Let Us Have Peace with God? Reflections on Romans 5:1 and Dealing with Bible Difficulties

Encountering difficulties in the Bible can be troubling for the young believer and the seasoned saint alike. Yet, when we are confronted with hard passages or apparent discrepancies in the biblical text, we don’t want to ignore the difficulty or pretend it doesn’t exist. Out of an unwillingness to do a little hard work, lack of acquaintance with the available resources, or the mistaken assumption that faith shouldn’t require any mental effort, we may indulge the temptation to shuffle quickly past difficult passages in order to avoid intellectual and emotional discomfort. Continue reading “Let Us Have Peace with God? Reflections on Romans 5:1 and Dealing with Bible Difficulties”

All Things Richly: God and the Good Things of Life

When it comes to the matters related to physical life and how Christians should think about earthly enjoyment, the Church has rarely found herself securely balanced between the extremes of severe asceticism and unrestrained indulgence. Even the New Testament gives the indication that there has always been pressure to move toward one of these two poles. In Ephesus, there were lovers of pleasure; in Colossae, there were rigorous ascetics. In the early church there were those, like Augustine, who (personal reasons notwithstanding) rejected marriage and sought the pseudo-spiritual environment of a monastery. There were the hedonists and the Epicureans. Today we have the legalists and the health, wealth, and prosperity teachers. What we need a theology of enjoyment. Continue reading “All Things Richly: God and the Good Things of Life”

‘The Religious Tradesman’ by Richard Steele

The Religious TradesmanRichard Steele was a Puritan minister in the mid-seventeenth century, but his work The Religious Tradesman is what you might consider a “lost classic.” Even in 1747, eighty years after its initial publication, Isaac Watts, writing in the introduction, lamented that the piece was “now very little known;” it’s popularity foundering under the disadvantages of an “ancient name” and “ancient dress.”

Nearly 300 years later, we can join in Watts’s lament. Despite excellent content, Steele’s book has received very little attention among contemporary Christian readers. Hopefully this brief review can encourage a few Christians to pick up Steele’s volume and find encouragement to attend to their daily work with renewed joy and purpose. Continue reading “‘The Religious Tradesman’ by Richard Steele”

Is the Church Full of Hypocrites? Part 2: What About the Log in our Eye?

You can read part 1 here

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Two texts that a person could point to–really the only two in the New Testament–to argue that Christians can be classified as hypocrites, are Matthew 7:1-5 and Luke 7:37-42. In both texts, Jesus, speaking to his disciples, appears at first glance to imply that a disciple who does not deal with his own sin before helping another disciple with their sin is not merely guilty of hypocrisy, but is, in fact, a hypocrite (Matt 7:4; Luke 7:42).

These passages are often used as proof texts for how Christians should conduct their ministry of confrontation and restoration. The pattern should be this: before you deal with the little sins in other brothers and sisters, first deal with the big sins in your life. Well and good. As a principle, this approach is certainly valid. But a closer look at these texts shows us that Jesus’ use of the word hypocrite in Matthew 7:1-5 and Luke 7:37-42 is consistent with how he uses it elsewhere. In other words, Jesus isn’t assuming the person with a log in their eye is a genuine believer who simply needs instruction on how to humbly interact with other believers.  Continue reading “Is the Church Full of Hypocrites? Part 2: What About the Log in our Eye?”

Is the Church Full of Hypocrites? Part 1

You can read part 2 here.

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You’ve heard it before.

One reason people give for not being a Christian is that the “church is full of hypocrites.” Why believe the message about Jesus Christ, the argument goes, when that message has no obvious power in the lives of his followers? If Jesus’ professed followers don’t really seem to believe his message, why should we? Continue reading “Is the Church Full of Hypocrites? Part 1”

Is Mormonism Just Another Christian Denomination?

Over the years as I’ve witnessed to and talked to Mormons, I have always made it my goal in our conversation to demonstrate that Mormonism and Christianity are two entirely different religions. The reason I take this approach is because Mormons call themselves Christians, use Christian terms, and claim to be the restored (i.e., true) church of Jesus Christ. These claims are confusing, both to practicing Mormons and those with whom they converse.

My goal is the same for this brief article. I want you to see clearly that Mormonism is not a branch or denomination of Christianity, but that it is, in fact, something entirely different. I want you to see that Mormonism is, in the final analysis, a false religion that holds no resemblance whatsoever to historic Christianity. Continue reading “Is Mormonism Just Another Christian Denomination?”

A Charge to the Bride and Groom

In 2013 I had the privilege to preach my first wedding sermon. For my preparation I didn’t spend much time looking online at sample sermons. My initial Internet searches yielded mostly sentimental froth and wordy collections of benign, man-centered platitudes. So, I decided to write an address from scratch, based on what I saw in Scripture and what I believed was most important to say to a couple about to enter into an unbreakable marriage covenant. Continue reading “A Charge to the Bride and Groom”