I keep seeing the question contained in the title of this article on Facebook posts. It is attributed to a well-known pastor, the late Tim Keller, and is presented as a slam-dunk proof of “unconditional eternal security” (also known as “once-saved-always-saved”).
It is to be regretted that someone as eminent and intelligent as the late Tim Keller could present such a silly question as proof for a particular doctrine when both Scripture and simple logic expose its obvious flaws.
Have you ever felt yourself getting fed up with evil people? Even burning with an inward rage against them? But then felt bad for your “un-Christian” attitude?
In truth, you should not be so hard on yourself. God has the same feelings. In fact, He has a similar inner conflict, constantly.
Obviously, mercy and judgment are two opposites that, if held together, must be held in tension. God is both just and merciful, as revealed from the Bible’s first to last page. For that reason, He holds both attributes in tension.
When He “withholds His judgment,” that indicates He is inclined towards justice, but has decided to continue to show mercy. As James wrote, “mercy triumphs over judgment” (Jas. 2:13). On the other hand, when God’s mercy ends, His judgment—rooted in His justice—begins.
“God…will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life” (Rom. 2:5b-7).
Paul unmistakably indicates in the above-quoted passage that there is nothing wrong with seeking glory and honor for yourself. In fact, he declares that those who do are the people who will ultimately inherit eternal life. So, if you desire for God to grant you eternal life, according to Paul, the means to obtaining it is by seeking glory and honor. Read it again if you don’t believe me!
1.) When believers met during the New Testament times, what did those gatherings look like? Is there any information in the New Testament that gives us any insight into the answer to that question? If “yes,” am I leading a “New Testament church”?
2.) In the early church, was there a worship leader or a worship team or band that led worship from an elevated platform before the crowd of worshippers who were seated or standing in rows facing them? Is there any information in the New Testament that gives us any insight into the answer to that question? If “yes,” am I leading a “New Testament church”?
Those whose hearts are pure rejoice when they see God bless, or use, someone else. Inward resentment against God’s blessing that rests on others is resentment towards God.
The very first thing that love is not—according to the apostle Paul—is it is not jealous (see 1 Cor. 13:4). We cannot claim that we love anyone of whom we are jealous. Jealousy is fundamentally selfish.
It is possible, of course, to make the Bible say anything you want it to say, and that is something that is quite common in Christian circles. All that is necessary is to find a verse that seems to support your point, and then ignore its context—either its immediate context (of the surrounding verses), or its larger context within its passage, chapter, book or Testament.
Examples of this error are endless. Here’s one you’ve no doubt heard: Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged” (Matt. 7:1). If that was the only verse in the Bible, we might conclude that Christians should never make a judgment about anyone. And that is what some professing Christians actually think. (I’ve even heard some claim that no Christian can serve on a jury, or earn a living as a judge.)
From an often-overlooked verse in Mark’s Gospel, we can learn something very valuable about Jesus’ character, and about ourselves. Here’s the verse:
Seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them (Mark 6:48).
The incident almost seems a bit comical. The Twelve were simply trying to accomplish the task Jesus had given them. We can read just a few verses earlier: “Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida” (Mark 6:45). And off they went. As they obeyed, however, they ran into opposition. “The wind was against them.”
Imagine that you were one of the twelve men who spent three-and-a-half years following Jesus, seeing His every miracle and listening to His every word. Near the end of those years, you celebrate an annual feast with Him known as “Passover” that you’ve celebrated every year of your life and that has been part of your culture for hundreds of years.
At some point during that meal, imagine Jesus taking some of the bread (probably unleavened), blessing and breaking it, and then giving everyone pieces to eat, which He explains is “My body which is given for you” (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 14:24). He also tells everyone that they should do this in His remembrance (Luke 22:19). Finally, imagine Him then taking a cup of wine, giving thanks, and then similarly passing it around as He explains that it “is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:28). What would you have been thinking? Years later, the apostle Paul would retell that story and its significance:
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes (1 Cor. 11:23-26).
Clearly, from what both Jesus and Paul said, the central symbolism of the Lord’s Supper revolves around Jesus’ sacrificial death. His body was broken and His blood was shed. And clearly, Jesus wanted all of His disciples to remember His sacrificial death, perpetually into the future, in the bread and wine. All Christians agree on those fundamental facts.
The title of “Lord”—which denotes someone who should be obeyed—is found over 350 times within the 3,180 verses of Romans through Revelation, and most often in reference to Jesus. So, at least one out of ten New Testament verses written to Christians mentions Jesus as Lord, that is, as one to obey. Remember Jesus once asked: “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:36).
For almost 20 years, I’ve penned a monthly e-teaching that has been e-mailed to a growing list of subscribers that is currently a little over 57,000. This e-teaching begins a new format that is shorter in length but more frequent in publication. From here on, we’ll be emailing “mini” e-teachings most Saturdays. They will continue to be relevant to your spiritual life and hopefully serve as a blessing and an encouragement!
So glad for the us in Jesus,
Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter (Matt. 7:21, NASB).
That well-known warning from the lips of the Lord Jesus Christ—spoken near the end of His Sermon on the Mount—could not be clearer. He was, indisputably, talking about what is required to enter heaven. Calling Him Lord is not enough. Rather, one must “do the will” of Jesus’ Father “who is in heaven.” That is, to enter heaven, one must do the will of the One who rules heaven. Heaven is for the holy.