Is the Church Full of Hypocrites?

For a Christian simply to demonstrate that he is a sinner does not convict him of hypocrisy.

A hypocrite is someone who does things he claims he does not do. Outside observers of the Christian church see people who profess to be Christians and observe that they sin. Since they see sin in the lives of Christians, they rush to the judgment that therefore these people are hypocrites. If a person claims... Continue Reading

‘Gay Girl, Good God’: Review

To my surprise, being a Christian delivered me from the power of sin but in no way did it remove the possibility of temptation.

“In my mind, choosing God was the same as choosing heterosexuality.… I now know what I didn’t know then. God was not calling me to be straight; he was calling me to himself. The choice to lay aside sin and take hold of holiness was not synonymous with heterosexuality.… In my becoming holy as he... Continue Reading

Jordan B. Peterson: A Sign of the End Times?

Jordan Peterson preaches that most unpopular of gospels in this age of victimhood: personal responsibility.

Reading Peterson reminded me of one of the great losses of Protestant theology for which we are now paying a high price: an emphasis on the virtues, or character traits. Protestant ethics have, in practice, made the matter of character—of intrinsic personal virtues—something of secondary importance. This is not a necessary consequence of the foundational... Continue Reading

D. A. Carson on the (Ambiguous) Claim ‘This Is a Gospel Issue’

I wonder if we might be having more clear and productive conversations these days if we had taken to heart Carson’s careful definitional distinctions.

“Because of the complex entanglements of theology, with a little imagination one might argue that almost any topic is a gospel issue. At one level or another, everything in any theology that is worth the name is tied to everything else, so it is possible to tie everything to the gospel. In that sense, well-nigh... Continue Reading

How to Evangelize Your LGBT Neighbors

When Christians live communally, outsiders find intimacy within the family of God.

This is the question that we who wish to evangelize the LGBT community must answer: To what are we calling people? If we know what we are calling people from but do not have anything to call people to, we are only sharing half of the gospel.   Some believe that we live in the... Continue Reading

Retribution and Redemption

The death penalty has its origin in God's dealings with Noah and those who stepped off of the Ark with him immediately after the flood.

Jesus was in the loins of Noah, so to speak. The nations were also in the loins of Noah. Noah stood as a second Adam, the head of a newly created humanity standing in a typical new creation–though far from being the consummated new heavens and new earth. In order to secure the populating of... Continue Reading

Social Justice in the Shadows

Telling the difference between those working for a cause and those making a cause work for them; beware of the false prophets of social justice.

Whether we call it social justice, God’s work, or something else, there are people on the left, right, and everywhere in-between working hard to study and solve the ills that infect our society, elevate humanity, fight injustice, and help those in need. These individuals often receive little or no public recognition. But there are also... Continue Reading

5 Marks of a Stinky Sermon

To help you avoid preparing and preaching stinky sermons, I have provided a short list of common marks of a stinky sermon.

Walk into each sermon with the assumption that God has already written the sermon for you, and you merely need to follow the text. A text-driven sermon will eventually take both the preacher and the congregation to the foot of the cross, or else it is merely empty speech.   No preacher should expect to... Continue Reading

Jonathan Edwards the Pastor

Rather than relying on outward signs of success, Edwards sought to cultivate—through prayer, Bible study, and meditation—dependence on God alone.

Edwards was only twenty-three when he became the assistant pastor of First Church of Northampton, Mass., a Congregational church led by his maternal grandfather, the venerable Solomon Stoddard. Just two years later, Stoddard died, leaving Edwards to shepherd the church alone. He would remain pastor of First Church until July 1, 1750. They were years... Continue Reading

Calvary Chapel In Oregon Transitions To The Reformed Faith

A former Calvary Chapel church has called a Reformed minister and hopes to move toward affiliation with the United Reformed Church of North America.

In 2009, Cornerstone’s elders decided to subscribe to the Three Forms of Unity as their confessional standards. For the next two years, two of the church’s pastors taught through the confessions on Wednesday and Sunday evenings. “Becoming Reformed has touched and reshaped every area of the church’s life: liturgy, pastor-led worship, the administration of the sacraments... Continue Reading

Finding the Antichrist Today

John's four texts set out a markedly different understanding of Antichrist than that given us by contemporary prophecy "experts."

