Bible study: what does the Christian concept of “grace” mean?

A good shepherd rescuing a lost sheep who had no hope
A good shepherd rescuing a lost sheep, who had no hope

My friend Wessel sent me this sermon a few days ago because I was looking for a good sermon on grace. Some of my friends pitched in with sermons, but this one from a South African church was BY FAR the best. I’ve listened to it 3 times already. The speaker sounds exactly like one of best friends from university, Andrew, who is from South Africa.

I’m testing out a new file download service, so I hope this works… here is the MP3 file. (7 megabytes, 30 minutes) [FIXED!]

Let me know if you can’t download that.

The text of the sermon is Genesis 48:1-20:

1 Some time later Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him.

When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed.

Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me

and said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.’

“Now then, your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here will be reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine.

Any children born to you after them will be yours; in the territory they inherit they will be reckoned under the names of their brothers.

As I was returning from Paddan, to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan while we were still on the way, a little distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there beside the road to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem).

When Israel saw the sons of Joseph, he asked, “Who are these?”

“They are the sons God has given me here,” Joseph said to his father.

Then Israel said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them.”

10 Now Israel’s eyes were failing because of old age, and he could hardly see. So Joseph brought his sons close to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them.

11 Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too.”

12 Then Joseph removed them from Israel’s knees and bowed down with his face to the ground.

13 And Joseph took both of them, Ephraim on his right toward Israel’s left hand and Manasseh on his left toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them close to him.

14 But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim’s head, though he was the younger,and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, even though Manasseh was the firstborn.

15 Then he blessed Joseph and said,

“May the God before whom my fathers
    Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully,
the God who has been my shepherd
    all my life to this day,

16 the Angel who has delivered me from all harm
    —may he bless these boys.
May they be called by my name
    and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac,
and may they increase greatly
    on the earth.”

17 When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head he was displeased; so he took hold of his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head.

18 Joseph said to him, “No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”

19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a people, and he too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations.”

20 He blessed them that day and said,

“In your[c] name will Israel pronounce this blessing:
    ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’”

So he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh.

So, in this story, God continues his tradition of choosing the lowly people in the world instead of the people who are seen as “better”. God does this in many cases, because he has a big heart for people who are born in a bad position. Normally in the world, people always choose what they think is best for them. They choose the prettiest girl. They choose the most tallest man. Those who need a little extra help or care are passed over. God sometimes does the complete opposite of this. Instead of choosing the obvious “best person”, he chooses a much lower person, and he lifts them up to do great things.

Consider 1 Corinthians 1:26-31:

26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called.Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.

27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are,

29 so that no one may boast before him.

30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

The speaker in the sermon explains the idea of grace by talking about sheep and shepherds. He explains that unlike clever homing pigeons, sheep are prone to wandering off and they aren’t able to find their way home. Sometimes, they get lost, and sometimes they even wander into danger. A bad shepherd would just say that he only wanted to have the best sheep – the smartest ones or the richest ones or the best looking ones or the most popular ones. But a good shepherd is sorry for the sheep that needs the most help, and is the most lost, and in the most danger. God is like a good shepherd. God sends his Son to die to atone for the sins of the bad sheep in this world, even when they didn’t deserve it. (John 3:16-17) That’s grace. But he also arranges the world in a way that bad sheep have an opportunity to reach out and find him. (Acts 17:24-27) That’s grace, too.

In my own life, I have often found myself being excluded or discounted by people, usually because of my skin color or because of my early childhood poverty or because I just struggle to understand what I’m expected to say and to do. But a funny thing often happens. Right when I am feeling the worst about being excluded, God comes along and gives me something special to do, that makes me forget about being excluded. And that’s been my experience of grace, ever since I was little and even to this day. The honor of being allowed to participate in God’s plan makes me forget what it feels like to be excluded. The very best things I’ve achieved in my life are the times where God showed me someone who started out life in a terrible situation (usually because of the selfish decisions of their irresponsible parents) and then I participated in God’s plan to lead them out of the mess they started out from.

