An Edifying Back-and-Forth Between Believers

red and blue pop art illustration of a man holding his face

“It does my heart good that sermons and outreach are more important than the music. Don’t get me wrong, the music is great, but not the reason to go to church.”

This short post with link led to quite the social media dialog. One never knows when the opportunity to present clear biblical teaching will present itself. Here’s the comment thread that now leads me to encourage all Christ followers to be prepared at all times to share and explain the Gospel truth:

Mr. Argumentative: “If you walk out of a church feeling good about yourself, then that’s the wrong church to attend. That’s the problem with today’s church. Most pastors spew ear candy and not the gospel truth. All they talk about is the ‘love’ of God and that God has a plan for you. They never preach about sin, Hell, and repentance. Pastors have turned into Tony Robbins verses preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s why churches are full of professing (carnal) Christians that Paul talked about in Corinthians 3:1. We are all sinners and we are not producing enough fruit for God. The church needs to show us how wicked and unholy we are, not how great we are. Shame on us for not reading and not knowing the Word of God. Jesus told us beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing, Matthew 7:15.”

Mr. Corrective: “I agree we are not consistently teaching Who God truly is. The liberal church has mixed up the order of things. We are led to believe that God is there to give us what we want. But in reality, we are to be there for God and do what He wants. God wants to have a personal relationship with each and every one of us, and for us to spread the Gospel and make disciples. You are also right that we sin, but when we truly accept Jesus and repent, we are a new man in Christ. We then become saints who sadly choose to sin. That is why we begin sanctification, and that’s a lifelong process. We are saved by grace through faith and therefore go from sinner to saint (who still battle against sin). In the natural you are right, we are bad; but in Christ we are good because Christ is good.”

Mr. Argumentative: “Guilt has nothing to do with the pastor. That’s between you and God. It’s the first step in repentance. You can’t be a born-again believer if you have no remorse for your sins. The pastor is just the messenger. If you walk out of the church week after week feeling good about yourself, you’ve got the wrong messenger. He isn’t speaking the word of God.”

Mr. Corrective: “I agree you need to understand the bad news before you can appreciate the Gospel, but let’s not forget that the Gospel is Good News, and if you leave church filled with guilt every week your pastor is failing you. Are you saved by what you do, or by what Christ did for you on the cross? You will repent because you are saved, you are not saved by repentance. There is a fine line between guilt and repentance. Jesus came to bring you abundant life, not a guilt filled one. God doesn’t expect you to go around feeling like you’re a miserable loser. We are victors in Christ.”

Mr. Argumentative: “Neither, for by grace you are saved through faith, it’s a gift from God, not of works; Ephesians 2:8-9. Acts 2:38 shows that you must repent before being saved; Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ Clearly you are saved after you repent, not before. Jesus came to give us eternal life in Heaven, not ‘abundance’ of life on Earth. In fact, Jesus said if you follow Me, you will be persecuted. Doesn’t sound like an abundance of life. You don’t go around feeling miserable when you are walking in God’s grace. If I’m wrong, you will need to quote me scripture on your belief. We are only victors in Christ when we lead someone to Him or perform His will.”

Mr. Corrective: “John 10:7-18. If we only dwell on the sin, then we may miss the Good News.”

Mr. Argumentative: “Life in the Bible means ‘Eternal Life’. John told us that in 1 John 5:11-12. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. Life doesn’t mean life on earth. Earth is Satan’s kingdom. That’s how he could offer it to Jesus when he tempted Jesus.”

Mr. Corrective: “Doesn’t eternal life include our life here on Earth? Where we spend eternity depends on how we live here on Earth. If we choose to believe and follow Christ, then our eternity will be in Heaven. So, it all boils down to our relationship with God. The closer we are with Him, the better we will become.”

Mr. Argumentative: “Doesn’t sound like Jesus talked about the ‘Good News’ in Matthew 10:28 to me. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. I’m guessing most people in today’s church have never heard this verse preached, or much else about the seven other verses about hell. It’s all about the ‘Good News’.”

Mr. Corrective: “He says that if you acknowledge Jesus, then He will acknowledge you to the Father. That sounds pretty ‘good’ to me. Too often we’re afraid of the world when we should fear God. Man may be able to physically kill the body, but only God can kill the soul. So, we do need to be convicted, but we still need hope – which is the Good News. Being convicted of sin is how we become more sanctified. If we didn’t sin and have to repent, then it would be one-and-done, and we would never pursue a closer relationship with the Father.”

Mr. Argumentative: “Then you need to help me understand Matthew 7:21-23: Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’.”

Mr. Corrective: “It might be helpful to the thread of comments on this post to mention that in the Greek New Testament, ‘gospel’ is the translation of the Greek noun euangelion (occurring 76 times), meaning ‘good news,’ and the verb euangelizo (occurring 54 times), meaning ‘to bring or announce good news.’ So, ‘good news’ = ‘gospel’.”

Mr. Argumentative: “I’m not saying it’s not good news. Who wouldn’t want eternal life? I showed you where in the Bible that there is also bad news for unbelievers and carnal Christians.”

Mr. Corrective: “We all have eternal life no matter what. What we believe and how we respond to the Good News will determine where we spend it. The bad news you talk about is to help us see what is wrong in the world and to help us stay on the right path. It also helps those who don’t believe or those just going through the motions to see error of their ways.”

Mr. Argumentative: “If we all have eternal life no matter what, then who were the people Jesus spoke to in Matthew 7:21 when He said, ‘Depart from Me, I never knew you’? They were clearly believers in Jesus Christ. Why didn’t they get eternal life?”

