Earlier in the year I reviewed a book by Frank Viola, The Untold Story Of The New Testament Church, and said that it was pretty much the best Christian book I have read in a very long time. Frank’s book has held onto the top honours for a few months now, but today I am excited to say I have a new favourite…
Today is actually the 3rd anniversary of Charisma Ministries. 3 years, 3 books, over 350,000 hits from over 189 countries. Thanks to all those who have helped make this possible. As a 3rd anniversary gift I am honoured introduce to you the first book by my friend and mentor, Paul Ellis.
The Gospel In Ten Words is simply the best book on grace I have ever read. I don’t know how well you think you know grace, or even if you have never heard about it before, this book will be an invaluable resource to you from the moment you start reading it.
I have only read it once, but it is one of those books that will teach you something different every time you read it. Some chapters I have already gone over more than once simply because the revelations contained in them are so liberating.
In the book Paul looks at 10 different aspects of the gospel by looking and examining 10 words that are basically synonymous with the gospel, the core of the good news message. If you had to explain what the gospel is in 10 words, what words would you use? Some of the ones Paul chose include union, forgiven, loved, holy, righteous and new.
Each word and each chapter unfolds the gospel message over and over until you basically end up with 360° panoramic view of the most amazing story ever told, the story of a Loving Father and His Family.
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I know you will too. Thank you Paul for taking the time to write this book. It is going to revolutionize thousands of lives across the globe!
Important Note: There are 3 different formats of this book. Good old fashioned paper and of course electronic. The e-formats are a little different. There is a kindle version and an e-book version. The e-book version is a better option because it contains a supplementary scripture index and a list of over 100 FAQ’s about grace and other topics. Paul couldn’t include these properly in the kindle version since kindle doesn’t make use of page numbers. The scripture index and FAQ’s are only in the paperback and e-book versions.
The official release for the book is 17 September, but it is already available on Amazon. To visit Paul’s website and find out more about the book, simply click here.
Somehow in Christianity we have managed to totally change the meaning of what it means to live holy. As soon as somebody says ‘We must live holy lives’ people immediately think ‘Oh, he means we need to stop sinning.’ Why have we attached holiness to something so ugly as sin?
And since when has holiness been defined by the amount of sin? Holiness has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with sin. When we talk about doing right vs doing wrong, we are talking about righteousness, not holiness.
Righteousness by definition means one’s ability to do right and avoid doing wrong. That is why we have concepts like self-righteousness, where people think their relationship with God is correlated to their ability to do right and avoid doing wrong. If doing right and doing wrong had anything to do with holiness, we would have called it self-holiness instead of self-righteousness.
Holiness and righteousness are also not synonyms. They don’t mean the same thing. Righteousness and morality are closer linked than holiness and morality. So when we talk about living moral lives, it means doing more good and doing less bad, so again we are actually talking about righteous living, not holy living.
How often do you hear ‘Without holiness no man shall the see God’? And do you immediately think about doing right and not doing wrong? Probably. If you do think that, you have a definition problem that automatically makes you think in an old covenant way. If holiness meant what we commonly think it does, then we should be able to say ‘Without doing more good and doing less bad no man shall see God.’
That is the epitome of a works based performance religion based on self-righteousness. Where is the Grace? Where is the finished work? Where is the rest? Where is Jesus? We simply remove them when we incorrectly define holiness.
So what is holiness? A better place to start might be to look at what holiness isn’t. I myself only recently learned this when my brilliant friend Paul Ellis told me about it. He goes into it quite well in his new book (which I will review shortly) The Gospel In Ten Words, so make sure you go get a copy! You can also read his blog posts on the subject here and here.
Holiness is not sin avoidance or moral perfection. That is called righteousness, which is not the same as holiness.
Holiness doesn’t mean to be set apart or separated unto God. This is a more common definition, one which I held until recently, yet it is also not the right definition. God is holy. Does that mean God is set apart unto Himself or that God is separated unto God? See, this definition just doesn’t add up.
The angels continually cry ‘Holy Holy Holy is the Lord’ They aren’t saying how much sin He is avoiding or how secludedly separated He is from Himself. So what are they saying?
