The Seven Letters in Revelation are Sermons on the Rest of the Book

Revelation 2-3 provides us with seven exemplary interpretations and applications of the book as a whole.

It means that Rev. 4-22 is for churches that are resisting persecution but have lost their first love, or who need encouragement in the midst of slander, or who have been infiltrated by false prophets, or tolerate syncretism, or who are really dead inside. It’s for churches that are faithful and long for their reward... Continue Reading

Immigration Idealism: A Case for Christian Realism

Immigration idealism: the vague hope that we can live in a world free of conflict and violence, in which authorities need not bear the sword, and neighbors need not build fences.

In the run-up to World War II, men inside and outside the Church invoked the gospel to justify appeasement and pacifism. After his own flirtation with the idea, Reinhold Niebuhr came to believe that pacifism was “unable to distinguish between the peace of capitulation to tyranny and the peace of the Kingdom of God.” In... Continue Reading

Why Is Social Justice the Biggest Threat to the Church in the Last One Hundred Years?

I’m arguing that social justice is a three-headed dragon—one that’s often difficult to define—yet one that has a powerful push both in terms of numerical and financial support.

When people suggest that social justice is “the greatest threat to the church in the last one hundred years”—many Christians who know their history begin to see images of large crowds at the annual SBC meetings over inerrancy and they think of the church growth movement of pragmatism, and the Emerging Church movement and the racism of... Continue Reading

You Believe the Prosperity Gospel

But the essential theology of the prosperity gospel lies close at heart in each of us.

What the prosperity gospel — sometimes called “name and claim it” or the “health-and-wealth gospel” — relies on is a pragmatic spirituality that correlates circumstantial blessings or curses with human strength, achievement, or even faith. Here are 4 ways ordinary evangelicals like you and me sometimes fall prey to a kind of prosperity gospel in... Continue Reading

Is It Time for a Married Homosexual and a Female Muslim in the White House?

The legal and cultural pathway for a married homosexual and a female Muslim in the White House is clear of all hindrances.

The real issue is the world against Christ.  The Christian Faith defends life and is anti-abortion, defends the traditional nuclear family and is anti-homosexual marriage.  The Christian Faith worships a God who claims to be the only true God, and he is the God who rules over all things, both sacred and secular.  The Christian... Continue Reading

Racism and the Church: Some Reflections…

When the Church diagnoses a sin problem (e.g. racism) in such a way that Christ (as he is offered in the Gospel) is Not the Answer or Remedy for sin, past and present, then she has not fully or Biblically diagnosed the problem.

All too often we focus on eradicating outward behaviors as proof of “solving the problem”, i.e. righting the wrongs. This is understandable given that the symptoms of sin (bigotry, adultery…) are horrible and painful. Yet a diagnosistic goal primarily focused on stopping outward symptoms often leads to an ends justifies the means prescription. Broad brushes in Law... Continue Reading

The Age of Terrorism Meets the Era of the Troll

The New Zealand shooter is an extreme example of an increasingly common disaffected person—mostly young men—whose worldview is shaped largely by an evil online culture.

It is not uncommon for terrorists to release a rambling, barely coherent manifesto. And it is usually wise to ignore them, since they only feed the murderer’s desire for attention. But the document left by the New Zealand shooter (whom I will not name) is worth examining, because it gives us insight into a new... Continue Reading

Matthew 18 is Not Instructive for Book Reviews, But Much of the New Testament Is

The wider context of Matthew 18 is that Jesus is teaching his disciples how to function in a local church.

But Matthew 18 is not the instructive context, nor the motive, for a public response to a publicly proclaimed message. Rather, a book review or similar public response is for the purpose of protecting, warning, and equipping the wider body of Christ. It’s an effort to carry out Paul’s instruction to the Colossians, “See to it... Continue Reading

Why Does Paul Call the Church God’s Field?

Agricultural images in Scripture typically carry connotations of growth—or lack thereof.

The Apostle Paul uses an agricultural metaphor for the church in 1 Corinthians 3, calling it “God’s field” (v. 9). In that same chapter, he also refers to the church as “God’s building” (v. 9) and “God’s temple” (v. 16). All of these images teach us something about the church, and each metaphor brings out a... Continue Reading

On Samuel, Social Justice, And The Prophetic Office Of The Church (1)

It is evident in current discussions in the USA that there is not a shared definition of "social justice" nor is there a shared vision of how to achieve and maintain it.

