Category Archives: The Gospel

You Are Chosen

Romans 8-11

Paul specifically says God shows mercy to some people, and chooses to harden the hearts of others so that they refuse to listen. (8:18). He gave Pharaoh as an example. Then he goes on to say, “that’s the way it is. Don’t question God. He will show mercy and compassion to anyone he chooses.”

There are those who base their theology on these and similar verses. They call it election or pre-destination. And as I read these verses this morning, I prayed: Are they right to believe you decide to deny salvation to some based on a criteria we can’t understand? Is that what Paul is saying?

Then I read chapters 10-11 and heard Paul say salvation is for everyone. I was reminded of the “whosoever” of John 3:16, the “not willing that any should perish” of 2 Peter 3:9. How do I reconcile two seemingly opposite views? Because I believe both views are true by the fact they are God-breathed Scripture.

Which makes me think they aren’t all that opposite after all. Here’s what I believe Scripture teaches from Genesis to Revelation: God loves people. Jesus died to save people. God, from day one has been revealing Himself to people, to draw all of us to Himself.

But God created us with the gift of choice. Anyone who chooses God, God chooses to accept. Anyone who chooses to reject God, God chooses to reject. From before creation, God knew who of us would choose Him and who would reject Him. From before creation He chose to save all who choose Him, and condemn all who reject Him.

That’s what He predestined: the means of salvation.

You might not like it. You might think it’s too cut and dry, black and white. Hear Paul say: who do you think you are to question your Creator?

I think many of us have been caught up in trying to figure out predestination, and we may have overlooked the important message Paul wanted us to hear. I think Paul (speaking for God) wanted us to consider the seriousness of rejecting God.

Do you accept that Jesus died to pay your sin debt? Do you choose to believe that He is the only Way, the only Truth, and the only Life? Have you been born again? Then you are chosen by God to receive His grace!

But if you don’t accept Him on His terms, if you don’t believe, you are chosen by God to receive His punishment without mercy. And hear His warning:

If you reject Him, He hardens your heart. The consequence of denying Him is an ever progressive hardening toward Him, so that eventually you won’t even hear Him any more. Not that He won’t be revealing Himself. But it will be harder and harder for you to see Him.

Rejecting God is serious. And I think that is the important lesson Paul was trying to convey here. You are chosen by God to be His child. Jesus died for you so that your sins can be forgiven. That is His choice for you.

The question is: what is your choice?

Be A Berean

Acts 17

We need more Bereans today, people who search the Scriptures to know if what they are hearing is really the truth. Sadly, too many people aren’t interested in THE truth any more. They’re happy with the lie they are clinging to.

I guess the most obvious example of this is the pronoun issue these days. Yeah. Pronouns. Does that sound as ridiculous to you as it does to me? But here we go…

What does Scripture say about male and female? Did Jesus use gender specific pronouns? Did the Holy Spirit use pronouns as HE whispered His Words into the men who wrote the Bible? Did God create male and female humans (and animals and plants)? Or is there anywhere in Scripture that suggests gender is a choice?

And, no. I am not going to give you the Scripture that addresses those things. Open up your Bible and search it for yourself. Isn’t it time we stopped living on baby formula?

Even apart from Scripture, is a boy’s anatomy different than a girl’s? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to answer that one. Our anatomy is the outward evidence of the DNA, chromosomal identification of gender within. You don’t change that by lopping off body parts, or masking it with drugs. I know that is the truth, unless you can point me to Scripture that says otherwise.

Find where God speaks about transgenderism as something He acknowledges, much less approves of. Chapters and verses, please.

If God “knit (us) together in (our) mother’s womb(s),” HE CHOSE OUR GENDER. Whether you are a biological male or female, know that God lovingly and purposefully made you that way. Your gender is His gift to you.

And hear me when I say, parents, you had better be teaching your children how blessed they are to have been made by a loving Creator exactly the way they are. Shame on any of you if you convince your babies God made a mistake in them or anyone else. You had better be living the truth, and teaching your children to embrace their God-given gender, to celebrate it, protect it, and live it as the special boy or girl they ARE.

