What is the Image of God?

Does it refer to human capacity for reason, free will, relationship, creativity, ethical conduct, or something else?

The Bible’s teaching on the Image of God can be summarised as three mutually-complementary ideas: capability, occupation, and destiny. These themes develop as the Bible’s teaching unfolds and God introduces more about himself and his plan for humanity. Since each point shapes the others, it is important to recognise that when the Bible teaches us more... Continue Reading

‘Revoice’: In Their Own Voice

While grateful that Revoice speakers and writers are committed biblical teachings about marriage and to the sinfulness of homosexual acts; nevertheless, there are still other issues problematic in their writings.

I have spent a significant amount of time gathering the dozens of quotes below that, I believe, represent in their own words the most problematic parts of what is being promoted by those involved with Revoice. I have included sparse commentary with some of the quotations and have bolded some text within the quotations in order to... Continue Reading

Gospel Promises and Perseverance (Owen)

Note how Owen distinguishes between law (covenant of works) and gospel (covenant of grace)

Gospel promises, then, are: 1. The free and gracious dispensations, and, 2. discoveries of God’s good-will and love, to, 3. sinners, 4. through Christ, 5. in a covenant of grace; 6. wherein, upon his truth and faithfulness, he engageth himself to be their God, to give his Son unto them and for them, and his... Continue Reading

Toward a Theology of Apology

Apology can mean anything from “let me defend myself,” to “my bad,” to “I’m sorry you feel that way,” to “I repent in deepest contrition.”

Apologies are also complicated by history. What is our responsibility in the present to apologize for things that have happened in the past? Should Christians apologize for the Crusades? For the Salem Witch Trials? For slavery? Some apologies for the past are appropriate and heartfelt, while others feel less sincere and more manufactured.   We... Continue Reading

The Apostle’s Creed: He descended into Hell

Calvin argued that Christ’s descent into hell happened on the cross prior to His death.

Perhaps you will remember that the Apostle’s Creed was used to oppose the docetic teaching of Marcion and others like him. The docetists believed that matter was bad and therefore Jesus only seemed to have a material body. Therefore, as I mentioned in the introduction to this series, in order to oppose this false teaching the... Continue Reading

The Balanced Life, Part 4

we were made for work of many sorts, so a balanced life includes our participation in work of some sort.

Jesus was not paid, and he could say, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:4 NASB). People honor God by doing the work that God has given them to do. Work is a primary way we engage with God and experience his involvement... Continue Reading

Just Stop it, Part 4: How to Repent of Stealing

Putting off the sin involves identifying it in your life, calling it what the Bible calls it, confessing it, and refraining from doing it.

To identify theft in your life, let’s consider a few species of the sin. I’ll start with the ones you are probably not struggling with (just to be encouraging): armed robbery, car-jacking, shop-lifting, syphoning gasoline, luting the cash register, grand-theft auto, and other forms of blatant larceny. So far so good, you say, “I’m not... Continue Reading

Richard Sibbes and the Centrality of the Heart

“Religion,” Sibbes said, “is mainly in the affections.”

Given this understanding of Christianity, it is not surprising that Sibbes published sermons on the Song of Solomon; the book’s erotic poetry expressed well “the mutual joys and mutual praises of Christ and his church.” Sibbes realized that sensual language is a powerful metaphor for the love between God and the soul.   For Richard Sibbes,... Continue Reading

Why You Want a Jealous God

to be jealous is one of God's attributes and is, in fact, an outworking of his being.

All of God’s attributes are equally true, so God is never unjustly or unfairly jealous but always righteously jealous. God is a good and holy God who not only deserves all praise and honor but who also cares that people have what is best for them—and he knows that he is what is the very best for... Continue Reading

The Puritans on the Lord’s Supper (4)

For the Puritans, the sacrament revolved around the Word, especially Christ’s words of institution (Matt. 26:26–28, 1 Cor. 11:23-26).