I think one of the biggest reasons why some Christians stick with Christianity through thick and thin is that they have this experience of grace. This experience of grace means that no matter what, that sheep is going to loyal to that shepherd who chose him when he was at his lowest and most vulnerable. The first part of the choosing is obviously Jesus dying on the cross to atone for your rebellion. But after that, God carefully reveals himself to the sheep. And then there is the guidance that helps the sheep to avoid destroying himself with sin. If the sheep makes mistakes, the good shepherd has already laid down his life to pay for them. This is a lot of effort being put into this rescue operation. It’s difficult for people who have never experienced grace to realize how real and life-transforming it is. For those who have not experienced it, I really recommend that you pray to God, in the name of Jesus, and ask him to give you grace.

There are still things in my life where God has decided that he is not going to fix it. And, strangely enough, that doesn’t make me disloyal to him at all. Why not? Well, you have to read the Bible and understand that Jesus was not spared from suffering or death in his loyal obedience to God. He wasn’t given everything he wanted to feel happy all the time. When you understand that this is the character of your shepherd, then it’s much easier for you to put up with the things you lack, too.

7 thoughts on “Bible study: what does the Christian concept of “grace” mean?”

  1. Same here Wintery,
    I was never one of the popular kids. Did not have good looks and hence it did not have many girlfriends. My family growing up was middle class so we weren’t poor but not rich either. I was very shy so did not make friends easily and I got bullied at school. I liked physical science in school and not much else. Mr. Wizard was one of my favorite science popularizers growing up. I do not have a college degree so I can not boast of great learning.
    In my Sophmore year of high school, I got mixed up in underage drinking and was almost arrested for it too. I was going through a big rebellious streek with my parents and my sister and I hated each other. Everything changed when my then-girlfriend invited me to a weekend-long youth event where the gospel was presented. I committed my life to Christ and I was transformed (quite literally). I stopped the cussing, smoking, drinking, rebelling because I didn’t want to anymore. So profound was the change in my life that my parents thought the local Baptist Chruch was a cult, but they were happy with the change so didn’t complain. My parents came to my baptism and heard the gospel. My mom is a believer now but my dad is still an atheist and won’t open up to me with any discussion about the evidence for Christianity. The topic of religion is so controversial with my dad that he absolutely will not engage at all.
    Other ways I have been transformed by Christ is even though I’m not college-educated I have had highly educated people take my apologetics classes at church and assumed I had a master’s degree in the topic(s) I covered. Jesus has made me smart. I’m am shy but I can speak in front of a crowd of people because Jesus makes me brave.
    My life is by no means perfect and I’ve done things to this day I still regret even as a Christian but Jesus is still transforming me. That is grace.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m not sure. About once every 5-10 years I write him a long essay to test the waters to see if he’s changed his mind at least about opening up a dialog. I get literally no response back at all from him. I’ve also sent books and DVDs to him and still get no response. Here is an example of a personal letter I’ve written to him:

        Hey Dad,

        It’s your birthday and I wanted to say something more than just “Happy Birthday” but I am happy that it is your birthday and you’ve made it another year. I hope that you still have many more ahead of you. I’m also glad that you are enjoying your retirement. It makes me happy that you seem happy with your life post-Albemarle and raising a family. I sincerely wish you all the best.
        I’ve written a letter similar to this before but I want to do it again to reach out to you to remind you of just how much I love you as your son. There are so many things that I find praiseworthy and moral about you as a person. Let me list at least a few things in no particular order.
        You have a lot of patience when it comes to dealing with difficult people or difficult circumstances. I remember very clearly just how stubborn I was as a child and how patient you are a parent. There were many times you could have yelled at me or used corporal punishment and chose not to. When you did it was short-lived and to the point. Once it was over and you didn’t hold a grudge. I could see that even back then and it has had an impact on me raising Matthew.
        You are an incredibly generous person. There is just absolutely no way I could ever pay back the generosity you have showered on Lea and I. You said, “Yes” to most of my requests and when you did tell me “No” it was because you thought it was best to the best of your wisdom.
        You have an amazing work ethic and are a very industrious person. You worked incredibly hard at Albemarle and at home fixing and upgrading things. I didn’t realize it then when I was a kid, but I can see and understand now just how hard you worked as an adult to give the family a good standard of living.
        My fondest memories of us are: fixing small engines like lawnmowers or you working on the car, fishing on the Cajun Special boat in the beautiful bayous of deep southern Louisiana, golfing at the Bluffs or some public course, trips to Florida to the beach and then we would meet someone there from Albemarle, ha-ha. There are probably other things I could mention but those are the ones that stick out to me the most.
        Right now I live in Wisconsin and you live in Louisiana. If I lived in Louisiana I’m absolutely certain we would spend more time together doing a lot of those fun things we enjoy, but unfortunately, that distance separates us except for the symposium or the occasional visit. I know you would visit more if you could, but I don’t expect that which brings me to an important point that I wish you would consider.
        What if our relationship as father and son could continue on forever in eternity as long as such a notion wasn’t a delusion or pure fantasy? Is that an attractive proposition to you? How would you like to have a new body that’s not subject to death and disease and decay as long as that hope isn’t a delusion or fantasy? There are all kinds of other things that an eternity in a new heaven and a fully restored earth will bring but those two will suffice for now. You see you may not love God now (I’m not trying to be presumptuous or judgmental here) but I’m pretty sure you do love me and if it’s really true that God exists, heaven and hell exist, and human relationships will continue into eternity I think it’s reasonable and attractive to consider if it’s true or not.

