How Will the People in Heaven View Hell?
My answer has two parts—a direct answer and a crucial context for that answer.
Jesus is worthy of unleashing final judgment not because he’s righteous (though his righteousness made it possible), but because he died for our sins, purchasing people for God with his blood. His loving, self-sacrificial grace on the cross demonstrates the pinnacle of God’s glories, and all of God’s eternal judgment against evil must be seen in... Continue Reading
A failure to listen lies at the root of most of our struggles to grow as Christians.
Jesus tells the disciples, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God” (v. 10). In other words, the message of the gospel that Jesus preached is “the secrets of the kingdom” that must be revealed. It is the light that ignites the lamp of our lives. And that... Continue Reading
The Prodigal’s Return
There is a beauty in true humility, for it does not flow from our natural self. It is the direct result of the working of the Spirit of God.
Those who come to the Father by faith, in repentance, will receive all the kisses of God. He gives us the kiss of a new heart and a new spirit. Our hearts of stone are turned to hearts of flesh by the grace of God. We are kissed with strong assurance. Though the prodigal may have intense fears of... Continue Reading
Living Faith Church is a small congregation pastored by a husband and wife team, Stephen and Angela Dela Cruz. The salacious part of the story is that she was (is?) a porn star and he is a business coach.
There is such a thing as a message of “cheap grace” and the Dela Cruzes would seem to be the poster children for it. Any preacher who only offers “free salvation” but who omits “take up your cross” as a consequence (not a prior condition) of that grace is a preaching a false, antinomian, Gnostic, therapeutic gospel.... Continue Reading
Galileo versus the CDC
The institutional power that oppressed Galileo is as much a threat to assembling a true picture today as it was in the 17th century.
Then as now, cooperation between researchers is the optimal way to leverage all the skills and knowledge available. It is precisely this cybernetic enhancement of our individual powers that can make the sciences today so much more effective than in Galileo’s time. At least, they are when we do not block productive cooperation by censoring... Continue Reading
“This Is Not What I Signed Up For.” Unsettling Exodus of Pastors Leaving the Ministry
Why Are Pastors Leaving Ministry?
A professor from the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, Christopher B. James, gave his thoughts as to why he believes the trend of pastors leaving ministry is occurring. James said, “In addition to being a hard job with mediocre pay, many pastors don’t think it’s worth it to try to maintain dying churches and are curious what... Continue Reading
Putting Yourself in Danger
Thoughts on taking risks, and being reckless.
We also must not be reckless or foolish in putting ourselves in danger. As is so often the case, it is a matter of seeking what it is that God wants us to do, and then doing it. But it must be done in God’s way. When Moses killed the Egyptian who was beating a... Continue Reading
The Illusion of Normal Days
The world-ending return of Jesus will be as the world-ending days of Noah.
To prepare is not to build a boat in the backyard, but to eat and drink, speak and marry all while looking and waiting for Christ’s promised coming. We live mindful of eternal souls. We live expecting rain. We live in reverent fear of God. What does the world see you building? Is there anything... Continue Reading
The Song I Sing in the Darkness
This psalm dries more crying eyes, raises more drooping hands, and strengthens more weakened knees than any man or angel.
David’s great psalm employs the simplest of images—that of a shepherd and his sheep—and assures of the greatest of truths—that God is forever present with his people. “The LORD is my shepherd” he says so simply, “I shall not want.” No work of art is more beautiful, more valuable, more irreplaceable, than the twenty-third... Continue Reading
“Persistent Prayer” – Prayer Is Our Lifeline on the Battlefront
Prayer gives us access to God and to every help that we need to live the Christian life and to minister where God has placed us.
Prayer is not preparation for the real work that leaders do. It is the real work. Prayer gives us access to God and to every help that we need to live the Christian life and to minister where God has placed us. For, as Paul said under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “we do... Continue Reading
Shepherds after God’s Heart
What does Jesus expect from those who enjoy the privilege of shepherding any part of God’s flock?
