Lent: What it really says about our understanding of the Cross.

Outside of the Vatican or maybe Boston, you’d be hard pressed to find a city with stronger Catholic roots than my hometown of South Bend, Indiana.  As such, about this time every year, I usually receive a lot of questions about the observance of Lent and whether believers should participate in the practice.

Before I share my thoughts on the subject, for those who didn’t grow up in a tradition that celebrated Lent, allow me to first present an explanation of the observance.  Wikipedia states the following about the season:

Lent is a solemn religious observance in the Christian liturgical calendar that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approximately six weeks later, before Easter Sunday. The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, doing penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement, and self-denial. This event is observed in the Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, and Roman Catholic Churches. Some Anabaptist and evangelical churches also observe the Lenten season.

In Lent, many Christians commit to fasting or giving up certain types of luxuries as a form of penance. Many Christians also add a Lenten spiritual discipline, such as reading a daily devotional or praying through a Lenten calendar, to draw themselves near to God.

Simply put, Lent is a yearly time of self-denial and penance in honor of the suffering of Christ.

In more extreme cultures observations of Lent take on more dangerous forms, such as self-mutilation, self-crucifixion, and other radical methods of religious self-denial and penance.  In fact, in the Philippines, despite strong warnings against such practices by the Catholic Church, flagellants put on a religious performance – a real-life passion play – complete with costumes, microphones, and an actual crucifixion! Since crucifixion offers a slow and agonizing death, the majority of time the actors have time to be taken down and treated by medical professionals at the end of the performance before it’s too late; though there have been some who weren’t so lucky.

Hopefully we can all agree that such extreme acts are unnecessary, unbiblical, and ludicrous, but what about the typical and lesser forms of penance or self-denial observed throughout the Lenten season?  Are these practices still necessary or appropriate for the believer?

To address this fully, we must first seek to understand what was really accomplished at the cross of Christ.  Isaiah 53:4-6 tells us:

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah reveals that Christ was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities.  This means that through his death, he paid the price for our sin – once and for all time!  So the question remains, if my sin was placed on Jesus, then what sin is left in me to atone for?  In fact, Hebrews 10:2 challenges our understanding of penance even further by asking, “For if it were otherwise, would not these sacrifices have stopped being offered?  For the worshippers, having once [for all time] been cleansed, would no longer have a consciousness of sin.”  The writer proposes that if Jesus accomplished what he set out to do on the cross, then no other sacrifice or offering would be required in order to cleanse the worshipper and remove even the consciousness of sin in the heart of the believer.

Of course, that’s the point – through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. he accomplished exactly what he set out to do, which was to remove sin and make righteous all who put faith in him!  As such, true repentance is not found in abstaining from pleasures or denying oneself, rather true repentance is about recognizing who we are in Christ and celebrating the liberation that the cross provides!

Paul challenged the church in Galatia for their failure to hold true to this simple Gospel message:

“But now that you know God – or rather are known by God – how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles?  Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?  You are observing specials days and months and seasons and years!” (Galatians 4:9-10)

Despite the Galatian church having initially received the grace of God, Paul was apparently afraid that they were falling back into legalism – attempting to earn God’s love through their religious piety, instead of relying on God’s grace.  Though some simply see Lent as an opportunity to practice spiritual discipline, many continue to treat it as a means of earning God’s love and atoning for their sins.

Are the issues with Lent isolated to the Catholic Church?

Though Lent is more commonly thought of as a Catholic practice, dozens of evangelical denominations practice it as well.  For me, I personally grew up as an evangelical, yet I used to fast one day a week, not just during Lent, but throughout the entire year.  Back then my weekly abstinence from food was unfortunately misguided, as I hoped that by fasting I would appease God’s anger toward my continued failure or obtain a standard of holiness I felt was expected of me.  What I came to later realize, well-intentioned though my efforts were, I was really trying to rely on my own form of righteous to attain God’s standard of holiness, instead of relying on Christ for my righteousness.

Does this mean that Lent is bad?

