Theology

Theology

Does Love Cover a Multitude of Mistakes?

Peter writes in 1 Peter 4:8: “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” Key to understanding this text is the word “covered.” What does it mean that “love covers a multitude of sins?” It can’t mean that love overlooks sins. That would be in violation of other passages like Luke 17:3 and Matthew 18:15 on confronting sins. It can’t mean that love excuses sins. That would be in violation of other passages…

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;…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Does God Still Reign?

At the beginning of 2015, I preached a sermon (which you can find here) titled “God Reigns in 2015.” I argued that despite all the uncertainty in the world, God still reigns. In the sermon I used the following examples of uncertainty in our world: Robin Williams death by suicide, the Ebola crisis in West Africa, and Malaysian Flight 370 vanishing during a routine flight. Not to diminish any of these uncertainties, but Covid-19, stock market crash, and political and…

How Do I Know God’s Will for 2021?

How Do I Know God’s Will for 2021? As we enter 2021, what does God want from you and me? How can I know God’s will? If you are a Christian, you desire to follow God and do His will. Sometimes, however, you are unsure what God wants you to do. Does God want me to move to Florida? Does God want me to buy a minivan? Does God want me to date him or her? As Christians, there are…

Does Christmas Promise Peace on Earth?

During this time of year—Christmas season—religious services and songs commonly speak about peace on earth: Hark! The herald angels sing/Glory to the newborn King!Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled! Unfortunately, however, traditionalism and sentimentalism obscure our reading of the biblical text from which this hymn is adapted. For hundreds of years, English speaking people have read in Luke 2:14: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (KJV). But when…

Is Belief In The Virgin Birth Necessary for Salvation?

As Advent season is upon us, the virgin conception/birth of our Lord Jesus Christ takes prominence in our hearts and minds. That his virgin conception and birth is clearly taught in Scripture is undeniable (Matthew 1:20, 25; Luke 1:35). But is it necessary to believe in the virgin conception/birth for personal salvation? Before I answer this question, I want to state what I think this question is really asking. The real question is this: what is the minimum someone must believe…

Are You a Preaching Critic?

Preaching is hard. It is hard for several reasons. First, preaching involves dealing with an ancient text far removed from our world and culture. Second, a preacher’s audience is at different levels of mental and spiritual maturity. Crafting a message that meets various maturity levels is a skill that is learned over time. Third, a sermon must have a good blend of content and presentation. A well-crafted sermon delivered in a mono-tone voice or a poor crafted sermon delivered in…

Five Reasons for Obeying God

We bark the command to our children: “You need to obey mom and dad,” based on Ephesians 6:1. While this command is often given, in the heat of the moment we seldom give the reason, motivation, or benefit for obeying mom and dad. But your kids need to see the reasons and benefits of obedience. And so do we! You need reason, motivation, and benefit for obedience to God. Why should you obey God? Seventeenth century pastor, Richard Baxter (1615-1691), recognizes…