I can still remember the fear instilled in me as a child, when I heard one preacher declare that Antichrist was then living somewhere in the Middle East, probably still a child playing stickball in some crowded dusty street, awaiting the day when he would be possessed by the devil and allowed to wreak havoc... Continue Reading

The Idol of Idolatry

As we focus on identifying and smashing the idols in our lives, we sometimes forget to pause and marvel at God’s sufficiency as He uses these fears and struggles for our sanctification.

The problem with the vigilante Christian life was that I concerned myself more with being an expert idol smasher than with seeing God as sufficient in what He was using to sanctify me. Instead of wrestling with matters like my fears, my doubts about God, my love for nature and art, my career plans or... Continue Reading

What Else Do You Have On In The Week?

Sometimes they’re asking: How can I be involved? Often they’re asking: How can I belong?

If someone’s life is already full of unwitting cultural liturgical practices, then why would our default be to offer a pick-and-mix set of other liturgical practices to slot into the increasingly narrow timeframes? That’s a recipe for frustration and busy-ness for churches.   That is the #1 question newcomers ask when wondering if they should... Continue Reading

False Alarms And The Impending Judgment of God

A message more urgent than a nuclear warhead and more inescapable than being trapped on an island with an inbound missile is the coming judgment of God.

Like the proverbial “boy who cried wolf,” many are so accustomed to false alarms they don’t take heed when a warning is actually true. Our warnings of God’s judgment is often met with indifference and sudden attempts to change the conversation. Likewise, the words of the prophet Ezekiel were not heard as he warned of... Continue Reading

Let’s Just be Honest and Admit We Hate one Another

Pick your debate. Pick your side. It might be something that actually matters or it could even be trifling nonsense.

In our day and age it doesn’t matter much—pick a side, be outraged by something. Can we call this what it is? Hatred. We hate one another. This is the conclusion I came to in reading through Proverbs 10:12. I also found much help by Charles Bridges’ commentary on Proverbs.   Are you a Democrat? A Republican?... Continue Reading

5 Ways to Be a Godly Grandparent

Scripture doesn’t let grandparents, or even seniors without their own children or grandchildren, off the hook for impacting the next generation.

The Christian life is a race, and we’re called to run to the very end (Hebrews 12:1–3), not just to an arbitrary retirement age! God can use you to make an impact on the lives of those around you regardless of your age (young [1 Timothy 4:12] or old!). Of course, we will likely have... Continue Reading

Should Christians Withdraw from the World?

When Christ calls people into His kingdom, He doesn’t pull them out of the world forever. He sends them back out with the gospel.

Just after His resurrection Jesus came to the upper room, where the Apostles were hiding in fear, and told them that they were to wait for the Spirit to be poured out. But at that point, there was to be no more waiting. Once the Spirit came, they were to go out into the world... Continue Reading

ELCA Hits Bottom

There is no going back to Christian orthodoxy once churches have become liberal Protestant; the forces unleashed in those first steps to heterodoxy will be pressed onward toThere is a slippery slope: There is no going back to Christian orthodoxy once churches have become liberal; forces unleashed in those first steps to heterodoxy will be pressed to unforeseen extremities. unforeseen extremities.

After watching these recent proofs that the ELCA is pretty much both “in the world” and “of the world,” however, I want to write this as a warning. First, to those orthodox souls who remain in “evolving” churches. They belong to and support churches that increasingly depart from right teaching. Indeed, those churches suppress it.... Continue Reading

‘Til Kingdom Come

"On the one hand, 'kingdom of God' is the narrower, and 'church' the wider concept...On the other hand, the 'kingdom of God' or 'of heaven' is a broader concept than that of the church."

The complexity of these two concepts necessitates that we give the utmost care to our consideration of both their distinctness and interrelatedness. It is only as we do so that we will profitably enter into conversations about the mission of the church, social justice, mercy ministry, the individual and the corporate, the sacred and the... Continue Reading

The Gospel According to Progressive Christianity: Is it Really Good News?

Why does Charles Wesley find the blood of Jesus to be soul-saving good news, and Michael Gungor find it to be gruesome and horrific?

