God’s New Years Resolutions

I like New Years resolutions as much as I enjoy having my gums scraped. By mid-January, those resolutions mock me. The Bible-reading plan goes sideways, the bathroom scales audibly groan, and the personal organization collapses into chaos. So, rather than slogging through yet another depressing list of ways I will fail, I decided to flip this year’s resolutions on their head.

What if I shifted the focus from my resolve to God’s? What if instead of starting the year with my bound-to-fail determination, I instead recalibrated my heart to his never-failing grace? I think that’s a great way to start a new year.

A resolution is “a firm decision to do or not to do something,” and God’s resolve to lavish grace upon me is new every morning. So here are my top five divine resolutions for 2015. I will write them as God’s words to me.

GOD’S NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS

1. I will provide all your need. 

“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19, NKJV.

Yes, that’s my promise to you. And I always deliver right on time. Don’t be anxious. And don’t fear. Oh, one more thing. Be sure not to confuse your wants with your needs. There’s a difference you know. I am resolved with a infinite determination to meet all your need right on time. 

2. I will never throw your sins in your face. 

“Then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”” Hebrews 10:17, NKJV.

That’s the power of my Son’s Cross. His death cleansed you of every guilt, every shame, every condemnation, and every stain. He left nothing out. You have total forgiveness. Your record is clean; I have washed you white as snow, and that is how you shall stay. I promise. 

3. I will treat you better than you treat yourself. 

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28, NKJV.

All things. Nothing is too small, nothing too big. You matter to me. If I gave you the most costly gift imaginable when I gave you my Son, you can be confident I will care for the small things too. Trust me. Rest in my love. Grace means I will always set you at the convergence of your highest good and my highest glory. 

4. I will keep on keeping you saved. handofgrace

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38, 39, NKJV.

You are secure in the arms of my love. I will see you safely home. You may feel you have much to worry about (not true), but please cross your eternal salvation off your list. Once you’re saved, you’re always saved. No matter what. Even if you fail. Even if you do something incredibly stupid. Even if anything. I promise. It’s my eternal resolution to you. 

5. I will protect you from more than you know. 

“The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.” Nahum 1:7, NKJV.

Do not be afraid. I never sleep. I never slumber. I never let down my guard. I am watching over your like a hawk. No weapon formed against you will prosper. All those who rise against you will fall. That’s the power of my amazing grace. 

I’m glad my God can keep his resolutions. I’m feeling good about 2015. With God and his grace, it’s going to be a very good year.

Happy New Year! I hope and pray a richer, fuller, deeper experience of the matchless grace of God for you!


Grace Intervention Cover

Grace Intervention on Amazon.

You can start your New Year with your own personal grace reset. Grace Intervention is now available online and wherever books are sold. Click here for a downloadable study guide for small groups, classes, and personal reflection. Here are some snippets from early reviews:

  • Bill Giovannetti has given the church a fantastic treasure! On most every page I found myself vacillating between a heart-humbling gratitude for God’s total embrace and a heart-pounding desire to stand up and cheer! ~Jeremy White, Author of Grace unCut and senior pastor Valley Church, Vacaville, CA. 
  • In every church there’s usually some guy who’s been around the block long enough that he is no longer intimidated by the games religious people play. This is the guy you love to hang out with because he’s real and because he loves people the way Jesus loves people. Bill Giovannetti reminds me of that guy! In this insightful and daring analysis of the modern church, he sees through the hash-tagging, hipster appeal of neo-legalism and identifies the symptoms of Christianity’s worst disease: Grace Deficit Disorder. Grace Intervention is a breath of fresh air for Christians who are tired of playing games and doing their duty. It is an emphatic declaration of God’s good and gracious commitment to you! ~Paul Ellis, best selling author of The Big House and The Gospel in Twenty Questions
  • Bill addresses the various forms of legalism that destroy our freedom in Christ.  It is not dumbed-down or politically correct; it is written to help us talk with one another about our great God and his grace upon us — after all, isn’t that what theology is? To talk about God!  Take your time reading and reflecting on these fifteen chapters — They may just change your life addressing that “Grace Deficit Disorder” that so many of us have experienced! ~Rev. Patrick A. Blewett, D.Min., Ph.D., Dean, A.W. Tozer Theological Seminary
  • So often the “shoulds” and “should nots” in life threaten to overwhelm my joy and I get lost in a sea of guilt and hopelessness.  But God never intended that for us– and Bill Giovannetti’s beautiful look at grace empowered me to look to Him– instead of to a hopeless world– for the grace I so desperately need. Every person who has ever felt burdened by a legalistic Christian world, by hopelessness or guilt or even by the pain of feeling unforgiven will find hope and healing in Grace Intervention. ~Erin MacPherson, author of The Christian Mama’s Guide series

Eternal Security #2

A continuation…

Objections

Not all Christians agree on the doctrine of Eternal Security. This is one of those areas where reasonable Christians disagree. A good number of godly, scholarly, biblical evangelical, born-again Christians would deny Eternal Security. They offer two main objections: 1) that the Bible doesn’t teach it; 2) that it leads to spiritual laziness.

