Nicholas Sparks and the Grace of God

When asked by Catholic Digest how faith guides his writings, best-selling author and Catholic Nicholas Sparks replied:

“In many ways. There are certain rules, largely part and parcel of my Catholic upbringing that I don’t cross. I don’t use profanity in my novels, most of my characters are grounded in their faith, and in fact, in certain novels faith plays a tremendously strong role in guiding their morality in things they are willing to do. Certain things I don’t write about, like adultery; while you might think it might be easy in my genre, love stories, it isn’t.” (Catholic Digest, April 2010, Vol. 74, No.6, pg. 41 or you can read the entire interview following this link:


This interview made me think that of a friend who shared something to me.

A friend of mine enthusiastically shared a video of a musical group to me. I’ve already watch their videos on Youtube and they were amazing. The video drips with such gift in playing musical instrument that the video garner many views.  My friend really loved it that’s why she suggested checking it out. She adds something that made me thinking.  “Kung Christian lang sana sila ‘no? (If only they where Christians).” I sympathize with my friend. I’m also bother with that thought too. Sometimes us Christians goes to this thought, that we wish great and talented people are in God’s side.  And who wouldn’t want people that made a difference in the world work for God?  Who doesn’t want a great leader like Gandhi or Mandela, a computer genius like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, or scientist like the ones who discovered DNA to be a Christian, see them someday in heaven and not go to hell? That will be great isn’t? Let’s include those who we see that are sincere, nice and good people for us should be included in God’s family. We hope them to be saved so that their talent or personality will be used for God’s purpose.


The doctrine of Common Grace is a gift bestowed by God to both saved and unsaved humanity. Scriptures verifies this doctrine (see Romans 2: 14, 15, 1:24, 26, 28; Luke 6:33, Psalms 145:9, Matthew 5: 44, 45; 1 Timothy 4:10, and Hebrews 6:4-6). This gift includes such vital things like our breathing, food, water, animals, friends, talents, knowledge and resources all from the providential hands of the Lord. It is also a blessing to men by the Holy Spirit to practice moral, civil and religious activities and even apply restrictions without the renewing of the heart and seeking salvation from God. As a gift it is free it can be enjoyed, cultivate and the advancement of himself or for the sake of the world. God gave common grace for humanity as a testimony of His goodness and for the exaltation of His glory. Romans 1: 20 adds that mankind knows through common grace, that there is a God yet, despite the obvious, they deny His existence.


Common grace, since it covers the ability to be religious even if a person is not saved, also doesn’t restrict unbelieving people to even acknowledge his talents to his faith, church or God as we have read the interview with Nicholas Sparks by Catholic Digest. His faith may have helped him write great novels but unless the Holy Spirit bestow saving faith, this writer is not glorifying God. Unless he sees the biblical gospel his talents only served him here but not for the life to come. It’s a sobering thought, right? Yes, some of his books influence us readers. It touched our lives. It even inspired us write.  For me it will be a dream to have a chat with him and talk about writing. I would love to learn from this author and I think you would to. Should we not savor this gifted author’s influence to us even if he will not be saved? Should we not deny praises to God to things that benefited us even it’s from an unbeliever? If it’s in line with the biblical and moral principle we uphold why not.  But Christians should know better. All his talents are from God and enjoying it lets keep it in mind how wonderful God towards us. Further, we should ask ourselves if unbelievers became exceptional in their craft, should we not endeavor to aim for the best in terms of our talents and abilities also.


I don’t know what’s in Nicholas Sparks’s heart. I can only speculate and give an opinion. If he received Christ as Lord and personal Savior (I don’t know if he is claiming it or not) he is indeed saved, no question about it. But as you can see, he is in a religion that rejects the biblical salvation. That’s a hint of where he is banking his salvation. I believe if you’re truly saved you will get out of that religion that contradicts Scripture and follow Christ. It will do you no good, won’t be useful for the Kingdom of God and it will cast doubt on your salvation if you remain in error.  Nicholas Sparks will face God’s judgment. But as long as he is alive he has hope. The gospel is still open for him to accept it.  Except God opens Sparks spiritual eyes to the biblical salvation, he is just another human being enjoying God’s common grace bound to hell.


With that in mind we don’t know who are yet to be saved. We don’t know yet whom God’s elected. Only God knows. That’s why we are given the Great Commission. We are commanded by God to reach those people with the gospel no matter who they are. Whether it’s Nicholas Sparks or your next door neighbor we are obliged to tell them the love of Christ. Isn’t it an incentive for us to know God goodness to all men through His common grace then for us Christians act to secure them to look beyond it and be saved by sharing the gospel? Isn’t  the unbelievers impact to the world is done by making use of the gift of common grace, therefore should we not use it also to reach them? By knowing the doctrine of common grace may we excel as witnesses for Christ and offer unrepentant sinners the gift of salvation by grace.



For Further Study:

Divine Compassion in Common Grace by John MacArthur Jr.