Of course Lent isn’t bad, but I do think that man’s attachment to the practice shows how little we understand what happened at the cross.  The overwhelming teaching of the New Testament is that through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, man is made righteous, free from sin, and united with the Father.  The focus of Lent, as described above however, is to offer penance for one’s sins and to make atonement through self-denial.  Yet, the gospel reveals that no amount of penance can ever come close to making up for one’s sin.

With this in mind, elevating Jesus through our lives, not self-denial, is the greatest ‘thank you’ that we can offer God for all that he has done in our lives.  Although fasting and self-denial may have their place in the life of the believer, they are never to be used as a means of earning God’s love, making up for past wrongs, or atoning for one’s sin.  To attempt to do so, is simply an insult to the Cross.

So this Lenten season, go ahead, set aside time to pray, read the Bible, or even fast.  Just don’t think that by denying yourself you are adding something to the cross in order to atone for your sins.  The beauty of the gospel is that Jesus suffered for our sins, so that we don’t have to.  I call this the Great Exchange – his righteousness for my sin, and my sin for his righteousness.  This is the message of Easter and it deserves to be remember, not just for forty days, but for all eternity!

Did you enjoy what you read?  If so, make sure and order a copy of Lucas’ new book, Good God: The One We Want To Believe In But Are Afraid To Embrace.  Additionally, Lucas is giving away a free missing chapter of his book, available at Chapter X: The Story of Authority. 

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March 20, 2017 · 9:33 pm

The Shack Revisited

Since the release of my article, The Shack:  A Story of Freedom or Force?, I’ve received an almost constant stream of hate mail regarding the concerns that I expressed, not about the film itself nor even the book, but rather the beliefs of the author, which he himself expressed clearly in his new theologically driven book, Lies We Believe About God.  In this Young states, among other things, “Are you suggesting that everyone is saved? That you believe in universal salvation? That is exactly what I am saying!”

My article in response to such bold and blatant theological error, which has received significant traffic and support over the past few days, was criticized as being unfair to Mr. Young, judgmental, and offering unsubstantiated accusations.  Because I am simply unable to respond to each individual diatribe that I have received over the past few days, I felt it best to assemble my response and to clarify my position, in a single follow up post – which I felt is only appropriate to call, The Shack Revisited.

To begin with, let it be known that I have never met Mr. Young, though I am certain that we have nothing short of a long-list of mutual friends and acquaintances, including pastors, journalists, filmmakers, etc.  From all of these mutual relationships combined, not once have I ever heard anything but wonderful things about Young’s disposition, character, and personal integrity.  As a fellow author and filmmaker, I also have the utmost respect for his creativity and talent, which are beyond evident in The Shack.  In fact, I have nothing against the man. I simply don’t agree with his theology, especially that which is expressed in his new book.

Contrary to this generation’s thin-skinned opinion, disagreement doesn’t equal insult.  I’m absolutely certain that Mr. Young and I agree about many things regarding the nature of God and the gospel of grace, but I would ask, “Are a few commonalities reason enough to ignore the false doctrines that he also holds, such as Inclusionism and Christian Universalism?”  The Apostle Paul didn’t think so.  He and Peter had much in common, but this didn’t stop him in Galatians 2:11 from calling Peter out for his doctrinal drift and theological error.  In doing so, I’m not questioning Mr. Young’s salvation, nor the beauty of his book, rather his love affair with progressivist theology, which is as equally harmful, if not more so, than Peter’s unwillingness to let go of his legalistic tendencies and constant people pleasing.

I’ve been amazed this past week at countless Christians who have been presented with excerpt after excerpt of Mr. Young’s own words describing his adherence to spurious doctrines such as Inclusionism, “Open Hell” (if he believes Hell exists at all), and Universalism, only to look the other way or justify his beliefs as being taken out of context.  Ironically, these same individuals, I have found, are among the first in line to call out legalistic tendencies in mainstream authors as an aspersion against the gospel itself.  Yet, when the pendulum swings the other direction, into liberalism, progressivism, and at times, antinomianism, all remain silent.  The consensus seems to be that there is no evidence for Mr. Young’s doctrinal drift and that The Shack is only a work of fiction, but this just isn’t the case.

