The problem is not in the harvest

He started out as a practicing Catholic. He made pilgrimages to Aparecida, Brazil’s religious center for the veneration of Mary. He hated “believers,” as fundamental evangelicals are called here. Once, he even threw a pail of water on two Protestants who were doing door-to-door evangelism.

Elijah, as we’ll call him, later converted to Protestantism. He became a Pentecostal pastor. As a dedicated man, he received in return that pail of water from someone who also hated believers. Continue reading “The problem is not in the harvest”

Taking it for granted

One of my favorite lines in hymns comes from the great Scandinavian anthem “How Great Thou Art.”

“And when I think, that God his son not sparing
Sent him to die, I scarce can take it in,” (Karl Boberg).

I “get” the attraction of the first two verses. Many of us live in urban areas and feel harried and harassed. We long for the times we can gaze at the stars on a clear night, or on a mountainside, the breeze blowing gently and the birds “singing sweetly in the trees.” Continue reading “Taking it for granted”

God gave them up

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel from faith to faith, just as it is written, ‘The righteous by faith will live (Romans 1:16-17 NET).

God’s power for salvation is found in the gospel (literally “good news”) of Jesus and it is for everyone who will believe. That is, indeed, good news! God’s righteousness has been made known in this good news as people obey and are cleansed, made righteous, by being united with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (see Romans 6 for a detailed discussion of this). Continue reading “God gave them up”

Spilt blood

It was actually a good question. We had just sung the great song “Marvelous Grace of Our Loving Lord,” and someone asked a question about the following lines:

“Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the lamb was spilt” (Julia H. Johnston).

The phrase “blood of the lamb was spilt” sounds as if Jesus’ blood was spilt accidentally. “Surely that’s not right,” the questioner asked, “Jesus offered his blood on the cross very deliberately, in order to save us from sin.” Continue reading “Spilt blood”

For me

“Alas and did my savior bleed, and did my sovereign die?
Would he devote that sacred head for such a one as I?” (Isaac Watts)

If you are a little older you will notice something about these lines from the familiar song, “At the Cross”: Isaac Watts distinctly did not write “for such a one as I.” You might recall he said, instead, “for such a worm as I.” This seems to be a form of verbal airbrushing.

I don’t know if the PC Police got in on this one. Did some devotee of “I’m OK, You’re OK” (a best seller by Thomas Harris) object that we ought not to be calling ourselves after the icky creatures lacking limbs? Continue reading “For me”

Grace’s one great demand

Grace presents us with one great demand.

I know it seems strange to see the words “demand” and “grace” in the same sentence. Usually we view grace as the means by which we gain acceptance by God without carrying out works of the law. After all, as Paul reminds us, by “works of the law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:16).

Many try to earn their salvation. Continue reading “Grace’s one great demand”

Love for truth is love for Jesus

We think truth is hard and unpleasant. For the most part, man’s truth is exactly that. God’s truth, however, is sweet and blessed. It is something to be loved and cherished.

Love for truth is important because it has to do with eternal salvation. Rejecting love for truth results in loss of salvation, 2 Thessalonians 2.10: “They perish because they did not accept the love of the truth in order to be saved” (HCSB).

In the context of this verse, although some things are difficult to understand, several principles appear clearly. Continue reading “Love for truth is love for Jesus”

What is propitiation?

The threads of salvation are interwoven through every page of Scripture. Certainly, we should do all we can to understand them.

Sometimes the terminology eludes us because we don’t use it in daily life. Propitiation is a prime example. We find it in Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 4:10 and since it pertains to our Lord and our salvation, it’s imperative that we understand it. Continue reading “What is propitiation?”