Did the Death of Jesus Accomplish Anything for the Non-Elect? by John Piper

James Montgomery Boice on Christian Love

In chapter 13 of his book “Two Cities, Two Loves”, the late James Montgomery Boice writes about love:

We understand the preeminence of love if we see it in reference to the other marks

of the church. What happens when you take love away from them? Suppose you

subtract love from joy. What do you have? You have hedonism, an exuberance in

life and its pleasures, but without the sanctifying joy found in relationship to the

Lord Jesus Christ.

Subtract love from holiness. What do you find then? You find self- righteousness,

the kind of sinful self-contentment that characterized the Pharisees of Christ’s day.

By the standards of the day the Pharisees lived very holy lives, but they did not

love others and thus were quite ready to kill Jesus when he challenged their


Take love from truth and you have a bitter orthodoxy. The teaching may be right,

but it does not win anyone to Christ or to godliness. Take love from mission and

you have imperialism. It is colonialism in ecclesiastical garb.

Take love from unity and you soon have tyranny. Tyranny develops in a

hierarchical church where there is no compassion for people or desire to involve

them in the decision-making process, only determination to force everyone into

the same denomination or to get them to back the “program.”

Now express love and what do you find? All the other marks of the church follow.

What does love for God the Father lead to? Joy. We rejoice in God and in what he

has done for us. What does love for the Lord Jesus Christ lead to? Holiness. We

know that we will see him one day and will be like him. “Everyone who has this

hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure” (I Jn 3:3). What does love for the

Word of God lead to? Truth. If we love the Word, we will study and therefore

inevitably grow into a fuller appreciation of God’s truth. What does love for the

world lead to? Mission. We have a message to take to the world. Where does love

for our Christian brothers and sisters lead? To unity. By love we discern that we

are bound together in the bundle of life that God has created within the Christian



In what ways can you show Christian love? Please post it on the comments.

5 Vital Verses Catholics Should Read from the Catholic Bible

 I have a copy of “St. Joseph Pocket Edition of The New American Bible (Revised Edition)” published by Catholic Book Publishing Co. This revised edition’s purpose is “to provide a version suitable for liturgical proclamation, for private reading and for purpose of study” (pg. 12-13). It also states that, “The New American Bible is a Roman Catholic translation” (pg. 18, though not all translators are Catholics, pg. 7). There is an online version of this Bible, click here to read it. Now without further delay, here are 5 verses every Catholic should check from this (or any) Catholic Bible.

1.  Ephesians 2: 8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you it is a gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast.”  (See also Titus 3:5, 2Timothy 1:9; Romans 1:17, 3:28,11:6; Acts 15:11, 16:31, Galatians 2:16, 3:11, 3:24;  Philippians 3;9, Hebrews 11, ) Are you trying to get God approval by being a good? How many good deeds do you have to do in order to be right with God? Have you thought that doing those things undermines God’s saviorship? Salvation is by grace of God by putting our faith in Jesus alone. It is a gift, so if we have to earn and to get it, it isn’t a gift anymore. That’s why no one can boast to God that he was saved by going to church, having the sacraments, being a good citizen and doing charity. So where does good works fit in? Read verse 10. You’ll be surprise.

2. Mark 7:8 “You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.”  (To get the full meaning of this verse read the whole chapter of Mark 7). Have you set aside the clear statements of the Bible for the church traditions? Can we find those traditions in the Bible? We should remember that traditions are not at all bad BUT it should come from the apostles (see 2 Thessalonians 2:15). If it undermines the Scriptures by adding, replacing or subtracting its authority over the church and Christians then we should check traditions if it’s truly biblical.

3. John 10:28-29”I gave them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand”  (See also John  10:9, 3:15-21; Romans 10:9) Eternal security is given to His sheep (v. 27). It’s not by holding on to Christ (through religious and good works) but Christ and God the Father holding to us double grip that makes us eternally secured. Do you have this promise?

4. I John 5: 13 “I write these things to you so that you may know that you have eternal life, you who believe in the name of the Son of God” (See also Acts 4:12). In the 1994 Catholic Catechism, claiming that you are saved is considered “sin of presumption”. But what do you make with this verse that straightforwardly tells us those who believe in Jesus are saved and can be sure of it?

5. Romans: 5: 1 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” Does an average Catholic have peace? Peace meaning not only if he dies he will go to heaven, but does he have everlasting peace with God and His anger over sin is not upon him? Do you have peace knowing that God loves you? This verse says we can have peace with God not by following a religion or good works but being justified by faith. Are you longing to have peace in God? Are you trying in vain to have this? Then cry out for mercy to God. Repent and believe the gospel!

Any more Bible verses from the Catholic Bible you might add? Please post it on the comments.

Book Review: The Attributes of God: A Journey into the Father’s Hear Vol. 1 t by A.W. Tozer

It’s such a blessing to be able to read great books. I got two of them last week at PCBS (Philippine Christian Bookstore). One is “The Attributes of God” by A.W. Tozer and the other is the much anticipated book by John Piper simply titled “Think”. I’ll post a book review on Pipers book by next week, but for now, let’s put “The Attributes of God” into the fray.