In fact, Mr. Young’s own co-writer of the Shack, Wayne Jacobsen, said in an article he penned himself for Lifestream.org that when he first received the manuscript from Mr. Young that “universalism was a significant component in the resolution of that story.”  Mr. Jacobsen, in reference to his objection to Mr. Young’s position on Universalism, states, “Paul hoped to convince me I was wrong and sent me his paper on universalism.  We spent some time discussing it, but in the end I felt it took too much linguistic gymnastics to bend Scripture to that conclusion.”  As the article continues, Mr. Jacobsen explains that Mr. Young agreed to allow him to remove the theme of Universalism from the Shack in order to make the story more palpable to the audience that needed it the most.  Although Mr. Jacobsen was successful in removing the overarching concept of Universalism from the story-line, he says nothing of removing this line of thinking from his co-author, Mr. Young.  In fact, if anything, Jacobsen only further reinforces my concerns, that Young is not simply an Inclusionist, but a Universalist as well.

With that being said, I don’t believe the issue for the church is as much Mr. Young’s personal theology, as it is the obvious idolization of a fictional story by believers.  Hearing people speak about The Shack, one would think that Mr. Young has presented a clearer gospel than Jesus himself.  This is problematic for multiple reasons, but most importantly, it demonstrates the love lost in the heart of the church toward Christ and his word.  Like a desperate housewife bored with her first love, the church has revealed that it is on the prowl for a new gospel that is more exciting than the first.  This I intend to address further next week in a new post entitled, “Legalism or Progressivism:  Which is More Deadly to Faith?”

Until then, those who know me, should recognize that if the issues I’m describing where merely related to a movie, I would never take the time to present such a case, but in no way is this about a single author or a current film, but an evolving distrust for the church, the Bible, and ultimately for God.

“Who is wise?  He will realize these things.  Who is discerning?  He will understand them.  The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.”

– Hosea 14:9

 

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The Shack: A Story of Freedom or Force?

 

As a Christian it may be less controversial at the moment to offer an opinion about current politics, than it is to express one’s thoughts of the film, The Shack, based upon WM. Paul Young’s book of the same title.  Honestly, I, myself, have tried very hard to avoid sharing my two cents about the book or film, but after reviewing the author’s newest book, Lies We Believe About God, I figured it was time I added my voice to the theological stratosphere.

But before I do, allow me to add a few disclaimers.

I think that it’s worthwhile to acknowledge that believers often behave like the disciples in Mark 9:38. You remember the story. It’s where John informs Jesus that they saw someone else “driving out demons in your name” so they told him to stop.  Jesus rebukes them and uses the moment to reveal that the kingdom is bigger than their egos.  I think this is a lesson that the church needs to collectively relearn today.  It’s no secret that as believers, we have a tendency to shoot our own.  Every theological difference it seems provides opportunity for tearing one another down or spiritually posturing ourselves in hopes that all will see that we are really God’s favorite.

I should perhaps also mention that I know that millions of people have been impacted by The Shack, whether through the book or box office, and in sharing my perspective about the message of the film, I’m in no way desiring to negate the experience they’ve had.  I believe God speaks through a plethora of mediums, film included, and I’ve been a champion for finding God in some of the most unique places.  (I still hold that Avatar transformed how I think about eternity, and I’m also of the viewpoint that AMC’s post-apocalyptic sensation, The Walking Dead, has better theology about God than most Christian churches.)  I point these examples out to express that I’m not a religious prude and that God is able to give revelation even beyond that which may be intended by the writer or director – and The Shack is no different.

But although inspiration can be found in the most unique places, we should still remember that inspiration doesn’t always equal truth.  As Christians, all revelation must always pass through the lens of scripture to ensure that we don’t drift into theological half-truths that can damage our faith.  Film, books, and television can inspire, but only the Bible can offer doctrine.

With the renewed interest in the book, my concern is not that people will ascertain their beliefs about God from the film, but rather that the film will introduce people to additional teachings and materials from the writer.

The challenge for me in Young’s writings, as both a storyteller and theologian, is that they only partially uphold Biblical ideas about God’s nature, such as his goodness, grace, and mercy.  For this reason, it’s easy for the new believer to miss the subtleties of Young’s extra-biblical message, and, perhaps even for the more veteran believer, to mistakenly label Young as a modern Christian reformist who is merely kicking over sacred cows of Christian tradition.

