Death is an intruder. And everything that leads to death—sickness, pain, old-age, heart-attacks, high-blood pressure, brain aneurisms, and cancer—are also all intruders. We live in world that is not the way it’s supposed to be.
But even before any of these intruders entered our existence there was a more primal intruder: sin. It was sin against God that brought about not only physical suffering like cancer and migraines, but inter-personal and social trouble as well. Broken relationships, divorce, hate, murder, racism, bitterness, family disputes, bullying, and betrayal all flow from the same source: sin. What happened? Continue reading “Death the Intruder, Christ the Victor”
For those who love the truth of Romans 3:27 and 4:5—that we are justified by faith alone apart from works of the law—Romans 2:6-16 can be a tough, even unsettling passage. But it is vital that we understand this passage so that our minds and hearts remain clear and our walk with Christ unhindered. Every passage of Scripture is given to us as a gift from a wise and good God, and spiritual blessing comes by wrestling with difficult texts, not setting them aside in favor of familiar, less intimidating passages. Continue reading “Justification, Works, and the Final Judgment: Making Sense of Romans 2:6-16”
In the last article, I discussed how professing believers should apply the parable of the soils to their own lives and the lives of their brothers and sisters. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to read this introductory article to see why it is vital for professing Christians to apply the entire parable to themselves. In this article I want to examine a specific point of application: eight strategies for cultivating a good and honest heart. Continue reading “Eight Strategies for Cultivating a Good and Honest Heart”
Perhaps the most deadly feature of hyper-Calvinism is the idea that one must first discover certain qualifications of the Spirit’s work in his heart before he has warrant to believe in Jesus. Over the centuries hyper-Calvinists have taught, either implicitly or explicitly, that a certain amount of remorse for sin or love for Christ must be located the soul in order for a person to know that he is elect and has warrant to believe in Jesus for salvation.
Once accepted, however, this damnable notion can keep many souls from Jesus and salvation. Happily, the New Testament does not require any qualifications of the sinner before he come to Christ. The call is to “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). Jesus calls to sinners, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28). Continue reading “How Many Conditions Must We Meet in Order to Believe in Jesus? None”
Assurance of salvation is God’s will for Christians. A continual lack of assurance and doubting of one’s standing before God may appear ultra-spiritual, but it is actually a sign of spiritual immaturity. Scripture repeatedly calls Christians to pursue assurance and assumes that it is possible to attain it.
And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Heb 6:11-12; emphasis addded)
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13; emphasis added) Continue reading “Sleep, Exercise, and Assurance of Salvation”
Sometimes the texts that cause the most initial trouble in one’s spiritual life are the texts that later bear the most fruit. This certainly has been my experience with Hebrews 6. Shortly after I became a Christian, I was confronted with the terrifying warnings in the book of Hebrews. The sixth chapter caused the most turmoil, for I constantly feared that I could be the one who had experienced the many blessings outlined in the chapter (partaking of the Holy Spirit, tasting of God’s good Word and the powers of the age to come), but who had never actually embraced Jesus Christ. Needless to say, I was beleaguered by a lack of assurance during much of my early Christian life. Continue reading “Making Sense of Hebrews 6”
For some (if not many) Christians, finding and enjoying the assurance of their salvation is a painfully elusive venture. Although there may be evidence in a person’s life that strongly suggests they are a believer—evidence confirmed by trusted friends and pastors—a robust sense that they truly belong to God seems to regularly evade their grasp. As a result, these struggling Christians find themselves returning to the mire of past sin, unable to wage effective warfare against their illicit thoughts and desires, and consequently finding themselves largely unproductive and unfruitful in their Christian life. Continue reading “Helping People Find Genuine Assurance of Salvation (or, A Case for Systematic Theology)”