Preach the Gospel

St_John_from_an_Armenian_Gospel_Manuscript_Wellcome_L0016377What is the gospel? I’ve been pondering this question for a while now. Is it the fact that God loves everybody? Is it loving our neighbor—being the good Samaritan? Is it the message of salvation that Jesus died on the cross for our sins? And where does repentance fit in?

While Merriam-Webster defines “gospel” as “the message concerning Christ, the kingdom of God, and salvation,” there is no single Biblical passage that clearly defines the word. However, bits and pieces appear throughout Scripture. Continue reading

Praying for (someone else’s) Faith

The argument is as old as the Bible. Do we really choose to believe in God, in Jesus? Or does God choose us, extending mercy to some, and hardening the hearts of others?

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)

Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. (Romans 9:18)

I prefer to avoid thinking about confusing and contradictory concepts—they make my head hurt!  However, the tension between predestination and free will concerns me a great deal. In fact, it’s a matter of life and death.

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Just Believe?

“Just believe! It’s that simple.” I’ve heard this comment so many times. Is that really all it takes to become a Christian? Is simple belief all the assurance we need that we’re heading for heaven?

Some parts of the Bible clearly support a “yes” answer to these questions. Here are a few verses (out of many possible examples):

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Offering Condolences

What is our eternal destination? While there have been some prominent church leaders proposing their own interpretation of the Bible on this topic, I always assumed that most Christians agreed on the basics—heaven and hell are real, and only perfect people can live in heaven. Since no one is perfect, we have to rely on Jesus’ perfection on our behalf. Otherwise, we consign ourselves to hell. Pretty orthodox—or at least I thought so.

With the recent death of my dad, lots of people are expressing their condolences. I really appreciate all the kindness we’re receiving—everyone has been so wonderful! What I find surprising, however, is how many people just assume that my dad went to heaven.

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