Sunday, January 15, 2012



This week I want to share with you what I believe to be the top 5 takeaways from the new book, JESUS PLUS NOTHING.

I grew up in a very narrow, Baptist tradition. We weren't just Baptist in general. We were a certain kind of Baptist. In fact, out of the more than 220 Baptist denominations in the world, we believed we were the only one that was going to get into heaven! We knew the Southern Baptists weren't going to make it in and the American Baptists were just as liberal and loose. In our little corner of the world, if you didn't belong to one of our kind of Baptist Churches, you were lost and needed salvation. I love what my friend, Tony Campolo, says, "I'm not saying you have to be a Baptist to go to heaven. But why take a chance?"

I share this about my background, because I want you to know that I KNOW NARROW when I see it. Our denomination of Baptists was narrow and exclusive, our beliefs were narrow and exclusive, our requirements to be a member of our Church were narrow and exclusive and our message of how to get into heaven was also very narrow and exclusive. Therefore, we made Jesus fit into our narrow and exclusive box. We made Jesus narrow and exclusive!

Whenever anyone widens the door of salvation beyond what one's tradition and upbringing has taught, that person who is attempting to widen the door is deemed a heretic. There is something in human nature that will do most anything to be right or on the right side. If anyone threatens to uncover some "truth" that demonstrates that a person's "rightness" is wrong, that person who is threatening must be destroyed by labeling him as a heretic or as one who is not in tune with God.

This is what happened when Jesus spoke in the Synagogue in Nazareth. The villagers from Jesus' hometown were amazed at his speaking at first. THEN, Jesus made two remarks about how God had widened the blessing of salvation by healing a Gentile (non-Jew) leper and how out of all of the Jewish widows, God turned to a Gentile widow to be helpful to Elijah. When Jesus shared with them that God's salvation extended beyond the holy huddle of Jewish believers, the Jews went crazy and tried to kill him.

When Stephen spoke in Jerusalem (recorded in Acts 6), he was actually stoned to death for saying some threatening, outside the Jewish hierarchical box kinds of things. He said, "However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says: 'Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things?'"

Stephen was saying that God cannot be confined, even to the great and holy Temple that was built by Solomon. This, along with challenging them to live out what they profess, was just too much of a threat to them. So, Stephen, the voice of the threat must be destroyed!

Paul, was given harsh treatment, when he spoke in Pisidian Antioch: On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him. Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: "We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For this is what the Lord has commanded us: "'I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'"
When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed. The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. (Acts 13)

Later in Lystra and Zerbe, Paul was stoned and left for dead by these same holy huddle-minded Jews who were threatened by Paul's message of salvation not being narrow and exclusive, but wide and all-inclusive: Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. (Acts 14)

Even the much loved and respected, Billy Graham, said in an interview: "What God is doing today is calling people out of the world for His name. Whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world, or the Christian world, or the non-believing world, they are members of the body of Christ because they've been called by God. They may not even know the name of Jesus, but they know in their hearts they need something that they don't have and they turn to the only light they have." That interview placed Billy Graham on some of the most popular heretic lists. People have so much trouble believing that God could be calling people from every culture to Himself.

In our book, JESUS PLUS NOTHING, we demonstrate Jesus' teachings on this very thing. In fact, you will discover several illustrations where Jesus encountered people from other cultures and openly and freely gave them salvation. He didn't require them to become a Jew or a Christian, because to Jesus it's all about a personal relationship with him.

I believe and teach more powerfully than ever Jesus' words, "I am the way, the truth and the life." I'm seeing how Jesus is the way for everyone, everywhere! Jesus is not narrow and exclusive so he can fit into anyone's box. Jesus all-inclusive and will work with anyone!

Go to and get JESUS PLUS NOTHING. Check Jesus out for yourself. Get to know Jesus without religious baggage!