If you have the privilege of being a shepherd in one of Jesus’ churches, take these words to heart. Feed your sheep with the Word of Truth. Tend to and defend your sheep with the Word of Christ. Shield the flock from the fear of death with God’s promises of life. Travel back in... Continue Reading
You Can’t Fake What You Love
How a Sentence Exposed and Delighted Me
If God has to expose our poverty to pursue our eternal joy, he will. But what he really wants for us is to experience “fullness of joy” in his presence and “pleasures forevermore” at his right hand (Psalm 16:11). And so it is a great mercy, even if at times devastating, that our pleasures never... Continue Reading
God Cares for Every Christian More Than You Know
There should be no ranking of importance or feelings of superiority in the church.
In a world that excludes people because they are not fashionable, or because they are difficult, or because they struggle with mental health or messy relationships, Matthew 18 is refreshing. Jesus cares deeply for his people, whoever they might be. Matthew 18 is a chapter with a theme: Jesus is speaking about what the... Continue Reading
My Body, My Choice
Follow the science...or not.
The First and Second Commandments to love God and love our neighbors serve as our life ethic. Regardless of whether we talk about abortion or pandemics, we seek to love God most and lovingly serve others well. Why? Because we respect God and respect the image of God. You’ve heard it. “My Body, My... Continue Reading
The Order of Salvation—The Application of Redemption (Part 5)
Justification does not give us a new nature. Justification gives us a new legal record.
Justification is not progressive, it is instantaneous. It doesn’t change our nature or our condition. It changes our status or our legal record. It is not something that we produce. It is something outside of us. It is not our own righteousness. It is the righteousness of Jesus Christ. As we’ve been surveying the... Continue Reading
Lockdowns & Online Church: Time to Evaluate?
Taking stock of both the costs and the benefits.
Are we really settled with the idea that the authorities can mandate what we do as a church, who we meet with, what we wear, etc.? Is the plan to do what is commanded, or what is culturally popular, whatever the reason? Or are we making different plans to handle what may still lie ahead... Continue Reading
Ten Words That Changed Everything About My Suffering
God permits what he hates to accomplish what he loves.
God permits awful things, but (to paraphrase Dorothy Sayers) something so grand and glorious is going to happen in the world’s finale that it will more than suffice for every pain we experienced on this planet. God will exponentially make up for every tear (Psalm 56:8), and will abundantly reward us for every hurt (Romans... Continue Reading
Pragmatism Isn’t the Problem
The problem isn’t only external. The problem lurks in our own hearts.
Faithfulness in ministry may mean displeasing a colleague, a mentor, or a training group that embraces more pragmatic methods. If our solitary aim is to please him who enlisted us (2 Tim. 2:4), we will do well. Faithfulness is its own reward. In The Devil’s Dictionary, the satirist Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914) defined dishonesty as “an... Continue Reading
The History of American Evangelicals’ Opposition to Abortion Is Long
Pro-choice advocates push a new talking point that it isn’t. Let’s look at the record.
[The] account of Evangelicals being late to the pro-life cause isn’t meant to convince the serious pro-lifer but to poison the well against pro-life advocacy. If the public can be convinced that pro-lifers are disingenuous, and hiding racist motivations, then it can more easily disregard discomfort about the ethics of abortion. As the pro-life movement... Continue Reading
Stop Assuming Jesus Is in Your Corner
People from a wide variety of beliefs hold that Jesus was, at the very least, moving the same direction they are.
No one, most especially his disciples, spent any time around Jesus without being made to feel uncomfortable. That’s a good test of whether we have encountered the Jesus of the Bible: Am I challenged and convicted, as well as loved and saved? If ‘90s trends are truly back, it’s about time we dusted off... Continue Reading
Strange Lyre: The Idols of Intensity and Extemporaneity
Ironically, when we pursue intensity in worship, we have shifted the focus from God Himself to a supposed experience of God.
