John Piper – God’s Peculiar Glory: How We Know the Bible Is True
Chris VandeLinde – Pressure Points: Past
Mike Leake – The Cure for Brokenness (Part 1)
Practical atheism thrives on deficient views of God, eroding the joy that Christians should experience in their everyday lives, enveloping the disciple in a mist of uncertainty, confusion, and anxiety. The habits of Christianity (its diverse rituals and liturgies) can form disciplines of holiness–but only insofar as they drive from and toward a clear view …View full post
“And there came of the children of Benjamin and Judah to the hold unto David. And David went out to meet them, and answered and said unto them, If you have come peaceably unto me to help me, my heart shall be knit unto you: but if you have come to betray me to my …View full post
“Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the Lord and thy redeemer the Holy one of Israel.” Isaiah 41:14 I SHALL SPEAK this morning to those that are discouraged, depressed in spirit, and sore troubled in the Christian life. There are certain nights of exceeding great darkness, …View full post
The expository preacher aims to preach both single books of Scripture and the canon as a whole. He may turn to Proverbs for the summer because it’s practical, fills a unique slot in the canon, and suits months when people come and go, making self-contained messages beneficial. But Proverbs presents unique challenges for three primary …View full post
The pushback has been swift and strong against Target’s unsafe bathroom policy, along with the Obama administration’s demand that all public schools adopt pro-transgender policies for showers and locker rooms. But for long-term success against these impositions, the response must also be strategic. That means drilling down to the source of transgender ideology. The roots …View full post
When we’re born again from above by the Spirit of God, the Lord makes a “new creation” of us (2 Cor. 5:17). But when He accomplishes that radical, regenerating transformation of us, He does not eliminate our minds, our bodies, our emotions, our will or anything that’s a part of what makes us human. God’s …View full post
Oriented Toward Others Being a disciple of Jesus means orienting our lives toward others, just as Jesus did. It means laboring for the sake of others. This love for others is at the heart of discipling. We set our sights on serving others for Christ’s sake, just as Christ came into the world not to …View full post
Faith is a term used throughout Scripture and one that in my humble opinion is often misunderstood, especially when it comes to understanding the dynamic between how a sound faith will result in godly behavior in the life of the believer. So what exactly does a godly faith look like in action? Do we have …View full post
Most of us would indignantly resent the suggestion that we bear any resemblance to the notorious Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde of Stevenson’s famous novel – the man who, though a respected and competent physician by day, committed fiendish crimes by night. However much we may dislike admitting this fact, however, there is a sense in which …View full post
When God saves people, He doesn’t make them less human, but more fully human. And He intends for us to use all that He created us with—our minds, our bodies, our will, and all that’s part of being human—to live for His glory. Who is to do the obeying? Some teachers, however, deny this when …View full post
Feast of Hag HaMatzah (Unleavened Bread) “So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven …View full post
Practical atheism thrives on deficient views of God, eroding the joy that Christians should experience in their everyday lives, enveloping the disciple in a mist of uncertainty, confusion, and anxiety. The habits of Christianity (its diverse rituals and liturgies) can form disciplines of holiness–but only insofar as they drive from and toward a clear view of who God has revealed himself to be in the Bible. For this reason, the most edifying traditions and authors1 have woven into their theology a robust Trinitarianism, the core revelation of God’s identity to humanity. The doctrine of the Trinity is not the crazy uncle of theology–something Christians only mention when it comes up and only then with hesitation that belies a reticent confusion bordering on embarrassment. Instead the doctrine of the Trinity is crucial not only for an accurate and singular understanding of salvation2 but also for the everyday comfort of Christians beset by the usual but bewildering circumstances that mark their pilgrimage home to their final destination with God.