Perkins wrote, “The right manner of using the Lord’s Supper … is the observing of the institution, without addition, detraction, or change.”[3] For this reason, the Puritans preferred to call the sacrament “the Lord’s Supper” rather than “Holy Communion” or “the Eucharist,” thus rooting it in the words of Scripture (1 Cor. 11:20).   Biblical Simplicity... Continue Reading

The Rise of Victimhood Culture

Increasingly, modern life in the West is being shaped by victimhood culture, and this has important implications for all of us.

“People in a victimhood culture are like the honorable in having a high sensitivity to slight. They’re quite touchy, and always vigilant for offenses. Insults are serious business, and even unintentional slights might provoke a severe conflict. But, as in a dignity culture, people generally eschew violent vengeance in favor of relying on some authority... Continue Reading

Getting the Garden Right: Eve and the Diverse Strands of Female Identity

The story of our first mother, Eve, has much to tell us about the purpose of women on this earth.

Eve’s identity was defined by her relationship to God, her relationship with her husband, her role as mother, her fall into sin, and her ultimate redemption. While the lives of individual women vary, and there are further aspects of female identity revealed in scripture, these are important things to remember when we consider the purpose... Continue Reading

The Busy Critic and the Simple Church

Our busyness can cause us to miss God’s work, which is right in front of our face.

Many churches are pursuing a bit more “simple church.” We aren’t trying to keep the doors open eight days a week and have our schedules filled with church activities. We’ve gotten the memo that activity does not equal godliness.   How busy is the most spiritual person you know? Honestly, when I think of people I... Continue Reading

I’m not Saved by Faith, I’m Saved by This

I’ve started to realize that saying that I’m saved by faith somewhat shortchanges the staggering, glorious reality of what Christ has accomplished on my behalf.

In Ephesians 1:7, Paul puts it this way, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace…” Then in verse 13, he says, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were... Continue Reading

The Pillars That Grace Built

When God speaks, light erupts in dark places and paths appear in ways untrodden.

In the account of Israel’s redemption from Egypt, it is easy to pass from the wilderness to the promised land without pausing too long at Joshua 3 and 4, but to do so would be a disastrous shortcut. God has much to teach us about ourselves here.   Now the Jordan is at flood stage all... Continue Reading

Ready and Not Afraid

More often than not, when I tell people I’m a pastor, they have questions–questions about our church, about what I believe, about the Bible, God, and the afterlife.

By the very nature of what we do, pastors are theologians and apologists. But in truth, every Christian is a theologian and an apologist. The question for all of us is whether we are good theologians and apologists and whether we are serious students of Scripture and the theology and answers that come from Scripture.... Continue Reading

The Westminster Society and the EPC General Assembly

The Westminster Society is a relatively new networking group within the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

The Society aims to provide annual networking lunch opportunities at our General Assemblies for our members and visitors to gather around productive, in-depth theological conversations. More importantly, we hope to deepen friendships and foster professional collegiality among our ministers and ruling elders. Additionally, we seek to advocate for a strong view of the implementation and... Continue Reading

Puritan Theology and the “Two Lights”

The very first statement (1.1) of the Confession sums up Puritan views on natural and special revelation, the two “lights” I will address in this post.

“Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men unexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of his will, which is necessary unto salvation.” As a result of needing something more,... Continue Reading

Inquiring after the Weeds (Owen)

"There are two things that are suited to humble the souls of men, and they are, first, a due consideration of God, and then of themselves."

“It is no small evidence of a gracious soul when it is willing to search itself in this matter, and to be helped therein from a word of truth; when it is willing that the word should dive into the secret parts of the heart, and rip open whatever of evil and corruption lies therein.”... Continue Reading

You Must Disappoint Someone

How to Say No to Good Things

How other people perceive us — or how we think they’ll perceive us — has an extraordinary influence on how we choose to use our time. Coming to terms with ways we seek people’s approval or fear their disapproval will force us to face humbling truths about ourselves and may require repentance and uncomfortable change.... Continue Reading

3 Reasons to Study the Trinity

As we meditate on the reality that our God is triune, we should be moved to worship God for who he is, we should be encouraged by his love, and we should recognize the very practical implications God’s triune nature has for our lives!