Errors are only compelling to the degree that they contain some vital truth, now heavily distorted. The truth is that both extemporaneity and some form of intense spiritual experience are part of true, living Christianity. The problem is when the experience of intensity is sought for its own sake, and when the method of extemporaneity... Continue Reading
The Effectual Truth of Identity Politics
The idea of “equal concern and respect," rather than particular grievances of any group, provides the moral foundation of identity politics today.
This “difference principle” explains the otherwise puzzling current alliance of the high and low against the middle. I refer to the political coalition that now governs America. It consists of the union of those groups designated least advantaged (single mothers, other single women, minorities, and LGBTQ) with the wealthiest and most highly educated classes. ... Continue Reading
J. I. Packer on “Impressions”
God ordinarily guides his children in their decision-making through Bible-based wisdom.
Those who are being “led by the Spirit” into humble holiness will also be “led by the Spirit” in evaluating their impressions, and so they will increasingly be able to distinguish the Spirit’s nudges from impure and improper desire. J.I. Packer’s essay, “Guidance: How God Loves Us,” in God’s Plans for Us (Wheaton: Crossway, 2001),... Continue Reading
What Can God Do With Broken Hearts?
His specialty is bringing much from little, beauty from ashes, strength from weakness.
God delights to use what has been broken. He delights to display his power through what is weak, to display his strength through what is small, to display his glory through what has been shattered. God has a special place in his heart for the weak, the weary, the downtrodden, the broken. “Come to... Continue Reading
My University Sacrificed Ideas for Ideology. So Today I Quit.
The more I spoke out against the illiberalism that has swallowed Portland State University, the more retaliation I faced.
I wish I could say that what I am describing hasn’t taken a personal toll. But it has taken exactly the toll it was intended to: an increasingly intolerable working life and without the protection of tenure. This isn’t about me. This is about the kind of institutions we want and the values we choose.... Continue Reading
Remedial Education for All
Public education, today, is far more concerned with raising the grades and test scores of its lowest achieving students than with pushing all students towards a higher standard.
When we prioritize the least successful students over their more well-prepared peers, we invariably lower standards for all students. Educators focus on gaming the system to produce “high” grades and graduation rates and in the process, everyone loses sight of why learning matters in the first place. Schools only work when teachers believe in the... Continue Reading
What Is the Kingdom of God?
The kingdom of God will be ruled by God’s appointed Messiah, who will be not just the Redeemer of His people, but their King.
John Calvin said it is the task of the church to make the invisible kingdom visible. We do that by living in such a way that we bear witness to the reality of the kingship of Christ in our jobs, our families, our schools, and even our checkbooks, because God in Christ is King over... Continue Reading
Natural Law and the Colonial Roots of American Constitutionalism
At its core, this tradition revolved around the proposition that there is a standard of natural justice that exists independently of human contrivance, and that acts as a measure for the legitimacy of civil laws and political institutions.
Natural law thinking profoundly shaped the way American and British leaders approached issues involving rights, sovereignty, and constitutional government. However, the imperial authorities and their colonial opponents often appealed to different, and even conflicting, strains of the natural law tradition. This essay explores the role of natural law philosophy in the imperial crisis between... Continue Reading
Our Suffering Profits Us and Benefits Others
God is the potter, and we are the clay. He will use the pain of suffering to mold us.
There is no power in our strength, but there is much power in our weakness—God’s power—made infinitely more visible and glorious against the backdrop of our frail humanity. I am convinced that the more trials we endure, the more opportunities God will give us to comfort those who will have to walk where we have... Continue Reading
Asbury Sermon on ‘Therapeutic Self’ Prompts LGBTQ Twitter Rage
Asbury Theological Seminary President Dr. Timothy Tennent is facing a social media backlash for preaching a an orthodox sermon at Asbury’s convocation for the 2021-22
The result of these shifts has been the elevation of sexual satisfaction to the apex of our culture and making sexual identity our deepest source of self-knowledge. He concluded with an account of how Christianity enables a proper sense of identity; one rooted in the transcendent law of God instead of authentic individual expression. ... Continue Reading