But true reformation is always rooted in absolute truth – specifically that of scripture.  Young’s deconstructionist tendencies, mostly absent of scriptural support, prove that his intention is not only to kick over sacred cows, but also to vacate the farm all together.

Although it’s been speculated in the past that Young held to a form of Christian universalist theology (that all are saved or will be saved apart from faith), Young seems to have clarified his stance in his new book, Lies We Believe About God, which also contains a foreword from known universalist Baxter Kruger.  In the book, Young states, “Are you suggesting that everyone is saved? That you believe in universal salvation? That is exactly what I am saying!”  As you can see, Young leaves little question as to where he stands on the topic of universal salvation and even goes on to describe Hell by saying, “I propose the possibility that hell is not separation from Jesus but that it is the pain of resisting our salvation in Jesus while not being able to escape Him who is True Love.”

The Shack’s blurred gospel message, along with his association with Kruger, are perhaps enough to theologically villainize Young, but this isn’t the point – nor should it be.  Despite his post-Christian leanings, Young isn’t the villain.  The bigger issue is that Young’s stance reveals and represents the binary choice that religion all-too-often presents to its adherents – either God is angry and fault-finding or he’s all-inclusive and universally accepting. The first option is easy to debunk as it is rooted in judgment and legalism, but the second choice, universalism, is challenging to refute without one sounding unloving in doing so.

As I’ve pointed out before, although the universalist ideology appears to offer a loving solution to legalistic Christianity, in reality, its message is one of force.  Much like Rob Bell’s distorted gospel message in Love Wins, Young’s God rejects the biblical concept of freewill and “loves” you so much he’ll force you into the kingdom.  Personally, I believe God is better than this.

This in no way means that one cannot enjoy The Shack as a film, but it should not be used to shape our understanding of God any more than Dante’s Inferno should shape our view of Hell.  With that being said, I do agree with Young that the common religious understanding of God is quite flawed, but instead of departing from the truth of the Word and the foundations of Christian faith, as I believe he does at least in part, I have proposed a reformation of thinking that is based upon scripture and a renewed understanding of God shaped by gazing into the person of Christ.

It is for exactly this reason I wrote the book, Good God:  The One We Want To Believe In But Are Afraid To Embrace.  Upon releasing Good God, there were those who in fact immediately labeled me a heretic, but the difference between my stance and that of Young’s, is that my presentation of God was not just based upon whimsical thinking or fantasy, rather on specific verses of scripture and teachings of Jesus.  While Good God indeed kicked over many sacred cows of traditional theology, it remained loyal to the inerrancy of the Word, the love of the Church, and Jesus’ teaching on the final judgement.

Although I hope Young recognizes how far he’s slid in his post-Christian thinking, I’m more concerned now with the masses who have been influenced (or will be) by his teaching and universalist agenda.  My hope is that people recognize that viewing the Father from each of these extreme spectrums has the tendency to expose one to error.  The only way one can truly construct a proper theology of heaven, hell, love, and judgment is by beginning with the solid and trustworthy revelation of Jesus Christ.

For those looking for an alternative to the narrowed-minded view of God offered by legalism and tradition, but who still value the foundation of scripture, the message of Christ, and the truth of the gospel, I would invite you to consider the almost too-good-to-be-true God that I present in my book, Good God.

 

 

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The Power of Humility


Years ago a friend of mine was struggling in his restaurant business due to some poor decisions that he had made.  Upon asking for my advice, God revealed to me in a vision one day exactly what my friend needed to do in order to reverse the situation and save his company.  Unfortunately, the first step required operating in a great deal of humility toward his family in order to carry out (no pun intended), but the man was sadly unwilling to comply and in time ended up losing his store and ruined his relationship with his family.  I truly believe if he had responded differently, much of this could have been avoided.

The Bible tells the story of another man who was in danger of losing, not just his business, but his entire kingdom due to a lapse of judgment.  This man’s name was David.

After conducting a secret affair with a married woman, David tried to cover up his initial moral lapse in judgment by having her husband killed on the battlefield.  With each poor choice, David’s sin became compounded; lust, sexual sin, murder, and now deception.  God then revealed his sin to the prophet Nathan and as a result the prophet warned David of God’s judgment and anger against him.  But David’s response was anything but ordinary.