        Now before I get into, hopefully, exploring with you why I think it’s true that God exists, heaven and hell exist, and those who trust in Christ for salvation will get a new body like Christ’s I to want to give you a glimpse into my own life and spiritual journey so that you understand that I don’t believe this stuff simply because Christal and the Meredith family do. It’s true, I believe, God did use Christal to bring me to the foot of the cross but nobody can make me love and serve God on a continual basis even though the journey has had its ups and downs (more on that later).

        The Catholic Church

        My earliest memories of religion are mom bringing Lea and me to Catholic mass when we were very young. I remember not liking it at all and feeling relieved when it was over. I couldn’t understand anything the nice old man in the important looking outfit was saying and it was all just incredibly boring to me. Another memory I have is first communion and confession. I simply did not understand the importance of telling the wrong things I had done to a stranger or why communion was important. I only understood that it was supposed to be important and mom wanted me to. My other memory of the Catholic religion was feeling embarrassed that I didn’t memorize the Ten Commandments when called upon to recite them at Catholic religious school (CCD) and to top it all off I suffered a concussion while I was there that sent me to the hospital. Oh the calamity, as they say, this doesn’t bode well for a small young boy eventually finding God. Eventually mom stopped bringing Lea and I to mass but not because I protested it every Sunday. I found out later from Mom that the priest had sent a letter to her that she was behind on her giving and that pushed mom away from the church.
        Another thing about this young period in my life you may not have known is the Bible I received from first communion/confession I would open and read once in a while on my own without anyone asking me too. I especially liked the gospel of Matthew and was impressed with the person of Jesus. I remember thinking he was the best person who ever lived but I could never be that good. It’s no accident that my son’s name is Matthew.

        Cornerstone Academy

        In hindsight, I’m really sad to say I thought most of school was really boring too except recess and science. My grades suffered so much due to my lack of interest and motivation that you and mom sent me to a private Christian Protestant school in the hopes that small class sizes and more individual attention would help turn my grades around. One of the required classes for being at Cornerstone Academy was, of course, the Bible. I was totally lost and everyone else knew their Bible inside, out, and backward and I felt (again) really embarrassed like feeling out of place.
        Once a month the entire student body would assembly into the sanctuary (big church worship area) to hear a message preached on some topic or passage from the Bible. Sometimes it was a local pastor who was affiliated with the denomination of the school or a teacher would give a talk.
        I distinctly remember either the first or one of the first talks was on this whole concept of the Gospel and why it should matter to people living today. A pastor gave the message in classical hellfire and brimstone fashion even with yelling. While the yelling and delivery could have used some toning down he was very clear about why Jesus came to die for me and how to receive forgiveness of sins by believing in Him. So, I did, I asked Christ to forgive me, come into my life, and be my savior not merely an important person hanging on a cross that a lot of people thought were important.
        I felt different after that about God. I felt as though now things are different and my life will be different from now on. I didn’t really tell anyone about that decision I made and I didn’t seek out to go to church on a regular basis or always read the Bible, but I knew things were different now.
        True story – I actually found a Facebook group for the old Cornerstone Academy a few years ago and I put a message on there to my old school mates how God used Cornerstone Academy to change my life in terms of my relationship with God. That was good news for my old friends to hear even if I wasn’t close to all of them.

