You take out fire insurance so that if, in the unlikely event that your house burns down, you’ll get your house back. You don’t really believe your house will burn down but you admit the possibility and prepare for the worse.
Sometimes you’ll hear Christians argue for “fire insurance” faith. What does it look like? You might try persuading your neighbor to become a Christian just in case there is a God. “What harm could it do,” you ask, “just to be safe?”
This is the modern-day outworking of Pascal’s wager: Continue reading
The recent controversy over the PC USA voting the contemporary hymn “In Christ Alone” isn’t surprising. A quick summary from Timothy George:
The Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song to exclude from its new hymnal the much-loved song “In Christ Alone” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend. The Committee wanted to include this song because it is being sung in many churches, Presbyterian and otherwise, but they could not abide this line from the third stanza: “Till on that cross as Jesus died/the wrath of God was satisfied.” For this they wanted to substitute: “…as Jesus died/the love of God was magnified.” The authors of the hymn insisted on the original wording, and the Committee voted nine to six that “In Christ Alone” would not be among the eight hundred or so items in their new hymnal.
The Bottom Line: They want to change “the wrath of God was satisfied” to “the love of God was magnified” because they find the idea of God the Father pouring out wrath for sin on God the Son objectionable.
On one hand, the news that a liberal Protestant denomination continues to act in a liberal way is not at all a shock and is just as newsworthy as the headline, “Pope found to be Catholic.”
On the other hand, it is a good moment for reflection:
- Why did Jesus need to die?
- Why did Jesus need to die on the cross?
Interestingly enough, the PC USA agrees with theological conservatives on the answer to the first question. It’s the second question, however, that finds us light years apart. And more importantly, calls into question the love of God. Continue reading
This is the second in a two-part series asking the questions:
- How could Jesus justly be punished for our sin instead of us?
- How can we receive his reward?
We’ll use the same two terms again:
- Propitiation – God poured out his wrath for our sin on Jesus and pardoned us.
- Imputed Righteousness – Jesus’ righteousness is given to us.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Cor 5:21
Isn’t Forgiveness Enough?
If Jesus paid our debt for sin, why do we even need imputed righteousness?
The purpose of humanity is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. We don’t get to be with him to do that without having merit to stand before him. That merit is called righteousness.
Justification means properly no less than this, the being received by Him as if we had not grieved Him. It is not only, the being forgiven by Him. We do indeed as sinners most urgently need forgiveness, the remission of our sins, the putting away of the holy vengeance of God upon our rebellion. But we need more. We need the voice which says, not merely, you may go; you are let off your penalty; but, you may come; you are welcomed into My presence and fellowship.
- H. C. G. Moule, Justification by Faith
Is the Father simply blind?
How could the Righteous Judge look at sinners and pretend that they had merited entrance into His family when they hadn’t? How could the Ancient of Days transfer the Son’s goodness to another party? Continue reading
Previously I said we might be preaching the cross too much because the gospel is not just the cross. Propitiation isn’t the only aspect of the gospel. There are also other facets to God’s redemptive work including renewal, adoption and victory. In addition to “cross-centered” our gospel-centered sermons can be:
Today I want to look another way we can be gospel-centered without constraining ourselves to being only “cross-centered.” Continue reading
This sounds heretical in gospel-centered circles: We might preach about the cross too much. Or, put another way, not every gospel-centered sermon must be a cross-centered sermon.
Before you stone me, let me explain.
You’re here because you care how the whole Bible points to one thing: the person and work of Jesus Christ. You probably center your conversations with other believers on the gospel. You encourage your pastor (or perhaps you are a pastor) to preach sermons with Jesus as the point, the center and the end.
But what does a gospel-centered sermon look like? Does it mean that we tie everything to the cross? I think I’m seeing a trend within the gospel-centered community where “gospel-centered” means only “cross-centered.” I hope we can move beyond that.
The gospel is more than propitiation so can gospel-centered sermons be “empty-tomb-centered”? Can they be “victory-over-death-centered”?
Don’t get me wrong – I love the cross. It’s monumentally important. It’s one of the key pieces of the gospel of Jesus Christ. But it’s not the whole gospel. Gospel-centrality means more than just the cross and if our gospel-centered sermons only ever discuss the cross then they don’t explore all of the gospel. Our sermons should explore the many facets of the gospel: Continue reading
This is a simple, but important, post.
What Fuels Evangelism?
Why do you believe you should share the gospel? Is it out of guilt? Do you feel like it’s expected of you and you need to share it so you can fit in at church? Is it out of pride? Will bringing newcomers to church make you look good? Is it out of habit? Do you do it because that’s what your church has always done?
These are not healthy motives for evangelism. To look at the only healthy motivation for evangelism we need to look at what evangelism actually is. Continue reading
This article, as part of my sabbatical, is a reminder of content you may have missed in 2012.
In this post I looked to St. Chrysostom to help comprehend just how marvelous the message of Christianity is. Here’s a brief excerpt from that post:
Thou wilt see death destroyed by death, and curse extinguished by curse, and the dominion of the devil put down by those very things whereby he did prevail.
Read the rest of St. Chysostom’s remarks.