Gospel is a word that literally means “good news.” It’s used a lot in the Bible, and Christians say it all the time. The Apostle Paul said he wasn’t ashamed of it and anyone who preaches a different one should be cursed. He called it “the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes.” Jesus... Continue Reading

The Nashville Statement Confronts Heresy, and That’s Why we Needed It

Today Christianity is facing a conflict with the zeitgeist over sexual morality, and there are no shortage of attempts to “reconcile” the faith with a revolution in sexual mores that is inherently incompatible with the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

McGrath reveals what is an ironic truth about heresy. It is often propagated by those who appear to have good motives. It is advanced by those who think they are doing the Lord’s work by reconciling the Christian faith with some perceived conflict with the age. The problem with such efforts at reconciliation is that they can... Continue Reading

Rebirth of the Gods: The Normalization of Pagan Spirituality

That phrase "spiritual but not religious" is just one indication that people have accepted the paganism which New Age tried to establish.

Houston assured readers that they were living in mythic times, and that they could communicate with those mythic beings remembered as Isis and Osiris. That vision of the future, based on ancient myths, can be clearly seen in the reconstruction of our culture. Some of the powerful people in this movement talk about a new... Continue Reading

6 Ways Watching Pornography Affects Your Mental Health

We want to consider, does the habit of viewing pornography add to or detract from the quality of someone’s mental health?

This post is not trying to make a moral argument (implying that pornography is wrong because it has a negative impact on mental health). Wrongness is determined by whether an action aligns with God’s character and design. That is a more important, but separate, issue from the question of this article. An action can be immoral and... Continue Reading

Why Pastors Should Engage Francis Turretin

it is Turrretin’s precision that makes him so necessary for pastors today.

Covering the whole range of systematic theology, Turretin offers twenty topics. Each topic is addressed through a series of questions. The questions are answered. Objections are raised. Objections are answered. With the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel, Turretin addresses problems, works through all the angles, and brings the reader to a pinpoint resolution—aided by logic,... Continue Reading

God Is Not Small

As Packer puts it, God is barely a “smudge” on the page of our secularized lives.

Ever since the garden of Eden, Satan has been seeking to convince each of us that we can “be like God” (Gen. 3:5). The clear assumption behind this lie is that you and I can actually be like Him. It is an explicit denial of the “Godness” of God, an obvious rejection of the Creator-creature distinction,... Continue Reading

Pilgrim Theology Versus Ethnic Theology

Those ethnic groups who have suffered, who have been politically, culturally, or economically oppressed, have had an important experience but does that suffering define them?

Over against the panoply of ethnic and sexual theologies that emerged in late modernity (post-1968 in the USA and post-1914 in Europe) this essay argues that we should doubt the major premise upon which any ethnic theology is constructed and that Christians ought to abandon such projects and embrace the traditional trans-ethnic designations: Christian, Patristic,... Continue Reading

We Can’t Take our Platform to the Grave

God wastes nothing. Our suffering always serves his purposes—even in the darkness.

I know we are supposed to be humble in this whole Christian writer world, but I’ll be honest and lay my cards on the table here—before last year, I secretly obsessed over platform. My second book came out three weeks before I was admitted to the hospital and I spent nearly every day of those... Continue Reading

The Slow Killing of Congregational Singing

Evidence suggests that most worship teams are performers, and the needs of the congregation they are meant to be ministering to are forgotten.

A few years ago I wrote an article entitled, ‘The Slow Death of Congregational Singing’ (The Briefing, April 2nd, 2008). I now believe my title was too generous. In fact, what we are witnessing in our churches is ‘The Slow Killing of Congregational Singing’. I’ve just returned from another National Christian conference. Never have so many people complained to... Continue Reading

Is Anyone Born Gay?

I was wholly convinced my sexuality was the core of who I was — not simply what I desired or did.

Should we simply accept sexual orientation as the way things are, as the only terminology to describe enduring and unchosen same-sex attractions? Or should we step back and critically assess this idea in light of God’s truth about who we are? Honestly, we cannot begin to understand human sexuality until we first start with “theological anthropology,”... Continue Reading

Defender of the Faith: Irenaeus

As an inheritor of a great spiritual ancestry, Irenaeus carried on a continuum of Christian discipleship and a legacy of personal investment.

Scholars place Irenaeus’ birth anywhere from 120 to 140 AD. In 177, eleven years after the martyrdom of Polycarp, Irenaeus went to Gaul and became the Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, which is today Lyons, France. One French church historian, Gregory of Tours, in his History of the French Church tells us that Irenaeus’ preaching... Continue Reading