Is God the Father of Everyone?

cross_the_passion

by John Ellis

The claim of exclusivity is one of liberal “Christianity’s” biggest problems with Christianity. The thing is, the really scary thing is, the rejection of exclusivity in Christianity is a rejection of Christianity. Denying that Christianity is exclusive requires denying the words of Jesus.

Throughout his ministry, and more than any other person recorded in the Bible, Jesus spoke about the coming eternal judgment in hell of the unrighteous. Frequently, Jesus told his disciples and those listening that not everyone is/would be part of the Kingdom of God. In plain language that is impossible to misconstrue, Jesus told the Pharisees that their father was the devil. Having the devil as your father means that you are excluded from the Kingdom of God. Christianity is an exclusive religion.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Fathers, Sons, and Pornography

sonsby John Ellis

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.” Matthew 5:29-30

Many in my generation are averse to standards, to rules. Specifically, but not exclusively, those of us who were raised in strict, conservative, fundamentalist Christian homes are often averse to standards. Many of us believe that holding to standards indicates some level of legalism.

We grew up being taught that almost all forms of pop music are sinful and dishonoring to our holy God, especially rock, pop, hip-hop, and most forms of country-western music. Movie theatres were verboten. In fact, in my family, movies rated PG and above were off limits even at home. Rules were stacked upon rules, at least it felt that way. As my generation entered adulthood, many of us “discovered” grace and cast off the “legalism” of our parents.

Continue reading

The Cross Is Where True Social Justice Is Found

cross_the_passion

by John Ellis

Luke chapter fifteen is one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible; which is to say, one of the most beautiful passages in all of literature. As the chapter opens, we meet a group of grumbling Pharisees and scribes who are accusatorily saying of Jesus, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” With his response, Jesus reveals his love, his heart, and the reason for his incarnation.

The self-centered, self-righteous revelation of the Pharisees and scribes’ hearts finds a contrast and, more importantly, an antidote in the three parables that Jesus told in response. Instead of defending himself against the charge of receiving sinners and eating with them, Jesus confirms the accusation and explains that that is exactly what he came to do. Jesus’ telling of “The Parable of the Lost Sheep,” “The Parable of the Lost Coin,” and “The Parable of the Prodigal Son” reveals to us his desire to see sinners saved and reconciled to God. The readers of the Bible shouldn’t be surprised.

Continue reading

Citizens of a Heavenly Kingdom

Church-American-Flag-900-660x330by John Ellis

Like many Christians living in America, if not most, the churches that I attended as a child had patriotic services every July 4th weekend. Not limited to patriotic holidays, though, God and country was one of the overriding motifs of my religious training throughout my entire youth. In fact, it’s not a stretch to say that in those churches patriotism and holiness were considered loose synonyms. You couldn’t be a good Christian if you also weren’t a good American as defined by a certain ideological subset. Sadly, I’m afraid, the gospel witness of those churches was hijacked by a form of secular worship – the worship of an earthly kingdom.

There is much to be thankful for if you are born and live in the United States of America. Furthermore, as Christians, we should pray continually for our country and our nation’s leaders; we should pray that God will continue to extend His hand of grace and restrain the sinful impulses of unregenerate men. We should thank God that we are able to worship and serve Him mostly unabated, and we should pray for God’s continued protection. However, it is inappropriate, at best, to turn the worship service on the Lord’s Day into a glorification of humans and human achievements, no matter how thankful we are for those humans and their achievements.

Continue reading

Imperfect Fathers Point to the Perfect Father

parent-holding-childs-hand

by John Ellis

Our daughter was just a week old when my wife and I ventured to the Super Wal-Mart with our new baby in tow. Her car seat fit snugly in the shopping cart, but I was still tense and wary as I pushed my precious cargo down the wide aisles. If anyone got too close, I squinted my eyes in disproval and stared them down. Items put in the cart had to be placed with the utmost tenderness and care so as not to disturb my sleeping, infant daughter. I was determined to protect my new daughter from all dangers; real, perceived, or plain made-up danger, it didn’t matter. In my new-daddy brain, my one and only job during that shopping trip was to make sure that nothing, and I mean nothing, bothered the new love of my life.

Continue reading

After Bad Things Happen, How Do You Talk to Children About God?

scared-child

by John Ellis

If we live long enough and King Jesus doesn’t return, we will all face hard providences. Sadly, even children face hard providences. When that happens, parents are often at a loss as to how to discuss the event with their child, and understandably so. Often, though, that inability stems from an anemic doctrines of God, sin, and/or suffering. Without a robust understanding of who God is, the awfulness of sin, and the overall purpose of suffering, adults are going to miss out on an opportunity to preach the gospel when bad things happen to children.

Continue reading