For the sake of time3 let’s consider the simple Trinitarian statement found in 2 Corinthians 13:14, ”The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
I will assume that if you had to choose a member of the Trinity to be fully God that you would likely choose the Father over the Son and Holy Spirit . Even though we won’t dwell long on the full deity of the Father, there is a wealth of heart-stirring meditation to be done simply around the theme of God Almighty as our perfect, loving Father. Indeed, the doctrine of adoption is both under-taught or mistaught throughout Evangelicalism. But turning from this we are still left in 2 Corinthians 13:14 with the grace of Jesus and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.4 Let’s consider now how the union of the doctrine of the Trinity with these two Persons and activities of grace and fellowship fuel the joy of the Christian.
“And there came of the children of Benjamin and Judah to the hold unto David. And David went out to meet them, and answered and said unto them, If you have come peaceably unto me to help me, my heart shall be knit unto you: but if you have come to betray me to my enemies, seeing there is no wrong in my hands, the God of our father look thereon, and rebuke it. Then the Spirit came upon Amasai, who was chief of the captains, and he said, ‘Yours are we, David, and on your side, you son of Jesse: peace, peace be unto you, and peace be to your helpers; for your God helps you. Then David received them, and made them captains of the band.” 1 Chronicles 12:16-18
AT this time David was in the hold—I suppose in the stronghold of Ziklag, which the king of the Philistines had given to him. It was in that fortress-town that he received a welcome addition to his band. David was an exile and it is not every man who cares to cast in his lot with a banished nobleman. He was outlawed and his sovereign would have slain him with his own hands if he had found opportunity—few care to stake their all with a man in such a condition. The many who were on Saul’s side spoke very bitterly of David and, wishing to curry favor with the king, they slandered him to the blackest degree—few respectable people care to associate themselves with a person who is in ill-repute. Many to whom David had done no ill were eager to betray him and sell him into the hands of his enemy, for men sought their own gain and cared not whom they sold, so long as they clutched the reward—it was no small thing for a band of men to unite with a man upon whose head a price was set.
David had to stand upon his guard, for traitors were all around—the men of Keilah would have delivered him up when he went in all simplicity of heart within their gates. The fortunes of David were at a low ebb and, therefore, when these men came to David, they did a valorous action—an action which he would be sure to remember in the later days of his triumph. I want to run a parallel between the case of David and that of our Lord Jesus Christ. At the present moment our Lord Jesus, the Son of David, is still in the hold. Among the men of this world, He is not yet enthroned—their hearts go after another prince—and as yet the kingdom has not come to the Son of David. I know that He reigns in Heaven and that He is, in very deed, King of kings and Lord of lords—but before the eyes of the mass of men He is still despised and rejected.
We believe…in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father. —The Nicene Creed
You might have heard someone refer to theologians as wasting time and energy in their ivory-tower debates. (In the interest of full disclosure, I for one have never lived or worked in an ivory tower, and I can’t say I ever met a fellow theologian who has.) The ivory tower expression reflects the sentiment of those who easily grow weary of apparently inane theological debate and the seemingly endless wrestling over views on peripheral matters.
Indeed, to the making of theological views on any and all subjects there appears to be no end. Yet the church could not be as grateful to anyone as they can and should be to Athanasius, a theologian who wrangled over not just a word but over a letter for six decades! Athanasius spent his life in one long theological debate over apparent minutiae. And if he hadn’t, we’d all be in trouble.
Athanasius’s tenacity paid off. After his death in 373, the second ecumenical council convened at Constantinople in 381. Constantius II had long passed from the scene, and Theodosius II, who ruled over the Eastern Empire from 379–395, was anxious to rout the Arian controversy, in which Arius held the view that Christ was more than human, but not identical in essence or being to God. At Constantinople II any potential nod to Arianism, or even a wink to it, was put out of the church once and for all. Athanasius’s view of Christ as being of one substance or essence (homoousion) with the Father won the day, while Arius’s view of Christ as similar substance with the Father (homoiousion) was declared to be outside the bounds of orthodoxy and thus condemned.
The God Who Acts
In Acts 2 God starts the Christian church: “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting” (Acts 2:1-2 KJV). God was continuing, acting in them and through them.
