The Good News

Discussion of the Best News in the World, the Gospel of Jesus, and related topics

Category Archives: faith

Former Muslim Now Pastor

C. S. Lewis – Life With a Purpose

C. S. Lewis – from Theism to Christianity

C.S. Lewis: It must be understood that my conversion at that point was only to theism pure and simple. I knew nothing yet about the incarnation. The God to whom I surrendered was sheerly non-human.

 

What Makes Grace Amazing?

The word grace has become an everyday church conversational word, until many Christians uses the words without truly understanding the weight behind it. Some Christians understand grace as God’s richest at Christ’s expense. Some as God’s unmerited favors towards undeserving people. Most of us uses grace as synonym to forgiveness of sin. But then, a lot of believers see grace as God’s additional help to add for the lack of perfection in our self-effort. Grace is what God gives to you when you tried your best but you fail. There is a popular saying that says, ‘God help those who help themselves.’ If these definitions of grace is true, then grace is not amazing at all.

It is very hard to define the word grace. But it is crucial that we have the right understanding of it.

Without the right understanding of grace, we wont be able to understand the fullness of God in the Bible.

Grace is ever present in every single page of the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation, grace is the long thread that connect everything together for God’s glory. So without understanding grace correctly, we can have a distorted view of the One true living God. But when we have the correct understanding of grace, only then we can sing ‘Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.’

In order for us to understand the amazing-ness of grace and the weight behind the word, Sam Storm in his book ‘Chosen for Life,’ writes 10 characteristic of grace. I hope these ten points will help us realize that grace is truly amazing.

  1. Grace presupposes sin and guilt. In another word, grace has meaning only when we realize that we are sinful and guilty. The main reason why people think so little of grace is because they do not understand the weight of their sin and guilt before the holy God.
  2. Grace does not contemplate sinners merely as undeserving, but as ill-deserving. Prior to salvation, we are not living in ‘neutral zone.’ According to the Bible, we are on our way to hell. It is not simply we do not deserve grace; we do deserve hell! We were once the enemies of God, if it not for His grace (Romans 5:10)
  3. Grace is not dependent upon the merit or demerit of its objects. Grace ceases to be grace if it can be earned by human merit. Grace ceases to be grace if it can be withdrawn by human demerit. J.I. Packer put it this way: “Grace is not treating a person less than, as, or greater than he deserves. It is treating a person without the slightest reference to desert whatsoever, but solely according to the infinite goodness and sovereign purposes of God.”
  4. Grace cannot incur a debt. Since grace is a gift, nothing can be done with a view to repaying God for it. The Biblical response to grace received is faith to receive more of it.
  5. With respect to justification, grace stands opposed to works (Romans 4:4-5); however, with respect to sanctification, grace is the source of works. This simply means that we are saved by grace for good works. Good works are the fruit and not the root of grace (Eph 2:8-10).
  6. Grace that saves is eternal but is manifested in the historical appearance of Christ. Grace comes and manifested fully in the person of Jesus Christ (2 Tim 1:9-10).
  7. Grace is free! The moment grace lost its ‘free-ness’, it ceases to be grace. (Rom 3:24)
  8. Grace is sovereign. Although God is gracious, He is not bound to give His grace to everyone. If grace becomes an obligation to God, grace would not be grace. God graciously saves some but not all, according to His sovereign good pleasure
  9. Grace is the foundation and the means of our election (Rom 11:5), our regeneration (Eph 2:5), our redemption (2 Cor 8:9), our justification (Titus 3:5-7) and the whole of our salvation (Eph 2:8)
  10. Grace is certainly free, but it is not always unconditional. Many of God’s acts and blessing are conditional. Eg: Eph 6:4; James 4:6, Psalm 103:17-18. But conditional grace is not earned grace. When God’s grace is promised based on a condition, that condition is also work of God’s grace. God graciously enables the condition that He requires (Phil 2:12-13). Our security is as secure as God is faithful.