Arguably, through the 18th and 19th centuries, most Americans did not expect to achieve an earthly utopia through political or concerted social action. The pursuit of “happiness” of the Declaration of Indpendence was assumed to be relative. Even the Deists who founded the American  Republic had some idea of an other-worldly heaven. Most Americans assigned... Continue Reading

The Parable of the Sower and the Power of the Seed

Which kind of soil is your heart made of?

Parables serve as a kind of filter for the world. Jesus’ parable in Mark 4:1-20 shows that in every crowd there are different responses to the Word of God. Some people are really interested in Jesus, some are pretending to be, and some aren’t at all. And the parables sort them out.   My yard... Continue Reading

Two Types of People and Two Eternal Destinies

As you consider these statements, examine your life and see if you are in the faith.

The unbeliever sets his mind on the things of the flesh (the world) while the believer sets his mind on the things of the Spirit (God and the things of God). The unbeliever receives the second death while the believer receives eternal life and eternal peace. That’s the entire point of Romans 8:5-6. In other words,... Continue Reading

How Can We Know God?

Human history is the story of the revelation of God.

There are two ways that God has chosen to reveal himself to us. The first is typically called general revelation, or alternatively natural revelation. This is the basic knowledge of God we see expressed in his created works, which image God to us. We use the word “image” because no created thing is exactly like... Continue Reading

Herman Bavinck’s Doctrine of God is Like no Other

The knowledge of God is inexorably bound up with the doctrine of salvation.

Within the landscape of modern evangelicalism, the doctrine of God, in which we come to know the nature and character of God, has often been considered impractical and irrelevant for life. The trend has been either to neglect the doctrine of God or try to augment it in order to make God more relatable and... Continue Reading

Deconstructing Destruction in the Church: Informal Shepherding

Today the Lord would have us think about church government, the government of the highest and best of monarchs, King Jesus.

Truth be told, many Christians are just as indifferent toward church government as Americans are toward civil government. One reason for this coldness is because man is sinful. The nature of sin is to resist authority and go our own way. Sin pushes us along from the inside to be our own authority, our own... Continue Reading

What Will Heaven Be Like?

God tells us enough about heaven to make us eager for it.

The biblical descriptions of heaven are heavily metaphorical. This does not, however, argue for heaven’s unreality but for its surpassing grandeur. That the biblical writers could illustrate heaven with earthly analogies suggests that the Promised Land is not as unfamiliar as we think. When the Israelites yearned for that “land flowing with milk and honey”... Continue Reading

Expiation and Propitiation

How is it that the Apostle Paul, along with the rest of the New Testament authors, determined to know nothing but “Jesus Christ and him crucified”?

God, to the praise of His unsearchable wisdom, gave ancient Israel sacrifices to serve as theological tools, instructing His people about the remedy for sin and the need for reconciliation with God. After the resurrection of Jesus and the outpouring of His Holy Spirit, the Apostles were enabled to discern in the pages of the... Continue Reading

Restless and Reforming

Many confessional Reformed Protestant communions feel that TULIP’s five points fail to capture the depth and subtlety of what it means to be Reformed.

When Reformed churches created a separate identity from Lutherans and Anglicans, they originally understood that Christianity involved much more than doctrines of original sin, justification by faith, or predestination. And if twenty-first-century Reformed churches in the United States have trouble differentiating themselves from the New Calvinism as they attempt to retrieve the past, that challenge... Continue Reading

Living Out Part 3 – Unbiblical Counsel

The greatest love and compassion that we can have for Christians struggling with same-sex attraction is to give them wise and faithful teaching that is rooted in the hope of the gospel.

In an article written by Ed Shaw (pastor, ministry partner at Living Out, and instructor at Living Out conferences that help churches be more LGBTQ+ inclusive), he describes how he “copes” in his personal battle with same-sex attraction. His aim is to help men who experience this same struggle to respond to the temptation they face when attracted to... Continue Reading

Please Do Not Reimagine Worship

It would do us well to remember that God doesn’t need our imagination to repackage worship.

