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Archive for the ‘theology’ Category

wisdom

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:33)

Wisdom can be defined as “knowing the best goal and the most effective way to achieve that goal” (hat tip to J.I. Packer). God is wise – the embodiment of wisdom. In fact, His wisdom is perfect, holy, and righteous. He knows which goals are best as well as the most effective ways to achieve them. We can absolutely count on that.

I’m convinced that we will fully appreciate the wisdom of God only when we are in His presence. Then, and only then, will we understand what God has done and why He has done it. Thankfully, we will see that everything God has done was wise – He knew the best goals for us and He knew the most effective ways to bring them about. We’ll say, with all praise to God, “Lord, You did what was best for me (even though I didn’t like it at the time and wanted You to take it away), and the way You did it was the most effective possible – it couldn’t have happened any other way! You knew exactly what You were doing, Lord!”

May we pray for wisdom from the God who is wisdom!

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sj&g

Many of us in the church have heard, or read,  a lot about “social justice” recently. Words such as “intersectionality,” “identity politics,” “white privilege,” and racism have been thrown around quite liberally.

This Leftist ideology (which some call Cultural Marxism) has made its way into the evangelical church through several popular websites, authors, pastors, and thinkers. In my opinion, it’s deadly and could have a devastating effect. In fact, we’ve already seen a few fractures which may take awhile to heal – if ever.

A document has been written and published to bring clarity to these issues. The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel was written by John MacArthur, Voddie Bauchum, Phil Johnson, and James White among others. It’s well-written, well-thought out and, most importantly, thoroughly biblical.

Part of the introduction says,

“Specifically, we are deeply concerned that values borrowed from secular culture are currently undermining Scripture in the areas of race and ethnicity, manhood and womanhood, and human sexuality. The Bible’s teaching on each of these subjects is being challenged under the broad and somewhat nebulous rubric of concern for “social justice.” If the doctrines of God’s Word are not uncompromisingly reasserted and defended at these points, there is every reason to anticipate that these dangerous ideas and corrupted moral values will spread their influence into other realms of biblical doctrines and principles.”

Please read it. You can also sign it if you’re so inclined (I did). This is an important time for the church in the United States.

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Open-my-eyes

“Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law” (Psalm 119:18).

The psalmist asks God to open His eyes (which only He can) so that he might see the wonderful, or wondrous, things that are contained within His law.

For those with eyes whom God has graciously and sovereignly opened, we see His power, sovereignty, holiness, mercy,  justice, and goodness to name just a few. We hear His promises and see them fulfilled. All of them are wonderful and wondrous.

But it’s possible that the most wonderful thing we behold – not spelled out specifically in chapter and verse, but clearly taught by the whole of Scripture – is the truth of God’s covenant with man.

  1. The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto Him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of Him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary on condescension on God’s part, which He has been pleased to express by way of covenant.
  2. The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam; and to him in his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.
  3. Man, by his fall, having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace; wherein He freely offers sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ; requiring of them faith in Him, that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life His Holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe.

(Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 7, paragraphs 1-3)

One of the most wondrous things in God’s Word is His gracious condescension to save a people for Himself through His Son Jesus Christ, and He does that by means of His covenant. We don’t deserve it. We haven’t, and could never, earn it through our own efforts. We deserve the opposite of what God gives. Praise God for His grace!

May God open our eyes that we might see His covenants – a wondrous thing!

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education

I had the privilege this morning of hearing Pastor Rick Elzinga preach on “What the Bible Says About the Education of Children,” which is a paper written by the Elders of Southwest Hills Baptist Church. Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: Children are a gift from the Lord; they belong neither to the parents, the church, or the state, and as such parents are responsible to bring them up in a way that’s pleasing to God, which obviously includes their education.

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heidelberg

Contemporary Evangelicals need to rediscover the wisdom of the catechisms which were written during the Reformation. The theology found in them is rich, pastoral, and thoroughly biblical. As a church, we’re poorer because of our neglect of them. Here is a little bit of that wisdom:

Question #60

Q – How are you right before God?

A – Only by a true faith in Jesus Christ;

so that, though my conscience accuse me, that I have grossly transgressed all the commandments of God, and kept none of them,

and am still inclined to all evil;

notwithstanding, God, without any merit of mine,

but only of mere grace,

grants and imputes to me, the perfect satisfaction, righteousness and holiness of Christ,

even so, as if I never had had, nor committed any sin: yea, as if I had fully accomplished all that obedience which Christ has accomplished for me;

inasmuch as I embrace such benefit with a believing heart.

“How can I be right before God?” is the most important that anyone will ever ask. Our destinies depend upon it, and the Heidelberg Catechism gives us a brief answer of what is found in God’s Word, the Bible.

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Not much needs to be added to this statement other than “Amen!”

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open-Bible

How do we know what’s right and wrong? How do we know that abortion is wrong? How do we know that all human beings have dignity, value, and worth? How do we know that there are two sexes – male and female – which are assigned to us by God at our conception? How do we know the true spiritual condition of mankind (lost, sinful, and fallen)? How do we know how we can be right with God?

There are a number of answers, and almost all of them are wrong. Human reason and logic can’t give us the answers. Neither can intuition, personal experience, or tradition. As Christians, we rely on revelation. God has revealed Himself to us and He has spoken to us in His Word. The reason we know anything, and can know anything, is because God has revealed it to us.

When we think about any issue or question, whether inside the church or not, our first question needs to be “What does the Scripture say?” In other words, we need to ask what God thinks about it. This ought to be our first instinct, not our last. God’s Word – what He has to say – is authoritative in every area of life. That instinct, however, is in short supply in today’s church. We seem to take our cues from just about any other source than God and His Word.

It ought not be so, as illustrated by the following two passages. The apostle Paul has been arguing in the early chapters of the book of Romans that everyone is sinful and, therefore, deserving of God’s wrath (1:18-3:20). He then proclaims that justification by faith alone is the answer to the question of how sinful man can be right with a holy God (3:21-31). In 4:1, he says, in effect, “What about Abraham? How was he justified?” In order to give his answer, he appeals to Scripture, when he says, “What does the Scripture say?” (4:3). A quotation from Genesis 15:6 follows: “Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Paul cites Scripture to make his case and bring the discussion to an end – the matter is settled.

The second passage is Matthew 19:3-9. Some Pharisees challenged Jesus about whether or not a man could divorce his wife. Instead of quoting an influential rabbi or two, Jesus went straight to the Scripture to give the authoritative answer. He said, “Have you not read?” in verse 4. In other words, “What does the Scripture say?” The Lord Jesus asked this question many times during His ministry. He continually appealed to God’s Word as the final authority in all matters.

The church needs to remember and recover this crucial principle. We know what’s right and wrong, what’s true and false, because we read it in God’s Word – because God says so. There’s nothing wrong with believing and saying that. In fact, if we’re going to be faithful Christians, that’s exactly what we’ll do.

 

 

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