That question has been asked more than most by lost people, critics of Christianity, and Christians seeking to understand sovereignty, grace, and salvation. It’s an honest question that needs an honest answer. And, the answer might surprise you.
The reason people so desperately want to know the answer to this question is because we are humans that care about other humans. We think about the people in remote parts of the world that don’t have a Bible in their language and wonder what will happen to them. We wonder because we care. But we also wonder because we are curious about the nature of God. Deep down, we wonder if the God we serve is kind, loving, and benevolent. Or, is He a sadistic ruler condemning people to everlasting torture.
I have a friend that moved his family to Belize for the purpose of sharing the Gospel with the people there. One of the reasons he felt called to be there was that the people did not have a Bible in their native language. My friend wanted to go and help translate a Bible and use it to share the Gospel. People often comment about how incredible it is that my friend would make this decision.
But is it really a good thing?
R.C. Sproul is one of the world’s leading theologians, pastors, apologists, and evangelical authors. His podcast is listened to daily by people across the globe. His books are in house all over the world. He is a respected Christian that ahs dedicated his life to addressing the tough questions we often ask. Recently I was listening to one of his podcasts in which he was addressing the question of whether innocent people that have never heard the Gospel go to hell. Sproul says the question is loaded with presumptions, but the answer is very simple: Continue reading
The lost world often takes Scripture out of context in order to make it mean what they want it to mean. Verses are twisted and little to no exegesis is ever used in the effort to justify sin. This is completely understandable, as lost people do not have the Holy Spirit to guide them in understanding the Bible.
What about Christians that seem to do the same thing? How do we make sense of a professing Christian that holds to an unbiblical view or takes verses out of context? That’s a big conversation reserved for another day. For today, let’s focus on some of the most abused verses in the Bible and see if we can gain some clarity on their proper, contextual and biblical meaning.
Here’s a short list of some of the most misused, abused, and taken out of context verses in the Bible.
Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Christians love to share this verse. We share it with people feeling down about the path their life has taken in order to inspire and give hope. We say this verse to ourselves in the mirror to motivate ourselves to push forward. This verse, more than most others, have been printed on everything from t-shirts to mugs, mouse pads, and Bible covers. There’s just one problem: this verse isn’t a promise to modern day Christians. Continue reading
Much of my life has been spent in the Baptist Churches where cultural Christianity was often the order of the day. Our churches didn’t teach lessons on why smoking and drinking alcohol was wrong, we just knew they were wrong. As far as I knew, everyone was a Republican because only lost people were Democrats. Piano was okay but drums were the devil’s music. And you better believe that at the end of every sermon there would be an altar call.
The preacher would end his sermon by saying “every head bowed and every eye closed.” I knew that the next few minutes would be spent listening to the pianist play “Just As I Am” on the piano while the preacher encouraged people to come down front and pray. At some point the preacher would inevitably say “if you want to be saved, repeat this simple prayer after me,” after which he would recite the “sinners prayer” from memory. Then, with every head bowed and every eye closed, the preacher would ask if anyone said that prayer. He would ask people that said the prayer to raise their hand while assuring them that “no one will see and no one will approach you.”
That might be a familiar routine to you. You also might be wondering what it is and why some churches do it.
First, let’s talk about the history of the altar call and how it came to be a sacred ritual in many churches today. An article at Christianity Today shares some of the history of the altar call: Continue reading
It might surprise some to know that abortion is still illegal in Britain. In our world where abortion seems to be all the rage everywhere you go, it’s noteworthy that some countries, Britain and Ireland for example, have not caved to pressure to legalize abortion.
That could be changing soon as a result of a British medical group’s recent vote to legalize abortion up to the moment of birth.
For me, it’s hard to imagine killing a child at any stage of development in the womb. The most vulnerable and defenseless of our society deserve to be protected, not hunted and murdered. But the idea of waiting until a child is ready to be born, and then deciding to kill him/her is a special kind of evil.
The fact that a very small group of doctors made a decision that impacts a very large group of doctors and citizens does not make this any better. A recent article reports that this decision was made “by a very small number of doctors…about 0.1% or one thousandth of the total membership of the BMA” (British Medical Association). This group of more than 175,000 members held an annual meeting in which only 155-180 members voted to legalize abortion.
Also noteworthy is the fact that the entire campaign to change the abortion laws was based on a false premise. Advocates of change said that women wanted to loosen the laws on abortion. But, as the article noted, a recent poll suggests otherwise: Continue reading
Over the 4th of July holiday, my church stood along the parade route of our suburban Baltimore town. Thousands would line the street and watch the parade, many sitting in the front yard of our church. Out church decided to set up a canopy and hand out free hot dogs, chips, and water. We wanted to interact with our community and allow God to use our service as He saw fit.
One woman that sat in our front yard emigrated to the U.S. from a Middle Eastern country. It was a hot day, but she wore a long dress and her head was fully covered. It was clear to all that she is a Muslim. A Muslim sitting in a Baptist Church yard to watch a 4th of July parade. We interacted with her and treated her like the neighbor she is and thanked her for joining us.