With a seemingly contrite and repentant heart, David confesses, “I have sinned against the Lord.”  It was a simple sentence, but it demonstrated his heart for God.  As such, God spared David’s life and restored his place on the throne of Israel and Judah.  His deliverance was rooted in humility.

Thankfully today, as New Covenant believers, we possess an even greater covenant than David did.  Through the Cross, Christ bore in his body the penalty for sin, and we are now (as believers) no longer in danger of God’s judgment, but this doesn’t excuse the need for humility, nor strip it of its power.  In fact, humility is just as powerful today as it was for David.  Like my friend above, humility can make the difference between experiencing God’s deliverance or falling back into the fruit of our own efforts and works.

Humility offers a simple path to embracing God’s attitude and opinions, and acknowledging that as people, we don’t have it all together.  In the end, it’s one of the most empowering tools that we possess in the kingdom.  In fact, humility is the key to our salvation.  Although salvation is offered to us, by grace through faith, it takes humility to receive it in the first place. Only when our heart is humble can we acknowledge our need for a Savior.

Is God speaking to you today?  Is your heart soft enough to listen and humbly obey?

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Proclaim 2017

This week I had the pleasure of attending the National Religious Broadcasters Convention – Proclaim 2017.  While there I spent the majority of my time in the press room recording interviews for my upcoming podcast, The Lucas Miles, as well as appearing on various Christian and conservative talk shows, like Tbe Church Boys, The Hugh Hewitt Show, Paul Ladd, and more!  Here are a few snapshots from throughout the week:

 

 

Author & researcher, George Barna & Lucas Miles

Lucas Miles and journalist Billy Hallowell

 

 

 

Lucas and DeVon Franklin

The Benham Twins and Lucas

Andrew Farley and Lucas Miles

Lucas and Moriah Peters

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Lucas Miles Reports Live from the National Religious Broadcasters 2017 Convention!

This week thousands of Christian industry leaders flocked to Orlando, FL for the annual National Religious Broadcasters Convention.  I had the opportunity to report all of the happenings live on The Harvest Show.  Here is my segment from today’s show:

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Drifting from the Truth

augustine-truth

Isaiah 5:20 ESV says this, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”

In the tale of The Emperor’s New Clothes none of the ruler’s servants nor the town’s people wanted to be seen as foolish or unfit by admitting that the Emperor was really naked. Instead, the masses fell victim to a very small minority (2 traveling salesmen with a sinister agenda to deceive the people and profit off of their fear of being wrong). Because no one would speak up, each individual eventually assumed that all were able to perceive his new clothes, except for them, so they unanimously agreed how wonderful he looked – even though none of them could see his suit.

In today’s world the same is true. There is an agenda that exists to reframe truth – politically, biologically, historically, morally, religiously, and ethically – and those behind it are banking on the masses’ unwillingness to speak out and call evil “evil”. They have gone to great lengths to publicly and brutally disparage and demean anyone who would stand up against them and state what the great majority know, but that most are afraid to say.

This week’s headlines showed just a snapshot of this rising agenda and continued distortion of the truth; an anti-Semitic, radical Islamic sympathizer being appointed deputy chair of the DNC, continued attempts at normalizing and desensitizing the public to transgenderism and other sexual distortions, as well as a convicted cannibal’s charges being dropped from murder to only manslaughter. Each of these represent just a small glimpse at how far we’ve drifted from truth as a society and the extent that morality and godliness have been stripped from our definition of truth, identity, and life.

More than ever we need the gospel.

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.” – 1 Timothy 1:15

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The Truth About Illegal Immigration

Immigration

I’ve been invested in the people of Latin American for the last 17 years, specifically Mexico. I have ministered to thousands of people throughout their wonderful country and along both sides of the border. Additionally, I have spent considerable time with major Mexican business leaders over the years, as well as major Mexican politicians, several of which I consider dear friends. I’ve also assisted literally dozens of people from nations all around the world over the years enter our nation legally for short term trips, long term trips, to gain political asylum, and to gain green cards and citizenship in our fine nation.

