Posts by gcbcmn

Posts by gcbcmn

The Reason the Ascension Is So Important

Christmas and Easter are important markers on the Christian calendar. And rightly so. If Christ was not born, and if Christ was not resurrected, we would not be saved. Another important marker, forty days after the resurrection the ascension occurred (Acts 1:3, 9). (May 26 this year.) Unfortunately, the ascension is often overlooked. Many Christians do not celebrate the ascension as they do Christ’s birth and resurrection. This lack of celebration is unfortunate because without the ascension, we also would…

The Good Old Days

I grew up in the 80s. And I am a sucker for 80s nostalgia: Back to the Future, Bruce Springsteen, and Nintendo NES are some of my fond memories. When I look back on those days, I find myself saying, “Life was so much better back then. It was simpler, safer, and sweeter.” When the world seems chaotic, we all tend to relish “the good old days.” The Old Testament man, Job, did as well. It was after he lost…

When Should I Confront Sin in a Christian?

Jesus gives us the answer in Matthew 18:15: “When your brother sins go and show him his fault in private.” The answer, then, to when to confront sin in a Christian is “when your brother sins.” But what sins do I confront in a fellow Christian? Do I confront some sins? All sins? Egregious sins? Ten Commandment-kind-of-sins? Let me gives three guidelines for what sins you should confront. 1. Public sins Open not closed; visible not invisible; objective not subjective;…

Reading the Bible in Historical Context

In the adult CE hour in our Systematic Theology class, we recently covered how to use the Bible in doing theology. We usually follow the adage that the three most important rules in Bible interpretation are context, context, and context. By context, we typically mean the following: Textual context – the historical setting in which the Bible passage occurs; how the original audience would have understood the passage; to whom the passage was addressed; the grammar of the text; and…

What is One of the Best New Year’s Resolutions You Could Make?

According to one website, the top five New Year’s resolutions are: Exercise more Lose weight Get organized Learn a new skill or hobby Live life to the fullest Not surprisingly, joining a local church did not make the list. But joining a church is one of the best New Year’s resolutions you could make. Here’s why. In the third century, Cyprian of Carthage (c 210-258), once said: “No one can have God for his Father, who does not have the…

Christmas Is About Justice

God has placed within every human being a sense of right and wrong. This can be seen from the earliest of ages when a child screams bloody murder when a toy is taken from him by another child. Everyone has a built-in sense of justice (see Romans 2:15). In recent years, justice has been a major theme of discussion in our culture. Notably, the death of George Floyd sparked riots, protest, and demands for justice under the movement of Black…

Where Is God in Suffering?

A recent online poll shows interesting data on what Americans believe about God and suffering. Most Americans, roughly 80%, say that suffering in the world comes from people, not from God. Another 44% (indicating you could choose more than one answer) say that Satan is responsible for most of the suffering in the world. This data is good to know. My question (as always) is what does the Bible say about God and suffering? Arguably, no one in the Bible…

Modern Expressions in the Ancient Book of Job

We have many phrases, colloquialisms, and expressions we use, sometimes not knowing where they come from. At the end of the day Over my dead body There is light at the end of the tunnel Lay an egg Behind the eight-ball Interestingly, several of our modern-day phrases, colloquialisms, expressions can be found in the ancient book of Job. Catch my breath When we are struck with trials one right after the other, we say: “I did not have time to…

Do Protestants believe in the treasury of merit?

The Roman Catholic Church teaches a concept called the “treasury of merit.” The treasury of merit, in simplest of terms, is a heavenly bank account of good works that have been accumulated over time by Christ, martyrs, and saints when their good works have gone above and beyond what their good works required (i.e., supererogation). In theory, if a “good work” represents walking an old lady across the street, and if I walk five old ladies across the street, the…

Saved to Serve

In his famous treatise, The Freedom of a Christian (1520), Martin Luther states: “A Christian is an utterly free man, lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is an utterly dutiful man, servant of all, subject to all.” These words echo Galatians 5:13: “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Luther understood that a Christian is completely free from condemnation. But…

Prayer Changes… You

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus says that we do not pray to inform God about what we need: “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:8). Charles Spurgeon once said: “Prayer is not meant for the Lord’s information. The question is not put to you that you may instruct Him, but that He may instruct you.” Jesus truly does instruct us on the nature of prayer in the Lord’s Prayer. The Lord’s Prayer, Jesus says, is…

Praise God for Chapters and Verses

If you have ever read theological writings from the sixteenth century (or before), you will notice something about the Scripture references used in the writings. For example, in Luther’s masterpiece, The Freedom of a Christian (1520), arguing for the Spirit’s role in freedom, he says: “As Christ says in John 4[:14], it is a ‘spring of water welling up to eternal life.’” The reason verse 14 is in brackets is because verse 14 was not what Luther wrote. An editor…

Why Is Preaching A Big Deal?

Henry Bullinger (1504-1575) is not a common household name. Many readers of this blog have never heard of him. But Bullinger is a name Christians should be familiar with. He played a key role when the church was in desperate need of reformation in the sixteenth century. We could write many blogs on how God used Bullinger to reform the church in a more biblical direction. But I want to focus on one way God used him. Bullinger was one…

Men of Prayer

Christians have the privilege and duty to pray. This includes all Christians – no matter class, ethnicity, or gender. However, until recently it never occurred to me that men have a specific call to pray unlike women. In a study of 1 Timothy, I was struck by this verse: “Therefore I want the men in every place to pray lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension” (2:8). The word “men” in this verse is not the generic word for…

Does God Desire All People to Be Saved?

1 Timothy 2:4 states that God “desires all men be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” But what does it mean that God “desires” all people to be saved when Scripture plainly teaches that not all people will be saved? Toward an answer to this question, we must distinguish between God’s “desire” (i.e., what God would like to see happen) and God’s “plan” (i.e., what God makes happen). The reason we must distinguish between God’s desire…

How Can Your Children See God in All of Life?

According to Ephesians 6:4, Christian fathers and mothers have a high and noble calling to bring up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. The Old Testament equivalent of this New Testament passage is found in Deuteronomy 6:7: “You shall teach them [the words of God] diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise…

Are My Future Sins Forgiven?

In last week’s sermon, I argued from 1 John 1:9 that the resurrection of Jesus Christ changes everything, including giving believers a new cycle of sin, confession, and forgiveness. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, Christians depart the cycle of repeated sin with no confession and forgiveness. They receive a new cycle of sin, confession, and forgiveness. But a question arises from 1 John 1:9, which states: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us…

Where Does Spiritual Warfare Occur?

In Ephesians 5:22-6:9, the Lord outlines essential roles we are to fulfill in various relationships in our lives: A wife submits (5:22) A husband loves (5:25) A child obeys (6:1) A father exercises patience (6:4) An employee obeys (6:5) An employer shows kindness (6:9) How are we to fulfill these roles? We find the answer to the source of the power to fulfill these roles in Ephesians 5:18: “be filled with the Spirit.” The only way we can fulfill our…

Does God Promise to Work Out All Things for Good?

I have gone on record in saying that Bible passages we think we know the most we know the least (see here and here). This is not any less true with Romans 8:28: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” This verse is often used to give hope and encouragement during suffering and trials. Often this verse is understood to say something like: Everything bad…

The Existential Threat to the Church

Politicians claim the existential threat to our world is climate change. What is the existential threat to the church? I believe the existential threat to the church is failing to define herself biblically. And the pandemic has brought this threat to the surface like never before. When COVID-19 hit last March, most evangelical churches quickly moved their services online. To be sure, live streaming services existed before the pandemic, but it became mainstream during the pandemic. And live streaming has…