(Below is a section from a longer article on “Eternal Security, Perseverance, and Assurance.” You can read the full version here. And here is a list of verses written out that are related to the doctrine.)
Some of our biggest theological and practical struggles come from not knowing how to put together statements in Scripture that don’t fit at first glance. Part of being a good student of the Word is reading all of Scripture together and letting it interpret itself. When two ideas take us different directions we slow down and look at both together.
One example might be Christology. We give full weight to texts speaking about Jesus’ divinity without slighting his full humanity, and vice versa. We allow both texts to speak with one coherent voice.
Continue reading Perseverance in Faith because of Preservation by Grace
I recently had the privilege of teaching on a biblical theology of pilgrims, sojourners, and exiles. While my focus was on how Christians are spiritual sojourners as citizens of heaven living on earth, I was struck again by how much the Bible speaks to the situation of sojourners today (immigrants and refugees). Think about how much of the Bible is written about or to people on the move: whether exiles, sojourners, wanderers in the wilderness, or people on a pilgrimage. This wealth of biblical material provides insight into how we might think about, treat, and care for immigrants and refugees (sojourners) today. (A sojourner in the Bible was one residing in or traveling through a country not their own. This is why some translations use “immigrant” for sojourner.)
Continue reading Loving the Sojourner: Reflecting God’s Heart for Immigrants & Refugees
This weekend we did a painting project in our home. Though we had the room’s lights on and could see most things, it wasn’t until we turned on additional floor-lamp that the shadowy corners were illuminated. We didn’t need that extra light to see the biggest things, but it does help us notice things we might have otherwise missed (like where the wall needed a second coat).
Scripture sheds light on Scripture. Sometimes the link is explicit, either through a quotation or a direct allusion, while other times connections are present but without immediately standing out. As you dive deeper and look at important themes and words, you see the overlap. Reading Scripture as one book that’s unified and cohesive allows Scripture to not only interpret Scripture but to give further insight or clarity to itself. Reading a passage with related themes can be like turning on the additional light in the room. It might just help you see something otherwise hidden with an “aha” moment.
Continue reading Scripture Sheds Light on Scripture: Hebrews 3-4, John 10, and Psalm 95
One of the areas of disagreement in the in-person and online wider Christian world (often a very scary and even unChristian place), is what is actually “gospel work.” Are effects of the gospel part of the gospel? Are things Christians work towards and cultivate in their church, community, and family connected to the gospel, or is “the gospel” only the message of how sinners become right with God? It’s a good question, when really asked rather than thrown out as a smoke-screen to avoid allowing the gospel to do its deep work in our lives.
Continue reading Gospel: Narrowly and Broadly Used
(Below is a summary of the key issues involved in the debate about whether the Bible supports female deacons or not, as well as a few key arguments for why I think it does. You can read a PDF version of this blog here.)
Complementarians (those who affirm distinct but complementary roles for men and women) can disagree on the question of whether or not the Bible supports female deacons, or deaconesses. Neither side believes the Bible is explicit in its clarity, nor that it is an issue worth splitting or dividing over. While both interpretations seek to do justice to Scripture and can put forward a reasonable defense of their position, I (and the majority of complementarian theologians and commentators today) find the evidence more compelling for a biblical case leaving the office/role of deacon open to both men and women.
Continue reading A Case for Female Deacons
“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).” (Matthew 1:21-23)
Each Christmas, or Advent season, we sing about Jesus our Immanuel. God with us. We find comfort in the incarnation behind Christmas. God’s stepping down to Earth to be with us by becoming one of us in Jesus. But how is Jesus really God with us?
Continue reading HOW IS JESUS OUR IMMANUEL (GOD WITH US)?
“It is good to give thanks to the Lord.” (Psalm 92:1)
In our day and age of more-more-more where “Thanksgiving” is the waiting season between Halloween and Christmas, gratitude often takes a back seat. It’s no surprise thankfulness struggles to compete for attention with a holiday where I get to make a list of things people will buy me.
Continue reading A Theology of Thanksgiving
I’ve loved the last few books by James K.A. Smith (You Are What You Love, How (Not) to be Secular, and his trio of cultural liturgy books). He combines church history, movies, music, philosophy, theology, cultural references, apologetics, and the Christian life in a way that connects the disconnected. He pushes you to think and feel. In On the Road with Augustine, Smith uses Augustine’s writings (particularly The Confessions) and life to help us navigate 21st century life.
Both Augustine and Smith prove to be trustworthy travel partners. Together, they help us think through our longings and desires in a realm of issues (freedom, ambition, sex, friendship, mothers, fathers, friendship, enlightenment, justice, story, and death). It’s an apologetic offering rest to the restless in the same source Augustine found rest: Jesus. While some of Smith’s best material is too lengthy to put here, I’ve provide a few of my favorite quotes from the book.
Continue reading Favorite Quotes from On the Road with Augustine by James K.A. Smith
There is a growing tendency within the church to call any issue a “political issue.” Examples include how we treat refugees and immigrants, racial reconciliation, climate change and creation care, gun control, care for the poor, sexuality, gender, and marriage issues. My problem isn’t connecting faith and politics (which should be done), but that this often is a way of stiff-arming contemporary issues from the Bible. Rather than approaching a topic from our faith, everything is viewed through its political angle, party disputes, and social divides.
Continue reading “That’s a Political Issue” and Other Conversation Killers
If you’ve been in the church for a while, no doubt you’ve heard a lot about Jesus as Savior, Lord, King, and Teacher. All these glorious truths are essential and should be held up. But there is a core reality of who Jesus is that doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves. There is a benefit to the gospel and believing in Jesus even deeper than forgiveness. There is a key truth motivating our walk with Christ just as important as viewing Jesus as our Lord. And this wonderful biblical truth is that Jesus is our friend.
Continue reading A Missing Part of our Theology of Jesus