Tag Archives: fact checking

God’s love for me is determined by my behavior? [False ideas Christians believe about…God’s desires for Christians. Part 3]

27 Mar
Photo by Francisco Gonzalez on Unsplash

How many of you have secretly wondered if we have sinned so badly that God actually doesn’t love you anymore?

I remember when my grandmother was in hospice near the end of her life, and she had really struggled with anger, and with treating my grandfather with unkindness in those later years, in a moment of vulnerability, when it was just me alone with her in the room, she said with tears in her eyes and an ache in her voice, “Joel, I have been a bad Christian.”  It was heart-breaking, and yet very authentic of her.  I don’t remember her doubting God’s love or fearing that she lost her salvation, but she definitely agonized over her sin. Many of us do the same, fearing that God no longer loves us.

That’s why in the post we are fact-checking the phrase: “God’s love for me is determined by my behavior.” Let me state this clearly: this phrase we can deny wholeheartedly.  Let me just read a few passages for you. 

First Psalm 103:8-12: “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

And then Romans 8:38-39 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

God always loves you, no matter who you are or what you have done. 

But what are God’s desires for us? Check back in to the next post in this series, as we’ll fact-check more phrases related to that topic!

Attempting to define sin [False ideas Christians believe about…Sin. Part 2]

26 Feb
Image result for miss the mark

What are some of the famous phrases that you have heard about sin?  Have you heard these phrases before?

  • All sins are the same.  No sin is worse than any other. 
  • Or it’s contrast, some sins are worse than others.
  • Love the sinner, hate the sin.

You might look at that list and think, “But wait…aren’t they in the Bible?”  In other words, “Isn’t that statement true?” 

What we are going to try to establish, and perhaps I will fail, is that each one of these statements or principles is either totally false, or somehow partially false.  Some of these statements or principles are not in the Bible.  Some, however, are based on biblical material, but misunderstood by many people. 

We are going to fact check these statements about sin, but first it is important for us to ask, what is sin?

Almost 20 years ago I attended a talk by Michael Murray who was at the time a philosophy professor at Franklin & Marshall College nearby.  He said that for years he would ask his students at F&M about the definition of evil.  There would be disagreements, of course, but what all agreed on, for years, is that the Nazi holocaust and war for world domination was evil, wrong, and sinful.  But then something happened.  As our culture changed, some students, not many, but some, started saying things like, “Well, I don’t like what the Nazis did, and I myself would never do that, but I can’t say that it was wrong.”  You and I may shake our heads at that, but it shows that there is a huge difference of opinion out there as to what sin is.  Even in my church and yours, I would guess we have some different views on what sin is.  So what is sin?

The Bible has a surprising number of ways to describe it, and there are many words for it.  In the Old Testament, one of the most common words for sin, has a very picturesque definition: “to miss the mark” or “to go astray.”  In the New Testament, we find similar definitions.  One word is the Greek “scandalon” where we get our English word “scandal”, and this too has very picturesque meaning, “to cause someone to stumble” or “fall into a trap.”

Another one of the most common words for sin in the New Testament means, “to act contrary to the will and law of God.”  Here are a couple verses using that word.

James 4:17 – Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.

1 John 3:4 – Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.

So to summarize, sin is human choice to act against God’s wishes.

But when we hear from time to time these phrases or principles about sin, it seems that people can be confused, so let’s fact check them. Check back in tomorrow for part 3 when we’ll look at our first phrase about sin that many Christians believe, but perhaps is false

Fact-checking our beliefs [False ideas Christians believe about…Sin. Part 1]

25 Feb
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Did you know Napoleon wasn’t really short? Or that oil doesn’t keep pasta from sticking? Or that the whole right brain vs. left brain thing might not be true? I found this series of false facts from Readers Digest, and some are really surprising and fun. 

When you think about these facts, it reminds us that we hold some ideas to be true, but we might be wrong. 

This blog series will be like that, except about Christianity and the Bible.  Over the centuries, Christians have come to believe statements that are either totally false, or somewhat false.  In a world of so-called fake news, we are used to having to fact-check, especially what we hear from politicians, right?  So when it comes to the Bible and theology, we Christians are people who seek after truth! 

For the next few months we’re going to be fact-checking a number of ideas that we Christians can be heard saying.  Sometimes they are statements that seem true, but they need some explanation. 

Here’s how it works.  Many authors have written articles such as “7 things Christians say that are not true.”  Just Google something like that and you’ll see what I mean.  I read a bunch of those kinds of articles, and created a master list of the phrases or ideas that these authors talked about.  I didn’t agree with every single one, I was surprised by some, and some of the statements directly contradicted each other, as we will see in this first series of posts.  In the end I had a list numbering more than 30.  So I decided to group up the ones that were related, and preach topically on them.

This week’s series is about sin.  Have you heard these phrases before?

  • All sins are the same.  No sin is worse than any other. 
  • Or it’s contrast, Some sins are worse than others.
  • Love the sinner, hate the sin.

You might look at that list and think, “But wait…isn’t at least one of those statements in the Bible?”  In other words, “Isn’t that statement true?” 

What I am attempting in this series, and perhaps I will fail, is to show that each one of these statements or principles is either totally false, or somehow partially false.  Some of these statements or principles are not in the Bible.  Some, however, are based on biblical material, but misunderstood by many people.  So let’s fact check these statements about sin.  First it is important for us to ask, what is sin? Check back tomorrow for that!