Archives For Wyatt Graham

August 15, 2014

Law and Grace

by Wyatt Graham

Schütte_&_Pöppe_Fabrik_hauswirtschaftlicher_Maschinen_Hannover-Linden_Rechnung_1909-01-16_Rückseite_Detail_IIIIIIIIIIBalancing God’s grace with his commands can overload even the most sincere Christian. And it’s not only lay believers who struggle with this balance. Recently, Christian leaders vigorously debated how to balance law and grace in the Christian’s life. Some argued that Christians should live their life solely by grace, while others advocated that both grace and law should guide a person’s life.

You’ve probably experienced the practical side to the debate in your life. Recall sinful behavior that you struggle with, and which you want to overcome. Perhaps you struggle with pornography, recurring anger, or even slothfulness. Whatever your struggle is, you’ve probably tried many different ways to overcome it. Do you rely on grace and turn to God’s commands in the Bible or create a system of rules that guide your eyes away from your ailing sin? Or, do you turn solely to God’s grace to overcome this sin? Put another way, do try to find some command in the Bible to tell you what to do, or do you rely on God’s grace even if you accidentally do something against God’s will?

I have seen both tactics take place in lives of people around me. I have observed people struggling with bitterness run to Scripture and locate all of the verses that directly apply to that area and hang them around the house, and start to memorize them. These verses often are commands to put off, followed by a command towards the opposite godly trait. After creating these “rules”, grief and remorse can often roll down upon them and refuse to leave—taunting them that they the uttermost sinner who will only ever wallow in this sin and never conquer it.  Continue Reading…

Ideally, churches and seminaries work together in a mutually beneficial way. Like minded churches start a seminary. In turn they send their ministers to that seminary so that their future pastors receive rigorous theological education. When this relationship works, churches thrive. But when a schism cuts between a seminary and its churches, the churches wither.

This unfortunately happened in the 1960s when liberal theology cut a schism between the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) and the Southern Baptist Convention. While the convention stayed its conservative course, its flagship seminary drowned in Liberalism. SBTS had abandoned its confessional roots, which date back to its founding in 1859. This meant that it had also shirked its ties to the churches who founded and supported SBTS.

During this liberal domination of SBTS, teachers disavowed the bodily resurrection of Christ, the inerrancy of Scripture, and other key tenets of the faith. Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, anecdotally remembers that there was a vivid opposition against the Gospel at Southern. Continue Reading…

November 5, 2013

Introducing the King

by Wyatt Graham

He would ride on a royal steed. This king would come with purple draping his shoulders to oust the invaders and bring freedom to his people. When the king returns, he would establish his kingdom and destroy his enemies. At least, this is what many expected Jesus to do.

According to the Gospels, many Jewish people had a basic misunderstanding of the nature of Jesus’ first coming. While they expected a military leader, Jesus came to serve and give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). In other words, the means by which Jesus accomplished his mission was totally different than many first-century believers imagined.

But just because these believers misunderstood the means by which Jesus would accomplish his mission, this doesn’t mean that they misjudged the goal of his mission. I believe that most faithful believers would have grasped the goal of the Messiah’s mission, because of the clarity of Old Testament.

Continue Reading…

September 10, 2013

Polycarp: Dying Well

by Wyatt Graham

No one can escape death and dying, and at one point all of us will have to consider what it means to die well. The importance of dying well can be summed up in the venerable words of Captain Kirk, “Has it ever occurred to you that how we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life?” As Christians, we of all people should embrace the importance of finishing well. Consider Hebrews 3:14: “For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end.” For a believer, finishing well is part of what it means to be a partaker of Christ.

This is why many believers have considered not only what it means to die but how to die. Although it may sound like a morose subject to consider, Christians through the ages have pondered how a believer ought to die. Continue Reading…

In college I can remember questioning the sincerity of my faith. The conflict warred in my mind between being redeemed by faith in Jesus, while still sinning on a daily basis (cf. Rom 7:21-25). Thankfully, through prayer, Scripture reading and Martin Luther, I came to realize that the Christian life embraces the reality that we are simultaneously justified and yet a sinner. Reflecting back on that period of time in my life, I wish that I had read more of the second century pastor, Irenaeus. His pastoral ministry focused on helping believers gain assurance of faith. The sage wisdom of Irenaeus is only strengthened by a knowledge of the time in which he lived. Indeed, we first need to hear his story to truly hear the words of the man.