It is quite certain that we would not be considering this now were it not for the fact that God has continued to act. Men and women in their blindness and sin have done their very best to ruin the Christian church. If she were our creation, she would have disappeared long ago, like many another institution. People have misunderstood, they have gone wrong, they have preached error, and the church would have died. So why is there still a church?
There is only one answer: God comes in revival. God sends His Spirit again. Look at the Protestant Reformation. God, just as he sent his word to John the Baptist, sent it to Martin Luther; and when God sends his Word even to one man and gives him great power, he can awaken a great church with fifteen centuries of tradition behind it. Only one man—but it was enough. Martin Luther, called of God, given the message and filled with God’s Spirit, overthrew a church that had become quite pagan in its teaching.
The Origin of Life: What Are the Possibilities?
The origin of life has been debated for a long time. Basically, there are four possible explanations for the existence of life on earth:
Life on earth arose spontaneously.
Life on earth has always existed.
Life on earth came about through a supernatural act of creation by an intelligent Being.
Life was seeded from space.
The Application of Science to the Question
Science is supposed to be about things that are observable. That is, science can probe only things that we can detect with our five senses. Science also must be repeatable. This means that when an experiment or observation is repeated, we get the same results. These restrictions on science have led to what we call the scientific method, the general rules that we follow in doing science. The scientific investigation of the origin of life presents us with at least two problems. First, since life began before people were around, we hardly can observe the process. Second, since the origin of life appears to have been a unique event, we hardly can repeat it.
How do these four possibilities stack up? The fourth possibility doesn’t really explain how life came about, but instead passes the question off to some other location. Many would object that the third option is unscientific and hence ought not to be considered. If we restrict the definition of “scientific” to questions that can be answered through the application of the scientific method to natural processes, then option three may be considered unscientific. However, what is the status of the other two options? Option one is the assertion of abiogenesis, the belief that life must have arisen from non-living things through a natural process. However, abiogenesis has never been observed. To the contrary, it has been shown numerous times that biogenesis is true, that only living things give rise to living things. That is, abiogenesis has been scientifically disproved. To persist in belief in abiogenesis, one must believe in something that clearly is unscientific.
What if you have a child who is well-mannered, makes straight A’s at school, and is successfully involved in all sorts of extracurricular activities, but one day, that child comes home and begins cursing like sailor and curses at you in the process? I wonder, how would you respond? Would you think to yourself that since he is successful in many things, generally well-mannered, and a fantastic student, there is nothing to worry about? Would you reason that this is just one problematic thing, and he will probably grow out of it? You almost assuredly would not respond that way. Most would immediately drop everything to respond because of a right desire to put a stop to that kind of seriously disrespectful behavior.
Imagine another scene with the same child who possesses all of the same wonderful characteristics. However, instead of cursing like a sailor, you have trouble getting him out of the bed in the morning. He consistently sleeps in, even into the afternoon if you even fight the battle to make him get up. You have trouble getting him to go to bed as well. Whenever you give him a job, he is easily distracted, has difficulty getting started, and rarely adequately finishes a work task. How would you respond? Would you think to yourself that it’s no big deal? After all, look at how he is excelling in so many things. Would you laugh about it thinking that that’s just the way kids and teens are? Surely, he will grow out of it.
Now, this is certainly no defense of cursing one’s parents, but the Bible spends more time addressing the rebellion of laziness. Cursing your parents is rebellion but so is laziness. The testimony of the Bible from beginning to end says that laziness is wicked. But we don’t often look at it that way. Why is that? Why don’t we think laziness is a big deal? Why has laziness become a respectable sin among Christians?
Admittedly I am a very visual learner. Many times when my wife is attempting to describe her vision for a future home renovation project, it is difficult for me to put her words into a mental picture of what she is trying to get across. I need a blueprint or a picture at least to put some context and connections to the vision being relayed. Once I have that in hand, the grand vision and to a large degree the details begin to come into focus.
