Archives For Wyatt Graham

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…

January 2, 2013

Worshipping like Eve

by Wyatt Graham

After God created the world in Genesis 1–2 and humanity fell from grace in Genesis 3,  Scripture points us back to the only appropriate response to God —worship. In Genesis 4, we can learn how to worship God rightly by contrasting how both Eve and Cain respond to God (this post shows how Cain responded). This is because Genesis 4 ends in the worship of God (Gen 4:26), and thus the story itself controls our interpretation. It aims to teach us how to respond to God rightly, and so worship him fittingly. Because we have already seen how we can learn from Cain’s example, we now turn to Eve.


In Genesis 4:1 and 25, Eve coaches us to trust in the promises of God, and that faith evokes worship. These verses show two different aspects of Eve’s trust in Yahweh. Verse 1 shows a (maybe) overconfident Eve, while verse 25 evokes a properly humble picture of humanity’s mother. These two verses read:   Continue Reading…

If Genesis 4 tells us anything, it is that sin disrupts our worship of God. While God created humanity to bless them (Gen 1:28) and live out God’s image (Gen 1:26–27), sin peeled away this blessing, and the curse came (Gen 3:14–19). Ironically, Adam and Eve thought that they would become like God by eating of the tree (3:5), even though they were already like God in his image (1:26–27). Tragically, because of their misconception of what it meant to be in the image of God, they were barred from God’s presence.

Sadly, as the narrative continues, we learn how the “sinfulness of sin” marred the worshipfulness of worship (Genesis 4). The stories of Eve and Cain show us how pride and hate wreak havoc in our service to God. And yet, God is faithful when we are faithless.  He can use even our failure to bring us back to repentance and worship of him. This is seen specifically in the two narratives when Eve trusts in Yahweh’s promises, and Cain repents. I know that the first question that pops in your mind is “What? Wasn’t he just a reprobate? Cain repented then? ” My answer to that question is yes, I believe he did (at that one time). Though this might be a hard sell, I believe the text leads us to this conclusion without having to spiritualize the text or simply read it as “ancient history” with no present relevance today.    Continue Reading…

November 16, 2012

How to Rout Sin

by Wyatt Graham

The truth is that we all sin. But it’s also true that we have the power to overcome sin. Consider Paul’s argument in Romans 6. He tells us that we have died to sin (Rom 6:2) and that the body of sin has been brought to nothing (Rom 6:6). He argues further that we are free from sin (Rom 6:7) and that sin will have no dominion over our bodies (Rom 6:14). This happened, says Paul, when we believed in Christ. Thus, we died with him in a death like his and were raised in a resurrection like his (Rom 6:3–5). In short, sin died when you believed.

Still, no one is sinless (1 John 1:10; cf. Rom 7). Remarkably, we both live with the power to overcome sin and yet daily battle sin. The tension between these two opposing principles will not disappear this side of eternity. Sin and the power to overcome it through the Spirit (Rom 8:4) describe the our life-long dual. This rough fabric of sin rubs against our flesh, causing all sorts discomfort and pain. At the same time, the smooth silk of holiness is a balm and refreshment to us. We wear a garment sewn with both cloths, though we true believers only want the garment of holiness.

It is because of this tension that believers must learn to rout sin. After all, if we have the power to overcome sin, we had better learn to use that power. A major reason why our fight against sin seems powerless is because we have wrong views of sanctification. There are about four ways people try to rout sin. The first three ways unconsciously weave sin into our coats, while the last way allows believers wear a a coat of holiness. To be clear, I am not advocating a sinless existence before Christ returns, but I am advocating that through the Spirit we can put to death the deeds of the flesh (Rom 8:13).   Continue Reading…

Maybe you’ve reflected on your faith before. You remember at a certain time in your life you turned to God from sin to serve the living and true God. These twin themes that intertwine the Scripture, repentance and faith, truly became yours. Ever since then you’ve considered yourself a person “of faith.” Now, when you read passages in the Bible that talk about repentance and faith, you remember fondly of your conversion and hope for others to experience the same. When Jesus calls out, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28), you think of your non-believing friend who needs to hear these words. This kind of thinking is right, nostalgic and perfectly flawed. Continue Reading…