To deny or mutilate what God has made is to deny Him. To deny Him is sin. And unconfessed sin cannot be forgiven. Search the Scriptures if you don’t believe me.

Here’s another example that addresses our need to be a Berean and search the Scriptures: PC Bible translations. I have in my home translations of the Bible that have already replaced male pronouns with “they,” or “people,” or “men and women” instead of the original use of “man” or “men” to include everyone. I don’t like it. I don’t think it was necessary. But I have used those translations anyway. But sin isn’t satisfied with the first step.

The Presbyterian USA Church is now “Queering the Bible.” And they are proud of it! God, forgive us! We Bereans need to be sure we are searching the translations of God’s Word that comes directly from the original. To do otherwise is to invite heresy into our hearts.

Come on, Christian. Study God’s true Word. Know what it says. Fire your preachers who preach any other Gospel, any who are more concerned about being politically correct than they are about being accountable to God. Quit simply lamenting in your Sunday School classrooms about the horrible state of the world, and get out there and stand for TRUTH. Know what God says. Reject anything else. And reject it loudly.

Be a Berean.

Crossing Boundaries

Acts 8

While talking to the Good News Club children about Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well, I told them about the hatred Jews and Samaritans had for each other. Even Jesus’ disciples had expressed prejudice against them. But the disciples also witnessed Jesus’ compassion toward Samaritans, which may be why Philip could go into Samaria and share the good news about Jesus.

Instead of calling down fire from heaven to destroy them, Philip called the Samaritans to repentance. The strict boundary between Israel and Samaria was crossed, and many Samaritans gave their hearts to Jesus because of it.

How? The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in Philip. Without God’s prompting, I doubt Philip would ever have crossed that line.

I don’t have to tell you our nation is divided, much like the descendants of Abraham were divided during the time Philip was preaching. Both Samaritans and Jews could trace their lineage back to their Founding Father, Abraham. All American citizens – black, white, Democrat, Republican, natural born, legal immigrant, gay, straight, believers, and non believers – can trace our lineage back to our Founding Fathers as well.

But that doesn’t prevent us from hating each other. Our recent election emphasizes the great divide. The boundaries between opposing views is strict and dare not be crossed. So what do you do?

Christian, we cross that line with the Good News of Jesus Christ. We rub shoulders with them, show compassion for them, love our “enemies” and pray for those who don’t like us. We go across that line and make disciples. How? The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in each of us.

Can you or I continue to hate with Jesus living inside of us? My prayer is that the Church, you and I who love our Savior, will be the ones who reach across the aisle and love like Jesus loved, talk about sin and Jesus’ work on the cross to pay for sin, share Jesus with the way we live and by the things we say.

Philip did that. Many Samaritans were saved. And then…

Peter and John crossed the boundary lines, too, and joined Philip in Samaria to continue the work Philip had begun.

Yeah. One man obeyed. He crossed the boundary alone. Then others followed. Maybe you need to be that one man today who will cross a boundary line or two with the Truth about Jesus. And maybe, when others follow your lead, we will find ourselves united by our common faith in Jesus. I don’t see the boundaries that have divided our nation eliminated any other way.

Crossing boundaries may be hard, it may be scary. But I’m pretty sure it’s what God is asking His children to do.

They Were Flogged

Acts 5

We rejoice over God’s miraculous freeing of the apostles from prison – as we should! But sometimes I overlook the fact that even though God rescued them, the men were flogged, or caned, beaten with a stick before the religious leaders were done with them.

This is only one of countless atrocities the apostles experienced as they diligently spread the Gospel of Jesus and established the Church. Being a Christian, especially a vocal Christian, came with some tough stuff.

Gamaliel was right. If these men had struck out on their own, decided to make up a religion to counter the Jewish religion, it probably would have died a natural death. Who in their right mind would be beaten and/or killed to protect a lie?