        St. Francisville

        I was so incredibly excited and thankful that we moved out of Baton Rouge to Saint Francisville. I loved our new house and was excited to go to a new school and hopefully make new friends. The first day at school in homeroom class I sat behind Christal on purpose because I thought she was pretty. I found out soon that all the cool kids hang out at Sonic and a gentleman named Chris Bryant formally introduced me to Christal at the Sonic and we hit it off right away. I could tell Christal wasn’t incredibly vain like all the other girls at West Feliciana. She had/has a sort of genuineness about her that says, “I’m not a fake and what you see is what you get.” We eventually went steady and dated and she would invite me to youth group on Wednesday and worship on Sunday.
        While our move to Saint Francisville had many positives it also had a huge downside for me at least. Unfortunately, the main thing that teenagers do for fun in St. Francisville is underage drinking. I got sucked into that and take full responsibility for the consequences for my actions and since I was a hormonal teenager it also meant I was rebelling against you and mom which greatly strained our relationship, to say the least. At my lowest point, I was invited to a youth event called “Disciple Now” and spent a weekend with a small group of other teenagers learning what it meant to be a disciple of Christ and what it should look like. I knew I wasn’t living right at that time so I turned my life over to Christ’s control and turned from my sin of abusing alcohol and rebelling against you and mom and that’s the point in my life that has had a lasting impact on me even to this day.

        Skepticism

        The change I experienced at the youth event was so profound for me that I started to actually read the Bible on a consistent basis and for the first time in my life I actually wanted to read books and gain knowledge, especially about the Bible. I remember mom telling me “When you did you start to like reading? You never read!”
        Since my enthusiasm for Christ and the gospel was off the chart I brought my Bible to school and even shared with my fellow students the hope I had and the change I experienced. Unfortunately, not all were impressed and peppered me with skeptical questions about whether or not what I believed was actually true. “How do you know?” they would often say. I had never considered that before, but instead of just brushing off their questions I decided to go on a search to see if meaningful answers did exist to their questions. The first book I picked up that pointed me in the right direction was When Skeptics Ask by Dr. Norman Geisler and Dr. Ron Brooks. After reading through that I was impressed with their answers about the reliability of the Bible, the problem of evil, and many other topics that my friends hadn’t even thought of to raise as objections. I came to find out that there is a whole field of study in Christian thought and discipline called “apologetics.” It has nothing to do with saying you are sorry, rather it’s about defending the Christian worldview and demonstrating that it’s actually true and can be tested through philosophy, science, and historical studies. Basically evidence and reason. So contrary to my schoolmate’s assumption that Christianity is nothing more than wishful thinking I found evidence and reasons that do back it up. There’s also the book I sent you some time ago called Truth Matters by Tom Gender. That book is also a broad defense of the Christian faith.

        The Roller Coaster Ride

        I wish I could say that after Disciple Now that my life was perfect and I always read my Bible, always followed what it teaches in a modern context, always went to church every Sunday, never said a cuss word, and always paid a tithe (10% percent of my income) and many other things. If I said I always do those things I’d be a liar and you probably wouldn’t believe me anyway because who could be that perfect? Not me anyway. Plus you know me and you’re not naïve.
        I say all that Dad so you know I’m trying to be authentic here. I can say that Christ has redeemed me from the curse of the law through trust in his sacrifice (the wages of sin is death see Romans 6:23) but I still stumble and fall when I take my “eyes” off Christ. I won’t be perfect until this cursed body is dead or Christ calls me home when he comes back for the church to rescue us before some really terrible things happen to a world that lives in anarchic rebellion against God. No one knows when that will happen by the way and anyone who thinks they do is a false prophet, but I digress.

        Possible Thoughts You May Have After Reading This

        What exactly do you want me to do?

        What would mean a lot to me is for you to hear the gospel and seriously consider whether it’s true or not. I don’t want you to be dismissive with thoughts like “well that’s just your opinion.” Yes, it is my opinion, but my opinion also has factual content to it. It is not pure emoting or wishful thinking. If God exists and Christianity is true then the possibility exists that our relationship will last forever in eternity with God. Space does not permit me here to go into all the wonder details on what the afterlife is actually like (hint: it’s not going to be boring at all and pop-cultural caricatures of it with people sitting on clouds strumming harps isn’t even close to what the new heavens and new earth will be like and what we will be doing in it. It’s not a perpetual church service either).

        Why can’t you just let this go away and not discuss it any further? Religion is a controversial topic and people rarely change their mind about the afterlife and religion.

