I can still remember the excitement I had as a father-to-be. I sat next to my wife during one of her pre-natal visits and our baby was finally far enough along for us to get our first glimpse of our bundle of joy. At last, with the help of ultrasound technology, we could decide whether to paint the room pink or blue and we could eliminate at least 50 percent of the names we were considering. Or could we? Continue Reading…
Archives For Evangelicalism
One of the hardest things about working with college students is growing in friendship with them over a summer only to watch them leave for school come August. After unsuccessfully trying to convince them to stick around and attend the local college, the only thing left to do is to do my best to equip them to be able to thrive while they are away. So here are five prerequisites to have success in college.
In light of the Supreme Court’s decision earlier this summer, here are six articles from The Master’s Seminary Journal that address the issue of homosexuality from a biblical perspective.
Abstract: Through following a distorted meaning of “love,” some in the present day have condoned homosexual practice, without realizing that biblical love excludes homosexuality because of its sinfulness. Christians can best share the gospel with homosexuals by calling their lifestyle what the Bible calls it—sin. Genesis 1–2, Matthew 19, and Ephesians 5 describe clearly the way that God has instituted marriage as a monogamous, heterosexual relationship. Genesis 19, Jude 7, and 2 Peter 2 illustrate how the Fall almost immediately eroded the purity of human sexuality, including a devastation of the divine institution of marriage. Leviticus 18 and 20 and Romans 1 lay out very plainly God’s instructions about how repulsive homosexuality is in God’s sight. Yet Isaiah 56 and 1 Corinthians 6 make plain God’s plan for homosexuals to find freedom and forgiveness through a life-changing faith in Jesus Christ. The door is wide open for homosexuals and lesbians to accept God’s invitation.
Many times this year I would be sharing the Gospel with someone and all of a sudden it would dawn on me, “I can’t believe I’m getting paid to do this!” It is an incredible privilege to be paid to be in full-time ministry, and its something that we should never take for granted. I learned so much in my first year and hope these lessons, (in no particular order of importance) that I am still learning, would be a blessing to you as well.
1. My seminary isn’t the only seminary
I am on a staff full of people who have not attended my seminary. In fact less than 5% have. And it’s a healthy church. A very healthy church. How could this be? The fact of the matter is that God is working all over the world, and through all kinds of people. He has raised up other churches and seminaries that are doing a wonderful job of training up elders, deacons and lay-people who love the Lord and serve Him well. While I would always encourage someone to attend the seminary I went to, I have to keep in mind that it isn’t the only seminary that God is blessing.
Just ask your average fan of TBN, many of whom consider popular televangelists like Benny Hinn, Rod Parsley, and Joel Osteen to be apostles. (Here’s one such example [see page 22].)
A quick Google search reveals that self-proclaimed apostles abound online. Armed with a charismatic pneumatology and often an air of spiritual ambition, they put themselves on par with the earliest leaders of the church.
So what are Bible-believing Christians to think about all of this?
Well, that brings us back to the title of our post:
Are there still apostles in the church today?
At the outset, we should note that by “apostles” we do not simply mean “sent ones” in the general sense. Rather, we are speaking of those select individuals directly appointed and authorized by Jesus Christ to be His immediate representatives on earth. In this sense, we are speaking of “capital A” apostles – such as the Twelve and the apostle Paul.
In 2 Samuel 11, it seemed like everyone was sending someone somewhere. David does some sending (2 Sam 11:3, 6); Joab sends Uriah (2 Sam 11:6) and later a messenger (2 Sam 11:18); even Bathsheba sends people (2 Sam 11:5). But throughout all of this sending in chapter 11, there is someone eerily missing: God. We’re left wondering, “Will God get involved and do some sending of His own?”
In chapter 12, we get our answer. God takes over this mess of a situation. He gives David enough time to feel the weight of his sin, and then sends His prophet Nathan to confront David (2 Sam 12:1). He does so by telling a story of a rich man who takes a poor man’s ewe lamb pet, and cooks it for his visiting friend. And although everyone would agree that it was an absolutely evil thing to do, David’s reaction is over the top, He screams “As the Lord lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die” (2 Sam 12:5).
David recognized that it was a wicked thing for a man with plentiful herds to kill the only companion a poor man had so they could enjoy a meal. The problem, though, is that David had no business calling anyone out on their sin at the moment, since he had just murdered many innocent people! He committed adultery (2 Sam 11:4), impregnated Uriah’s wife (2 Sam 11:5), took Bathsheba as his own (2 Sam 11:27), and then killed Uriah and other soldiers (2 Sam 11:17) just to cover up his evil. After killing a human being, David is nevertheless incensed that the rich man would kill a lamb.
In the next verse, Nathan utters two words that will sink David’s heart forever: “Attah Ha-ish!” “You are the man!”
