R. C. Sproul – What is Love?

How many people do you know that have made it to the hall of fame in music, art, literature, or sports because of their love? We elevate people to the status of heroes because of their gifts, their talents, and their power, but not because of their love. Yet, from God’s perspective, love is the chief of all virtues. But what is love?

Love is said to make the world go round, and romantic love certainly makes the culture go round in terms of advertising and entertainment. We never seem to tire of stories that focus on romance. But we’re not referring to romantic love when we speak of the Christian virtue of love. We’re talking about a much deeper dimension of love, a virtue so paramount that it is to distinguish Christians from all other people. Moreover, love is so important to the Bible’s teachings that John tells us, “God is love” (1 John 4:7–8). Whatever else we say about the Christian virtue of love, we must be clear that the love God commands is a love that imitates His own. The love of God is utterly perfect. And we are called to reflect and mirror that love to perfection, to be perfect as He is perfect (Matt. 5:48). Now, of course, none of us loves perfectly, which is why we must be covered with the perfect righteousness of Christ by faith in Him alone. Nevertheless, it’s important for us to return time and again to Scripture to find out what love is supposed to look like, for we’re so easily satisfied with a sentimental, maudlin, romantic, or superficial understanding of love.

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Jared Wilson – The Danger of Gossip

The Lord loves a straight shooter. How do I know this? Because this is the embodiment of the wisdom imparted in Proverbs, including this helpful little gem: “Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you” (4:24).

Crooked speech is talk that isn’t straight. It is bowed, off-kilter, circuitous, meandering. There are a few examples we could name, including outright lying and even hypocritical living, but one of the most glaring examples of crooked speech that is practically epidemic in the church is the sin of gossip. But what is gossip?

One reason gossip can be so difficult to define is that it so often masquerades as something more mundane, perhaps even beneficent. I’m sure you have witnessed plenty of prayer requests shared on someone’s behalf that seemed to include unnecessary details or salacious information. You’ve probably heard your share of “words of concern” that bordered on insinuation or improper speculation. Maybe you’ve offered such words yourself. I know I have.

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Tricia Wright – Two Trees, One Root: The Link Between Evolutionism and Eastern Spirituality

Looking at today’s once-Christian ‘Western’ society, one sees two non-Christian worldviews growing like long-established trees, stretching their branches into everything from education, to the media, to the church. One tree is materialism, the belief that matter is all there is, firmly based on and intertwined with Darwinian evolution. Its canopy bears the dark fruits which stem from morality without a Creator (and thus Lawgiver).

Alongside it a second tree is thriving: Eastern spirituality. With its alluring blossoms promising enlightenment, health and wisdom, this tree seems to be drawing much of the world to its shade.

These two worldview ‘trees’ may look very different, but are remarkably connected by a common root system.

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Tim Challies – 4 Grave Dangers in Every Sin

I have preached the truth a hundred times to others and a thousand times to myself: You can’t sin without consequence. That’s not the way God has structured his world. It’s not the way God has structured his people. For Christians, the ultimate consequences have been fully paid by Jesus Christ, but this does not mean there is no reason to fear immediate consequences. Here, with an assist from a favorite writer, are four grave dangers in every sin.

The Danger of Becoming Hardened

The first danger is the danger of becoming hardened. The fact is, sin means to harden you against the love and mercy of God. In fact, the ultimate aim of each and every sin, no matter how small it seems, is to fully harden you against God. John Owen warns you must, “Take heed, use all means, consider your temptations, watch diligently; there is a treachery, a deceit in sin, that tends to the hardening of your hearts from the fear of God.” Every sin nudges you toward a complete and utter hardness of heart. The fact is, your sin is always several steps ahead of you. “Is it not enough to make any heart tremble, to think of being brought into that estate wherein he should have slight thoughts of sin? Slight thoughts of grace, of mercy, of the blood of Christ, of the law, heaven, and hell, come all in at the same season. Take heed, this is that [which you sin] is working toward — the hardening of the heart, searing of the conscience, blinding of the mind, stupifying of the affections, and deceiving of the whole soul.”

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Jefferson Vann – Spoiling the Vineyard

In this series of studies on hell so far, we have examined two Old Testament terms that help explain the biblical warnings about hell, and describe its nature.

We looked at the term, חרם, in the recent article “Set apart for destruction,” and found that all items or souls so dedicated were to be completely destroyed as offerings to God.

We also looked at the term אבד (Abad), the word normally translated ‘perish,’ in the article Perish the thought. We saw that it always refers to death or annihilation. It never means merely being marred and separated.

So far, we have uncovered nothing of the concept of a never-ending place of suffering. Instead, we have seen that the biblical audience would have understood these warnings as threats to their lives, so that if the words were used to describe hell, the listeners would expect hell to be a second death, an ultimate death.

