Why "Preach the Gospel to Yourself" Is Not Enough

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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

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Faith and Reason in Christian Perspective: Revelation and Reason

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Read the series so far.

Having brought into the discussion the necessity of divine revelation as the presupposition of faith, we are faced with the question of how reason relates to this revelation. My answer to this question will have to be provisional for now. I hope to post separately on this subject in the future.

If faith truly appropriates the truth about God then it is clear that it can have no proper function apart from divine revelation. As “faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1), it responds to matters above the reach of the inductive sciences (1 Cor. 2:10, etc). Hence, from a Christian point of view, it is essential for man to have proper faith if he is to know his creational environment fully. Read more about Faith and Reason in Christian Perspective: Revelation and Reason

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Faith and Reason in Christian Perspective: Definitions

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It appears to me that one of the first things a faithful theologian needs to do is to straighten out the confusion brought about by the world’s separation of faith and reason. This relationship is so vital to a biblically fastened worldview that to neglect it will involve the believer in a host of conflicting beliefs and practices. For it is just here that the negligent Christian theologue will be attacked.1 To the average man in the street, “faith” is that “I really hope so” attitude that many people employ when their circumstances get tough. It is that blind trust that things will turn out all right in the end. Faith thus defined is the opposite of reason. “Reason” deals with the cold hard facts, so it goes, and is what we have to use in the “real world”—in business, in science, in education.

One Christian writer has put the matter in the form of a question: “Is it rational for us to believe in God? Is it rational for us to place our confidence in Him and his revelation to man? Can a person believe in God without performing a sacrifice of his intellect?”2 Read more about Faith and Reason in Christian Perspective: Definitions

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Book Review - What’s Your Worldview

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Image of What's Your Worldview?: An Interactive Approach to Life's Big Questions
by James N. Anderson
Crossway 2014
Paperback 112

Ideas have consequences. Many beliefs, especially beliefs concerning the big questions of life, impact the way we live our lives. Whether you believe God exists or not will impact how you live. Whether you believe there is absolute truth or not will impact how you live. Unfortunately, many people hold beliefs without considering their logical consequences. Often times, when people are confronted with the consequences of their beliefs they will have a worldview crisis which can lead them to reconsider the validity of their beliefs. Hopefully this crisis can be a venue for the truth to replace their false beliefs.

While there are many books available which thoroughly analyze various worldviews, sometimes it can be more helpful to consider the merits of a specific worldview in a simpler fashion. With the goal of simplicity in mind (and not to be simplistic), James Anderson, professor of theology and philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in North Carolina, has written What’s Your Worldview? An Interactive Approach to Life’s Big Questions. Following the “Choose Your Own Adventure” concept, Anderson walks readers of all the major worldviews through the implications of their beliefs. Read more about Book Review - What’s Your Worldview

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The Tightrope of Separation: Separated Unto God

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From Voice, Mar/Apr 2014. Used by permission.

Recently I read an article which began with these words:

Some time ago a man said to me, “I drink beer in the pub in my spare time. Some guys I know go out chasing women. So what’s the difference? Your hobby is Christianity.” To think that a man could look at me and say that Christianity was just a pleasant spare time occupation like collecting stamps or yachting. Is that my definition of Christianity? Do I put it second, or do I put it first?

This quotation points out the fact that if our faith does not change our lives, even the world questions the genuineness of our profession. Read more about The Tightrope of Separation: Separated Unto God

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Answering Richard Dawkins, Part 2

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Read Part 1.

Dawkins Argument #2

There are of course gaps in the fossil record. In the case of the Turbellaria, a large, flourishing and beautiful group of free-living flatworms, the fossil record is one big gap—there are no fossils—and not even a Young Earth Creationist thinks they were created yesterday. But although there are gaps in the fossil record, it is a very telling fact that not a single fossil has ever been found in the wrong place in the time sequence. To paraphrase JBS Haldane, not a single fossil rabbit has ever been found in the Precambrian.1

Wingnut Response #2

Dawkins’ argument is an abbreviation of an argument that appears in The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, and it is not a scientific argument at all. Rather, it is a logical one. Creationists have critiqued evolutionary theory in part because of gaps in the fossil record, concluding that if evolution were in fact happening there would be a fairly steady fossil record—a predictable trail of bread crumbs, if you will. But there isn’t such regularity. Dawkins admits this inconsistency, but he downplays its significance by emphasizing another fossil anomaly: the absence of a substantial fossil record for the (4000 varieties of) turbellarian flatworms. Read more about Answering Richard Dawkins, Part 2

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Live in Fear - 1 Peter 1:17-21

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This outline continues a series preached in 2002. For my own edification (and hopefully yours as well), I’ve restudied the passage and made some improvements to the outline.

Remember that Peter’s original audience was enduring suffering—persecution in particular. Of course, they would experience fear, just as we all do when facing times of trouble. So you would expect the apostle to offer a message of “fear not,” as God’s messengers so often did in Scripture. And in fact he does offer that message eventually (1 Pet. 3:6, 14). But first, rather than saying “fear not,” he says “live in fear.” Why? and what sort of fear does he have in mind?

In our fallenness we’re all only too willing to fear the wrong things and in the wrong way, and in troubled times, that tendency doesn’t go away. This is why God confronted His people through Isaiah with these words.

I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you should be afraid Of a man who will die, And of the son of a man who will be made like grass? 13 And you forget the Lord your Maker, Who stretched out the heavens And laid the foundations of the earth; You have feared continually every day Because of the fury of the oppressor, When he has prepared to destroy. And where is the fury of the oppressor? (NKJV, Isaiah 51:12–13)

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Book Review - The Lost World of Scripture

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Image of The Lost World of Scripture: Ancient Literary Culture and Biblical Authority
by John H. Walton, D. Brent Sandy
IVP Academic 2013
Paperback 320

Everyone loves a good story of discovery. Whether it is in the pages of a good book or watching Indiana Jones on the big screen, people love to be drawn into the discovery of lost artifacts, and even more so, lost worlds. Archeology has unearthed artifacts, buried tombs, treasures and entire villages that give us a glimpse into the lives and ways of the people and civilizations of the ancient past. In many ways, we are discovering things and worlds that have been lost and are very different than ours. Among these discoveries are the ancient writings of various cultures. These ancient writings provide us with a wealth of information on how people thought and lived in the past. They are a window into ancient cultures. And for Christians, they are a look into how the Hebrews and early Christians viewed and used Scripture.

There is no doubt that modern readers of the Bible have to fight reading their own world into the world of the Bible when it comes to the task of interpretation. Unfortunately, many readers of Scripture, Christians included, do this without knowing it. The world in which the Bible was born is lost to them and they don’t realize it. Read more about Book Review - The Lost World of Scripture

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