1) The Bible doesn’t teach it.

Opponents to the doctrine say the Bible teaches just the opposite, that you can, in fact lose your salvation. They have a whole list of verses that they claim teach this. However, if you analyze these verses one by one you will discover that they really do not teach against Eternal Security at all. Rather these verses either talk about people who weren’t saved in the first place, or about people who lose the joy of their salvation without losing their salvation. There are about six
main Bible verses routinely brought up. We could spend hours here, but I’m only going to offer one or two sentences on each verse. OPEN YOUR BIBLE… and make some notes!!

1. Matt. 10:22. This verse is about deliverance from physical destruction at
the end of the Great Tribulation, not about enduring spiritually
to the end of your life in order to obtain eternal salvation.
2. Hebr. 3:14. The issue here is the word “end.” Until the end. End here
refers to the end of the process of salvation, not to the end of
your life. In the context we learn that getting saved is a
process. You are saved if you start the process of salvation,
and then bring it through to completion by faith in Christ. That
is the goal or end in view in this verse.
3. Hebr. 6:4-6. One of the “mother-ships” of conditional security. This passage is about people who dipped their toes in the
water of salvation, but were never saved.
4. 2 Pet. 2:20-22. Again, this verse refers to people who were really never saved.
5. James 2:17; 2:20; 2:26. An act of mind only (faith) without a choice in the will (works) is useless (dead). Still, though, we believe that life true faith does result in a life of good works (Eph 2:10).
6. Col. 1:23. The word “if” here in the KJV should be translated since.

These are some of the scriptural objections to Eternal Security. We have only mentioned six verses, and there are others. But if you really study them in context, you will see that all of the objection verses would be correctly interpreted in two categories: either the people weren’t saved in the first place; or they were and are saved, but have lost the joy of their salvation.

Tomorrow, the objection that eternal security produces spiritual laziness, then on to the mountain of positive affirmations of once saved alway saved.

One parting shot… is conditional security really security at all? Is a conditional forgiveness really forgiveness at all?

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39, NKJV).

Secure Forever, part 1

Can a Christian lost his/her salvation? I’ve had a lot of questions about this topic lately, so here goes. I’m reposting these on my Facebook Author page too, and I’d love for you to go there and click the like button. Thanks.

Sooner or later, every believer in Jesus Christ must come to grips with one all important question: Who will bear the burden of my eternal life? Or we might ask, On whose shoulders will rest the weight of bringing me to God and ultimately getting me into heaven?

Scripture supplies a most magnificent answer: Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved. (Psalms 55:22, NKJV).

In its short form, Eternal Security means “once saved, always saved.” It means that you cannot lose your salvation; even if you tried. What a wonderful confidence we can have! The biggest question of life — Where will I spend eternity? — has been answered once for all.

Definition: Eternal Security means that if you are truly saved, you can never be unsaved, not even for a moment. God will not permit it. He has set your foundation upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and since God will not permit Christ to be shaken, he will not permit you to be shaken either.

Many believers, even godly Christians and scholarly Christians, do not believe in eternal security. They admit into their concept of salvation certain conditions under which you might lose it. I would ask, What good is a salvation that is not really a salvation? But we won’t get into all the problems with the other position… (maybe later? depends)

Here are some definitions of eternal security from some Bible teachers.

  • Charles C. Ryrie. Eternal Security: The work of God which guarantees that the gift of God (salvation), once received, is possessed forever and cannot be lost.
  • Harry Ironside [for many years pastor at Moody Church]. When we speak of the eternal security of the believer, what do we mean? We mean that once a poor sinner has been regenerated by the Word and the Spirit of God, once he has received a new life and a new nature and has been made partaker of the divine nature, once he has been justified from every charge before the throne of God, it is absolutely impossible that that man should ever again be a lost soul.
  • Augustus Hodge. They whom God hath accepted in his Beloved, effectively called and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved. [a definition of perserverance]
  • R.T. Kendall [who succeeded Martyn Lloyd-Jones at Westminster Chapel, London]. We are not saying once saved, always obedient. We are not saying once saved, always perfect. We are not saying once saved always godly. It is once saved, always saved.