As we try to wrap our minds around this revealed truth, we run up against the limits of our finite minds. Try as we might, the being of God is not something we can totally understand because we are made by God, we aren’t God. Every analogy we come up with ultimately falls short of... Continue Reading

Getting the Garden Right: Vice Regency

In this brief post, we want to consider one facet of what it means to be made in the image of God.

Genesis 1 and 2 establishes that God is the high king and sovereign who created all things. When the picture in these chapters is contrasted with Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) creation accounts there is a polemic against idolatry. There is no struggle on God’s part to create; there is no overcoming the forces a chaos, or... Continue Reading

Why People and Place Matter in the Kingdom of God

The mission of the church is to bring people in union with a real King and into a real kingdom.

Christians sometimes disparage the material world. Although alterations to this view are making progress, at times physicality is still belittled. Yet the kingdom is never presented as an immaterial entity in the Scriptures. Recognizing the importance of people and place brings a groundedness to kingdom language.   What Is a Kingdom? Why is it imperative... Continue Reading

It’s Not the Doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone that Saves—It’s Christ Who Saves

It’s not the doctrine that saves; it’s Christ who saves.

Because the doctrine of justification by faith alone precludes the idea that you could be saved by believing other than believing in Christ alone. It’s not the doctrine that saves; it’s Christ who saves. And what the church is trying to explain in terms of the doctrine of justification by faith alone is to explain... Continue Reading

Humility and Worship

The woes remind disciples to remain spiritually minded, focused on matters closest to God’s heart, rather than trivial, external things that can sometimes preoccupy them.

Believers who come humbly are still amazed by God’s grace, and that off-key singer becomes a delight to their ears. No amount of liturgical excellence or failure can add or subtract from the work of the cross. “It is finished,” is still Jesus’s effectual cry. The lengthy anecdote in the sermon without a real point... Continue Reading

John Calvin on the Role of the Pastor

Calvin was convinced that the New Testament gives us clear guidelines for church order.

The pastor is not a lord, and the congregation is not his fiefdom. He rules in his office, not in his person, and a good pastor attaches the sheep to the Great Shepherd, not to himself. Calvin took up his regular place in the rotation not only for preaching but also for teaching the catechism... Continue Reading

The Missing Link – Gay Christians and the Gift of Celibacy

Opposite-sex attraction is natural but same-sex attraction is not. The word “natural” is not a neutral scientific word, but it denotes the manifestation of God’s created order and will.

Something is missing in this discussion.  I’ve been scratching my head to find the missing link.  One gaping hole that comes to my mind is that the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:26-27 calls same-sex attraction unnatural and degrading.  It is not equivalent with opposite-sex attraction.  Opposite-sex attraction is natural but same-sex attraction is not. The... Continue Reading

Review: ‘Single, Gay, Christian’

A review of “Single, Gay, Christian: A Personal Journey of Faith and Sexual Identity” by Gregory Coles.

It also exhibits Greg’s confusion. He claims, several times in the book, that his identity is in Christ, yet he keeps coming back to finding his identity in cultural labels. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the word “gay” appears 160 times in Greg’s book. The word “Christian” appears half that... Continue Reading

Canadian Supreme Court Restricts Secular Court Oversight of Church Discipline

Decision: “Religious groups are free to determine their own membership and rules; courts will not intervene in such matters save where it is necessary to resolve an underlying legal dispute.”

When it comes to churches and religious organizations, however, Justice Rowe made a further, significant conclusion. He acknowledged that, in religious contexts, procedural rules may actually involve the interpretation of religious doctrine, which is something that Canadian courts have never wanted to touch.   Today [May 31, 2018], the Supreme Court of Canada released a very significant... Continue Reading

Persecution in the Early Church: Did You Know?

Beginning as a despised, illicit religious sect, Christianity endured 300 years of hostility to emerge as the dominant force in the Roman Empire.

Late in 302 the emperors visited the shrine of Apollo at Didyma and the oracle complained of the baneful influence of the Christians (“the just on earth”) in its pronouncements. The die was now cast. On February 23, 303, the Feast of Terminalia, repression would start. Churches were destroyed, Christian services banned, and the Scriptures... Continue Reading

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