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Showing posts from January, 2016

why does God allow war?

From whence comes wars and fightings among you?  Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?   (James 4:1) As war loomed over Great Britain in 1939, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the new pastor at Westminster Chapel in London, preached four sermons beginning in October of that year.  The words you read below were spoken only months before the Germans began the aerial bombardment of London.  And yet, the words are very timely for us today, as well.  The sermons were subsequently published as Why Does God Allow War ? "Under the blessing of peace, men and women, in constantly increasing numbers, have forsaken God and religion and have settled down to a life which is essentially materialistic and sinful. Ever since the First World War-- thinking that this was indeed 'war to end war,' with a false sense of security, buttressed also by insurance schemes and various other provisions to safeguard themselves against the possible dangers that still remained--men


"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." (Matthew 7:13-14 ESV) "My text is not a negative text but a very positive text. It tells us that we must not only not be afraid of being called narrow, but it actually goes on to say that if we really want to be Christians worthy of the name, we must go out of our way to become narrow: we must enter in at the strait gate and walk on the narrow way! Now this, surely, is rather a startling and amazing thing. Is it not wonderful that when our Lord came to choose the designation to express his way of life, he selected the very word by which we are most frightened—that the very word of which we tend to be afraid is the very word in which he exults, the very word that he puts upon his flag? I would say also, for the purpose of encouraging and stimula

culturally conditioned or divinely given?

Carl Henry observed that contemporary culture considers itself to be "culture-transcending."  That is, people who approach uncomfortable content in the Bible will dismiss it as being culturally-conditioned, while assuming their own viewpoint as being above or transcending cultures.   He warns that evangelical scholars particularly -- what he calls "evangelical mediating scholars" -- are being tempted to divide certain apostolic statements, for example, as coming from "Rabbinic Paul" versus "Christian Paul."   He writes,    "The notion that the Apostle Paul compromises New Testament christology under the influence of the rabbinic ethos is often advanced by critical theologians in connection with various biblical emphases that they find personally distasteful.  If what Paul teaches about evangelical women or about Christians and divorce, or about homosexuals, is to be comprehended by dismissing the authority of the biblical teaching, the ax

no racial superiority

"[You] have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.  Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all."  (Colossians 3:10-11 ESV) From the Bible's perspective few things are more prideful and foolish than racism. All are descended from one man (Adam), and all will be restored in the One Man (Christ). There is only one humanity.  Whatever the cultural strengths or weaknesses of any race, it remains that human beings were created in the image of God, and however distorted, all humans still bear that image (Gen. 9:6; Acts 17:22-31). Even when God dealt specifically with the nation of Israel, he made it very clear to them that he was not blessing them because of any superiority they possessed (Deut. 9:4ff). Every human being who comes to Christ comes with the full awareness and admission of having no superiority.  We come to the level

the burning heart

They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?" And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, "The Lord has risen indeed...!" (Luke 24:32-34 ESV) Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes,  "The great need of the church today, in our sadness and in our slowness, is to discover the secret of the burning heart. "We are so aware of the problems, so immersed in them, that we have forgotten all of the glory that is around us and have seen nothing but the problems that lead to this increasing dejection. "And the first thing we must do is wake up and gird up the loins of our minds and think and understand the truth and begin to apply it to the situation in which we find ourselves, instead of giving way, instead of giving in, instead of just commiserating with one another. "Slow

so great a salvation

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.   (Hebrews 2:1-4 ESV) "The Christian message is a message of salvation. It is deliverance, emancipation, healing, liberty, health, vigor, power. ... Do you habitually think of your own salvation as the greatest and the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to you? I will ask a yet more serious question: do you give your neighbors the impression that you have found the most magnificent thing in the world? I have already said this, but it merits repetition. I have a terribl

dying to self

"We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin."  (Romans 6:6-7 ESV) Here's Francis Schaeffer on dying to self... We are to be willing to say no to ourselves, we are to be willing to say no to things, in order that the command to love God and men may have real meaning... We do not come to true spirituality or the true Christian life merely by keeping a list, but neither do we come to it merely by rejecting the list and then shrugging our shoulders and living a looser life… As I have said, Romans chapter 6 begins with many strong negatives, and though we may want to rush on to the second half of verse 4 ("As Christ was raised from the dead . . . even so we may walk in newness of life"), actually we are in peril if we ignore the element of "dying." "Buried with him in baptism," &qu

what's with all the names?

Anyone reading the Bible, especially the Old Testament, becomes aware that many names, numbers, genealogies, and locations have been recorded in Scripture. How tempting to skip over these in our reading.  How many small group participants have dreaded being called on to read one of these passages filled with hard-to-pronounce names! These names and listings are important for several reasons: 1) The Old Testament, specifically, is the national archive of Israel's history .  All the names, places, numbers, and genealogies remind us that we are reading real history, sometimes in much detail, even down to the number of camels! (Ezra 2:67)  2) The covenant promises to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David -- and especially the promises regarding the coming of Messiah -- take place along the lines of clearly-marked family descent . It was important to preserve not only the prophecies, but also God's providence over unfolding history, to assure us of the correct identification of

bible reading 2016

"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night ." (Psalm 1:1-2 ESV) "So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, 'If you abide in my word , you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth , and the truth will set you free.'" (John 8:31-32 ESV) "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly , teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God." (Colossians 3:16 ESV) This year I am recommending the M'Cheyne Bible reading plan .  Four chapters a day will take you through the Old Testament once and the New Testament and Psalms twice.  Here's some  background information  on this Bible reading plan.  I downloaded the reading plan for my phone ( Android) through the G

a new year