Imagine, if you will, a king who must take temporary leave of his kingdom for reasons which are unimportant to this story. His children are all too young to take the throne while he is gone, so he appoints a steward. Now, he has a reasonable amount of trust in this steward, but not total trust. For this reason, he grants the steward authority to enforce the laws of the land, but no authority to create new laws or to repeal (or ignore) existing laws. • • • Read More • • •
If you are of the opinion that things are going to only move from bad to worst until the rapture comes, your eyebrows may have been raised by the recent revivification of the pro-life initiative. Now, I can be just as pessimistic about it as you: it’s a shame that it has taken so long. Why did it take these videos before people started speaking out against abortion? Why did so many babies have to die before we started to gain any ground on this at all?
All of these points are valid and important, but it is equally as important to notice that something is actually happening. Planned Parenthood is losing funding, politicians are taking tangible action, and sin is being called out as sin. This business of Christians gaining ground on cultural issues wasn’t in any of the Left Behind books. Your defeatist view of the end times is being challenged by reality.
What I would love to do is encourage you to rethink your theology, study the Scriptures, and develop some Biblical optimism. But rethinking my own end times theology took a couple of years and I want you to act more quickly than that. There is a cultural war going on right now and I don’t care if you think you are predestined from eternity past to be on the losing side; I just want you to fight for King Jesus’ sake. • • • Read More • • •
An argument that I often hear for why Christians should support same-sex mirage is that Jesus never spoke explicitly against homosexual acts or “marriage.” The argument essentially says that if homosexuality was such a big deal to God, shouldn’t He have addressed it when He came down to earth? Aren’t we supposed to look to Jesus to understand holiness? If the issue is important, why don’t we have record of Jesus speaking specifically to it?
The strength of this argument is so overwhelming that it has caused me to reconsider a great many things that Jesus never said anything about. Admittedly, this is an argument from silence, but has anyone ever definitively proven that arguments from silence don’t work? • • • Read More • • •
When I discuss the state of our country and our disregard for God’s Law with other believers, I often hear the phrase “America is not Israel!” The argument is essentially that God’s Law was given to Israel, not America. Since we’re not Israel, we are not held accountable to God’s Law as a standard for righteousness. Furthermore, we should not expect blessing or cursing for obedience or disobedience to God’s Law.
The first objection is one I will address briefly, since it’s not the topic of this post. God did indeed give one nation a Law. He called this Law perfect and righteous altogether (Psalm 19:7–9). He also said that under this Law, every transgression receives a just penalty (Hebrews 2:2). God did not give Israel the Law arbitrarily. He gave it to them because it was just (among other reasons). If you are going to say —for example—that capital punishment is inherently unjust for America, you need a place to stand. • • • Read More • • •
As I mentioned in my last post, Israel had rebelled against God by establishing centers and forms of worship that God had not prescribed. The Israelites were busy worshiping God with golden calves in Dan and Bethel, but that is not the place wherein they should have expected to hear God. He was to be found precisely where He said He would be found, in Jerusalem (Amos 1:2).
In chapter one verse two, Amos starts out by opposing false worship. Many people opposed Amos, especially as he preached in and around the false centers of worship. By condemning false worship at the outset, Amos is saying that those who do not worship God the way that He has prescribed cannot be speaking for God because they cannot possibly have heard from Him. You cannot hear the Lord at Dan or Bethel because He is not speaking there. He speaks from where He promised to be. • • • Read More • • •
Back when I was young(er) and foolish(er), I agreed to teach through the book of Amos in five weeks. This was extremely difficult for me, since it was my first time teaching prophecy and I needed to blitz through it at about two chapters per week. A year ago, when I was a little older and just as foolish, I taught an overview of the whole book in a forty-five minute lecture. This was just as difficult, if not more so.
Interestingly, each time I’ve taught on Amos, I was not the one who chose the book. God providentially, through the decisions of those around me, put me in the position of studying and teaching it. In this case, like all other cases, God’s providence was kind to me. What I learned in Amos seemed only somewhat relevant to our current culture when I first taught it (five years ago), but it seemed a lot more relevant this last year. Over the past couple of months, the things I learned in Amos keep jumping out at me as messages that both the church and our nation need to heed.
