Are you pulling my leg (off)?

If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell…” (Matthew 5:29-30; see also: Mark 9:43-47).

Would you be surprised to learn that heaven will cost you an arm and a leg? And maybe even an eye?

I believe the above passage presents a great – indeed, an insurmountable – difficulty for those who believe that we incur no cost in our own salvation. Does our obedience to the gospel turn God’s grace into a payment for services rendered?  Continue reading “Are you pulling my leg (off)?”

God’s “theory of everything”

No saying of Jesus is more perplexing than this: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34).

I’ve tried most of my life to understand this saying. I’ve heard preaching on it, read books and chapters of books and commentaries about it. It all seems satisfactory in some ways, unfulfilling in others.

Invariably, I will say that it puzzles me, and someone retorts with a statement that sounds as if they figured it out years ago. I’m sorry (not sorry) if I don’t believe you. Continue reading “God’s “theory of everything””

The God who does nothing

“You would have no power over me at all unless it were not given you from above” (John 19:11)

Imagine having power to create a universe with billions of galaxies, and more billions of stars within, planets around those stars, and – at least in essence – the power to duplicate even your own self.

This is the awesome power of God (Exodus 20:11; Psalm 146:6); His strength is unlimited (Job 36:22). Continue reading “The God who does nothing”

Five (unpopular) things Jesus said about divorce

“…from the beginning it was not so” (Matthew 19:8)

In 17 years of ministry (part and full-time), I have met with numerous married, and to-be-married couples. One thing I’ve found by this experience is that to-be-married couples generally understand the concept of adultery, and see it as a legitimate – if not the only – reason for divorce. Even if their Bible knowledge is somewhat limited, or they are not Christians, they will often say that this is the only legitimate grounds for a biblical divorce. I have this in writing from almost every couple I’ve married.

Yet, in nearly every troubled marriage that I’ve tried to help, one or both have a completely different, and non-biblical view of divorce and/or adultery. Continue reading “Five (unpopular) things Jesus said about divorce”

The Bible means what it says. Or, does it?

It is written” (Luke 4:12).

“The Bible means exactly what it says!” I’ve heard this a number of times, and in one sense, I agree. In another sense, that statement could inadvertently be more dangerous than it seems.

The Bible is not just a literal composition. Yes, it is a rule of thumb to understand any passage literally unless there is good reason or evidence to understand it otherwise. However, it should also be understood by all students of the Bible that there is plenty of reason to not take some passages literally. We will illustrate this in a moment. Continue reading “The Bible means what it says. Or, does it?”

The greatest comeback of all time

“He will be raised on the third day” (Matthew 17:23).

Last Sunday (2/5/17), the New England Patriots mustered the greatest comeback victory in Super Bowl history. They were down 25 points late in the game, but rallied to score 31 straight points to win 34-28 in overtime.

When a team cannot be held down and refuses to lose, you can’t help but be inspired.

But no comeback in history was greater than Jesus’. Continue reading “The greatest comeback of all time”

Unworthy, but worth it

If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me (John 13:8)

I was adopted when I was about 18 months old. Was I worthy of that? How could I be? How could I have earned such an act?

Peter felt unworthy to have Jesus wash his feet. It was completely out of order for Jesus to stoop down and wash Peter’s feet. Peter was unworthy.

Jesus did it anyway. He even warned Peter not to refuse him. Continue reading “Unworthy, but worth it”