Category Archives: The Gospel

The Gospel is at stake if “Heaven is for Real”

There are many reasons why I will not read and will not attend the upcoming movie “Heaven is for Real.” The most important is that I will not be lead astray by accounts about heaven or hell that are unbiblical and unwarranted. I have come across a variety of responses to these kinds of accounts. Some might see these as mildly entertaining and essentially harmless. Others would argue they serve as conversation starters with people who are otherwise closed off to the Gospel. And still others would go so far as to argue that this (my response) is why some in the world outside the church are disenchanted with the church.

I would like to give an answer to each of these.

1. A Lie is ALWAYS harmful

If we, as the church, are going to entertain every frivolous account about doctrinal questions, we need to stop complaining about the church being too strict on other doctrinal subjects. Whatever might be wrong with the church and anything else we may want to complain about related to what people are doing in the church are not reason enough to entertain lies. Lies are deadly. Any argument to the contrary undermines the testimony of the bible and reason itself. In fact, a lie is the reason sin entered the world and lies are the reason hell exists. Lies are eternally harmful.

trust me, I'm lying

2. A conversation starter about faith in Jesus should not begin with a lie, but with the truth of the Gospel.

Not only are lies harmful to the church, a believer’s witness and faith, a lie should not be the opening statement of the Gospel to a non-believer/seeker. This is pure madness. Not only does it show a lack of trust in the Holy Spirit/God’s Word/God/Jesus, it trivializes the problem of sin. We have to stop allowing the world the access of dictating to us, the church, how it should do its work and fulfill its mission.

I know there are many who think I am overreacting. And they may be right. But, my question is why aren’t more believers reacting at all? The problem is if we never react at all, when the time comes for the needed strong response, it will be too late. We will have waited too long and lost too much ground. The truth must be the bastion of our faith and evangelistic efforts.

3. What the world thinks about the church should not cause the church to give ground on truth

I find myself growing wearisome of the constant droning about why this group or that group are leaving the church. Could it be more true that people are leaving the church for the same reason they leave everything else? Maybe the church is not “me” centered enough. It is possible that people are leaving the church because we are trying harder to get them in the building, rather than spending time trying to get HIM in the building.

I am not going to allow those who are not on the journey of faith with me from altering my focus and direction. There are many issues the church needs to address, many concerns that must be answered. But, these issues and concerns will not be solved by listening to the masses. It was the crowd that called for the death and crucifixion of Jesus. Or have we forgotten this as well?

The world and those who love it are not the counselors we should seek. Only the counsel of God is necessary and will be sought.

Whether we like it or not, the Gospel is at stake if “Heaven is for Real.”

The following video by Dr. David Platt provides a succinct and compelling reason for avoiding material (regardless of medium) that is not clearly and undeniably grounded in God’s Word.

Lent Day #22 | Peace

There are many names given to Jesus in the scriptures. Names that speak to what he provides. Names like savior, healer, teacher and friend. There are other names that speak to how he sustains us in our own journey. Names such as the bread of life, guide, living water and the true vine. These are all significant and good. As a matter of fact, we need all of these names so we can continue to expand our understanding and appreciation of who he is. There is no one name that fully encompasses the greatness, majesty and totality of Jesus. This is why those of us who have been redeemed are is such awe of him.

The bottom line is we will never fully understand who Jesus is in his fullness. We can experience his fullness, but wrapping our minds around it is not possible. It would be like a seahorse comprehending an ocean, thinking that in knowing the part it has seen the whole. However, the attempt is what gives rise to our joy and satisfaction in his ability to fulfill his promise to save us!

Prince of Peace - Isaiah 9:6

In the entirety of the bible there is one superlative that stands out to me. It rises to the surface because of the calamity and conflict that seems to emerge so frequently in our time. One of the signs of Jesus glorious return is the “wars and rumors of wars” (Matthew 24:6) around the world. As every nation develops strategies and weaponry to combat terrorism, civil unrest and outright conflict, Jesus stands at the apex of history as the only one capable of bringing true and lasting peace. The prophet Isaiah declared the coming of this peacemaker when he said,

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6, ESV)

What is it about Jesus that allows the scripture to speak of Jesus as the prince of peace? How can Jesus accomplish this feat?

Will he disarm the armies of the world?

Will he broker peace agreements between warring factions and feuding neighbors?

How exactly is Jesus qualified to bring about the end of this animus that seemingly exists in every culture?

Paul made an interesting statement in his admonition to the Corinthian church. Listen to how he connects Jesus character and disposition toward the world and the method we, those who follow in his steps, wage war against the enemies of God’s kingdom.

1 I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!— 2 I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. (2 Corinthians 10:1-6, ESV)

Peace does not take place because the weapons of warfare are removed. Peace comes when the motivation to war is excised from the human heart. Only the Gospel can do that because only the Gospel of Jesus Christ proclaims the message of the Prince of Peace. The longer it takes the church to realize the power it wields as bearers of the Gospel of Jesus, the longer it will take for true peace on earth to come.

The Gospel and Black Cats

This past weekend I saw something with my own eyes that I would not have believed it had not happened right in front of me! My family and I were going to the mall here in Columbus and getting some amazingly, delicious Auntie Anne’s pretzels. (They are my favorite! But, I digress.) We had gotten our snack and were headed over to the playground to lets the girls run around and burn some energy.

So we arrive at the stop sign and I see this small sedan pass right in front of us and come to an abrupt and complete stop. I was wondering what was going on, and that is when I saw it. A black cat ran out from the grass and darted across the road, right in front of the car. From were I was I could see the driver and she had this look of panic on her face. What stunned me was what happened next.

The driver put the car in reverse and backed up very quickly, made a right turn and passed us. I looked over at my wife and said, “Did I just see that happen?!” It was one of the most interesting things I have ever seen. As I have thought about it over the last several days, I have come to realize that superstition can be a powerful reality in the lives of people. But, what does the Gospel offer to us as believers when we face something like this?

First, the initial thought that I had was, “How sad.” This woman almost caused an accident because she was motivated by fear. A fear based on a lie. That cat crossing in front of her car was not a bad omen. It was just a cat crossing the road. The apostle Paul gives Timothy a challenge as it relates to these kinds of occurrences.

7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. — 1 Timothy 4:7-8

Second, the Gospel is truth and it takes away any reason for entertaining “irreverent, silly myths.” When we stand in the light, all darkness disappears. That is the wonder and beauty of light. The reality of God’s love and of Jesus’ example and sacrifice means we no longer have to fear crossing cats, walking under ladders, spilling salt, breaking a mirror, opening an umbrella indoors or any other superstition this world has.

The Gospel represents freedom. The kind of freedom the driver of the car did not have.