I just finished preaching a month-long sermon series on love. This series has really impacted the way I think about things. I have not come away thinking that loving people is the only thing in the world that matters, but I have come away thinking that of all the things that matter, love matters most of all. In this brief post, I want to share with you why love matters most.Continue Reading...
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Welcome to Radically Christian Q&A, the two-minute show where we answer your tough Bible questions with honest Bible answers. This show is brought to you by RadicallyChristian.com and Baker Heights church of Christ. Our question today is, “Do I need to love myself more to love my neighbor as myself?”Continue Reading...
People are looking to the Bible for answers to questions like, “How can I get my husband to pay more attention to me,” “How can I get my friend to stop talking about me behind my back,” and “How can I get my boss to pay me what I feel like I deserve?” The Bible certainly gives a lot of principles about how to interact with others. But we must understand, the Bible is not a guide to get people to do what you want them to do. Jesus never once gave a lesson on how to get people to like you and treat you well. In fact, Jesus often taught told His disciples if they followed Him, people would inevitably hate them (John 15:18-19).Continue Reading...
Here’s a question, can you read someone’s mind? Can any Christian read another person’s mind? Do you ever act like you can read other people’s minds?Continue Reading...
If we’re honest, we’d have to admit, this is an area where we all struggle. This is truly one of Jesus’ most difficult commands.Continue Reading...
It sounds romantic to say, or to hear, “I need you.” But, have you ever stopped to realize that it might be harming your relationship with your spouse and God?Continue Reading...
The treasures which God lavishes upon mankind are the result of grace. However, there is something that mankind can earn…punishment. Because man has sinned, he has earned for himself the torment of God, not the treasures of God!
Becoming radically Christian means one must understand that God’s wrath is the only thing which is owed to us. Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And Romans 6:23 tells us, “The wages of sin is death.” If you are an adult human being, of sound-mind, you deserve eternal torment; not for the sin of Adam or the sins of your parents (Ezekiel 18:20), you deserve to go to hell for your own sins. By choosing sin over righteousness, even just one time, you have chosen to become a slave to sin (Romans 6:16). By choosing sin, you have chosen to separate yourself from God (Isaiah 59:2). By choosing sin, you have chosen to be an enemy of God (Romans 5:10). God has not chosen hell for anyone. Anyone who goes to hell will go there because they chose sin; and hell is the just repercussion of choosing sin. Some may think that hell is too harsh. Some may think that hell could not possibly be just or fair. They may think that a loving God could never allow His created beings, whom He loves, to go to hell. After all, “God is love” (1 John 4:8); how could He possibly create, and allow people to go to, a place like hell?
In order to understand grace, one must absolutely understand that God has been more than fair in the system that He has established. First, we must understand that God, in His very nature, is completely holy (Psalm 99:9). Holy means to be set apart from sin. It means to be totally, completely, and perfectly pure. So sin and God are very opposites in nature; they naturally separate from one another. Like oil and water, sin repels God. God did not create Himself to be holy and separate from sin; God did not create Himself at all. He has always been, and therefore has always been holy.
When God created mankind, His will for them was that they live in a perpetual state of happiness and joy with their loving Creator. God initially gave to them, not the world we see today, but essentially a heaven on earth. But for what purpose did God create man? Man’s entire purpose for being created and placed in the Garden can be summed up in three words, to glorify God (Isaiah 43:7; 1 Corinthians 10:31). This loving and mighty God created two human beings, gave them a wonderful and beautiful place in which to live, and gave them a simple mandate, glorify Me! This is the same expectation He has for all of His creation, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). However, the first two humans soon disobeyed this simple directive. Instead of glorifying God, they disobeyed God in order to gratify their own sinful desires. By disobeying God, they failed to fulfill the very purpose for which they were created to serve.
When a creation fails to fulfill its purpose, the creator has every right to destroy the creation. After all, if Ford Motor Co. created a car that could not be driven (the purpose for which it was created), Ford would be within its rights to destroy the malfunctioning cars. God could have simply destroyed man in the same instance that he first chose sin over obedience. God would have been within His rights, as the Creator, to destroy Adam and Eve the moment that they ate of the forbidden fruit.
However, because God is by nature loving, God decided it would be more merciful and gracious to banish mankind than to destroy them; so God “drove out the man” from the Garden (Genesis 3:24). This is one of the first glimpses we have into the amazing mercy and grace of God! Adam and Eve deserved destruction, but by grace they received life.
All mankind deserves torment and destruction, and there is a place where many will receive exactly what all mankind deserves. Jesus warns, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Hell is described as the place “where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48). It is a place, we are told, that is an “eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).
Contrary to popular ideas, hell is not a place which Satan owns or controls; it the place in which Satan will suffer eternal torment. It was prepared for him and his angels because of his disobedience to God. Jesus says about Satan, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). When we disobey God, we choose to be children of the devil. John writes, “By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God” (1 John 3:10). Children of the devil will, of course, “fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6). Meaning, those who choose not to follow God will spend eternity in torment.
