"Free Pass" Theology

Something interesting that’s been coming up over and over again in conversation has been the idea that God gives certain people a free pass.

If a group of people live somewhere where the gospel’s never been preached, they automatically get into Heaven, is one heard a fair bit, but I honestly don’t give it much thought because it’s answered in Romans 1:19-20.

But there’s another idea that gives me pause:

If a child dies very young, before reaching an “age of accountability,” then he or she goes to Heaven.

I’ll admit, I really like the idea of this, but I want to know if it’s true.

So I’ve been doing some research. And aside from (so far) finding that the only place where a doctrine of an age of accountability is clearly defined is within Mormonism, I did find a couple of interesting points:

In Deut. 1:35-36, the Israelites who are about to enter the Promised Land are reminded of God’s judgement on the previous generation, that “Not one of these men of this evil generation shall see the good land that I swore to give to your fathers, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh. He shall see it, and to him and to his children I will give the land on which he has trodden, because he has wholly followed the Lord!” [Read more...]

Some Doubted

I was struck by something I read in Matthew 28. To give some context, Jesus has risen, and commanded that His disciples meet Him in Galilee. So they go, and when they get there, this is what Matthew records:

And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.

Matthew 28:17

Some doubt.

Jesus.

The same Jesus who, just days before, was beaten beyond human likeness.Who was nailed to a roman cross.

Whose heart was pierced by a spear to confirm His death. Whose body was wrapped in linens and sealed in a tomb for days.

Standing before them. Literally, physically.

“But some doubted.” [Read more...]

The Watchmen

In Ezekiel 33: 1-6, Ezekiel was commanded to speak to the people, saying that if watchman did not sound the trumpet to warn the people of a coming enemy, their blood would be on his head. But if he sounded the trumpet and they did not heed the warning, their blood would be on their own.

God then gives him this command:

So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul (v. 7-9).

Were Ezekiel to not call the Israelites to repentance and speak the Word of God, Ezekiel would be held responsible for their blood. That’s some pretty serious business.

And thinking about it, I have to wonder if that call to be watchmen doesn’t apply to us today as Christians? [Read more...]

The Persevering Prophet: Fruit

PP-Fruit

I’ve had one question stuck in my mind since completing my reading of Jeremiah:

How do you determine a fruitful ministry?

What makes it successful? Is it the number of converts? The number of professions of faith?

At Compassion, one of the ways we measure our fruitfulness is the number of children we see sponsored. For our ministry, this is an incredibly important metric, because if we don’t see children sponsored, we’re failing in our jobs.

But are these kinds of metrics—the number of professions of faith, the number of people attending a church, the number of people serving in a particular ministry—the thing we should measure?

If you look at converts, Jeremiah’s ministry was a spectacular failure. He had two people listen to his calls of repentance: Baruch, his scribe (see Jer. 32:12) and Ebed-melech, an Ethiopian eunuch who served King Zedekiah (see Jer. 38:7-13).

Years of ministry. Countless sermons. Powerful & provocative words.

Two converts.

Everyone else tried to kill him.

Jeremiah’s ministry has taught me something incredibly important:

Fruitfulness is not determined by metrics—It is determined by obedience to God’s Word.

[Read more...]

10 Reasons Not To Invite People to Follow Christ at Your Church

Craig Groeschel provided the following 10 reasons why we don’t invite people to follow Christ at our churches. I’m not in vocational pastoral ministry (the folks to whom Craig’s blog is directed), but I found several points challenging and convicting.

  1. You are afraid of rejection.
  2. You think everyone at church is already a believer.
  3. You wouldn’t dream of offending someone.
  4. You don’t really believe the gospel changes lives.
  5. You are so busy preaching about “sex” or “how to have a better life” that you don’t have time to present Christ.
  6. You would rather tell another joke than spend time explaining the gospel.
  7. You don’t want to be criticized for being narrow minded.
  8. You care more about everyone feeling welcome than about their eternity.
  9. You are embarrassed to talk a lot about Jesus.
  10. You don’t really really believe the gospel yourself.

So what do you think? What points on this list convict us?

Does your church invite people to follow Christ? Do you?

HT: Sean Chandler