Many years ago there was a late night talks show hosted by Arsenio Hall. Each week he would have guests to interview. He would also do little comedy skits. One of these skits was called, “Things that make you say ‘hmmmmm….’.”
In this segment Hall would point out how people contradict themselves. This could be in reference to some news item of the time or examples of people saying one thing and doing another. He would poke fun at these inconsistencies and say, these things make you say “hmmmm.” A simple example (even though Hall never used it as far as I know) is when people say they like jumbo shrimp. How can a shrimp be “jumbo?”
My experience is that people often do the same thing when it comes to theology. They say they believe what the Bible says but then contradict what the Bible says. They are extremely inconsistent.
It would be easy to point to Bible passages that clearly teach Free Grace theology and how many who profess to believe in the Bible reject what the Bible clearly teaches. But let’s put those things aside for just a minute.
Whether a person is a Free Grace or Lordship believer, both believe that there is an eternal kingdom of God coming. But where will this kingdom be?
Many in the Free Grace (as well as others) have pointed out that the eternal kingdom will be on earth, not in some mystical place in the heavens. The Bible is clear on this point. For those interested in this topic, Bob Wilkin as a great discussion on it in the book The Ten Most Misunderstood Words in the Bible. But we see how clear the teaching of the Bible is from verses like Rev 21:1-2:
Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
In this description of eternity, could it be any clearer that the Kingdom of God will be on a “new earth?” The capital of the Kingdom will come down from heaven. The New Jerusalem will not be in heaven.
But isn’t it amazing that the vast majority of Christians do not believe that believers will live on the new earth. Their concept of eternity is based upon living in the clouds somewhere.
Now I know that many of these folks have never been told otherwise. But what is interesting is that even when you point it out, the majority of believers will not change their view. Sometimes it is because the Bible also teaches that one reason we will live in a new earth is because there will be differences and rewards in that Kingdom. Most people don’t believe that and it is easier to believe there will be no rewards if we are just floating around in the clouds somewhere.
Even when you point out that the usual concept of eternity is based upon pagan, especially Greek philosophical, views people are usually not willing to set aside their traditional beliefs.
What we see is that often people are not consistent. They say that they believe in one thing (that the Bible is always true), but are not willing to reject what they hold as a traditional view (believers are going to live in the clouds forever) when the Bible contradicts it. When we see things like that it makes us say, “hmmmmmmm.”
This is informative for us for a couple of reasons. In the Free Grace movement sometimes people say that our beliefs cannot be correct because so few people believe what we believe. But we see from the example above that sometimes the majority view clearly goes against what the Bible says. Even if comparatively few people believe something, it can still be the right view. Even though a small minority of Christians believe that we will live on the new earth, that is exactly where we will spend eternity.
The other lesson we can learn is that we can be guilty of the same thing. We need to search to see what the Scriptures say. We need to be willing to accept what the Bible says even if it goes against cherished beliefs. If we don’t, people can look at us and say, “hmmmmmmmm.”