God and the "Gay Christian"? A Biblical Response - Introduction

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Shifting tides

Homosexuality is a big issue in American culture today. Like a stack of dominoes, the moral floodgates of our culture, already dangerously weak, have collapsed. There have been a veritable flood of victories by triumphant homosexual activists on every conceivable front. In the election of 2008, both then-Senator(s) Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton stood against so-called “gay marriage.” This position seems hopelessly naïve to political sophisticates today. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, considered a likely GOP candidate for President in the upcoming 2016 election, recently remarked, “I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.”1

Faced with a near instant backlash of public opinion, some of it from fellow Republicans, Perry hastened to set the record straight:

I got asked about an issue, and instead of saying, ‘You know what, we need to be a really respectful and tolerant country, to everybody, and get back to talking about — whether you’re gay or straight — you need to be having a job and those are the focuses I want to be involved with,’ instead … I readily admit, I stepped right in it.2

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Book Review - Here is Our God

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Ours is an age of conferences. Dozens of conferences vie for our attention, from a variety of ministries. For those who cannot attend, livestreaming is a way to experience the thrill from afar. Another common way to expand the reach of a conference is to turn the series of messages into a book. The success of such books is usually limited, but in this book we have an exception. 

Here is Our God: God’s Revelation of Himself in Scripture (Crossway, 2014), is the latest book from The Gospel Coalition. This book is actually a compilation of the messages from the women’s 2012 TGC conference. Reading the book, however, I am not transported to the scene of thousands of women meeting together in a conference. Instead the message of each plenary session is powerfully communicated in this book, and the entire theme of the conference—suitable for men and women—comes together in this one short volume.

Encountering God through His Word

Three men (Tim Keller, D.A. Carson, and John Piper) join five women (Paige Brown, Carrie Sandom, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Jenny Salt, and Kathleen Nielson) in expositing the Word of God. Each author tackles a text which offers us a revelation of God. Exodus 19, 1 Kings 8, Isaiah 6, Matthew 17, Revelation 21 and other passages are mined for what they tell us of our God. The chapters flow together well, and reinforce the argument of the work as a whole. Each author in their unique way contributes to a dazzling picture of our God and His glory. Read more about Book Review - Here is Our God

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The Sanctification Paradox: Can It Be Solved?

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The NT seems to teach that believers must obey in order to be transformed, yet must be transformed in order to obey. The language of responsibility and action abounds, but so does the language of sovereignty, humility, and dependence. Students of the doctrine of sanctification have long struggled to understand how both can be true and how faithful believers should think and act in response.

I’ve recently suggested that many have embraced what amounts to a theology of giving up when it comes to Christian growth—and that they have done so because what they see in themselves and others seems to fall so far short of “read your Bible, pray every day and you’ll grow, grow, grow.” But even this sense of frustration with self and others tends to arise from—or perhaps fuel—a view of the sanctification paradox.

My aim here is to survey four solutions to the paradox and briefly evaluate their merits. Read more about The Sanctification Paradox: Can It Be Solved?

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The Book of Revelation is Not Apocalyptic Literature

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It may seem odd to suggest that the book entitled Apocalupsis in Greek does not belong to the genre of literature commonly referred to as apocalyptic; nonetheless that is my suggestion here. The term employed in the title of the book denotes a revelation or disclosure.1 While this particular revealing or disclosing describes a broad swathe of eschatological events, it is not its own literary genre.

Apocalyptic as a genre is described as “characteristically pseudonymous; it takes narrative form, employs esoteric language, expresses a pessimistic view of the present, and treats the final events as imminent.”2 Henry Barclay Swete (Cambridge), even while arguing that Revelation is apocalyptic literature, admits that the book differs from that genre in that the book of Revelation (1) is not pseudepigraphic, (2) it engages a specific audience (seven churches), (3) has a significant church focus, rather than a purely Israel nation-centered focus, and (4) includes notes of insight and foresight that are more indicative of inspiration than is found in earlier extra-biblical apocalyptic literature.3 Read more about The Book of Revelation is Not Apocalyptic Literature

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The Atonement

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(About this series)

CHAPTER IV: THE ATONEMENT*

BY PROFESSOR FRANKLIN JOHNSON, D. D., LL. D., AUTHOR OF “OLD-TESTAMENT QUOTATIONS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT” ETC., CHICAGO, ILL.