The narrative of Irenaeus’ public ministry begins with blood. In 177 AD, the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius authorized a mass execution of Christians in city of Lugdunum (modern day Lyons, France). Although he lived there, Irenaeus happened to be traveling during the executions. On his return, he found the Christians of that city laid low, with key members decapitated or crucified. It was at this macabre time that Irenaeus became Bishop of Lugdunum, ministering to a persecuted, hurting and needy congregation. His difficulties only continued from here. Continue Reading…

Recently, I have been reading the early church fathers, who wrote only a few years after the apostles penned the New Testament. Although these writings are not Scripture, like spiritual biographies or books on theology they have encouraged me in my walk of faith. In order to share this encouragement, I would like to highlight one pastor in particular who presents pastoral wisdom coupled with a powerful theology of sanctification.

Writing in the early second century, Ignatius, the pastor of Antioch in Syria leaves us with valuable letters to various churches in Turkey. Although he writes in the early second century, he most likely pastored in Antioch during the first century. Thus, it is likely that he would have been in contact with at least the apostle John. Continue Reading…

If you’ve been a Christian for any amount of time, most likely you will have struggled through how to understand Joshua’s conquest of Canaan. Even if you haven’t, I can almost guarantee that you have spoken with someone who calls God evil and vindictive for his “genocide” of whole people groups. In many ways, I can sympathize with this accusation. The Bible does appear to portray God’s judgment of Canaanites in harsh terms. Consider Deuteronomy 20:16–18:

16 But in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, 17 but you shall devote them to complete destruction, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as the Lord your God has commanded, 18 that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods, and so you sin against the Lord your God.    Continue Reading…

Most Americans remember where they sat, what they were doing, and how it was that they heard about the deadliest attack ever perpetrated on American soil. Indeed, as this Canadian can testify, the shock which the United States of America felt on this day rippled out and gripped the whole world in disbelief and grief.

This terrorist attack against the United States of America made many ask, “Why would God allow this to happen?” It became a time of national soul-searching and questioning, and it is a question that when taken to God’s Word should drive you to the Gospel, to Jesus Christ himself.

Into the fray of political pundits who spouted various theories and accusations, John MacArthur characteristically stepped in and answered with the authority of God’s own Word. It was during this time that he wrote Terrorism, Jihad and Bible, because he believed that the Bible ultimately answers the question of why God could allow such evil to happen.

In light of the horrific bombing in Boston, I was reminded of the need for this book. It answers the difficult questions that arise when confronted with terrorism:

  • “Why do evil things happen in the world?”
  • “Why would someone commit these heinous acts?”
  • “Where was God in all this?”
  • “Is there hope?”

Let’s look at how Terrrorism, Jihad, and the Bible answers those questions:

Continue Reading…

abraham isaacWhat’s your first thought when you read that God bids Abraham to slaughter his son Isaac in Genesis 22:2? Notwithstanding our natural abhorrence to child sacrifice, we have just read that God himself outlawed murder (Gen 9:6). We could think that God criminalizes himself by this order but wry readers know that something is amiss.

Until this point, God has only had humanity’s good in mind (cf. Genesis 1–2’s repetition of “good”) and this story is no different, for God’s command works for Abraham’s good. What we might miss is that the story has already taken us, as readers, by the hand to tell us the end from the beginning. Genesis 22:1 says, “God tested Abraham.” As insiders, we know that this is a test.   Continue Reading…

January 16, 2013

Faith like a fisherman

by Wyatt Graham

I know that Jesus said that one must have faith like a child to enter into the kingdom, but I submit one can also have faith like a fisherman to enter into the kingdom. I see this in Luke 5:1–11, where Jesus calls his first disciples.

Luke sets up the scene by inserting a large crowd, a few fisherman, two boats, and one preacher into the narrative. Luke 5:1–3 reads, “On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret,  and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat.” These verses serve to create the context in which Luke 5:4–10 occurred. Continue Reading…