        The short answer is because I think Christianity is really true in an objective way and not just based on feelings though we can, of course, experience God through the gospel. Secondly, because I love you. If I had a cure for cancer and you had cancer I have a moral obligation to tell you about the cure even if the cure is difficult to accept.

        Science has disproven God my old scientist co-workers said so.

        The short answer is no it hasn’t, not by a long shot. But rather than me just contradict that assertion if you want a fully fleshed out answer why science hasn’t disproven God you should read “The Devil’s Delusion” by David Berlinski. Dr. Berlinski is, if my memory serves me correctly, a theoretical mathematician and physicist who is an agnostic bordering on atheism. He responds to the famous atheist/scientist Richard Dawkins on his assertion that science disproves God.

        I’ve been through some really tough times in my life. My sister Jean made my life a living hell! Where was God when I needed him to help me when I was just a boy!?

        This objection is what philosophers would call “the problem of evil.” Which is, if God exists and he is all good and all-powerful why does he allow evil to flourish? This issue is without a doubt the most emotionally charged because it touches the lives of virtually every human being on the planet. I think it’s the most obvious question that a person can ask if someone is trying to search for meaning in their suffering. I may not be able to give you a specific answer as to what the reason is for why God allows a specific instance of suffering in any person’s life but what I can say is that in my own life God hasn’t spared me from suffering either and while my suffering differs in kind and intensity from other people I have experienced the same grace that he offers to people who suffer more than me. So, my question back would be “do you want to be healed of the psychological hurt of God not being there for you the way you thought he should or do you want to use it as a beating stick against Him? Dr. John Knox Professor of Pure Mathematics at Oxford University has well said, I think, “I may not be able to give you an answer but I can show you a doorway to an answer. And that doorway is Christ himself who suffered on my behalf.”
        There are many stories in the Bible where God allowed people suffer for seemingly no good reason at the time only to find out later on that God had not abandoned them and they only came to realize this after their trial and saw how God was able to make good come from their suffering. God’s power and goodness are not to be taken as guarantees that God will spare us from suffering, rather they are realities that give us hope in the midst of our trials and suffering (see 1 Peter 4:12-19). Now, if atheism is true, to quote Richard Dawkins “our suffering is nothing more than nature’s blind pitiless indifference to our existence.” That is to say that purposeless nature simply does not care if you learn any type of “lesson” moral or practical. You will either survive or not and that’s it and only the fit survive So, in Christianity our suffering has a purpose and God promises that he will redeem our suffering for those that trust Him. On atheism there is no purpose for suffering and purposeless nature doesn’t care what you think about your suffering or whether you suffer or not or any lessons you may or may not learn.

        What about hypocrites in the church?

        The Greek word in the New Testament translated into the English word “hypocrite” literally means “to be an actor” or “to play-act.” A person who is a bona fide hypocrite is, according to the Bible, a person who is pretending to be Christian but really isn’t. It’s an insidious self-delusion. A hypocrite is not a person who fails to be morally perfect all the time in every given situation. If being a follower of Christ means you will never sin and never do something wrong the gospel really isn’t good news after all and really a cruel joke like dangling a carrot out in front of a horse to get it to move without ever reaching the carrot.
        Hypocrisy was something that Jesus warned the original apostles about. I highly recommend reading Matthew 13:24-30 to see Jesus’ teaching on this. The sobering reality is that every follower of Christ must constantly keep this in mind and that what we affirm doctrinally mush be lived out in life. A genuine profession of faith in Christ must result in a new direction in how life is lived in comparison to the old life. If that change is non-existent any person should use sobering judgment whether or not they really are a follower of Christ. In that passage I cited above all hypocrites will receive eternal punishment. The scariest verse in the Bible, to me, is Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

        How can you trust the Bible since it was hand-copied so long ago?

