Why Children Also Suffer

Biblegateway’s  Tough Questions with RC Sproul Newsletter sent this question to my mail today: “Why would a loving and holy God allow a child to suffer through a serious illness such as cancer?”

Sproul answers:

We usually associate the love of God with the benefits we receive from him and the blessings that come from his kind and merciful hand. Because his love usually manifests itself in good things that happen to us, we sometimes fall back in shock and consternation when we see a child struck by disease or some other trauma.

Continue reading Why Children Also Suffer

Reading the Old Testament

An interview with Old Testament scholar Alec Motyer:

What are Christians missing by not reading the Old Testament?

Motyer – The death of the Lord Jesus as understood in Old Testament categories. We don’t understand the cross unless we understand the Old Testament category of sacrifice and the shedding of blood. Likewise, the New Testament doesn’t have as strong a stated doctrine of creation. It leans on the Old Testament to reveal the nature of man and the nature of God as creator.

Read the rest of the interview here.

Intellectual Pursuits

John Piper on pursuing intellectual understanding of God:

We all have different gifts, and not everyone is called to this kind of intellectual climb. I don’t mean that the non-climbers will see less glory or worship with less passion. There are glories in the valleys. And there are paths into beauties of God that are less intellectual. I would not dare to claim that those who do this sort of climbing always see or savor more glory than those with wider eyes for the glory that is right there in the meadow.

Nevertheless, some of us are wired to make this climb. There is not much choice in it. We should no more boast about doing it than one should boast about being a morning person.

Too Much Systematic Theology

I just had a random conversation with one of our pastors this morning when he jokingly commented that I spent too much time on systematic theology. He reasoned that the original apostles were unschooled and they didn’t have complicated theology in their ministries. Our conversation was more of a light banter but the idea got me really thinking afterwards.

If God used unschooled apostles to turn this world upside down with a simple gospel message, can’t we just imitate them and keep things as simple as they are? Why learn too much technical stuff when many people think it’s not that necessary? Continue reading Too Much Systematic Theology

All Grace

It is grace at the beginning, and grace at the end. So that when you and I come to lie upon our death beds, the one thing that should comfort and help and strengthen us there is the thing that helped us in the beginning. Not what we have been, not what we have done, but the Grace of God in Jesus Christ our Lord. The Christian life starts with grace, it must continue with grace, it ends with grace. Grace wondrous grace. By the grace of God I am what I am. Yet not I, but the Grace of God which was with me. …The ultimate test of our spirituality is the measure of our amazement at the grace of God.

–D. Martyn Lloyrd Jones

Dumbed Down Gospel

Many Christians try very hard to be relevant to the culture around them that they avoid using Bible words for fear of being considered out of step with the latest trends. Their vocabulary is very limited to phrases like “blessings of God, unconditional love, inner peace, enjoying God’s best, happiness, getting over with something, and moving on.” They systematically reject heavy (read: religious) words like providence, atonement, substitutionary death, repentance, forgiveness, and justification. The mere mention of the word theology makes their ears bleed.

As far as I know, their reasons are simple: keep the gospel easy to understand for new believers; don’t burden them with theology; talk to them at their level and keep to the cool stuff so you won’t scare them away with too much religion. Continue reading Dumbed Down Gospel

Biblical Theology and Preaching

Jim Hamilton on Biblical Theology and Preaching:

Let me be frank: I have no patience for suggestions that preachers need to dumb it down. Preachers need to be clear, and they need to be able to explain things in understandable ways. But human beings do not need the Bible to be dumbed down. If you think that, what you really think is that God the Holy Spirit did not know what He was doing when He inspired the Bible to be the way it is. Not only does the suggestion that the Bible is more than God’s people can handle blaspheme God’s wisdom; it also blasphemes His image bearers. People are made in the image of God. Human beings are endowed with brains and sensibilities of astonishing capacity…

Do not discount the capacities of God’s people. They may be stupid and uninformed when their hearts are awakened, but do not punish them by leaving them there. Show them literary artistry. Show them the subtle power of carefully constructed narratives. Show them the force of truth in arguments that unfold with inexorable logic. Continue reading Biblical Theology and Preaching

The Dagger of the Cross

Everything that is in us naturally stands in direct opposition to the cross of Christ. Even after we believe, there is a remnant of sin that remains inside us that will never really be defeated until we die or until the Lord comes back to take us. This indwelling sin may have been weakened inside but it’s still there lying dormant. And just when we feel confident that we are free from it, it suddenly comes back to life and sabotages our relationship with God.

The Apostle Paul recognized this when he wrote in Romans 7:21: “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.” Whenever we want to do the right thing, our indwelling sin fights us left and right. It opposes us at every turn and drags us down so our spirit could not commune with God. There is not a single fiber of our being that is not infected with indwelling sin. Everything about us is contaminated.

Continue reading The Dagger of the Cross

The Message of the Cross

crossThe cross declares that we are loved with an intensity that defies our capacity to comprehend, not because we are intrinsically lovable but because God is intrinsically love. These are the twin messages of the cross– brutal honesty about our guilt and impotence and the glorious assurance of our welcome by the Father in His beloved Son.

—Dennis E. Johnson

Can We Be Saved if Mary Wasn’t a Virgin?

I threw this question during the opening of our Foundation for Victory Friday class two weeks ago and since then, I have been hearing divergent opinions about this question. Why is this question important? Because the entire Christian religion rests on the veracity of only two things: the virgin birth and the death and resurrection of Christ. No other events in the Bible could come close to the importance of this two.

If Mary wasn’t a virgin, that would mean that Jesus most likely had an earthly father. If Jesus had an earthly father, He couldn’t be God and therefore He couldn’t be a Savior. He would just be a mere human being, and just like the rest of us, He would need saving. In effect, all the things we ever believed about Him will crumble to the ground. Continue reading Can We Be Saved if Mary Wasn’t a Virgin?

The Virgin Birth

Donald Mcleod on the virgin birth:

The virgin birth is posted on guard at the door of the mystery of Christmas; and none of us must think of hurrying past it. It stands on the threshold of the New Testament, blatantly supernatural, defying our rationalism, informing us that all that follows belongs to the same order as itself and that if we find it offensive there is no point in proceeding further.

But what is the significance of the virgin birth? David Mathis offers four reasons:

One, it highlights the supernatural life of Jesus on earth. He was born supernaturally, he also came back from the dead supernaturally. Continue reading The Virgin Birth

Didn’t Jesus Really Know?

“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father (Matthew 24:36).”

Here’s a very controversial verse about the extent of Christ’s knowledge regarding the end of the world. Didn’t Jesus really know? How come?

The question is deeper than that, actually. If Christ didn’t know, doesn’t that mean that He is less than God? How can He be God and not know? Isn’t God supposed to be all-knowing?

You see, this verse, along with Mark 13:32, has been used by many people in the past to prove that Jesus isn’t God. Continue reading Didn’t Jesus Really Know?