Eternal life is living in God’s poetry

Growing up evangelical, I had drilled into me the dichotomy between “the law” and “grace.” We become broken record players, reminding ourselves and other people that we are saved by faith and not by following the rules. But then we often substitute ideological correctness (which is how we define “faith”) for following God’s rules as the “work” that saves us. I’m convinced that without a change in how we understand salvation, we cannot escape some form of works-righteousness. If salvation is what God does in response to an evaluation of something we do, say, or believe, then whatever we do, say, or believe is the “work” that justifies us. For salvation to be justification by faith, it must be our transformation into really believing that we have a generous God whose law is not supposed to be an onerous test of our fidelity but a gift for our benefit. That is the subject of my second sermon in the series Journey to Eternity: Continue reading

Who does God weed out?

Jesus’ parable of the weeds in Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 is a tough passage to preach on unless you’re a Calvinist because basically it says that some people will always be weeds who have been planted by the devil that God leaves alone until the end of time when He throws them all into hell.  Now a lot of preachers cheat when they get stuck with this passage by trying to make the weeds into bad “attitudes” or “feelings” in a community rather than actual people, but that doesn’t square with the explanation of the parable that Jesus shares in verses 36-43. I decided not to cheat, but to really wrestle with this text when I had to preach on it a week ago. And my wrestling yielded some fruit. I wanted to share some Greek words and phrases in Jesus’ explanation of the parable that offer a helpful explanation of who God weeds out of His kingdom and why. Continue reading