During this time and through these experiences, I have undoubtably seen how broken our current immigration system is, how slanted it is against Christians, and how it favors the wealthy, the Islamic and non-Christian faiths, and those with political connections. It is in major need of revision, but despite all of this, illegal immigration is not the solution nor should it be embraced, overlooked, accepted, or encouraged.

Illegal immigration hurts both Mexico (and the many other nations involved), as well as the United States equally. It strips other countries of desperately needed human capital and talent, promotes illegal trafficking rings (often the same groups responsible for sex and drug trafficking), steals jobs from American workers, and helps perpetuate cartel controlled communities, especially along border cities. Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and President Trump have all addressed these same issues I’ve mentioned. In fact, until this past election, virtually no one (republic or democrat) in Washington questioned this fact, nor cared to state it any differently, but now this has changed.

The current push to normalize and desensitize the American people regarding illegal immigration has nothing to do with immigration. It is merely one of many tactics designed to undermine the current administration. Sadly latinos and other immigrants are being used as pawns by liberal masterminds exactly the same way that Lyndon B. Johnson did this to the black community in the 1960’s in order to gain power.

I’m sure that many will disagree and some will lash out, but I only say this because I’m committed (and will continue to be committed) to a thriving Mexico and a safe and prosperous United States.

The solution is immigration reform, an improved vetting process, temporary bans from problematic nations, increased border security, extended periods of decreased immigration to allow for assimilation, and invoking strict, yet fair, penalties and consequences on those who have entered our country illegally.

I believe that anyone who truly cares about this country and the immigrant, especially those who enter the country legally, should take no other view.

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2016 has not been kind to Hollywood. Carrie Fisher aka Princess Leia Dead at 60.

princess-leiaToday the world received the news of the death of Carrie Fisher.  Fisher allegedly suffered a massive heart attack while aboard an international flight from London to Los Angeles, and sadly passed away today (December 27th) in a Beverly Hills Hospital, but the former Star Wars Princess is not the only star who the world has lost this year.  Here is a partial list of some of the entertainment icons whom have passed this year (2016).

Carrie Fisher

Gene Wilder

Muhammad Ali

Alan Rickman

David Bowe

George Michael

Anton Yelchin

Prince

Prayers go out to all of their friends and families!

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Thoughts on Romans 11:11-12

Paul writes in Romans 11:11-12 (NIV),

“Again I ask: Did they (Israel) stumble so as to fall beyond recovery?  Not at all!  Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.  But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!”

In this passage, Paul is asking if Israel, or more specifically, the Jewish people, have fallen so far that they do not have an opportunity to return to the Lord.  Paul adamantly states, “Not at all!”  This is amazing news for Israel (even today) and is monumental evidence for advocates of free will everywhere , but it’s the verse after this that I would like to draw our attention to at the moment. In the second part of verse 11, Paul reveals that it is because of the transgression of the Jews that salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel jealous.

Although subtle, this verse reveals much needed clarity regarding the sovereignty of God.

In the church today, there exists an idea that everything that happens is a direct result of God’s divine choosing.  The extreme adherents to this idea preach a message that nullifies man’s freewill and argues that God is the puppet master behind all of the outcomes of our life.  If this were so, one would expect Paul to say that God was divinely orchestrating the outcome of both Jews and Gentiles, but he doesn’t.  Paul instead reveals that it was “because of their transgression” that an opportunity for salvation was presented to the Gentiles.  Their transgression…not God’s divine choosing, not God’s sovereign will, but their choice, their sin, and their will.  This is important.

First, it shows us that we play a major part in the outcome of our lives.  In a world where it seems that most try to shrug off their responsibility, the Bible is reminding us that our actions, decisions, and will matter – immensely!  Second, it shows us that God loves Israel so much that he constantly leaves the door open for their return.  But it doesn’t stop there – he loves us that much too!  Like the prodigal son, we may wander away, but the Father never stops watching for us, waiting for us, and hoping that we might come to the end of ourselves and return.

What are you choosing today?  Are you choosing life?  Are you moving in a direction that is going to lead you into greater blessing, understanding, fullness, and joy 0r are you chasing after your own desires, temporal gratifications, and short lived pleasures?

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