When books about doctrine comes to our minds we dismiss it as an avalanche of cold theological jargons ready to make rampage which those made of steel theologians on ivory towers will appreciate. But not with this book by Tozer. Leaping out of the beginning pages are his joy over these attributes. I think Tozer, when delivering these series of sermon (for which this book came), is enthusiastically ecstatic over the pulpit. It’s a surprise for me to find how joy on these subjects from the early chapters of this book. Christian Hedonism anyone?

While the subject of attributes is something hard for us to grasp, Tozer puts forth his fatherly pastoral care in painstakingly letting you comprehend it not just by mind but by your heart. He is gladly serving solid scriptural food but he carefully “mashes” it up for you to easily digest it, without losing its vital “nutrients” essential for the Christian. Being spoon feed by Tozer of these subjects doesn’t let you stay dependent on letting him feed you all the way rather makes you want to grab the spoon and feast on the spiritual meal yourself.

Tozer doesn’t just put forth his fatherly love over this book but still maintain the “20th century prophet” mark in every page. He reproves the church that need to know more about God and be sensitive over Him. Also sprinkled with solid biblical teaching that will reinforce subjects like salvation and many others. Such a sweet blend of these styles of conveying doctrine makes your read a delight for the mind and heart.

Just a reminder though, like any journey there are some uphill climb and rugged terrain for readers. As you walk to chapters you’ll find some of it. However, in the end of it all, a bright horizon awaits everyone who makes patience a virtue. Half of the book is a study guide prepared by David Fessenden.

Notable Quotes:

“Justice is not something that God has. Justice is something that God is.”

“Mercy, however, is God’s goodness confronting human guilt, whereas grace is God’s goodness confronting human demerit.”

“When the grace of God becomes operative through faith in Jesus Christ then there is the new birth.”

“The judgment of God is God’s justice confronting moral inequity and iniquity.”

“The goodness of God is the only valid reason for existence, the only reason underlying all things.”

“If God was willing, it was the happy willingness of God.”

“Christianity is a gateway into God.”

I commend OMF for putting out this book because this kind of truth is badly needed for the church today. We need to know Him more than anything to draw near to Him and find everlasting joy. Available at National Bookstores and Philippine Christian Bookstores for P 250.00 get your copies now.

16 Crucial Questions Every Catholic Should Ask

1. What if I die today will I be in heaven?

2. Why is it that my church is the “the one true church” yet I cannot assure of heaven?

3. If the pope cannot assure spending eternity in heaven, how about me, an ordinary Catholic?

4. Why is it hard for me to ask questions regarding my faith? Do I consider it evil to ask? Am I too embarrassed? Or too confident to my church I haven’t bothered to check it out?

5. Have I read the official catechisms of my church? Have I read Bible references? Are the verses used to justify the teachings biblically sound or out of context?

6. What is the difference between veneration and worship? Can I give examples of both to give clear distinction from the two words? Does lighting candles’, kissing images, and praying to saints, kneeling to go to the altar while reciting the rosary a form of worship or veneration? Can all devotion mention be given to God and call it worship then the same devotions will be given to saints and the Virgin Mary be called veneration?
7. When I read the Bible specially the New Testament why cant I read about the popery, priest, monks, nuns, indulgences, purgatory, scapular, relics, rosary, prayers for the dead, good works, infant baptism, confession, confirmation, last rites, holy water, etc?
8. Does having been able to trace the roots of the church to the New Testament church make my religion true even if it doesn’t really resembles it? Are their any more ways to know if my church is true?

9. Are early church fathers (Augustine, Justin Martyr, Jerome, Origen, etc) reliable? The church to confirm the doctrines has used them but some of them contradict each other and contradicts some teachings.

10. Have I kept the 10 Commandments if following them will assure me of heaven? How about the other more than 500 Mosaic laws that I need to fulfill? And how about the Church’s approximately 700 dogma and teachings? Have I followed them flawlessly if I do not want to go to hell?

11. If committing sin to me is a mistake and makes me imperfect how about those things that I should have done but didn’t (sin of omission)?

12. Is Jesus my Savior or is He just my Helper to go to heaven?

13. Why is the doctrine of papal infallibility only came to be a teaching today? Does that mean from the past centuries of not having this doctrine the Catholic Church is in error and not guided by the Holy Spirit or is it just a man made teaching?

14. What does the Bible meant of adding things to the Bible and receiving a curse from it? (Rev. 22:18).

15. If I have to take all of this Catholic teaching by faith yet its contrary to the Bible what does my faith be?

16. Could I pick and choose what I want to believe in the teaching of the Catholic Church? What about those laws of the Church that condemns me if I neglect some of their teachings?

For more information check:

Answers To My Catholic Friends

Understanding Roman Catholicism

What Every Catholic Should Know

1994 Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church

Council of Trent