My past four posts (Grace Notes 1-4) have talked about some of the dangers I see in grace teaching today. But as I said early on, I love grace. Today I want to post an interview with the awesome Bill Giovannetti, author of several wonderful books, including his latest, Grace Intervention. Bill is also pastor of Neighborhood Church in Redding, California. Bill’s website is here: www.pastorbillg.com Here we go! Nick: Bill, as I remember your story, you were brought up in a Christian home….but was it also a home where you first understood grace as you now see it? Bill: I don’t remember being brought to church as part of a family; I was sent there. My dad drove me to a small Chicago church and dropped me off. He went out for a cup of coffee, donut, and newspaper, and then sat in the parking lot enjoying a smoke and […]
Please join us as we learn to live out the joys of the magnificent Christian life. Jesus told us, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow living waters” (John 7:38). Through blog posts, great faith-building books, and visits with men and women such as Charles Spurgeon, Watchman Nee, Andrew Murray, Hannah Whitall Smith, and many more, we’ll drink deeply from the fountain of God’s love. Welcome!
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This is the fourth in a series on grace, focusing on some problems in the so-called hyper-grace movement. Thank God there are some fine grace teachers spreading the word about God’s infinite grace. This is not directed at them. You might want to check out the first three posts on this timely topic starting with Grace Notes #1. Then, Grace Notes #2 and #3. When I was a boy, one of the daily cartoon shows I watched faithfully was Popeye the Sailor Man. (I can even still sing the song…and I know some of you can too). Popeye was utterly predictable and the end of the cartoon always included a spinach-driven resolution. Nevertheless, I loved it. One episode is especially memorable. Well, fuzzily memorable. Popeye was chasing Bluto (Popeye’s never-ceasing rival for the love of Olive Oyl) up a mountain road. Bluto was far enough ahead of Popeye that he could not be seen […]
This is the third in a series on grace, particularly in light of recent abuses of grace among some (not all) teachers. You can read Grace Notes #1 here and Grace Notes #2 here. Basically, the problem is that the way some are teaching grace, the result is that some hearers are interpreting grace as an invitation to return to their old life. It is grace as an enablement to sin, not a deterrent. Friends, we are under grace, but grace doesn’t mean we have no boundaries in our life. Like sheep prone to wander, God sets boundaries for each of us. These boundaries are like fences designed for our protection and are found in His Word. Within the boundaries proscribed for us by our heavenly Father we sheep find much luscious green grass, for His fields of grace are wide and plentiful. We may graze safely and joyously within these boundaries for our entire life. […]
This is the second in a short series on grace and problems with some aspects of the “hyper-grace movement.” Please know that not all who are teaching on grace are making this same serious error. There’s an old story about grace that goes something like this: A man dies and meets St. Peter at the gates of heaven. Peter tells the man, “In order to get into heaven you have to accumulate 100 points. So tell me on what basis should I allow you into heaven?” The man thought for a moment, then replied, “Well, I was a good husband and father. I never cheated on my taxes, and I was a faithful employee.” “Good,” said St. Peter. “That’s one point. Keep going.” Stymied at only receiving one point, the man thought back on his life and said, “I gave money to the poor and I was an elder at […]
I’ve been thinking a lot about God’s grace lately. For that reason, I’m going to create a tab on my website to act as a permanent home for my thoughts about grace—along with perhaps a few interviews along the way. I’ll call it Grace Notes. Why am I so interested in grace? Perhaps, because, like you, I’m so very much in need of it. But there’s also another reason it’s been on my mind. Some of my friends have been exposed to what’s been called “hyper-grace” teaching. I don’t really like that term, though God’s grace toward us is indeed, “hyper.” John Newton referred to it as “Amazing Grace,” but I suppose “hyper” works just as well when one realizes the vastness and depth of God’s grace. In the words of one of my favorite hymns: Marvelous grace of our loving Lord, Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt! Grace […]
Yesterday I posted indications 1-5 you or I could be a low-information Christian. Today we look at indications 6-10. 6. We don’t rely on the Holy Spirit. I loved compiling my book His Victorious Indwelling, a book full of great messages from past Christian men and women on the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. Though it’s formatted as a daily devotional, readers tell me they read entry after entry in one sitting. Those writers from the past knew the Holy Spirit intimately. But in our day, it’s easy to simply rely on our own strength—and ultimately fail. The Holy Spirit in us never fails. 7. We keep a part of ourselves from God. Recently on Facebook I posted this Andrew Murray quote: “The cause of the weakness of your Christian life is that you want to work it out partly, and to let God help you. […]
In this current election season, I’ve been hearing references to “low-information” voters. Apparently these are voters who pay little attention to the issues and just vote based on what little information they’ve heard from friends or from TV commercials. When I heard the phrase it prompted me to think about what I’m going to call “low-information Christians.” I’m not necessarily using the phrase derogatorily. There are many reasons why a person may be a low-information Christian. And in some respects, we’re ALL low-information Christians. We never truly fathom all the riches we have in Christ. That’s what’s so magnificent about the Christian life–there’s always more to discover. So it’s not wrong to be a low-information Christian, but I do believe it’s wrong to stay a low-information Christian. We must grow or we become stagnant and die. In this two-part post, the second half of which will appear tomorrow, I’ve identified […]
Today I feel like offering a reminder to us all—me included—about the disastrous nature of sin. Here then are a dozen things we all need to remember about sin and its designs on us. I’m working on an outline for what I hope will be my best book yet, The Magnificent Christian Life. In that book I’ll amplify all these points. Until then, I hope this shorthand version will be helpful. 1. Sin hurts us both short-term and long-term. We usually don’t see that when we’re tempted. It’s only later that the sad effects sting us. 2. Every Christian is a delivered Christian. We have been (not will be) delivered from the power of sin. Read Romans 6. 3. We must carry our deliverance (and freedom) from sin with us 24/7. Temptation comes at the oddest times. We must always walk securely in our freedom from sin’s power. 4. Always remember: […]
A few months ago I made a decision. At the time I thought it was the right decision. Now, I have my doubts. In the scheme of things, it wasn’t in any way a life-altering decision, though it was important. Nor was it a matter of sin or disobedience. Nor did I have the wrong motives for deciding as I did. It was just a matter of taking the wrong fork in the road. For the past few weeks I’ve been going over that decision in my mind, replaying how and why I made it, and wishing I had made a different choice. But today the light bulb went on and I realized an important truth I too often forget: God always redeems my “wrong” decisions when I submit them to Him in faith. It’s true. I can look back on many decisions that, although perhaps wrong in my mind at the […]
Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, (2 Corinthians 3:5 NASB). When I was still in my teens, I began to be only too aware of my many inadequacies. At the time—being a typical teenager—it was not good news to realize just how “inadequate ” I was. But at age twenty I became a Christian and as I grew in my faith, I began to see that my sense of inadequacy had been a gift from God all along. I saw that God’s greatest work in a person’s life is to bring about a sense of personal bankruptcy of spirit. That was certainly true for me. Every revelation of my own inadequacy (of which there were many!) brought about God’s purpose for me—and that was to allow a far greater adequacy to come into my life from […]