Hell to Pay

What Truly Happened to Jesus on the Cross?

If Jesus wasn’t truly forsaken—if he didn’t really endure the equivalent of eternal punishment on the cross—then substitutionary atonement is a legal fiction. If Jesus didn’t really suffer the pains of hell on the cross, then the infinite and eternal wrath of God is not truly propitiated. If Jesus didn’t become the object of the... Continue Reading

5 Reasons Matthew Begins with a Genealogy

In many ways, this is the most fitting and compelling introduction to the New Testament imaginable.

Matthew’s genealogy has a past, a present, and future. In Jesus Christ we’re now brought into this family; Abraham and David become our fathers. It becomes our genealogy, our family tree. Though this world seeks historical rooting and future life in various ways, only one child establishes the new creation.   The Bible contains 66... Continue Reading

Your Marriage Won’t Fulfill You and That’s a Good Thing

No human spouse can hold a candle to the Light of the world.

When we realize that human marriage—at its most faithful, loving, and intense—is designed to point us to Christ’s love for us, our paradigms shift. The different callings of husbands and wives are not grounded in gendered psychology but in Christ-centered theology. The requirement that marriage be male-female is not a random prescription from a bygone... Continue Reading

Humpty Dumpty and Our Sanctification

We should never think that we are still defined by our past or present sin.

Despite being Christians, some see themselves as poor Humpty, laying on the ground with the king’s horses and the king’s men passing by, unable to put Humpty back together. For some, these fractured pieces might be their past—ways in which they sinned or were sinned against. They think that those pieces remain forever broken at... Continue Reading

How Can I Know if I Am Elect?

Salvation is, from beginning to end, all of grace.

God has not placed a special physical birthmark on the elect. The elect do not have the word elect divinely tattooed behind their right ears or anywhere else. The elect are not members of a particular identifiable race or ethnic group. The elect are from every tribe and tongue and nation. But how do I... Continue Reading

Why Are Progressive Christians Attracted to Universalism?

How a Distorted View of God Distorts Our View of Good

Former emergents (namely, Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, and Rob Bell) argue that everyone has a particular standpoint from which they come to interpret and know the world. Moreover, we are shaped, or “situated,” so deeply by our cultural and familial upbringing, life experiences, historical location, and more that we cannot gain a universal,... Continue Reading

Context Matters: Abstain from All Appearance of Evil

“Abstain from all appearance of evil” has very little to do with how other people perceive your behavior in any given situation.

Context matters. If we learn to read the Bible for what it is—and not as a collection of independently assembled proverbial sayings—we’ll discover that some of our most familiar passages don’t actually mean what we’ve always assumed.   Perhaps you’ve heard the injunction to avoid the appearance of evil. You won’t find the phrase in most modern English... Continue Reading

No Time Out … Just Call Out

Here’s what you should not do — keep your distance from God for a period of time to prove your seriousness.

No my sin-sick but Gospel-redeemed freed friends, instead of putting yourself in a ego-stroking, never-satisfying, unnecessary, fruitless, and sinful time-out, believe the Gospel and call out to your faithful, consistent, never-temperamental, always merciful, and only gracious Savior.  God is the Heavenly Father of prodigals, and he looks your way with a convicting Spirit, watching gaze,... Continue Reading

Dad Died with Dirt on His Hands

We are now separated, but only for a time.

I believe that my father has not ceased to be. Rather, his soul has simply left his body for a time. As the Sage once said, “The dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” Though his body is now empty and decaying, his soul is... Continue Reading

John Calvin Wouldn’t Wear a Necktie

There is a certain theology to clothing.

John Calvin offers some pastoral insight…He calls dress an “indifferent matter.” As such, he notes that it’s “difficult to assign a fixed limit, how far we ought to go.” And concludes: “This at least will be settled beyond all controversy, that every thing in dress which is not in accordance with modesty and sobriety must... Continue Reading