And if that doesn’t sound bizarrely similar to the events of this past week, I don’t know what does.
Throughout his ministry, Martin Lloyd-Jones frequently preached sermons on the state of English culture and society. These messages, known as the “Knowing the Times” sermons, became a vital part of his pastorate as he equipped his flock to understand the the Bible and gave them practical principles for living in a fallen world. Nothing from Downy Street every caught the Lord by surprise, and these messages (he called them “occasional addresses”) were his way of encouraging his congregation to view their culture through a biblical-lens.
Last Sunday, Pastor John MacArthur delivered a prophetic word that immediately reminded me of those “Logic On Fire” Lloyd-Jones addresses. At the evening message, MacArthur began by telling the congregation that while much that is very helpful has already been said regarding the recent legalization of same-sex “marriage,” he wanted to give additional clarity (you can listen to the message here).
He began by pointing out that our country often delineates our history through acts of terror and war. But he wanted us to know that in his opinion, the two biggest acts of terror our country have faced are both from our Supreme Court: the legalization of abortion, and now the legalization of SSM. How are those two connected? Well, the first attacks mothers, and second attacks families. The first means moms without kids, and the second means kids without moms. Continue Reading…
I just finished watching a second video put out by the Center for Medical Progress that–as unbelievable as this sounds–is more damning than the first. It’s impossible to watch a video like this and not cry or feel anger. Someone talking with excitement about selling baby body parts shows the callousness of humanity reaching new depths.
Yet these videos made me have sympathy for a group of victims I had never thought of before–namely mothers who have had an abortion. Many of these women were pushed into this situation. They bought the lie–that the life inside of them didn’t matter, at least not as much as their own lives do. They allowed the workers at Planned Parenthood to tell them that abortion was what was right, that there is nothing wrong with it, and that the “thing” inside of them was just a clump of cells. They were led to believe by the counselors there that they had to do what was right for them, and not for their baby.
And they did it. They got the abortion, possibly even through tears.
“If you want to convict a congregation, preach on prayer.” This is what we were taught in seminary and what I’ve experienced in my own life.
There are countless reasons why our prayer lives become anaemic. But the one factor that haunts us like no other in this crazy busy world is perceived lack of time. I say “perceived” because we have the same twenty-four hours that every prayer warrior has, and that all our forefathers had. And yet William Wilberforce confessed in the late 1700’s,
This perpetual hurry of business and company ruins me in soul if not in body. I suspect that I have been allotting habitually too little time to private devotion and religious meditation, Scripture reading, etc. Hence I am lean and cold and hard. I had better allot two hours or an hour and half daily…[For] All may be done through prayer, mighty prayer.”
And if we’re honest, the real paucity of time for prayer is self-imposed (and selfie-imposed), as John Piper sagely warns:
One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.”
In this post I’d like to offer a beginning therapy to help rehabilitate your prayer life. This is a five minute template of prayer, with a five simple segments, each of which can easily be filled with one minute of prayer. And then the idea is that you increase the time you spend on each segment; twelve minutes per segment fills an hour.
This suggestion is meant to help Christians who are already convinced of the need to pray, who perhaps pray sporadically throughout the day, but would like a more structured plan on which to build.
If you feel that you are too busy for five minutes a day to start this exercise then you are simply too busy for what God created you to do. Rework your priorities (you’ve spent some precious minutes reading this blog post already; I’d be happy if this was your last time on our blog if it meant more prayer to God for whom we maintain this site).
I call it the CACTIS method, and that’s not because I misspelled a plant that can thrive in desperately dry conditions (though that metaphor does seem apropos). It’s a variation on the common ACTS plan.
Though many debate whether the United States was ever a “Christian nation,” there can be no denying that a Christian worldview and biblical principles were fundamental in the formation of this country. Indeed, the founding fathers understood this even as they crafted the charter documents of our government. Thomas Jefferson wrote that the “inalienable rights” of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” which mark the ideals of every American, are endowed to us by our Creator. John Adams wrote, “We have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
And for many years, America seemed to be comprised of a largely “moral and religious people.” That’s not to say that everyone was a Christian, or that outward morality or religiosity was equivalent to having truly been born again by the Holy Spirit. But for so many years, this nation that was built upon the freedom of speech, expression, and religion has provided a conducive environment for the Church of Jesus Christ to fulfill her mission: to freely proclaim the Gospel of forgiveness of sins through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, and to make disciples of those whom the Lord saves. This symbiotic relationship has resulted in a general moral consciousness in society that has made it suitable to be governed by our Constitution, according to the vision expressed by Adams above.
But as I said, the last few months have been particularly tiresome for Christians in America, as our society continues to give indication after indication of increasing hostility against the very values that our country was built upon.