I scratch my head as to why fellow believers are the ones most antagonistic to the idea of our unmerited and total acceptance by God.
Paul Ellis, in his new book The Gospel in Twenty Questions, answers these questions and so many more. Ellis follows up to his first book The Gospel in Ten Words, by addressing twenty frequently asked questions many of us have pondered, often with total frustration, as we attempt to live by grace on our Christian journey.
Ever wonder why Jesus says some really harsh things…and then some really forgiving things? Chapter Six “How can I read the Bible without getting confused?” will be a lifesaver.
How about the age old, “can I lose my salvation?” Ellis takes that notion head on in Chapter 16, “Once saved, always saved?”
“If God always forgives me, does that mean I can keep sinning? Check out Chapter 12 “Is Grace a license to sin?”
Law tainted Grace
If you are a Christian of any number of years chances are you are mixing a dash of Old Covenant Law in with the grace Christ has given you. As a pastor Paul Ellis admits he mixed law with grace in his teachings for years. Once he saw grace more fully he has been on a singular mission to help older Christians break free of performance based faith as well as for new believers to never have to experience the chains the law puts on God’s people.
Paul’s two books have been game changers for me!
I was a pastor who thought I preached grace and now I wince inside at some of the “teachings” I perpetuated. When you have been part of a “law based Christian system” for so many years you almost need accountability like an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. I picture myself in a church basement with a small group of people on folding chairs :
Hi, my name is Steve Hackman and I’m a recovering performance based Christian. It’s been 27 days since I last mixed law with grace. (sound of light clapping of fellow “law addicts” around me)
Last Tuesday I was tempted to think God loved me more because I had read my Bible and went to home group even though I was really tired from work…. (everyone looks on with concern) … but then I remembered there is nothing I can do that will make God love me more, because I am his son. (sound of more clapping)
I tell you though it’s hard…it’s hard not to think that some of this is dependent on me and not Christ. (sounds of amen as hands reach out to pat my shoulder)
Long term Christians will know exactly what I mean. The Gospel in Twenty Questions is a resource I will return to again and again to help me understand how “law” can infiltrate my “grace” without my even knowing it.
Why Are Christians So Mad About Grace
So why are fellow believers the most antagonistic to grace? Paul Ellis takes this issue straight on in GITQ:
When you have spent years earning gold stars, the last thing you want to hear is that the stars count for nothing. When you have made a point of avoiding sin and being a faithful churchgoer, you won’t be thrilled to learn that those who enjoyed the pleasure of sin for a season are loved just as much as you are. You’ll be offended… they see this grace message as offensive to a bookkeeping God. ‘God sees your sin. Sin must be paid for and you’re going to pay, either now, through contrition and discipline, or later, through fire.’
The Gospel in Twenty Questions- pg 102
Paul the Apostle often had to deal with the questions that the gospel he preached was leading to more “sinning” (Rom 6) 2000 years later another Paul is addressing the same accusations. But Ellis always brings it back to knowing who we are as God’s children. Or as he says in Chapter 1, “Who’s your Daddy?” Ellis deftly handles the struggles so many have with the idea, “Can God REALLY be this good?”
And the answer is always “Yes, He is!”
As I read The Gospel in Twenty Questions I realized there is an underlying theme that permeates the book;
“You don’t have to be afraid”
So many Christians are motivated in thought and action out of fear.
* Fear of hell
*Fear of losing God’s favor
*Fear of God’s judgement
*Even the fear of men
The Gospel in Twenty Questions reminds us that God is for us, he loves us, and nothing can separate us from the grace he has revealed to us through Christ Jesus.
Paul Ellis’ newest book is a valuable resource in my Christian walk and it will be for yours as well! Pick it up today here!