These are excellent definitions for Eternal Security. I am convinced that Eternal Security is best understood from the divine perspective. In other words, this is far more something about God and what he does than it is about us and what we have. Therefore based on Psalm 55:2 and many other Scriptures, here is my simple definition of Eternal Security.

ETERNAL SECURITY MEANS that God himself bears all the burden for me to be secure forever. 

The Cost of Discipleship!

bears.jpgFirst, GO BEARS! Great game last night, defeating the Green Bay Packers, and making this Chicagoan extremely happy! Final score: 27-20, Bears!

Second, THANK YOU to everybody who weighed in on their interpretation of the very tough Luke Passage on Discipleship (scroll down 2 posts). You guys did a great job, and are very brave.

So, now I’ll stick my neck out. Here is my interpretation of this key passage on discipleship. I’ll start by saying that, like many gospel passages, the failure to do justice to the larger context causes an INVERSION of the meaning. That is, most interpreters actually REVERSE the intended meaning! (And I don’t use exclamation marks frivolously!!!!) In my humble opinion–and you may disagree with me–this passage has been turned on its ear to place a price-tag on discipleship that neither Jesus nor Luke ever intended. Continue reading

Say Ahhhhh….

piercedopenmouth.jpgBefore I get started, a big thank you to Donny Pauling who wrote a post about the message I preached last weekend.  Check it out, click here:  Donny’s Ramblings.  The message was about Christian liberty and is called Totally Unstuck:  Free In Christ. 

If God has already blessed me to the max (Eph 1:3), then why don’t I feel it?  Every follower of Jesus should be crystal clear about how to EXPERIENCE your riches in Christ.  Or, as I mentioned in the earlier blog, God says, “I am the LORD your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” Psalms 81:10, NKJV.

God tells us to say ahhh, and so many times, pucker our lips.  Why? My hunch is because most of the time we expect him to give us bad-tasting medicine.  We have a defective view of God;  we misread his Fatherly heart.

But let’s suppose we’re on board with his love and grace;  how do we experience his grace? Continue reading

Jesus: the Great unEqualizer, pt 2

secondcoming.jpg“And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” 1 John 2:28, NKJV.

I grew up in the Church of Hurt ‘Em till They Thank You. Guilt and shame were the normal emotionsl of the Christian life. Heaven was colored this way too: everlasting delights, yes; but with them a cloud of guilt and shame for all eternity. My shortcomings would dog me forever. That’s what legalism will do for you. Continue reading

Once Saved, Always Saved, pt. 3

This is a continuation from two earlier posts. You might want to read them first. Just scroll down a little bit for the first two parts. Thanks.

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Eternal Security is the biblical doctrine that affirms the unconditional nature of salvation. Once you’re in, you’re in. God does not kick kids out of his family. Ever. Nor does he permit them to “withdraw their membership.” There is no force or will one earth or in heaven that can separate a Christian from the love of God “which is IN Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:39). “In Christ” refers to Union with Christ. Once you’re in, you’re in.

But what about those pesky verses that seem to indicate otherwise? Let me mention a handful of them, the ones my friends most commonly ask me about. Continue reading

Once Saved, Always Saved? pt. 2

You’re stuck with God and he’s stuck with you. When a child of God sins, God doesn’t kick her out of the family. Even for repeated sins. Even for deliberately repeated sins.

Antinomian! some will charge. You’re giving people license to sin!

Thanks for saying that. It makes me feel good. It means I’m on the right path. I’m getting the story that God is telling right.

[Here’s a real license to sin: it’s a copy of Tetzel‘s indulgence…]

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Continue reading

Once Saved, Always Saved?

“Don’t tell the kids that they can’t lose their salvation! They’ll live like the devil if you do.” Those words were spoken to me, by a venerable saint–one of my sweet, godly Sunday School teachers. He issued this warning after I had just finished teaching 3rd through 5th grade boys in our church Awana club. devilslittle.jpg

I had taught them about their security in God through Jesus. I had taught them a doctrine commonly known as ETERNAL SECURITY. It can be really unnerving when a man you respect calls into question your Bible teaching. Especially when you’re only 19 and he’s about 80.

Continue reading