Mr. Corrective: “What was meant by the previous comments is that the Bible does not teach annihilationism. In other words, the lost are not totally destroyed so as not to exist. Instead, they continue to ‘live’ in the torment of Hell. However, to your point, this is not ‘life’ in the same sense that the New Testament often speaks of it. Eternal life in Christ is real life, flourishing life, life in the favorable presence of God. Now, that’s truly living!”

Mr. Argumentative: “Revelation 22:19 clearly states that your name can be removed from the Book of Life. You can’t get your name in the Book of Life if you haven’t been chosen by God and been saved. How do we know if a person is truly saved or not?”

Mr. Corrective: “You can know you are saved by a changed life, and a changed life will produce fruit. That’s what the Bible teaches. God makes a lot of promises to us, and for me, I will stand on them. I know I am saved because I am not the same person I use to be. I am now a child of God and a saint. Do I still sin? Yes. Am I convicted of that sin? Yes. Does God forgive me? Yes. God wants us to live a full and abundant life and tells us the way to do that is to follow Jesus. The way we do this is by praying, studying the Bible, and in so doing strengthening our relationship with God. The stronger our relationship the more abundant and fuller our lives become. An abundant life in the world looks different than the one in the spiritual world within which Christians live. But in the end, it’s not up to us to decide who is saved and who isn’t. It’s up to us to be right with God ourselves, share the Gospel, and make disciples.”

Mr. Argumentative: “Show me scripture that supports your thesis.”

Mr. Corrective: “Are you asking about the comment regarding annihilationism? Assuming for now that annihilationism is the issue, I’ll borrow from J.I. Packer: ‘Texts like Jude 6, Matthew 8:12, Matthew 22:13, and Matthew 25:30 show that darkness signifies a state of deprivation and distress, not of destruction in the sense of ceasing to exist. After all, only those who exist can weep and gnash their teeth, as those banished into the darkness are said to do. Moreover, Luke 16:22–24 shows that, as in a good deal of extrabiblical apocalyptic literature, fire signifies continued existence in pain. The chilling words of Revelation 14:10 with 19:20 and 20:10, and of Matthew 13:42, 50, confirm this. In 2 Thessalonians 1:9 Paul explains, or extends, the meaning of “punished with everlasting [eternal, aionios] destruction” by adding “and shut out from the presence of the Lord”— which, by affirming exclusion, rules out the idea that “destruction” meant extinction. Only those who exist can be excluded. It’s often been pointed out that in Greek the natural meaning of the destruction vocabulary (noun, olethros; verb, apollumi) is “wrecking,” so that what’s destroyed is henceforth nonfunctional rather than annihilated altogether’.”
Mr. Argumentative: “Amen brother! I admit that too often we forget God has already won the victory through the blood of Jesus Christ. Like the thief on the cross, he acknowledged who Jesus was and Jesus said today you will be with me in paradise. We need to remember who we are in Christ and pursue a closer relationship with God; living our lives the best way we can accordingly.”

Mr. Corrective: “This has been a great dialog on this post. Love it! I particularly like the back and forth about the importance of both ‘good news’ and ‘bad news’. Without an understanding of the bad news (all have sinned and deserve eternal death) there is no context for the Good News (Jesus paid the penalty of death for those who are His). Pointing out the bad news is part of proclaiming the Good News. And once a person is born again, they celebrate the victory of Christ! So, if our hearts are not given reason to feel convicted during worship services, then our pastors have fallen short… and if the hearts of Christians are not given reason to also feel encouraged during worship services, then our pastors have fallen short. The ENTIRE Gospel MUST be preached… both reprobation and redemption… to the glory of God.”


I end this blog with a few short bonus items.

This (see link) was a pretty good read at the time. We do need to keep our primary focus on Jesus rather than on places, events, and looks to the future or the past. However, this article feels as though it comes from a simpler time, a time when all that most believers had to worry about were “three false idols” within the church.


All the woke garbage that has really ascended during the past couple of years is not entirely new. As proof that this is true, I had this pop up as a “memory” from social media past.

Someone wrote: “I have to point this out, in light of the Baltimore Orioles Adam Jones case, and Tom Brady’s relationship with President Donald Trump, plus all the skilled wide receivers (and tight end) being white on the New England Patriots. I mean, I love the Boston fans; they have great passion, but I’m just saying – it looks funny.”

I responded with a note of sarcasm: “Let’s look at the other city in this story, the ignored nefarious part of the story. Cal Ripken Jr…. white. Johnny Unitas… white. Michael Phelps… white. Jim Palmer… white. Boog Powell… white. Earl Weaver… white.Todd Heap… white. Joe Flacco… white. Bert Jones… white. Even Rod Thorn… white guy. Hmm. Very suspicious.”
To this I received the reply: “Ray Lewis black. Frank Robinson black. Ed Reed black. John Mackey black.”

So, I ended with: “Ty Law black. Vice Wilfork black. Troy Brown black. Andre Tippet black. Bill Russell black. Paul Pierce black. Robert Parrish black. Sam Jones black. Ray Allen black. Nate Archibald black. David Ortiz black. Mo Vaughn black. Jim Rice black. And Willie O’Ree black.”

The false accusations of so-called “racism” behind every bush have got to stop.


A friend posted a link, adding these comments, “Wow! Pope Francis’ behavior here has the power to change the world! Amazing!” Here’s the link.

Here’s the thought that I offered to this friend: “This is commendable, to a point. All humans are God’s creatures, created in God’s image no less! However, in the Bible there’s generally a special covenant relationship with God that’s in view when discussing people as God’s children. In Acts 17 the Apostle Paul does quote the Cilician Stoic philosopher Aratus, saying that we are all ‘God’s offspring’. Yet, notice that Paul does this in the context of calling the non-believers to repentance so that they will have salvation in Christ. Perhaps the pope made this same call to repentance, but if so, this is sadly not reflected in the news article.”


That is all for this week. God bless you,

Pastor Troy Skinner