Because we need it. I mean that in two ways. First, we have a hard time grasping grace because we are sinners, and sin begins with pride. All of us, from the most pious saint to the most egregious sinner have within us a little Pelagius. We think ourselves, even when our lips confess otherwise, essentially good. Sure, we sin, who doesn’t? But by any reasonable standard, we think in the secret places of our hearts, we’d pass the test. Those other people, the ones who score below us on the test, they’re the ones in need of grace. And of course, those who score higher than us, they’re the self-righteous ones. If only everyone were like me, recognizing my own lack of perfection, but striving to do well, well then, the world would be a happy place.
A great deal would depend on what that someone had to say first. The most important question is, is this person repentant. To such a one I would encourage them to remember that Jesus suffered the wrath of God that was due to us for our sins, that those who rest in the finished work of Christ are not only forgiven, but that their sins have been removed from them as far as the east is from the west, that they are not only forgiven but immutably and infinitely loved of their Father, who because of Christ loves them as much as He loves His Son.
First, that it be a church. The Reformers argued that there are three distinguishing marks of the church- the Word, sacraments and discipline. That means your campus ministry isn’t the church; your podcasts are not the church; your family sitting around the table is not the church. But it also means that those institutions claiming to be the church that lack these things are not the church. If a church refuses to exercise discipline, excommunicating the unrepentant of gross and heinous sins, it’s not a church.
How should churches acknowledge singles to help them feel equally valued as members of the congregation? By calling them, along with the marrieds, to repent and believe the gospel. I’m beginning, but just beginning to get some of the social challenges that come with being single. When you speak, no matter how innocuously to a single woman, you have to worry she fears you may be hitting on her. When you speak with married couples sometimes they fear to talk about married life. I don’t want to diminish the hardship. I do, however, want to suggest that such questions mean little to the work and calling of the church. The church has a call to deal with people as people. Each of us, parent and child, married and single, man and woman, tall and short, do not have our final identity in those distinctions, but in Christ. What I need…
Friday’s Supreme Court decision, though not much of a surprise, is distressing, disheartening and disgusting. Even the most adamant defender of so called “gay rights” ought to at least affirm that the decision is fundamentally flawed, driven by judicial overreach, and by any sane reading of the Constitution, unconstitutional. It has, nevertheless, been decided. How state and local governments ought to respond is an important question. How local churches and the church as the church ought to respond is an important question. But today I would like to make some suggestions for believers as believers. What should we do? The same thing we do every day.
I’m writing from this year’s Christian Home Educators of Colorado conference. It’s always encouraging to be here, to visit with friends and to be encouraged. I always find homeschool conferences encouraging. That said, where there are people, there are sins to be concerned about, and that includes we who homeschool. Here are five things I believe are a current danger.
Yes. The doctrine of total depravity asserts two key points. First, all that we are has been affected by the fall. It impacts our hearts, our minds, our bodies, our desires, everything about us. There is no untouched area. Second, the doctrine affirms that there is no island of righteousness out of which we can, on our own and embrace the work of Christ for us. We are dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1) and before we can embrace His work for us we must be made alive by the Holy Spirit. Regeneration, or the rebirth, like our first birth, isn’t something we do, but something done to us. Thus regeneration precedes, logically speaking, faith. Regeneration is the cause of faith, not faith the cause of regeneration.
What advice would you give Christians facing such rapid cultural marginalization? In the great battle that is the culture war Christians are in rapid and chaotic retreat. On issues of sexuality we are deemed backward, hateful and hypocritical. To speak in defense of marriage is, in the minds of the world, on par at best with denying the holocaust, at worst to perpetrating it. We have not just lost our place at the table, but in the building. We are on the outside looking in. First, accept it. I’m not suggesting surrender mind you. I am, however, suggesting that denying the obvious helps no one. Sure Fox wallops MSNBC. Of course abortion mills are shutting down. But the cultural ethos is still hostile to us, and it’s only going to get worse. I fear that too often our fear is losing privilege, that we fight our rearguard action to protect…
What are your thoughts regarding large evangelism crusades held by preachers at large stadiums? One of the awkward parts of seeking to follow the regulative principle of worship, that Puritan notion that we are free in worship only to do what the Bible expressly commands, is determining what falls under the category of the “elements” of worship and what falls under the “circumstances.” Typically elements describe what- prayer, preaching while circumstances describe how- indoors, on pews. But the lines are not so easily drawn. Is a kneeling bench for prayer an element or a circumstance? Applied to this question we ought, of course, affirm that preaching to large numbers, calling for repentance, is perfectly wonderful. Peter, at Pentecost, could be described as a crusade. The gospel was preached and 3000 saints were added to the fold. Why then would anyone have a concern about crusades in stadiums? The issue isn’t…
Some of our deepest challenges as believers involve dealing with the sins of others, particularly those whom we love. Whether it is a relative struggling with addiction, a best friend unfaithful to his spouse, or a loved one embracing sexual perversion we often feel caught between our genuine love for the sinner and our genuine revulsion at the sin. The bromide “Hate the sin, love the sinner,” while at least infused with a touch of wisdom, doesn’t typically answer all the hard questions.