        Last time I looked into this there are approximately 7,500 fragments, individual books, and entire codices of what we call the New Testament. The earliest fragment that we have is called The John Rylands Fragment that dates to around the end of the 1st century and it is a very small section of the Gospel of John. I think the papyrus fragment is something like 4 X 6 inches and was rediscovered in the basement level collection of a museum in London England. What makes this find so significant in terms of the reliability of the gospels as good historical sources are that the Gospel of John is the most hotly contested as to its dating among scholars. Many scholars date the original gospel of John second or third century which would make it more suspect to legendary development over time, however, with the discovery of the John Rylands Fragment and its early dating shows that it was most likely written by the actual apostle and not some fraud much later claiming to be John.
        This example is but one small one among thousands as to the whole big picture of the transmission and reliability of the New Testament. If you really want to dive into more concrete specifics I highly recommend reading Cold-Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace. Mr. Wallace was a cold-case homicide detective for LAPD for, I think, over 20 years and an atheist to boot. His main beef with Christianity was the reliability of the Bible. Long story short he used his professional skills as a cold-case homicide detective and applied them to the gospel accounts to see how much we could actually know about what happened in Jesus’ life and what degree of certainty we can hold to our conclusions on the matter. He even has a website called pleaseconvinceme.com and he travels the country presenting his findings to people who are skeptics and religious seekers. The book is really well written for a general audience and avoids using complicated language. He even sets up the whole discussion as if it were a cold homicide case that has never been solved.

        What is the Gospel?

        I’m glad you asked. The word “gospel” literally means “good news” if we did a literal translation here. Well, what do you do with good news? You announce it. In short the Gospel of Jesus Christ – the biblical teaching of the gospel is about what God has done in Christ to reconcile a rebellious, sinful, anarchic world to himself. God so loved a sinful world that he sacrificed what was most precious to him to make peace between “the world” and God (see John 3:16). Now let me lay out the theological steps of reasoning here so the above makes more sense hopefully.

        1. God exists and is good. He is good means there is no evil in him, all good proceeds from Him.
        2. God is perfectly just. This follows logically from point one. If God really is completely good he must punish evil. If God didn’t punish evil then he wouldn’t be completely good. Take for example our own human judges that judge cases in a court of law. If a person is guilty of committing a crime the judge must render a guilty verdict. To not render a guilty verdict would be a perversion of justice. Such a judge would be a bad judge for letting the guilty go free without any punishment/fine.
        3. God is also love and wants to forgive us but can’t violate his justice that his good law demands. This presents a dilemma for God. How does God forgive us without violating his perfect justice?
        4. He sends his son as our substitute to absorb God’s justice for our sins in his body on the cross. In the single act of the cross, God both demonstrates his love by sending a substitute in our place and his justice against human sin by the punishment. This sacrifice is a once for all payment for our sins that doesn’t have to be repeated since God is eternal.
        5. God furnished proof that he accepted this justice payment for our sins by raising Christ from the dead that first Easter Sunday morning.
        6. God makes available to any person this forgiveness of sins and eternal life to anyone who believes in Christ (see John 1:12-13).

        Here are the Bible verses that back up what I’m saying about the gospel:

        for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23)

        For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

        Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3)

        because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart, one believes and is justified, and with the mouth, one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-13)

        If you have read this far Dad I want to thank you for doing that. Remember if God exists and human relationships will extend into eternity based on what Christ has done that means you and I (though separated by distance now) will have an eternity to see each other whenever we want and not have to rely on airplane or money to see each other we can simply do it whenever we want. I don’t think this possibility should be dismissed so easily. It really is good news and good news should be welcomed not shunned.
        If you have genuine intellectual doubts I think Christianity has the most intellectually and emotionally satisfying answers. At least that’s what I think after studying this for twenty years and asking the hard questions and doing a lot of reflection. I can help you navigate whatever doubts you have but you have to be genuinely open to the answers. You also have to be willing to come clean with God about sin. If we are honest with ourselves before God you and I fall way short of his standards, not ours.
        If you are ready to receive Christ by faith just simply talk to him in your owns words that you’ve sinned against Him and the your actions deserve judgment, that you believe Christ died for your sins on the cross and satisfied his justice against your sins, that you believe that Christ rose bodily from the grave so that one day we will have a body like his and lastly you want to turn from a life lived on your own terms and you want to live for him now.

        I love you, Dad.

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  2. Choosing those of lower level also means they learn to trust in God. Success comes despite your natural abilities and through an organic growth enabled by God

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  3. The vibe I get from my Dad is God simply will not add anything meaningful to his life since he is perfectly happy with the way it is. My dad is not a reader. He has never openly talked to me about the subject. I guess a better label for his views is the dreaded Apatheist. He simply does not care. In my experience, any person who goes to the trouble of reading books/videos by atheists has no problem telling you where they stand and maybe some reasons why if they are in the mood.

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