The Christian world as a whole believes in a substitutionary atonement. This has been its belief ever since it began to think. The doctrine was stated by Athanasius as clearly and fully as by any later writer. All the great historic creeds which set forth the atonement at any length set forth a substitutionary atonement. All the great historic systems of theology enshrine it as the very Ark of the Covenant, the central object of the Holy of Holies.

While the Christian world in general believes in a substitutionary atonement, it is less inclined than it once was to regard any existing theory of substitution as entirely adequate. It accepts the substitution of Christ as a fact, and it tends to esteem the theories concerning it only as glimpses of a truth larger than all of them. It observes that an early theory found the necessity of the atonement in the veracity of God, that a later one found it in the honor of God, and that a still later one found it in the government of God, and it deems all these speculations helpful, while it yearns for further light.

GROUNDS OF BELIEF IN SUBSTITUTION

If we should ask those who hold this doctrine on what grounds they believe that Christ is the substitute for sinners, there would be many answers, but, perhaps, in only two of them would all voices agree. The first of these grounds Read more about The Atonement

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Mechanical Religion - Isaiah 58 and Matthew 6

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A shofar ("trumpet")

In my first book, The Midrash Key, I argue that many of Jesus’ (Yeshua’s) teachings—including sections of The Sermon on the Mount—find their origin in Deuteronomy or Leviticus. Our Lord gathered a large crowd together for the Sermon on the Mount, so we know it was much longer than the eleven-minute summary found in the Gospel According to Matthew. Two hours would be the bare minimum, but He probably taught all day. We only have the summary the Gospel writers preserved.

Today I am suggesting that another part of The Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 6:1-4, 16-23) finds its origin in Isaiah 58:1-8. I believe Jesus commented on and developed themes from this text. See if you agree with me.

The theme of this section is “God detests mechanical religion.” In other words, God does not want our lip service, He wants our hearts, our selves. He has no tolerance for mechanical religion; He will not be controlled or manipulated. We can obey Him, but we can do Him no favors. We owe Him total allegiance by birth.

How we live on a daily basis is also a spiritual issue. When it comes to being a follower of Yeshua, we are not allowed to segment ourselves. We may be more “secular” in our jobs or among our lost family members than we would be with fellow believers, but we still must adhere to Christian ethics and conduct. Read more about Mechanical Religion - Isaiah 58 and Matthew 6

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A Review of Robert Chisholm's Commentary on Judges & Ruth

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In the past Judges and Ruth have not been particularly well served by commentators (Leon Wood’s Distressing Days of the Judges being one notable exception). Many studies in the past were more homiletical than analytical. The Book of Judges presents some unique problems for the Bible interpreter. Such issues as the date of certain judges, the extent of their careers and influence, the numbers in the Book, not to mention the overall chronology of the period, offer challenges which can impact how one approaches the other historical books.

Thankfully that situation has changed in recent years with the publication of solid works by Butler, Block and Webb, supported by those by Younger and, to a lesser extent, Davis. Thus, the gap has been filled. How then does this new contribution from Robert B. Chisholm in Kregel’s Exegetical Library measure up? Read more about A Review of Robert Chisholm's Commentary on Judges & Ruth

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Separating from Our Enemies and Friends - Aphorisms for Thinking About Separation

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Aphorism 6: Our patterns of application of separation need to include people to the left and the right on the group boundary markers—our “friends” and those who make us uncomfortable. Grace on believers who are like us or provide advantages to us but no or little grace on believers who are different is a sin (James 2:1; Luke 6:32-33).

Seven years ago, I became the pastor of a church that had a history of practicing second-degree separation. My exposure to the defense of such doctrine and the organizations enforcing it had been rather limited. And so I began reading, watching, and asking questions. Many of the conversations that I’ve had were decidedly cordial—some less so.

Allow me to share how one conversation about separatism with a representatives of a mission board went: Read more about Separating from Our Enemies and Friends - Aphorisms for Thinking About Separation

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