Christianity in a Word

Godafoss

Just One Word

London, circa 1940.

The room was crowded—full of sharp minds and tweed coats. Some men mumbled. Some scratched their heads in silence. No one could think of an answer.

Moments before, someone had inquired of Christianity, “What’s unique about it? Is it any different than other religions?” They were men from around the world, gathered for a British conference on comparative religions.

Incarnation? No, other religions have Gods that have become human.

Resurrection? No, this too is a teaching of other religions.

From the back of the room emerged a young scholar. He wore rounded glasses. His hair was balding. He carried a half-lit pipe in the fold of his hand.

“Oh, that’s quite easy,” he said. His voice was soft, strong—it ceased any mumbling. All were eager for what he would say next.

“Grace.”

This young scholar was C.S. Lewis.

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The Gospel is Slippery

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Years ago, I heard Tim Keller say that in a sermon, and it’s stuck with me since.

One minute, we’ll have a good grasp of it. The next, we’ve lost it entirely. But here’s the worst part—we rarely even notice. We’ll grab onto one of two falsehoods and think it to be the gospel.

One is legalism. We’ll believe that God considers us righteous because we’ve read our Bibles, prayed, or abstained from a sin. We’ll allow our activity to govern our identity—what we do becomes who we are. If we’re doing “spiritually bad,” we’ll think that we need to make it up to God through religion. And if we’re doing “spiritually good,” we’ll get the idea that God owes us something.

The other is permissivism. We’ll believe that, because God is full of grace, we don’t really need to strive for holiness. We’ll look at the sin in and our life and think, “Well, it isn’t that big of a deal I suppose. I mean, God’s grace covers it, right?” We’ll be spiritually lazy, putting minimal effort into pursuing holiness or advancing the Kingdom of God.

Interesting, right? I’m not saying that we make a deliberate decision to depart from the gospel in the name of legalism or permissivism, but I am saying that the gospel doesn’t stay within our grasp forever. We have to pick it up again and again and again.

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The Doctrine of Least Meaning

Help

If you haven’t been able to tell yet, most of my posts involve borrowed insight from someone far wiser than me. This one will follow suit.

Recently, I heard John Piper mention a Bible-reading tool called “the doctrine of least meaning” to use when we approach difficult passages of Scripture. He admitted that some passages of the Bible are hard to understand—don’t get discouraged when you feel this way!

When we encounter a strange prophecy in Revelation, an extensive description of temple ornaments in 1 Kings, or an obscure oracle in Nahum, we’re likely to ask ourselves, “What the heck am I supposed to make of this?”

But if we can step back, look at the passage and say, “Well at the least, it probably means . . . ” that truth—whatever it is—is so significant that if it is believed, meditated on, and practiced, it will massively benefit our lives.

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Will You Be a Christian Tomorrow?

House on sand

Are you 100% sure? 99%? 95%? How do you know?

This has massive implication for our daily lives. 99% isn’t enough. It will leave us feeling timid and insecure. We will call God our Father, but we will really think of Him like our Boss—getting our work done, avoiding major screw-ups, hoping He doesn’t fire us. Our lips will declare, “I will be a Christian tomorrow because my faith is strong!” while our hearts mutter, “I think I will… I mean, I sure hope so…”

Believer, you can be 100% sure. You will be a Christian tomorrow. Guaranteed. How do you know?

The keeping power of God.

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Five Truths Against Satan

scary lion

Be Alert

That should describe our attitude toward Satan (1 Peter 5:8). I’d bet for many of us, though, we rarely ever think about him. I’d bet we’re more alert about the weather, shopping discounts, or our favorite sports teams.

It’s pretty inconceivable that “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). But what’s really inconceivable is that 60% of Christians don’t believe he’s real. How can we be alert to something that we don’t even believe in? And that’s Satan’s great desire. To have us forget about him, and eventually, to disbelieve in him.

“It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.” – C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

But the Bible is clear that Satan is real. He is not merely a symbol of evil, but an active, intelligent being with a desire to ruin us. He wants us to question God’s character and to doubt our identity. And like a master chess player, his plotting is subtle, clever, and often unnoticed.

Here, I’d like to offer five truths to provoke our alertness against Satan.

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Does God Save People with Good Intentions?

-POP

Honest Questions is a category of a Lift Up where I will feature questions from high school students. Most are directly from my experience of working with them. Some are not. I will do my best to answer as I would to a high school student.


Does God save people who try to love Him through other religions? And what about people who’ve never heard of Jesus?  I have a hard time giving my life to a God who wouldn’t acknowledge their good intentions.


I think that’s a valid question, and I’m glad you’re asking it. It’s okay to feel like that’s a hard hurdle for you to jump—that Christianity says it’s the only way to God. It looks like you have a few different questions here. To help me understand what you’re trying to say, I’ll paraphrase with some specific questions.

(1) Is it possible to love God through other religions (not just Christianity)?

(2) What happens to people who try to love God through other religions after they die? What about people who’ve never heard of Jesus?

(3) Does God even acknowledge the intentions of people who try to love God through other religions? Or are they treated the same way as people who want nothing to do with God?

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