Tim Challies, noting that many others fall into the same visual learning category as myself, began to offer on his website a series of infographics. These well down visual depictions of a number of theological truths, were something I continually looked forward to as I found them quite helpful besides being visually appealing. Using that idea, Challies and Josh Byers have provided a book aptly titled Visual Theology: Seeing and Understanding the Truth about God in which they utilize a number of excellent infographics to help the reader make needed connections on matters of theology.
For starters, this is a visually stimulating book. This is not a statement I often make about books dealing with theology. Typically I comment on the plethora of footnotes or the expansive bibliography or the manner in which the author elaborates and exegetes a particular element of theology. Make no mistake that this book deals with theology. The authors examine a number of important theological topics. They just do it in a somewhat unique manner, namely through the use of full page and colorful infographics.
I am sure most remember trying to memorize that dreaded periodic table of the elements. I recall trying to put to at least my short term memory for a test all the facts concerning the elements such as the abbreviation, weight, and other facts. Challies and Byers used that periodic table picture concept to present the books of the Bible. I mention this because it is rather clever and it represents just a small sample of how these infographics are quite helpful in driving home facts and concepts. In the case of the books of the Bible periodic table, they provide an abbreviation for each book, the “long name” if you will, the author, and the date of authorship. What a great way to depict some basic facts that would be very useful in a Sunday School classroom or for my personal purposes, as part of a homeschool curriculum.
There was even one of my least favorite types of infographics, namely a flowchart. I encounter these at work and I usually cringe when trying to follow the process that is being depicted. Challies and Byers use a flowchart to outline how to mortify sin. I humble admit that I was able to completely follow the train of thought and the yes/no decisions throughout the flowchart. Furthermore, besides being visually useful, the information was spot on theologically, an important element after all for a book discussing theology.
This is a book I highly recommend, especially if you are a visual learner or you interact with visual learners. As I noted, this is a tool I will be using as part of my homeschool curriculum this coming year. What is even more useful is the various graphics provided in this book are available for purchase and download here. Pick up a copy of this book. I am confident you will find it very useful in your study and application of God’s Word.
This book is available for purchase from Zondervan Academic by clicking here.
I received this book for free from Zondervan Academic and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
After the abolition of apartheid, under the new ‘broom’ African National Congress Government, in 2006 South Africa became one of the first countries in the world to legalize the ‘mirage’ of same sex marriage. As Creator, God has the right to, and has already defined marriage, and so any claim to a union outside of that definition is just a chimera. An argument often employed to justify homosexual marriage, was that discrimination against them parallels the discrimination against black people under the apartheid policies of previous South African governments, or the segregation policies prevalent in the U.S. until the 1960’s. South Africa’s first black President, Nelson Mandela, claimed to have turned from believing that homosexuality was wrong to supporting gay marriage based on this comparison.
It is a completely fallacious argument. The unjust policies of apartheid were based upon one’s skin colour (or as we have often pointed out it is shade of colour because all humans actually have the one skin colour).1 This is something as spiritually irrelevant in the design of God as the shape of one’s nose or eyes, or size of one’s feet. Resistance against homosexual practices is based on actions, on activity; men having sex with men (born with XY chromosomes) and women with women (XX chromosomes).2 The truth is that we all discriminate against actions all the time even when it is argued that people ‘cannot help themselves’ feeling a certain way (orientation). Most people making this spurious argument would have no problem with discriminating against people stealing their belongings (trying to stop them or putting them in jail), or against those involved in the trade in rhinoceros’ horn. And so it is not a general argument against action discrimination, but the argument against this particular action of same sex, to which the gay lobby object. Of course, some but not all gay lobbyists argue that people are born homosexual. Besides the growing evidence that the idea of genetic causality in human behaviour is culturally rather than scientifically driven, the fact is that none of us are born having sex.3 At some point in our lives we take an action, we choose to have sex with a partner; whether within the biblical confines of marriage between one man and one woman; or the license of pre-marital or adulterous or homosexual or polygamous or the many other perversions of sexual relationships the Bible condemns; which we fallen humans have invented, and to which we are prone, and increasingly excuse or condone in a politically correct charged environment.