Ask R.C.

How can we tell the difference between the accusations of the devil, and the conviction of the Holy Spirit?

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Jesus’ Betrayal Jesus, we ought to remember, was betrayed twice by His disciples. While the betrayal of Judas carried Jesus inexorably toward His passion, the betrayal of Peter was of the same dark hue. Both pushed Jesus away as the other, both left Him to the accusations of others. And, it should not be forgotten, both responded to their betrayal of our Lord with sorrow. Two duplicitous, disloyal cowards. Two grievous sins. Two hearts weighed down with despair. But there the paths diverge. Godly Sorrow Judas, in his anguish, took his own life. Peter, in his anguish, turned to the One he had betrayed, to the One who gives life. Judas’ sorrow led him further from his only hope. Peter’s sorrow led him toward his only hope. Which, in the end, is how we tell the difference between the accusations of the devil and the conviction of the Holy Spirit….

Do Calvinists have too low a view of themselves?

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Made in the Image of God Perhaps. It is virtually impossible to have to low a view of ourselves by ourselves. We, all of us who are human, do indeed bear the image of God. Even that, however, is ultimately extrinsic to us. The imago, we need to understand isn’t essential to us in a sense, but is added to us. By ourselves, apart from His grace, we are but dust and rebellion. In His grace, however, He has imposed upon us, stamped upon us, His image. We humans thus have worth, dignity and value, though these are ultimately from without rather than within. Total Depravity In affirming the total depravity of all men we still affirm that we could always be worse. Total depravity speaks to two lines of our wickedness. First, it affirms the breadth of our sin. There is no part of us untouched by sin. The…

Ask R.C. Jr: Could Jesus have sinned?

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The Liberty & Ability to Sin Yes, and no. How we answer depends totally on how we are using the word “could.” Augustine explored the issue well, and both Luther and Edwards followed after him in distinguishing two different kinds of abilities. We could say that Jesus had the liberty to sin, but did not have the ability, or alternately, that He had the ability but not the liberty. External Restraint The freedom, or the “yes” of the answer comes down to this — there was no outside force restraining Jesus from sinning. It’s not as though if He had tried to speak a stone into bread during His temptation that His lips would not cooperate. There are situations where outside forces do take away our choices. When I was arrested outside an abortion mill in 1989 the police restrained me with cuffs, ran an ax handle under my armpits,…

Is Ebola a Judgment Sent from God?

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Ebola—Hardship or Judgment It is natural, when confronted with hardship, whether it be personal, national, even global, to wonder where the hand of God is in the hardship. When that hardship hits us or those whom we love, we often fall into fear that somehow this means God is angry or unhappy with us. When it hits those whom we hate, we often fall into an ungodly joy that somehow this means God is angry or unhappy with our enemies. Sovereignty Over Ebola This much we know — God is sovereign over all things. If it happens, He ordained it to happen. God tells us just this in Isaiah 45: I am the Lord, and there is no other; There is no God besides Me. I will gird you, though you have not known Me, That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting That there…

Ask RC: What’s your new podcast all about?

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What’s your new podcast all about? So glad you asked. Jesus Changes Everything is a daily 8 minute podcast that seeks to remind us, not surprisingly, that Jesus changes everything. Too often believers seal off their faith from the rest of their lives, indeed from the rest of the world. But Jesus didn’t just come to save our souls. He came to redeem our bodies, and to ultimately remake all of reality. That means, in the end, there is no thing, no time, no place, no event, no anything that is not changed by His life, death, resurrection ascension and return. Jesus changes everything. We will on the podcast, from time to time look to current stories in the news and see how they reflect the eternal verities, seeking to give a perspective that is both faithful to the word, and well, not something you will find in too many…

How should I prepare my son to provide for his family?

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Don’t Follow the Folly of the World An excellent question. Too often we in the church follow the folly of the world in taking a passive approach to the future. We tend to believe all we have to do is show up, and if things don’t work out well for us, it must be the system’s fault. Another key error we have embraced from the world is this notion — that if we acquire specialized skills we will be able to provide for our families. Such thinking often leads to violating the first principle of sound stewardship — never spend more than you make. The standard American plan is to send our children off to college, borrow tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for it, and hope for a good job that will allow the debt to be paid off upon graduation. Sometimes it works, but…

Ask R.C. Jr: What have we lost in the lost art of letter writing?

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My Dearest Gaulips, You asked about some of the newest features our media consultants are working on, and how you might put them to good use in your treatment of your patient. I will explain a few of them, but do not lose sight of the simple principle — the more we can take these cursed humans away from their bodies, the better off we can be. Entice them with ease, with reach, with speed, with convenience, but take away from them the things that matter the most— actual communication. When we move them from aural communication to written communication we automatically remove all the subtleties of communication, the non-verbal cues that give context, and perhaps more important, social lubricant. Our enemy, however, managed quite well with the written word. I remember those heady days when we lit so many fires in those early churches. And that accursed traitor Paul…

A Man Has a Right to Own Her Body

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Root Causes of Abortion You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain James 4:2. Seeking to stop the slaughter of the unborn by merely declaiming abortion is like building a bridge by starting in the middle. James reminds us that we murder because we lust. Statistics tells us that nearly 9 of ten women who get an abortion in America are unmarried. That is telling. Abortion & Related Sins Too often we in the evangelical church have taken a binary approach to the problem. Either we separate the sin of abortion from all its related sins and give our time and attention there, or we decide it’s a heart issue, and our only hope is mass conversion. (Forgetting the hard truth that 1 of 6 abortions in America is procured by a professing evangelical.) Feminism Abortion, in the end, is a heart issue. And it…

Ask R.C. Jr: How can I tell if someone has truly repented of grievous sin?

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The Fruit of Repentance There is one tell-tale fruit, but it may take a long time for it to happen. And even then you likely won’t see it. But here’s the fruit nonetheless — if the sinner ends up in heaven, you will know they had truly repented. If not, they likely had not. I understand the desire to know the sincerity of another’s repentance. I’ve been in countless pastoral situations wherein it seemed like the answer to that one question — is this person truly repentant — determined the answer to every other question about what should be done. Trouble is, God has not been pleased to give us the means to peer into the souls of others. An Example So what do we do? Consider the case of adultery, perhaps the most common grievous sin we face. Suppose I am unfaithful to my wife. Suppose I claim to…

Ask R.C. Jr: Did God act unethically in asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac?

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A Challenging Question There are any number of challenges that come from this account in Genesis. Some have used it to deny God knows the future, on the basis of God’s declaration, “Now I know that you fear God” in 12:22. Some have used it to argue that God is wicked, either for asking the father to kill the innocent son, or for lying to Abraham, telling Abraham He wanted him to do something He didn’t really want him to do. The first objection is answered easily enough — only God the Father has an innocent Son. While Isaac may not have been guilty of a capital offense on the earthly civil sphere, from his conception he stood guilty before the living God. God had every right to take Isaac’s life, and to call Abraham to be the means of that execution. The Problem Lies With Us Which leaves us…