Grace is indeed amazing. It does not originate from us but in God. We are only the undeserved recipients of grace, and that’s what make grace so amazing. J.I. Packer expressed it this way:

“The grace of God is love freely shown toward guilty sinners, contrary to their merit and indeed in defiance of their demerit. It is God showing goodness to persons who deserve only severity, and had no reason to expect anything but severity.”

 

thank you Yosia Yusuf

 

 

The Case for Christ

I read The Case for Christ many years ago and other Strobel books.  From the book you can see that Lee was searching and did exhaustive interviews all across the country(USA) and maybe some abroad.  Bishop Barron has done the best summary of the book and the new movie out on Lee Strobel’s search and what he found.  I’ve included the article from wordonfire.org below and hope you enjoy it.

The Case for Christ is a film adaptation of Lee Strobel’s best-selling book of the same name, one that has made an enormous splash in Evangelical circles and beyond. It is the story of a young, ambitious (and atheist) reporter for the Chicago Tribune, who fell into a psychological and spiritual crisis when his wife became a Christian. The scenes involving Lee and his spouse, which play out over many months of their married life, struck me as poignant and believable—and I say this with some authority, having worked with a number of couples in a similar situation. In some cases, a non-believing spouse might look upon his partner’s faith as a harmless diversion, a bit like a hobby, but in other cases, the non-believer sees the dawning of faith in his beloved as something akin to a betrayal. This latter situation strongly obtained in the Strobel’s marriage.

In order to resolve the tension, Lee used his considerable analytical and investigative skills to debunk the faith that was so beguiling his wife. The focus of his inquiry was, at the suggestion of a Christian colleague at the Tribune, the resurrection of Jesus. If Jesus didn’t rise, his friend explained, Christianity crumbles like a house of cards. The narrative unfolds, then, as a kind of detective story, Strobel hunting down leads, interrogating experts, asking the hard questions.

I liked this for a couple of reasons. First, at its best, Christianity is not fideist, that is to say, reliant upon a pure and uncritical act of faith on the part of its adherents. Rather, it happily embraces reason and welcomes critical questions. Secondly, and relatedly, Christianity is a stubbornly historical religion. It is not a philosophy (though it can employ philosophical language), nor is it a spirituality (though a spirituality can be distilled from it); rather, it is a relationship to an historical figure about whom an extraordinary historical claim has been made, namely, that he rose bodily from the dead.

Now especially in recent years, many attempts have been made to mitigate the scandal of this assertion. Jesus was a great moral exemplar, a powerful teacher of spiritual truth, an inspiring man of God—and it doesn’t particularly matter whether the reports of resurrection are factually accurate. Indeed, it is probably best to read them as mythic or symbolic. To all of that, classical Christianity says no. It agrees with Lee Strobel’s colleague: if the resurrection didn’t happen, Christianity should be allowed to fall onto the ash heap of history. Therefore, watching our intrepid investigator go about his work is, for a true Christian, thrilling, precisely because the questions are legitimate and something is very really at stake.

So what were his inquiries? First, he wondered whether the resurrection stories were just fairy tales, pious inventions meant to take away our fear of death. But he learned that, in point of fact, many people claimed to have seen Jesus after his crucifixion, including five hundred at once. Moreover, most of the leaders of the early Church went to their deaths defending the legitimacy of what they taught. Would anyone do that for a myth or a legend of his own invention?

But another question came to his mind: might they all have been victims of a mass hallucination? A psychologist patiently explained that waking dreams are not shared by hundreds of people at different times and different places. “If hundreds of individuals had the same hallucination, that would be a greater miracle than the resurrection,” she informed him with a smile.

But what about the reliability of the Christian texts themselves? Weren’t they written long after the events described? A Catholic priest, who is also an archeologist and specialist in ancient manuscripts, told him that the number of early copies of the Christian Gospels far surpasses that of any other ancient text, including the Iliad of Homer and the Dialogues of Plato.