Since Amos has been helpful to me, and since few people take the time to read and study it, I’ve decided to take some time and blog through it. Some posts will cover more ground than others and I’m not sure how long it will take me to get through the whole book, but hopefully some of the content will prove as helpful to you as it has been to me. • • • Read More • • •
This post has to accomplish quite a lot by way of background before I can get to the subject at hand, so please bear with me as I set the stage. The first and heaviest prop needed for this particular display is a less “American” and more Biblical understanding of morality and rights.
As I’m sure you’re aware, much of American morality comes down to a little something we call rights. The idea is that all people have them and that you shouldn’t make like a bull and trample them underfoot. In this sense, morality is essentially other-focused. Do whatever you’d like, but don’t squish anyone’s rights. This is the foundation upon which our culture builds most of its morality. • • • Read More • • •
This post is a continuation of my last post on apologetics, which should probably be read before this one. It has been a while since I wrote that post, which is both because I’ve been busy and because I wasn’t sure how to start this one. Finally, though, I decided I should start it by offending some atheists and making more than a few evangelicals uncomfortable. It can only get better from there, right? • • • Read More • • •
In the last post, I said that there are the two missions for God’s church: (1) to guard and keep the garden where God meets with His people, and (2) filling and subduing the earth to make the whole thing a garden.
This will come as good news to those with a right worldview. Everyone assumes certain things when they look at the world and from those assumptions, they draw conclusions about what’s wrong with the world, what’s right with the world, and how it can be made better. The talk before mine at Veritas was in part about how the only result of godlessness is sin, pain, and suffering. That is, if we ignore God: His law and His gospel, we will inevitably just make things worse. A Christian worldview essentially says, “God made this world; He probably knows how it works.” • • • Read More • • •
God’s providence is all-encompassing; He works all things according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11). Today’s article deals specifically with how God works His will with regard to His Church:
God disposes all things to the good of the Church. This plays out individually as well as corporately. He is progressively sanctifying not just individual Christians, but also the church as a living entity in its own right: the Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:26). • • • Read More • • •
Back in Genesis 1, the church was simply made up of Adam and his wife—although, in a sense, this is a different kind of church. It’s a group of people of God, but there’s only two people on the planet and so a sign that distinguishes them from the other peoples isn’t really necessary. Adam and Eve weren’t set apart from other peoples, admittedly, but you knew they were God’s people because they were made—unlike the animals and the rest of creation—in His image. • • • Read More • • •
We know that God uses evil for good in the case of the elect, but how does God act toward the reprobate?
In essence, God gives sinners over to their sin and hardens their hearts. This is taught in Romans 1, where we are given a picture of men being given over to more and more sin. This is not the final manifestation of God’s wrath, but it is a form of it (Romans 1:18). • • • Read More • • •
I recently gave a talk at my church’s college and career group. Typically when I give talks that are not a simple exegesis of a particular text, I write out a manuscript. Since I wrote almost 4,500 words, I thought it made sense to rework the content a little and split it up into blog posts. What follows is the first of those posts.
It has been said that whoever defines the terms wins the argument. I generally agree with this, especially if by “defines” you mean “wins” and by “terms” you mean “argument.” Because it’s cliché, I don’t want to say that the church is not the building, but the people. But because it’s true, I rather have to. • • • Read More • • •
Last week’s article explained how God can use evil while not being the author of it. This week’s article explains how this doctrine often works in the case of believers.
Christians who fall into seasons of defeat with a particular sin will often feel that God has abandoned them. They pray for deliverance from their cruel taskmaster, but no relief is given and they consequently feel as if God is standing off in the distance, unwilling or unable to help. • • • Read More • • •
Since the fall, God has not required of man for justification anything other than faith. At no time was salvation ever by works, not even under the Old Covenant. I’m not sure what the rule currently is on how many times you can repeat a phrase in a modern worship song, but I’d like to think that this if this series were a song, I’d have broken that rule twice over by now. Justification is by faith alone.
In fact, I’ve emphasized justification by faith alone so often that I considered not even writing this post. Yet although Paul knew that justification by faith had been written in all capital letters all throughout Scripture, he still decided to write about it even more. To write about justification by faith in greater detail is no grievance for me and it may prove helpful to the reader. • • • Read More • • •