Why "Preach the Gospel to Yourself" Is Not Enough

A battle has been raging for some years now regarding how believers progress in sanctification. It has probably been raging in one form or another for centuries. For those who have not been following it, a few words on why the question is important.

First, by definition, genuine believers want their character and conduct to please the One they call Lord. Second, they also discover quickly by experience (if not by reading the NT) that they do not immediately please Him completely and consistently. Third, they want to know what they should do to improve. In short, “What must I do to be sanctified?” is a question every true disciple is interested in answering correctly.

One school of thought that has made major inroads in the last few years generally reacts negatively to calls to Christian duty and obedience—especially when those calls focus on our nonconformity to the world we live in. Warnings against “legalism” and appeals to “get the gospel right” or to be truly “gospel centered” are typical. To the extent that this perspective offers a clear view of sanctification at all, it often boils down to “just preach the gospel to yourself; that’s all you need to do; God will do the rest.” Read more about Why "Preach the Gospel to Yourself" Is Not Enough

How should a Christian respond to Banned Books Week?

Every year, book lovers and avid readers build up a head of steam about Banned Books Week. The purpose of Banned Books Week is to celebrate the freedom to read, and to highlight the importance of free and open access to information.

Parents who want to protect their children from harmful influences may sometimes challenge books with objectionable content, which causes a conflict between a freedom loving society and Christian values. How should a Christian respond?

Banned or Challenged?

The term “banned” is a little misleading. The American Library Association’s Banned Books List includes any book that is “challenged,” for whatever reason. Read more about How should a Christian respond to Banned Books Week?

Ordering Finances Wisely, Part 5: The Personal Income and Expense Statement

Read the series so far.

In various phases of life I have spent money without giving much thought or planning to it. The first was when I was in seminary and I had to have the latest book. A professor would mention a book and I would have to have it. Another was when I bought my first CD player. The first CD I bought was an Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass album. I soon thought I had to have a library of CDs. The third time was when I bought our first DVD player. First, it was “Lawrence of Arabia,” then many more followed. Another phase—and this probably sounds like “true confessions”—is when I had to have the latest modem (2400 baud) or software (Word Perfect) or hard drive.

A single CD, or book, or DVD, or device is not much of a problem, but unchecked anything becomes a spending issue. My wife, who handled our finances during these phases, put up with a lot! Many counselors can testify that finances are a major cause of marital strife. A secular study from 2009 attempted to quantify the effect finances had upon marriages:

Of all these common things couples fight about, money disputes were the best harbingers of divorce. For wives, disagreements over finances and sex were good predictors of divorce, but finance disputes were much stronger predictors. For husbands, financial disagreements were the only type of common disagreement that predicted whether they would get a divorce. (New York Times)

Read more about Ordering Finances Wisely, Part 5: The Personal Income and Expense Statement

Contextualization in Missions Today

From Faith Pulpit, Summer 2016. Used by permission.

The very mention of the word “contextualization” in evangelical circles has engendered a variety of reactions. For some, contextualization is absolutely indispensable in cross-cultural ministry. For others, it is a word fraught with compromise that diminishes the purity and clarity of the gospel message. What accounts for these two opposite reactions? In this edition of the Faith Pulpit, Professor Mark Lounsbrough, chair of the Missions and Evangelism Department at Faith Baptist Bible College, examines the issue and gives clarity in this important debate.

By definition contextualization is putting a word, a thought, or a concept in its proper context. That concept seems innocent enough, so why do some object to its use? Part of the reason for the objection is that the word was popularized in an ecumenical context and so broadly applied that essential elements of the gospel were altered or omitted for the sake of making the message of Jesus more palatable to unwelcoming people groups. Read more about Contextualization in Missions Today

The Son of God & the Trinity

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How can we be sure that, when John Mark gave Jesus the title “Son of God” (υἱοῦ θεοῦ), he meant that Jesus shared God’s intrinsic nature, makeup, and fundamental characteristics? What Scripture passages could we turn to which explain a bit more about “the Son,” so we can be certain we haven’t wandered off the theological reservation?

There are many passages we could turn to, of course; but one in particular stands out.1 We’ll briefly examine this passage and consider what it tells us about the doctrine of the Trinity. Read more about The Son of God & the Trinity

Dr. James Boyer: Greek Scholar with a Pastor’s Heart

By Gary M. Kochheiser, DMin

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth (NASB, 2 Tim. 2:15).

Another of the men that are being presented as part of the Revived Classics Series is Dr. James L. Boyer, a Greek scholar with a pastor’s heart.

I signed up to take Greek Elements from Dr. Boyer my first semester as a freshman at Grace College. I went to the bookstore to buy my books, one of which was a Greek Bible. I laid that Greek Bible on my desk back in my dorm and set a goal that I was going to be able to read it by the end of the year. With Dr. Boyer’s teaching and encouragement, my goal was accomplished.

James Boyer was born on July 3, 1911, in Ashland County, Ohio, on a farm south of Ashland. At the age of 10 he accepted Christ as his Savior during a revival service at the United Brethren Church in Ashland. He grew up on the family farm and attended Ashland High School, graduating in 1928. He entered Ashland College in the fall with Herman Hoyt. During their sophomore year both signed up for Beginning Greek, which turned out to be a Classical Greek class—not Biblical Greek. Boyer and Hoyt both majored in Greek and graduated together with bachelor of arts degrees in 1932. Read more about Dr. James Boyer: Greek Scholar with a Pastor’s Heart

Making a Covenant with Abraham (Part 1)

Detail from Abraham's Journey from Ur to Canaan, József Molnár

(This is another excerpt from the book I am trying to write.)

The Abrahamic covenant is pivotal to the history biblical which unfolds thereafter, and Genesis 15 is perhaps the key passage to understand with respect to it.1 The initiative is God’s, and it is here that God binds Himself by oath to perform the details of the promises He makes to Abraham. It will be useful to reproduce the first part of the chapter.

After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward. But Abram said, “Lord GOD, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!” And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. Then He said to him, “I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.” (Genesis 15:1-7)

Read more about Making a Covenant with Abraham (Part 1)

Ordering Finances Wisely, Part 4: Good Debt, Bad Debt

Read the series so far.

Some Christians are completely opposed to borrowing.1 Verses such as Romans 13:8, “Owe no one anything except to love one another” and Proverbs 22:7, “the borrower is servant to the lender” are used to support this position.

My own view is that borrowing is permitted in the Scriptures, since the Scriptures provide regulations with regard to lending (cf. Ex. 22:25; Lev. 25:35–37; Deut. 15:7–9; Neh. 5:7; Ps. 15:5; 37:21, 26; Ezek. 22:12; Matt. 5:42, “from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away”; Luke 6:34). The broader context of Romans 13 speaks of paying “all their due” (Romans 13:7), so the teaching of Scripture is that one should honor debt agreements and pay on time. Read more about Ordering Finances Wisely, Part 4: Good Debt, Bad Debt