The Archbishop of Canterbury (William Temple) in the 1440s described the purpose and functionality of worship. He said, “To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love... Continue Reading

Why You Need to Stop Being Too Busy for Jesus

What the troubled Martha needed wasn’t to keep busying herself for Jesus, but to sit and spend time receiving from Jesus.

There’s Martha – the doer – tending to the Lord, wanting to make this a special visit for him. This was, no doubt, a big moment for her; and everything needed to be perfect! And yet, Luke tells us that her service for Jesus was actually a distraction from Jesus. One popular Greek lexicon defines... Continue Reading

The Apostles’ Creed: The Holy Spirit

“The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

Rather than drawing attention to himself, the Sprit has always delighted in shining the spotlight upon the Son, to the glory of the Father. And this is precisely why, as Joel Elowsky has wisely noted, any discussion of the Holy Spirit is fraught with particular difficulty as the church seeks to define and understand Someone... Continue Reading

Thomas Boston, the Marrow and the Gospel

Like Jonathan Edwards, I consider Thomas Boston "a truly great divine."

Like most prolific writers, Thomas Boston was also a prodigious reader. As a man of limited means, his personal library was small–little more than a single shelf of books. Yet he read whatever he could find, and in his Memoirs he lovingly describes new theological books arriving by post.   Thomas Boston is one of... Continue Reading

10 Things You Should Know about Systematic Theology

Holy Scripture is the supreme source and norm for the “systematic” study of theology.

As a discipline devoted to studying and teaching holy Scripture, systematic theology seeks to give heed to the full scope of biblical teaching. Systematic theology does not content itself to focus upon a single biblical author—say, Isaiah or Paul—or a single biblical theme—say, the doctrine of justification. Systematic theology is a discipline that devotes itself... Continue Reading

United Methodists Edge Toward Breakup Over LGBT Policies

Under one scenario, many centrists and liberals would leave en masse to form a new denomination — a potentially complex endeavor.

Traditional Plan supporter Mark Tooley, who heads a conservative Christian think tank, predicts that the UMC will split into three denominations — one for centrists, another oriented toward liberal activists and a third representing the global alliance of U.S. conservatives and their allies overseas. “It’s a question of how long it takes for that to... Continue Reading

9 Things You Should Know About Notre Dame Cathedral

The current fire is part of a long history of damage to the cathedral.

Napoleon Bonaparte signed an agreement in 1801 to restore the cathedral to the Catholic Church. Three years later he decided to hold his coronation ceremony at the cathedral, becoming the first Frenchman to hold the title of emperor in a thousand years. Pope Pius VII handed Napoleon the crown—which the young conqueror of Europe placed on... Continue Reading

Sexual Sin and the Pursuit of Purity

With enough unsupervised liberty, bad boys (and girls) are sure to make sinful fools of themselves.

You’re at Pleasure Island University now, where all your desires, whether R-rated, TV-MA, or worse, can become realities. Pornography is more accessible than cable TV. One-night stands are all too common. Temptation to give in to sexual sin is literally everywhere. And all around you are real-life Lampwicks who have been given “enough rope” to... Continue Reading

Living Out Part 2 – A Closer Examination

Some of the shifts occurring among evangelicals regarding how we help those struggling with same-sex attraction are for the good.

I began to observe things coming from Sam Allberry’s ministry site, Living Out, that troubled me. When I contacted some trusted pastors who openly supported Living Out ministries, they encouraged me that Allberry and his ministry partners were committed to the same biblical principles regarding homosexuality that we were.   A Closer Examination of Living Out In my past experience,... Continue Reading

What is Impassibility?

Defining a forgotten attribute.

We must remember that any examination of God and the teaching about Him recorded in Scripture must be done in the context of devotion. The words of Leviticus 10:3 provide the context for our study: “By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be... Continue Reading

Worshiping the Earth

Humanity has moved away from worshiping the God of the Bible towards goddess worship, the worship of creation or Mother Earth.

Worshipping the creature rather than the creator engenders the wrath of God (Rom. 1:18).  Moreover, it is futile.  All pagan religion, including goddess/Earth worship seeks peace and harmony with nature, thinking that this is the solution to all of humanity’s ills.  But it ignores the fact that the problem really lies in the human heart. ... Continue Reading