The very next day, on July 5th, the following headline came across my news feed:
“Most American voters support limited travel ban: poll”
Less than 24 hours after hearing a Muslim from a Middle-Eastern country speak about how kind Americans are and how thankful she is to be here, I read about how a majority of Americans now support some form of travel ban. The article states:
“The Politico-Morning Consult poll found 37 percent of voters said they ‘strongly supported’ the new U.S. State Department guidelines that would deny visas to citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen who do not have close relatives in the United States. Another 23 percent of voters said they ‘somewhat support’ the guidelines.”
My first thought was, “how can Christians think biblically about this issue?” Continue reading
We live in a culture where absolutely everyone has religious convictions. And I mean, everyone. There is not a single person alive today that is not adhering to some sort of religious views.
For some it’s the religion of sports and each season brings new highs and lows. But one thing is certain, not a single game will be missed. (Sadly, many well-meaning Christian parents place kids’ sports above anything else.)
For others the religion of science is king. If it can be independently verified with empirical evidence then it can be trusted and believed. Everything else is nonsense.
Many are trapped in the religion of consumerism. Adherents to this doctrine seek to consume as much information, entertainment, and pleasure as possible. It’s not merely about doing what feels good; it’s about doing what feels right. And if that “truth” changes, their “theology” changes too.
In a recent podcast I heard the speaker reference “the gospel of acceptance” and explain that some people are simply seeking a gospel in which they feel accepted. With so much division in our culture it’s easy to see how people could long for acceptance and place acceptance so high on their priority list that it becomes, essentially, a gospel. Continue reading
Wait until you read the results of this “shocking” new study concerning the families of pro-life and pro-abortion advocates.
I will never forget the day my wife told me we were having another child. I can remember every detail like it was yesterday and it plays in my mind like a slow-mo highlight reel.
A few days prior we had a discussion about our “plan” for having kids. We determined that it would be best to wait up to 3 years before having another child so our kids would be 3 years apart and spaced out in a way we thought best. After the discussion we decided we would wait another year before trying to have our next child.
The plan was good. It took into account a number of factors, including our income, size of our current house, career considerations. It was logical and made sense to wait. I’m sure many of you can relate as you have probably had similar discussions.
Then one day she came walking down the stairs to my office and laid a wrench on my desk as I was working. I looked up, a little puzzled, and asked if something was leaking ad needed fixed. She smiled and simply said, “there’s a wrench in our plan.” Continue reading
In late June the Supreme Court issued a religious freedom ruling that took many by surprise. The case involved Trinity Lutheran School and the state of Missouri. The school applied for a state reimbursement grant for their playground. The state denied the school, citing the establishment clause to the Constitution. The state said that it would not “support religion” by awarding the grant to the school because it is owned and operated by a church. The school responded that the school is not open only to church members and that many of their students are not members of the church. The school also said that the playground is open to the community and not open solely during school hours. The state continued to deny the school the grant.
The school then enlisted the help of Alliance Defending Freedom in bringing a religious discrimination case against the state. The case made its way to the Supreme Court where, in what some call a surprise ruling, the court ruled in favor of the school.
The Supreme Court’s 7-2 ruling is important for several reasons. But, it must be noted that while the addition of Justice Neil Gorsuch was welcomed in this case, it appears that the court would have sided with the school without the vote of Gorsuch. Only justices Ruth Bader-Ginsburg and Sonya Sotomayor ruled against the school. This means justices Steven Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Anthony Kennedy sided with the conservative justices in ruling in favor of the school. That’s important.
Canada has ruled that sexual acts with animals are legal providing there is no penetration involved. This ruling was handed down by the Canadian Supreme Court after a convicted sexual predator, found guilty of assaulting his stepdaughters, appealed the charge and conviction of bestiality.
I really have no intention of going into the lurid details of this court case. But I do want to discuss the moral, cultural, and biblical implications of this case and how Christians should think about such issues.
From a cultural perspective, a single statement by the director of Animal Justice was very interesting and should be carefully considered. After the Supreme Court ruling, Camille Labchuk made the following comment:
“As of today, Canadian law gives animal abusers license to use animals for their own sexual gratification. This is completely unacceptable, contrary to societal expectations, and cannot be allowed to continue.” Continue reading
One transgender person wants everyone to know that a menstrual cycle does not take away from his manliness.
Imagine you are in a schoolroom anywhere in the country. You are teaching biology to inquisitive young mind. You are explaining the difference between men and women. You talk about the physical differences, including muscle mass, the “Adam’s Apple” only men have, and the fact that women store more fat than men (it’s a childbirth thing). You then talk about how only women have a uterus and can give birth. It’s a fairly normal conversation in which you share biological facts.
A hand goes up and one young pupil asks the question, “Can a man have a period?”
What do you do?
Well, most of us would find this to be an easy question to answer. We give the scientifically accurate answer: no.
That’s how the scene would play out if you care about those pesky scientific facts and tell the truth about the difference between men and women. But, as we all know, we live in a culture that is seeking to blur those lines beyond rational possibility. To that end, a young woman in the UK recently shared that despite having her period she is no less a man? Continue reading