What about the “swoon theory,” according to which Jesus did not really die on the cross but only lost consciousness, only to be revived sometime later? A Los Angeles based physician detailed for him the brutal process of a Roman execution, which resulted in the victim slowly bleeding to death and asphyxiating. The swoon theory, the doctor concluded, “is rubbish.”

At each stage of the process, Strobel continued to wonder, question, balk, and argue, all the time maintaining the default position that Christianity is bunk. Nevertheless, it was becoming clear that the relentlessness of the counter-arguments and their stubborn congruence with one another was wearing him down. This made me think of John Henry Newman’s famous account of how we come to religious assent. It is very rarely by virtue of one clinching argument, Newman said, but rather through the slow, steady confluence of inference, hunch, intuition, experience, the witness of others, etc. This convergence of probabilities, under the aegis of what Newman called the “illative sense,” customarily leads the mind to assent.

In the course of their conversation, Strobel’s priest-archeologist interlocutor showed the skeptical journalist a reproduction of the Shroud of Turin, purported to be the burial cloth of Jesus. Gazing into the eyes of the image, Strobel asked, “What would have made him go through all of this?” The priest responded, “That’s easy: love.” As the arguments were jostling in his head, Strobel remembered that image and that explanation—and the filmmakers insinuate that this is what finally pushed him over into belief.

The Case for Christ is interesting for any number of reasons, but I think it is particularly compelling for its subtle portrayal of the psychological, spiritual, and intellectual dynamics of evangelization.

Related:

The Disturbing Fact of the Resurrection

Beyond Blind Faith

From Atheist to Jesus Follower

When Do We Have Enough Evidence to Know Christianity is True?

Athiest Come to Christ

Peter’s Restoration

Repost: see John 21.

Seven of the 11 disciples are at sea and are attempting to catch fish.  The Master comes and guides them.  A net full of fish results.  Jesus gathers them around a fire and they eat roast fish together.  

After the meal He turns to Peter and seeks to restore His friend and follower.  “Peter, do you love me more than these?”

I can imagine for Peter and arch of pain goes through his stomach. then anguish of soul, and finally release.  “Aaah, the Lord is coming for me, He still loves me?” “I will go there with Him.”  “Lord, you know I love you,” said Peter.  “I will soon be free of this plague of failure which has bound me ever since He died.”  “I know my denial sent Him there.  Maybe, now I can get past my remorse for failing Him so badly.”

The Lord ask Peter the same question again, and then again.  The Lord asks Peter the question three times.  It was three times that Peter was asked a question about his association with the Master and denied that he knew the Lord in the courtyard of the high priest’s house in response to each question.

So, what is Jesus doing here on the shore?  Jesus wants Peter.  He wants Peter to understand that even denial and betrayal is forgivable.  Jesus wants Peter to see the resurrected Jesus–the One who died for Peter’s sins and the sins of all others who come seeking forgiveness

Where would Peter have been if the Lord had not pursued him as He did at the shore?   How would His life have been different if the Lord never engaged Him directly?

I am seeing this encounter with Peter as life changing.  Peter can throw off the sin and turn from his past.  Peter will become a new man because of the Lord’s pursuit of him today.

We see the results in the remainder of the New Testament.  Peter lives to call men and women to their Savior and to guard and feed the Lord’s sheep.  Peter is a great example for us.  Though we have sinned and grieved our Lord, we can be renewed and restored.  We may hear the call to a flock of a few or of hundreds.  

We desperately need to see the Lord pursuing us as He pursued Peter.  The Lord seeks to restore us by His love and grace.  

Seek Him and you will find Him. He will find you. Know that He does pursue you.  Submerge yourself in His love.

The REAL Gospel

…what’s not Good News?

 

Best Interpretation of ‘Silence’

Spoiler Warning: this is the best commentary I’ve heard on the movie.

Actors in Silence, the Movie

Inside the Mind of Martin Scorsese for Silence

Scorsese on Silence, the Movie & Faith

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