Maybe they mean holiness is godliness, or that God is worthy of worship? Worthy of worship is better definition, but now we have a problem. The angels too are holy, but we told to never worship them. So worthiness of worship also doesn’t fit the bill. What about godliness?
If holiness means godliness, then by saying ‘God is holy’ you are actually saying ‘God is godly’. Which is pretty redundant. Similarly the angels are then also godly since they are holy too. Not to mention all the holy places and artifacts mentioned in the Bible that would suddenly be worthy of worship since they were now godly.
Ok, enough tension building. Let me tell you what holiness is. Actually, I will let Paul tell you because the way in which he first described it to me is stunningly beautiful.
“Holiness means wholeness. To say that “God is holy” is to refer to the wholeness, fullness, beauty, and abundant life that overflows within the Godhead. God lacks nothing. He is unbroken, undamaged, unfallen, completely complete and entire within Himself. He is the indivisible One, wholly self-sufficient, and the picture of perfection. Holiness is not one aspect of God’s character; it is the whole package in glorious unity.” – Paul Ellis
Let that sink it for a little bit.
So this then brings us back to the original reason for this post. Holy living vs moral living. How do we then live holy lives based on a proper understanding of what holiness means? Well, you will have wait for the next post because I have gone on a teensy bit too long with this one already…
Yesterday I got to spend another afternoon with Paul Ellis talking about all sorts. I just want to thank him for everything he has taught me and will continue to teach me! You rock and I will miss you a lot when I leave for Hong Kong! So, to say thank you I thought I would make a Top 10 quotes list for the man who loves making Top 10 quotes lists! If Paul has impacted your life in any way, share this list because sharing is caring!
1. Much of what is sold as “the gospel” is an inferior substitute for the real thing. Don’t be fooled by cheap knock-offs! There is an easy way to distinguish the authentic from the counterfeit. The true gospel is 100% good news. There’s no bad news in the good news. If the gospel you’ve bought into makes you feel insecure, anxious, guilty, and condemned, then it’s no good. Discard it before it kills you!
2. The entire Bible is good for you, but you won’t get much out of it unless you know Jesus Christ.
3. People waste years studying different religions trying to figure out which one is best. But when you strip away all the packaging it’s actually a fairly simple choice: it’s either your works or his blood.
4. I’d like to think that if I’d been Adam, the first thing I would’ve built was a fence around that tree. Then I would’ve put warning signs all over that fence. It’s too late for that now, but it’s not too late to put warning signs all around the law.
5. Is your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life? If so, are you worried that Jesus may blot out your name? It seems that many Christians are. They are afraid that they might do something that will cause Jesus to blot out their names from His Book of Life. It’s like Jesus is sitting in heaven with a pen in one hand and a bottle of correction fluid in the other. Get saved, name goes in. Fail a test, name goes out. Re-commit your life to God, name goes back in. Phew! With all the re-commitments going on, you’d think Jesus was in danger of repetitive stress injury!
6. Walking after the flesh is when you attempt to get your needs met independently of God. It’s trusting in yourself (your abilities, your understanding) and living solely from the basis of your earthly experience (what you see, hear, touch, etc.). Now here’s the important bit: You can walk after the flesh in the pursuit of both good things and bad things.
7. The gospel is simple and it takes theologians to complicate it.
8. If you were the devil and you wanted to keep Christians barren, sick and ineffective, there is one simple thing that you could do: you would hide or distort the revelation that we have been totally and eternally forgiven.
9. Did Jesus sneak out of heaven against His Father’s wishes to come and die for our sins? Did He distract the Holy Spirit then slip away on His own initiative to shed His blood for our forgiveness? Of course not! Yet judging by some of the comments I get on this site, it’s clear that some think that God the Son and God the Father are playing a good cop-bad cop routine with humanity. God the Father is angry with us on account of our sin, but Jesus stands between us protecting us from His Father’s wrath. What’s wrong with this picture? Everything! It suggests that God the Son and God the Father have different natures, that One loves us unconditionally, but the other can’t see past our sin. Even if you don’t know your Bible you can probably see how ridiculous this is.
10. There’s a teaching going around that says that God has only half-forgiven us. If it sounds wacky, that’s because it is.
For more great nuggets of wisdom like these visit Paul’s website, escapetoreality.org!
Grace & Peace!