waiter brings your check. To your surprise, the waiter has added someone else’s meal to your ticket. “What’s the meaning of this,” you ask the waiter. The waiter replies, “Your friend said you wouldn’t mind picking up the tab, so we put his meal on your bill.”
Personally, I would be outraged with such a person and I would no longer consider that man a “friend.” Are we doing the same thing to God?Continue Reading...
I hear constantly, “Well, that’s probably not a good thing to do, but it’s not a sin.” Or even, “That might be a bad thing to do, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it is a sin.” It is very interesting to hear people talk this way and I wonder if we have any idea what we’re saying. I wonder, do we really know what it means to “sin”?Continue Reading...
Under the Old Testament, many seemed to believe that all God really wanted was ritualistic obedience. They seemed to think that as long as they went through the motions, regardless of their hearts, God would be pleased. This mentality was certainly prevalent during the days of Isaiah, and of Christ (Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:8).
There are those with this mentality today; however, many seem to have gone to the opposite extreme.
Many today, seem to think God cares nothing about obedience and cares only about the heart. They say things like, “It’s impossible to say whether anyone is right or wrong in what they do, because we don’t know their heart.” These people believe God will judge, not based on what a person did or didn’t do, but based upon how that person felt about God.
Neither of these two extremes are biblical. And neither of these two extremes are pleasing to God. As you read through the Bible, both New and Old Testaments, you will find that what God really wants is YOU! He wants all of you. He doesn’t want just your heart, and He doesn’t want just your obedience. He wants everything. He wants heartfelt obedience!
Jesus certainly rebuked the idea that God would be pleased with ritualistic, heartless obedience. But, He also debunked the myth that God would be pleased with anything less than total submission to His will.
John 14:15 (ESV)
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
Matthew 15:7-9 (ESV)
“You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'”
Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)
“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'”
Mark 16:15-16 (ESV)
“And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.'”
Mark 12:29-30 (ESV)
“The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'”
Although we will inevitably fall short of God’s will for our lives (Romans 3:23), we must acknowledge the fact that God is pleased with nothing short of a heartfelt effort to be perfect and holy (Matthew 5:48). It is only while we strive (in futility) for perfection, that we walk in the grace of God (1 John 1:7).
God has high expectations of those who come to Him; expectations of your heart and expectations of your obedience.
I love you and a gracious God loves you,
P.S. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
There are certainly thousands of things a Christian should never be, so this is far from an exhaustive list. But here are 7 things, from 1 Thessalonians 5:14-18, a Christian should never be.
1 Thessalonians 5:14-16
(14) And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. (15) See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. (16) Rejoice always, (17) pray without ceasing, (18) give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1. A Christian Should Never be Idle (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
Idle is defined as, “Not working or active…doing nothing.” This doesn’t mean we can never stop working momentarily and rest; but like our Lord, we need to constantly be about our Father’s business.
2. A Christian Should Never be a Discouraging (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
Christians ought to be people who build up; never tear down. Paul says in Ephesians 4:29 that every word that comes from our mouth should be good for building up. Even when we have to admonish someone, it should be done in an encouraging way.
3. A Christian Should Never be too Busy to Help Others (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
If you are too busy with your own life to “help the weak,” you’re too busy (Galatians 6:10).
4. A Christian Should Never be Impatient (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
Patience is indicative of love (1 Corinthians 13:4) and walking “by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16-23). Therefore, no Christian should be comfortable being characterized as impatient.
5. A Christian Should Never be Vengeful (1 Thessalonians 5:15)
Pretty straight forward, “See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.”
6. A Christian Should Never be Without Joy (1 Thessalonians 5:16)
In spite of any circumstance, we can rejoice because we know that we are on our way home! And everything that happens between now and then can only make us stronger. James says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).
7. A Christian Should Never be Ungrateful (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18)
Praying without ceasing and giving thanks in every circumstance is, “the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” If we realize we are saved by grace through faith, and that salvation “is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8), we ought not let a moment go by where we could be characterized as “ungrateful.” Christians should be the very personification of gratitude!
Although these are 7 things that we ought never to be, I know that I have been each of them. We are all working at becoming more and more what we should be and less what we should not be. I am thankful to be striving with you, and I’m extremely thankful for the grace of God through which I’ve been saved!
I love you and God loves you,
P.S. What other things can you think of that a Christian should never be? Feel free to share in the comments below.