Archives For Jesse Johnson

Every presidential election produces those whose candidate lost and who view the result as a surefire indicator that civilization has fallen. “This is the worst it’s ever been!” they exclaim.  “You have no idea how hard things are going to be because my candidate didn’t win!”

We expect those responses from people whose lives revolve around politics. But this year I’ve seen several Christians caught up in “the sky is falling” response, so I want to offer a course correction:   Continue Reading…

Image result for 70s game show hostsRecently I was reading an Al Mohler book on preaching (He is Not Silent), and came across a series of A. W. Tozer’s laments about the decline of theology in the typical evangelical pulpit. Tozer rings prophetic as he diagnosed this negative trend consistently and for decades.

Tozer (d. 1963) points back to the dumbing down of youth ministry as the moment that the cancer of non-doctrinal preaching entered evangelicalism. When youth pastors began to fancy themselves as professional entertainers, they prepared the students to disassociate theology from church:   Continue Reading…

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Does 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 give people permission to divorce, as long as they do not remarry?

To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.

It is easy to see why this verse could be interpreted as giving license for Christians to divorce, so long as they then remain single. But a closer look reveals that this verse is actually in keeping with the Bible’s consistent teaching on divorce and remarriage.  Continue Reading…

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photo by Roger Meador

The “five points of Calvinism” are a mnemonic approach to understanding the complexity of our salvation. The doctrine of salvation can seem complicated because it incorporates hamartiology (the effects of sin on a person’s nature), Christology (the nature of Christ), theology proper (the sovereignty of God), and pneumatology (the work of the Holy Spirit). To put it another way, our salvation intersects with just about every major area of theology, and the five-points help us understand what exactly is going on when God saves us.

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“Good and Bad Ways to Think about Religion and Politics,” by Robert Benne, is a little book with a great title.

Benne is American, Lutheran, and discerning. He not only understands the role of religion in our country’s past, but the role of politics in our religious present. He also has a knack for answering the basic questions Christians ask about politics, and he does so in a clear and concise way.

In a world where political books are ubiquitous, it is notable that there are so few good books that thoughtfully analyze how politics and the church should intersect (MacArthur’s, Why Government Can’t Save You, is a favorite of mine, but also an exception that proves the rule; Grudem’s Politics is good, but unwieldy). It is naive to say that the church should say nothing about the political issues of the day, and it is outrageous to argue that the church should have political change as one of its missions. But is there a good argument for a thoughtful middle ground?   Continue Reading…

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A few weeks ago, I wrote about the need to discern between true and false repentance. Second Corinthians 7 teaches that not all tears of remorse flow from a truly repentant heart. Some cry because they were caught, and others cry because they offended God. Those two groups do not necessarily overlap.

In God’s providence there are a few examples given to us in Scripture that juxtapose these two types of repentance. The most obvious is Saul vs. David. Saul and David both sinned, were confronted by a prophet, and then acknowledged their sin. In fact, they both use almost the same words: “I have sinned against Yahweh” (1 Samuel 15:24; 2 Samuel 12:13).

But the narratives make clear that Saul’s “repentance” was superficial, while David’s was supernatural. The prophet did not extend forgiveness to Saul, while he did to David. Saul was concerned about what others thought, while David was concerned only with what Yahweh thought. And there are probably six or seven other contrasts as well.

A similar (but less known) juxtaposition is found in 2 Samuel 19. In that narrative, David had just been driven out of his kingdom by Absalom, who was latter dispatched by Joab. Now David was returning to Israel to retake his kingdom and to render justice. Certainly there were hundreds of people whom David dealt with in this process, but the narrator only focuses on two: Shimei and Mephibosheth.

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September 8, 2016

3 forms of gospel unity

by Jesse Johnson

 

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Yesterday, I argued that Christians ought to demonstrate practical unity in this presidential election. I laid out three different views of the election (vote Clinton! vote Trump! vote nobody!), and while I obviously don’t agree with all of those views—after all, they contradict one another—none of them can be clearly said to break Christian unity.

What do I mean by “Christian unity”? That the true gospel and doctrines of our faith must transcend pragmatic disagreements over politics. We should have more in common with other believers based on our statements of faith than we do based on our political outlook.  Continue Reading…

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This American presidential election cycle has downsides too numerous to list, but it does offer Christians a few blessings in disguise: namely, it allows us to clarify what kind of unity the church should be expected to demonstrate in regards to politics.

The last election didn’t necessarily lend itself to that discussion. Four years ago we had, in one corner, a man who was obviously pro-abortion and pro-same sex marriage, and in the other corner someone who was not. Concerning religious liberty, this was about as clear-cut of an election as it comes. Of course there were those who said things like, “Christians shouldn’t vote for a Mormon,” but those arguments were flimsy and didn’t lend themselves to substantial ethical thinking.

This election, on the other hand, presents us something much more complicated. We—as Americans—get to choose between a woman who literally had the president of Planned Parenthood speak at her nomination, and a man whose sole political conviction seems to be racial division. We have two serial liars, either one of which would be the richest president the US has ever had, neither of whom made their money ethically. “God bless America,” as they say.   Continue Reading…

Every Christian will likely encounter this scenario: someone you know and who professes Christ has a major sin in their life exposed. As a result, relationships are harmed, their reputation is destroyed, and their heart is broken. You, as their friend (or pastor or spouse) are left wondering how to respond.

You know that Christians are called to forgive and restore other believers who have their sin exposed, but you also know that this is only true if they are repentant over their sin. For example, the command in Galatians 6:1 to “restore” a fallen believer is paired with an exhortation about the importance of self-examination (vv. 2-4). Or Paul, in 2 Corinthians 7, tell the Corinthians that he stands ready to forgive them, because the exposure of their sin produced godly sorrow as opposed to worldly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:9-11).

So what are you supposed to do? The person in front of you says they are repentant. They say they are sorry about their sin. But is that enough?   Continue Reading…

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One of the most overwhelming figures in Scripture is the giant angel that John encounters in Revelation 10. Between the sixth and seventh trumpet judgements, after witnessing the death of 1/3 of the earth but while waiting for the ministry of the two witnesses, John’s vision is interrupted by a figure with no parallel in the Bible.

This angel descends from heaven, and lands with one foot in the water and one foot on the land. He towers over the earth, and raises a hand up into the heavens. His feet are on fire, and he wears a rainbow like a crown of glory.

He has divine characteristics. For example, he is clothed in the clouds—an idiom which in the Old Testament is reserved for God himself (Psalm 97:2; Job 38:9).  He is holding the scroll in his hand, which back in Revelation 5, only Jesus was worthy to open.

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