Theology

Theology

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…

What Is More Divisive Than American Politics?

No doubt, in the United States we live in a polarized and divisive political climate. But there is something more divisive than American politics. What is it? The flesh and the Spirit. Paul writes these shocking words in Galatians 5:17: “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” Notice closely: the flesh and Spirit…

Why Getting God Right Matters

As Christians, we believe that God has revealed Himself in the sixty-six books of the Bible. Any belief about God that does not line up with what has been revealed in the Bible is not the true God. It is an idol. Puritan William Perkins (1558-1602) once put it like this: “God is to be conceived as He reveals Himself unto us” in the Scripture, “and not otherwise; if otherwise, God is not conceived but a fiction or idol of…

The Simple and Sound Message We Proclaim

Amidst all the celebration in our church for what God has done the past twelve years, it is helpful to be reminded of the simple and sound message we proclaim. James recalls this message in one verse: the who, how, what, and why of the message we proclaim. Here it is: “In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures” (1:18). Who: “In the exercise of…

The Nearness of God

Psalm 73:28: “But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.” This verse works in two ways. On the one hand, if life is going poorly for you, you can read this verse and take comfort in the fact that the “nearness of God” is your ultimate good. Your bad circumstances are not your ultimate good. On the other hand, if life is going well for you, you…

Why Is Our New Building Important?

The church is God’s people gathered in a place to worship him. This gathering can occur in a house, in the market, on a beach, or in a building designed for a church gathering. Praise God he has led us to, and provided the way for us to acquire the building on Holyoke and Lakeville Blvd. But is this new location important? Our new location is important, and it is not important. What do I mean? The new location where Grace…

Desiring Church

John Piper has built a ministry around the concept of “desiring God.” The basic idea, as Piper often puts it, is that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. In my opinion, in general, Piper has done a great service to the Christian Church in his teaching, though I do not agree with everything Piper has taught. What I want to do in this short blog is to build on the idea of “desiring…

Two Insufficient Ways to Deal with Difficulty

Over the years I have recognized that people deal with difficulty in generally one of two ways. One person deals with difficulty by looking out. When difficulty and conflict are present, the tendency is to want to look away and escape. Escaping can take many forms, like binge watching TV, gorging on food, or spending above your means. Another person deals with difficulty by looking in. When difficulty and conflict are present, the tendency is to want to look in and fix.…

The Great Exchanges

When I travel to Sierra Leone to equip under-resourced pastors, one thing I have learned is that you get a much better exchange rate “on the street” than you do at the banks or markets. The “street” has very little overhead, so the exchange is great! If you have been attending Grace Community Bible Church for some time, you know that we are passionate about an exchange—not a monetary exchange—but what we call the “great exchange.” Very simply, the “great…

Why Is Christianity Exclusive?

Ravi Zacharias died over a month ago. Though I never read any of his books and only occasionally heard him speak on Christian radio, I do know he did much to advance Christianity in a religiously pluralistic age. We certainly live in an age in which religious pluralism prevails. In a nutshell, religious pluralism is the belief in the existence of multiple paths to God. Christianity, in distinction from religious pluralism, says that there is only one way to God.…

One Sentence That Could Change Your Life

Now that I have your attention from the title, let me give you the sentence: relationships are not meant for your happiness; they are meant for your redemption. This statement comes from Paul Tripp and Tim Lane in their brilliant and biblical book, Relationships: A Mess Worth Making. The fact of the matter is that your life is filled with relationships. You have family, friends, work associates, church members, neighbors, doctors, lawyers, accountants, contractors, postal workers, school associates, homeowner’s associations,…

Longing to Be Clothed

The changes to our lives brought about by COVID-19, one being the ability not to meet in person, has us longing to be clothed. What in the world do I mean? In 2 Corinthians 5 we read: “For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with…