It may be discouraging to come to the realization that we deserve punishment, torment, and destruction. But this fact must be realized before grace can be understood. If one does not understand what he deserves, he cannot be thankful for the blessings he has received in spite of that which he deserves. He may grow to feel as if he has earned these blessings and not give the glory to God.
The contrast between those who realize the gravity of their sins and those who do not is seen in Luke 7. There, a “sinful woman” washed the feet of Jesus with her tears. Simon (a Pharisee), in who’s home Jesus was dining, thought to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner” (Luke 7:39). In response to Simon’s unspoken rebuke, Jesus said to Him, “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more” (Luke 7:41-42)? Simon, of course, answered that that the one who was forgiven the most would love the most. Jesus rebuked Simon for not showing Him the same love that the women showed Him. He conclude by telling Simon, “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Luke 7:47).
Man must be reminded of his sin so that he can be thankful for grace. Man must be reminded of his sin so that he can love God fully. Man must be reminded of his sin so that he can honor and glorify God.
I love you! A gracious God loves you! Have a wonderful day!
Being radically Christian is about living a life that is completely focused on Christ. The reason we focus on Christ is because He is “the source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9). If Christ were not my Savior, why would I want to follow Him? If I had the power to save myself, I would have no need of Christ. Too often it is presumed, by outsiders, that those who are passionate about Christianity are passionate because they consider themselves to be perfect. On the contrary, more often than not, it is those who know they are imperfect and in desperate need of grace, who are the most excited about being Christians. The more one acknowledges his dependence on (and need for) grace, the more passionate he can be about Christianity!
Grace has been defined as “unmerited favor”. This indicates that grace is when God blesses in ways that have not been earned or merited. It has also been defined as “blessings bestowed when wrath was owed.” This idea goes a bit further in explaining grace, showing that not only has the favor or blessings not been merited, but they have been given when what was deserved is God’s wrath. And lastly, some define grace with the acronym “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense”. Meaning, that the riches, favor, and blessings that were given, were given at the expense of Christ’s life. When we put these three definitions together we get a great picture of God’s grace that could be worded something like this, “Grace is God’s unmerited favor, riches, and blessings, bestowed at Christ’s expense, when wrath was owed.” That definition may be a bit more laborious to remember, but comes closer to capturing the idea of grace in its fullness.
The treasure chest of grace is filled with God’s favor, riches, and blessings. James writes, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17). God loves those whom He has created and loves to lavish good gifts upon them. Jesus asks, “Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent” (Matthew 7:9-10)? Then He adds, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him” (Matthew 7:11)!
Every gift which God gives comes from the treasure chest of His grace. Paul says the riches of God’s grace are “immeasurable” (Ephesians 2:7). Paul was a man who understood and depended on the riches of God’s grace. In every single epistle, Paul mentions God’s grace! In fact, Paul mentions grace over 80 times in his 13 books! He declares, “By the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10). Paul took pride in nothing as coming from him or his abilities. He considered everything he was and everything he had as being gifts of God’s rich grace. He writes, “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5).
It must be fully understood that gifts are given from God by grace and not by merit. In Acts 17:24-25 we read, “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” It is from God that mankind receives “life and breath”; what has man done to merit life? What has mankind done to earn air to breathe? Nothing!
By way of analogy, think for a moment about a man’s pet goldfish, swimming in a glass fish bowl. Who owns the bowl? The man, not the fish, owns the bowl. Who owns the water? The man, not the fish, owns the water. Who owns the food which the fish eats? The man, not the fish, owns the food. What has the fish done to earn the bowl, or the water, or the food? The answer is, absolutely nothing! In fact, there is nothing the fish could possibly do to deserve anything from his master. Anything which the fish receives is given solely upon the basis of grace.
In a lot of ways we are exactly like that goldfish. We exist in a world which we do not control and we do not own. We are completely dependant on the air we breathe; yet we did not create it nor do we own it. We must consume the food of the ground in order to live; yet we did not, nor would we be able to, create the soil or the seed from which our food comes. We rely upon meat to give us the strength which we need; yet we did not create the animal from which we receive it. The Psalmist proclaims, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1).
Just as a goldfish is incapable of earning anything he receives from his master, so too we are completely and utterly incapable of earning the things we receive from God. This does not mean, of course, that we are incapable of obeying Him, pleasing Him, honoring Him, and glorifying Him; but we must remember that by doing so, we have earned nothing.
God is so much higher than us and His glory is so far beyond our comprehension, that He could not possibly be indebted to us for anything. Isaiah reveals, “All our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” (Isaiah 64:6).
Therefore, let no one think that God owes him something! Let no one suppose that he has earned anything! Let no one even imagine that anything is his own! Everything you are and everything you have, you have received from the treasure chest of God’s grace!
I love you! A gracious God loves you! I pray many blessings for you!