But the disciples didn’t just stop because things got tough. They even counted it a joy, a privilege to take the beatings for Jesus’ sake. They kept preaching the Gospel, wearing the bruises.

The same Gospel they preached is still being preached today. We in the States still can preach it loud and strong without fear for our lives or the lives of our children. That’s not the case everywhere in this world. People are being mistreated and killed for sharing the Gospel, just like they were in the early days of the Church. But the Gospel keeps going because those people are willing to endure unimaginable hardships.

It makes me wonder what I’d be willing to endure to keep the Gospel going.

The Beginning

Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 19

The people watching the crucifixion thought Jesus was stuck up there, unable to save Himself. What they refused to see was God choosing to stay on the cross so He could save them.

The proof that Jesus is God, the perfect, spotless Lamb sacrificed to redeem sinners, is in the fact that He didn’t come down off that cross. He died in order to pay our death sentence, and that of the very people who hung Him there.

When you read the crucifixion account in all the four Gospels, the beatings, the mocking, His mother and John, the soldiers, His words, the thieves, the darkness, the curtain, the prophecies fulfilled that day, you are reading about the King not defeated – victorious!

His enemies thought this was the end of HIm. But it was just the beginning!

What It Cost

Matthew 26; Mark 14

Do those of you who have lost loved ones to cancer or some other slow progressing and painful disease like to recall those moments when the pain was its worst? Do you enjoy remembering those nights when the pain was so intense that no amount of morphine seemed to help, when the slightest touch or movement caused a whimper? Do you like remembering those sleepless nights when there was just no comfortable position to lie? And do you remember that feeling of helplessness, the realization your loved one had to go it alone and there was nothing you could do to change that?

You knew they didn’t deserve what was happening. And watching them suffer hurt you, too.

That’s kind of how I feel reading about what happened to my dear Jesus on the night He was arrested. It hurts me to read about his beatings, knowing it was much worse than the words convey.

He didn’t deserve all that. Yet He stood there and took it, for love of me. I will never know this side of heaven what really happened that night, what it cost Jesus to go to the cross.

And, sadly, sometimes I don’t give it a thought. That careless word I said, that unkind thought, the lie, or the laziness, all cost Jesus a night of horror and pain, beginning with the sham of a trial, and the relentless beatings he endured, to the agonizing hours hanging on the cross. I can’t feel good about that.

But I am so grateful. I am overwhelmed by His love. It’s hard to remember what He went through. But I’m glad God inspired the account to be included in His Word. I don’t want to forget. I want my life to honor what He did that night on the way to the cross where He died for love of me.

Jesus’ Prayer For Us

John 17:20-24

Jesus prayed for us. Not in general terms, He prayed specifically for the following:

  1. That we will be one in the Lord
  2. That our oneness would speak to the world that they might believe in Jesus
  3. That our unity would perfectly show God’s love to the world
  4. That we will be with Him where He is
  5. That we would reveal the glory of God.

You know what He didn’t pray for? Hefty bank accounts, healthy bodies, happiness, easy living, speaking in tongues, miracles, popularity…

He prayed that you and I will be united with Him to continue His ministry of saving lost souls, introducing sinners to their Savior.

Earlier He had told the disciples that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one – NO ONE – can go to the Father except through Jesus. Then Jesus prayed that you and will pass that Truth on.

One of the last things Jesus did in His human body was to pray for you and me. Are you as blown away by that as I am? Let’s be the answer to His prayer by uniting with Him and each other, the Church, and demonstrating to the world what being united with Christ looks like. And let’s not grow tired of speaking the Truth in love, so that lost souls can be found, sinners can be saved.

To the glory of God!

The Second Greatest Commandment (it might not mean what you think)

Matthew 22-23; Mark 12

When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied: Love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.

However, the modern church has seemed to skip over that and rushed to what Jesus called the second greatest commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself.

Our churches are so full of love, they’ve neglected to understand God’s love. We’ve come to believe love is the same as acceptance, tolerance, respect. But is that godly love?

