Category: The Gospel and the Christian Life

Pluralism, Tolerance and the Gospel

Introduction Recently, while at a coffee shop, I was having a conversation with the manager and she– knowing I was a seminary student– asked me about what I believed about Jesus Christ.  During the course of our conversation, I explained to her the similarities and differences between religion and Christianity. Just as I was about to offer a response to what she had asked; a customer came through the drive-through, and the conversation ended. The question she asked me was, “How can you believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to God?” As the readers of Servants of Grace, know I have written a lot on the exclusivity of Jesus and the doctrine of hell, which in recent days has come under attack from inside and outside the Church. The conversation I am describing here occurred several weeks ago, but as I’ve reflected and prayed on it, I thought it would be a helpful exercise to demonstrate how dangerous and inconsistent tolerance and pluralism are to the Church. This manager (just before the conversation) ended stated that it is intolerant to believe that there is only one way to God. In summary she stated that there are many paths to God, and evangelicals who believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to God are mistaken and misguided. The manager of the coffee shop told me that I...

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When You Don’t Feel Like It

Introduction Today’s post is written by Nate Palmer, a weekly contributor to Servantsofgrace, and author of Servanthood as Worship: The Privilege of Life in a Local Church (Cruciform Press 2010); You can follow him on Twitter at  @palmernate. When You Don’t Feel Like It Hardships, obstacles, and sin are always with us blocking and stunting our passion to serve God. When these trials come, we are tempted to just quit serving God and start serving ourselves again. The Holy Spirit acts as our helper to encourage and remind us of what we have in Christ. It helps us maintain our self-control by finding power in Christ. As burnout and obstacles obstruct our worship, the Holy Spirit is there to navigate us through them. Philippians 1:6 states, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” The Holy Spirit helps us to endure hardships and discouragement when we serve. If the Holy Spirit only enlightened us to the Gospel once and then moved on, we would have salvation without sanctification. Without the constant help of the Holy Spirit, our passion for God would quickly fade. We, apart from the Holy Spirit, cannot empower ourselves to serve God and one another. This is very evident in the example of the Israelites in the book of Exodus. Witnessing...

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Date Night at the Golden Arches

 What if on a date night with my wife, I pulled up to the drive through window of McDonalds? Would she be “lovin’ it”? Unless she was a Ronald McDonald fanatic, she would rightly get the impression that I don’t really value spending quality time together with her. Even if I biggie sized her meal, that would still be an anemic display of the level of love and respect. If I didn’t make our date a priority, what do I think of her? What does that communicate to my wife? How does a happy meal explain how I value her? Does this reflect the joy I find being married to her? She certainly would not feel very special even if I did order her that happy meal. In fact, she may even be severely tempted to think I didn’t care for her at all. On the contrary, if I get all dressed up and take her to her favorite restaurant in town, would that communicate something different? Of course! By striving for excellence, we demonstrate a substantial level of respect and honor. Where we spend our time, thoughts, and resources denotes where our values are. The more I strive to be excellent to my wife, the more I communicate her value to me and the more joy I find in her. I have this tendency to think that because my salvation rests...

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Bearing Fruit for the Gospel

In John 15:1 Christ gives his seventh and final great “I am”: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.” To Christian believers this is wonderfully deep and mystic parable. Christ is the vine (the trunk), we are the branches, and God the Father is the Gardener. The picture taken together is that of a vineyard with true believers organically related to Christ (the sap that runs in his veins runs in ours) and of the Father walking among the vines lovingly caring for them so they will bring forth fruit. The overriding emphasis of the passage is fruit bearing, as we see from verse 2, 4, 5, and 8: Vs.2, “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” Vs.4, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” Vs.5, “ I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Vs.8, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” Not only is fruit-bearing the main emphasis, but our Lord makes it...

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Question and Answer: Making godly decisions to the glory of God

The other day, I was asked by someone online, “How do I make major or minor decisions?” The first thing I do in making a decision whether major or minor is to pray. The second thing, I do is read through and meditate on the book of Proverbs. The third thing I do is to go talk to godly counselors since Proverbs teaches that in the abundance of counselors there is wisdom (Proverbs 11:14). The fourth thing I do is to pray again. After I’ve done all of this- prayed, read Proverbs (or other Scripture also), talked to godly counselors, prayed again, I make the decision. If you noticed the order of how I make a decision, I intentionally put in the word “prayer” twice. At every crucial juncture of Jesus ministry- He prayed. Just to give two examples, Jesus prayed before He commissioned the Twelve Disciples, and in the Garden of Gethsemane before He went to the Cross. If prayer was so central to the ministry of Jesus then it ought to be essential to the lives of those who proclaim themselves to be follower of Jesus. Making decisions, whether they are major or minor can be difficult. Some decisions such as getting married involve your entire family close friends, and you’re Pastor. Other decisions may not involve a wide circle of people in your life. All decisions...

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