Grace to You

  • Friday’s Featured Sermon: “The Path to Prosperity, Part 1”
    God’s favor and blessing is not for sale. If there’s one thing our recent series on indulgences has made clear, it is that simple point. Yet we now live in a day where Johann Tetzel has been emulated and duplicated by prosperity preachers. While Tetzel sold bogus promises about the afterlife, the prosperity gurus of today sell bogus promises about our bank accounts. The prosperity they sell is a lifestyle of affluence and ease in return for giving generously to their “ministry.” So many people have now been scarred or scared off by the false gospel of health and wealth that they’re... Read more »
  • The Greatest Offense of Indulgences
    Where is your theological line in the sand? As a Christian, how much of an assault on God’s character or His gospel can you endure before your righteous indignation rises up in response? And when that threshold has been reached, are you able to channel that passion in a way that honors God and furthers His gospel? We began this series by examining one of the most explosive incidents of righteous indignation in church history. It happened five hundred years ago, sparking the Protestant Reformation. When the Roman Catholic Church filled its coffers by the selling of indulgences—bogus promises concerning God’s favor and... Read more »
  • The Fury of the Prince of Peace
    There is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). The Catholic Church was not pioneering a new heresy with the sale of indulgences. Marketing God’s grace and favor is an ancient lie. Organized religious corruption and extortion go all the way back to Christ’s earthly ministry. In that sense, the Pharisees are the spiritual forebears of the religious racketeers we’ve discussed in this series. First—century Judaism drifted far from God’s design. The sacrificial system, in particular, was perverted into a money-making scheme for the religious elite. By the time of Christ’s incarnation, the outer courts of the Jewish Temple had been transformed... Read more »
  • Friday’s Featured Sermon: “Handling Treasure, Part 1”
    “How you handle your riches . . . in many ways marks the character and quality of your Christian faith.” That’s how John MacArthur describes the importance of Christian stewardship in his sermon “Handling Treasure, Part 1.” Our attitude toward money should stand in sharp contrast to the insatiable lust exhibited by the false teachers and charlatans who now dominate Christian television. But a godly approach to money isn’t demonstrated through taking a vow of poverty, joining a commune, or embracing a monastic lifestyle. We need to steward our wealth, not shun it. In “Handling Treasure, Part 1,” John lays out a... Read more »
  • Is God’s Blessing for Sale Today?
    Are indulgences for sale in your local evangelical church? Think carefully before you answer that question. It’s certainly easy (and legitimate) to point the finger at charismatic faith healers and prosperity preachers. As we saw last time, their trinket sales and false promises are the obvious modern equivalent of the indulgences Johann Tetzel and the Catholic church peddled in the sixteenth century. But there is another, stealthier indulgence industry thriving today, right under our noses in the evangelical church. Today many conservative evangelical pastors are reviving and promoting the practice of tithing. They argue that this Old Testament pattern—giving one tenth of... Read more »
  • The Men Who Make Tetzel Look Tame
    Have you ever been conned? Most of us have, to varying degrees, experienced the sense of violation at being ripped off or extorted. Even more egregious are the actions of those who swindle people in God’s name—breaking the fourth commandment—blasphemy—in their efforts to break the eighth—theft. As we saw last time, religious extortion was rampant in the sixteenth century. The Roman Catholic Church pressured the poorest of their parishioners into purchasing bogus promises of God’s favor in the afterlife, called indulgences. In fact, it was so crass and widespread that it provoked Martin Luther to write his Ninety-Five Theses. While Luther’s protest... Read more »
  • Friday’s Featured Sermon: “Abusing the Poor”
    Generosity isn’t always a virtue. Sometimes it’s naïve. And on occasion it can be downright tragic. I’ve known people struggling to pay their bills and put food on the table, yet they’ve emptied their wallets to help a prosperity preacher buy his own private jet. Occurrences like that flood my mind with thoughts of outrage and grief. There is nothing commendable about supporting spiritual con artists. Sadly, that is what most Christian denominations essentially do with a minor Bible character who has become an icon for giving and generosity: the poor widow in Luke 21:2. Concerning her, John MacArthur asks the following... Read more »
  • The Flashpoint of the Reformation
    The world changed on October 31, 1517 (five hundred years ago yesterday). That was the day Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany. It was an act of defiance that ignited a theological war with the Roman Catholic Church—one that persists five hundred years later. But those of us familiar with the historic hallmarks of the Protestant-Catholic divide won’t find them in Luther’s initial protest. His theses didn’t offer a treatise on the doctrine of justification, advocate for the authority of Scripture, or repudiate the false gospel of Rome. While those issues would... Read more »
  • The Obscenity of Indulgences
    Have you ever seen St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome? Whether you see it in person, or in pictures, it’s spectacular. From the vast piazza surrounded by tall columns to the gigantic dome that dominates Rome’s skyline, it is unforgettable. Those who step inside witness vast marble hallways lined with priceless works of art, including Michelangelo's Pietà. Even the casual observer can tell that no expense was spared when Pope Leo X set out to rebuild the cathedral in the sixteenth century. Five hundred years later it is still a monument of architectural grandeur and lavish beauty. But beneath the outward appeal of... Read more »
  • Friday’s Featured Sermon: “How Should We Interpret the Bible?”
    Accuracy matters. Whether you’re an engineer, airline pilot, surveyor, or surgeon, a lack of precision will produce disastrous consequences. The same truth applies—to an even greater degree—in the realm of theology. Doctrinal accuracy, or the lack thereof, has serious eternal ramifications. We can’t afford to get fundamental doctrines wrong. To worship the wrong God is idolatry. To preach the wrong gospel is heresy. To believe the wrong gospel is apostasy. That’s why the inerrancy of Scripture is so important. God’s self-disclosure about Himself, and how sinful men can be reconciled to Him, needs to be accurate—the stakes are simply too high... Read more »