I challenge you to read Matthew 23:13-36 and point out one loving thing Jesus said to the teachers. Is it that he repeatedly called them hypocrites? Or that they are sending people to hell? That they are blind guides, or that they are ignoring the most important aspects of the Law? He called them white-washed tombs. Is that your definition of love?

Well, that’s God’s definition of love. As harsh as Jesus’ words to the pharisees, it’s all about love. Love enough to point out sin – not tolerate it. Love enough to point out their misguided religious beliefs – not accept them. Love enough to call them what they were without worrying about disrespecting them.

Jesus got in their faces. Why? Because He loved them.

If the first and greatest commandment is to love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds, then we must also adopt God’s definition of love. His love sent Him to the cross. I’m worried my love might hurt someone’s feelings. That’s not God’s kind of love.

If I love God sincerely with all my heart, soul, and mind, I can’t help but shout out a warning to people who are rushing to hell, people for whom Jesus died to save.

YOU ARE A SINNER. YOUR BELIEFS ARE WRONG. YOU NEED JESUS. BELIEVING YOU HAVE YOUR OWN TRUTH IS BELIEVING A LIE. YOU CAN’T CHOOSE YOUR GENDER. YOU AREN’T GOOD AND CAPABLE AND WORTHY. YOU ARE A WORM FOR WHOM JESUS DIED TO SAVE. AND UNLESS YOU COME TO GOD ON HIS TERMS, YOU WILL GO TO HELL.

Does that offend you? Hurt your feeling? Make you angry? I love you enough to tell you I don’t care. I care more that you hear the warning and turn to God. I care more that you offer yourself to God and receive what He longs to give you.

If I simply love my neighbor with a love I manufacture, I could easily tolerate, accept, and respect your sin and wrong ideology. But because I love God with all that I am, I can’t do that. Because of that love I am begging you to know Him according to Scripture and through the blood of His Son. There is simply no other way.

I’m praying for you today.

I Guess That Depends

Luke 17:20-18:8

As our world continues its rapid downward spiral into sin and insanity, we Christians look toward the sky, expecting, hoping to hear that trumpet and see our Savior descend once again, this time to take us home. We see the signs and believe it could happen any minute.

But it could be another 10,000 years. Only God knows when life on earth will cease to exist. So what do we do in the mean time?

Jesus used the examples of Noah and Lot to remind us that the people in those days were living life; parties and weddings, eating and drinking, buying and selling, farming and building until they weren’t. They were doing their thing until God came and judged their sin, found them guilty, and demanded the death penalty they deserved.

But there was a difference. The people in Noah’s day heard the Truth and rejected it. They died in the flood. The Ninevites heard the Truth and accepted it, repented, and were spared.

Jesus tells us that, much like those examples, “it will be ‘business as usual’ right up to the day when the Son of Man is revealed.”

It won’t be just sinners living life as usual. Christians will be doing the same. So what does ‘life as usual’ look like for you? Parties and weddings, eating and drinking, buying and selling, farming and building?

Of course. All of that is part of living this life. But shouldn’t we all be the Noahs and Jonahs of our time, too? As we go through our day, meeting our responsibilities, enjoying our blessings, shouldn’t we also be the ones shouting out the warning? THE END IS NEAR!

Very few people alive today will still around 100 years from now, a fraction of a millisecond in eternity. The end for all of us is near whether Jesus returns today or tarries another millennium.

Jesus clearly states that when we die we will face the Judge who will bring perfect justice to everyone. Our fate is sealed the moment we take our last breath, depending on our acceptance or rejection of Jesus in this life.

Christian, do you believe that? Then what are you doing in these last days to warn the people around you?

When the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?

I guess that depends on how many people hear and accept the warning from me and you.

The Light

Luke 11:35

Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness.

I can’t help but think of the “woke” lie about living your own truth. They think they’ve found the light. But they are living – and dying – in darkness.

Jesus is the light of the world according to what He Himself says in John 8:12.

The Apostle John knew the truth of that first-hand. In 1 John 1:7 he says:

But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

There is no other truth. There is no other light.