THIS IS HOW GOD LOVED (2 of 2)

THE TWENTY-NINTH DAY OF MARCH IN THE YEAR OF GRACE TWO THOUSAND AND FIFTEEN Click here for Part 1 We are thinking about three sentences in a context, of which John 3:16 is the second, central, and climactic sentence. The statement that God "so loved" does not describe the intensity or extent of his love (as if it said "s-o-o-o loved") but rather tells "how" God loved--it is the same … [Read more...]

THIS IS HOW GOD LOVED (1 of 2)

THE TWENTY-SECOND DAY OF MARCH IN THE YEAR OF GRACE TWO THOUSAND AND FIFTEEN We are familiar with Jesus' comforting words in John 3:16 about God's love and the believer's eternal life. But, as my preacher Jeff Christian noted recently, we often read or quote verse 16 in total isolation, are surprised to discover that the verse has a context, and are shocked to realize what that context … [Read more...]

FAITH REFUSING BAPTISM?

A gracEmail reader in Arizona asks, "Do you believe that the 'sinner's prayer' can be an appropriate and sufficient substitute for baptism by someone who believes the gospel, as a personal transaction event of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ? Has such a person truly believed if they leave out water baptism as a part of their response to the gospel message?" A person truly … [Read more...]

FAITH MORE THAN INTELLECT

A gracEmail subscriber in Australia suggests that believing in Jesus might not be sufficient since James 2:19 says the demons also believe and tremble. This subscriber suggests that a life of obedience is also necessary to please God. *          *          * We might be using "believe" in different senses (it has more than one, you know), and therefore be talking past each other. When James says … [Read more...]

FAITH — ITEM OR ATTITUDE? (2)

A gracEmail subscriber asks, "Must we merely believe to be saved, or do we also have to obey God? Some say that faith is enough by itself, and others say that faith in the Bible includes obedience." *          *          * The Churches of Christ, in which I was nourished from birth and from which I now serve as my home base, early went astray on this point. Not uncommonly, our own feeble efforts … [Read more...]

FAITH — ITEM OR ATTITUDE? (1)

A gracEmail subscriber asks, "Must we merely believe to be saved, or do we also have to obey God? Some say that faith is enough by itself, and others say that faith in the Bible includes obedience." *          *          * If we think of "faith" as something we do, one item in a checklist containing other items as well, we are ripe for the error of thinking that we contribute something to our … [Read more...]

CALLING ON THE NAME OF THE LORD

A gracEmail subscriber asks the meaning of the biblical expression "calling on the name of the Lord." * * * Calling on the name of the Lord means crying out to God for help or rescue, or in reverence and worship (1 Kings 18:24; Psalm 116:17; Isaiah 12:4). The ancient biblical story says that in the days of Adam's grandson Enosh "men began to call on the name of the Lord" (Gen. 4:26). The name … [Read more...]

FAITH ONLY

A gracEmail subscriber chides, "I see you saying that you believe in salvation by faith alone, which is an improvement over the doctrine of salvation by works, but is not satisfactory to careful Bible students. (I teach that we are saved by faith and not by works, but not by faith only.)" * * * Good brother, we can't have it both ways. We are either saved by or we are saved by. Either Jesus … [Read more...]

WORDS, WORDS, WORDS

Paul promises that whoever confesses Jesus as Lord and believes that God raised him from the dead will be saved (Rom. 10:9-10). Jesus warns that in the Day of Judgment he will turn away some people who had called him "lord" (Matt. 7:21-23). A gracEmail subscriber asks how both statements can be true. * * * Paul and Jesus are describing two different sets of people. The only thing the two groups … [Read more...]

CHRIST DIED FOR ME

For six decades he travelled a quarter-million miles by horseback, spreading the message of Jesus. He scandalized 18th-century British sensitivities by taking the gospel out of the pulpits to the factories, market-places and mines where he found the unchurched. He began a worldwide revival that still bears his name. Among his converts was William Wilberforce, credited with ending Great Britain's … [Read more...]