Today I would like to centre our focus on the Hebrew word שחת (shachat), which can have the meaning of mar, or spoil. Could this be where people get the idea that hell is simply going to be suffering, and not ultimate death? As usual, I want to look at how the term is actually used in the Bible.

To continue reading Jefferson Vann’s article, click here.

Andreas Köstenberger – Logical Fallacies

Logic (from the Greek word logos, “reason”) is the “science that deals with the principles and criteria of validity of inference and demonstration, the science of the formal principles of reasoning” (Merriam-Webster). While theology, as the study of God, transcends mere logic, it is reasonable to expect that Scripture adheres to common principles of reasoning. Properly used, logic derives true propositions from other true propositions. Even though Scripture may not explicitly state a given truth, we may make true statements that have Scripture’s authority behind them if they are properly derived from what Scripture does say following principles of logical reasoning.

A basic understanding of the rules of logic is crucial to sound hermeneutics. Logical fallacies, both formal and informal, are found in every field of study, and biblical exegesis is no exception. In what follows, I will provide examples of some of the most common logical fallacies encountered in biblical studies. They are: (1) false disjunctions, (2) appeals to selective evidence, (3) unwarranted associative jumps, (4) improperly handled syllogisms, (5) false statements, and (6) non sequiturs.

To continue reading Andreas Köstenberger’s article, click here.

Amy Hall – Who Is the God of Mormonism?

One thing you’ll discover as you’re talking with your Mormon (LDS) friends is that though we use the same terms, we often mean very different things. Mormons have different definitions of Gospel, repentance, salvation, grace, Hell, and nearly every term you’ll be using in your conversation. If you fail to explicitly define your terms, you could easily leave the conversation thinking you’re both in complete agreement. (Ask, “What do you mean by that?” early and often!)

The term “God” is no exception to this. In fact, it’s the most foundational difference between Christian and LDS theology.

An Exalted Man

The key to understanding the god of Mormonism is the idea that he is the same species we are; we’re just in an earlier stage of development. Here’s a quote from Joseph Smith:

God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by His power, was to make himself visible—I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form—like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with Him, as one man talks and communes with another….

I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see…that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ Himself did

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Greg Gilbert – Why Trust the Bible?

Why Trust the Bible?

Don’t believe everything you read. Everybody knows that.

So why trust the Bible? What can be known about its historical reliability?

Even more than other religions, Christianity presents itself as history. At its heart, Christianity claims that something extraordinary happened in the course of time—something concrete, real, and historical.

In the Bible, the New Testament declares that a man named Jesus was born to a virgin, claimed to be God, did miracles like walking on water and raising people from the dead, was crucified on a Roman cross, then rose from the dead and ascended into heaven to reign as King of the universe. Can we conclude confidently these things are true without simply presupposing the Bible is “the Word of God”?

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Amy Mantravadi – John Bunyan on Prayer (Part 2)

“There is no man nor church in the world that can come to God in prayer, but by the assistance of the Holy Spirit.”

“Prayer, without the heart be in it, is like a sound without life; and a heart, without it be lifted up of the Spirit, will never pray to God.”

These two quotes are very typical of Bunyan’s argument in A Discourse Touching Prayer. Working off of Paul’s declaration that “I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also” (1 Corinthians 14:15 KJV), Bunyan emphasized the need for the Spirit in all aspects of a Christian’s prayer life, beginning with our initial union with Christ. “And because this poor creature is thus a member of the Lord Jesus, and under this consideration hath admittance to come to God; therefore, by virtue of this union also, is the Holy Spirit conveyed into him, whereby he is able to pour out himself, to wit, his soul, before God, with his audience.”

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T. Desmond Alexander – What Is God’s Holy Mountain?

God’s Holy Mountain

The concept of God living on a holy mountain is a significant theme in the Old Testament. However, this same theme frames the entire Bible. It begins with the garden of Eden in Genesis and ends with New Jerusalem in Revelation. In Genesis the elevated location of the garden of Eden is indicated by the fact that a single river flows out of Eden, before dividing to become four rivers. Genesis 2:10–14 provides a short and enigmatic description of these rivers.

While there is some uncertainty about the identity of all four rivers, the description implies that the garden of Eden occupies a raised position in the middle of the world. In keeping with this picture, the prophet Ezekiel designates Eden as both “the garden of God” and “the holy mountain of God” (Ezek. 28:13–16).

A New City

Leaping to the New Testament, the concept of a holy mountain city is linked to New Jerusalem. The author of Hebrews passionately exhorts his readers to remain faithful to the new covenant inaugurated by Jesus Christ, rather than returning to the older covenant associated with Mount Sinai. In doing so he makes a brief but noteworthy comment: “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb. 12:22).

To continue reading T. Desmond Alexander’s article, click here.