Archive | Christianity

Michael Bloomberg: “I’ve earned my place in heaven.”

Former Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg is an activist for a number of causes. As a result, he believes that he is a shoe-in for heaven. The New York Times reports:

But if he senses that he may not have as much time left as he would like, he has little doubt about what would await him at a Judgment Day. Pointing to his work on gun safety, obesity and smoking cessation, he said with a grin: “I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.”

These remarks reflect a common misperception of how things are going to shake-out at the judgment. Many people believe that if their good works outweigh their bad works, then they will have eternal life. Likewise, if their bad works outweigh their good works, they will not. The problem with this formulation is that it has absolutely no support in scripture. It misunderstands the Bible’s teaching on sin and grace. Continue Reading →


T4G Reflections: “Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling…”

I can’t overstate how helped I was by the messages I heard at T4G this week. I already mentioned Kevin DeYoung‘s in my previous post, but I should mention that the other sessions were edifying as well. On the last day, Lig Duncan put on a clinic about how to preach Christ from the Old Testament. John MacArthur had his usual rigorous exposition of the biblical text, this time focusing on John 6 and the nature of false converts. I could go on and on extolling the other talks, but perhaps it would be best just to direct you to the page where you can download and listen to them for yourself. Also, Bob Kauflin leading from the piano. Does it get any better than that? Continue Reading →


The Bible is the Dividing Line

Kevin DeYoung has just delivered what may be the touchstone message of the 2014 Together for the Gospel conference. As usual, he was both witty and insightful. But that’s not why the message was so powerful. The message was weighty because he spoke from God’s word about God’s word. In doing so, he clearly and plainly addressed the touchstone issue of our time–the authority of scripture.

In recent days, there has been a lot of division among “evangelicals” over the issue of homosexuality. But those with eyes to see and ears to hear know that homosexuality is not really the fundamental issue. The issue that “evangelicals” are facing is whether or not we will look to scripture as the supreme and infallible authority.

Continue Reading →


How to deal with false teachers

In my last post, we looked at six characteristics that help us to identify false teachers. In this post, we will consider what pastors and congregations are supposed to do in response to such persons who emerge in their midst.

1. Correct false teachers.

The apostle Paul tells us that we ought to correct false teachers in the hope that God might change their mind about their error. Continue Reading →


How to identify false teachers

The apostle Paul wrote to Titus that pastors must not only preach faithfully but also “refute those who contradict” (Titus 1:9). The idea is very simple. Pastoral ministry is not merely a building up, but also a tearing down. As Paul would say elsewhere, it involves tearing down every speculation and lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5). To fail to do this is ministerial malpractice and harmful to God’s people.

Given this obligation, it becomes all the more imperative to be able to identify false teachers when they emerge. Sometimes false teaching originates from outside of the church. Sometimes such teaching originates from within. The New Testament teaches that a more rigorous response is required when it arises within. Thus faithful pastors must learn how to identify and deal with false teachers. But how do we do that? Continue Reading →


The Contributions and Revisions of N. T. Wright

Jason Byassee has written a fascinating profile of N. T. Wright for the most recent issue of Christianity Today. In it he argues that Wright has surpassed Rudolf Bultmann as the most influential biblical scholar of a generation. The article is gushing in many ways and highlights the many achievements of Wright over his long career—a career that has buttressed the historical claims of Christianity more than any scholar in recent history. Nevertheless, Byassee says that Wright’s work also offers a massive revision to traditional Protestant faith,

Wright’s goal in his teaching and writing is to massively revise the way Christianity has been articulated for generations. Christian faith, for Wright, is not about going to heaven when you die. It is not about the triumph of grace over the law of the Old Testament. He says its key doctrine is not justification by grace alone, the cornerstone for the Protestant Reformers. The church has misread Paul so severely, it seems, that no one fully understood the gospel from the time of the apostle to the time a certain British scholar started reading Paul in Greek in graduate school (p. 38).

Byassee says that Wright offers a “newer tradition” in which the New Perspective on Paul offers a “corrective to the ruling Protestant one” (p. 43). Continue Reading →


Can we avoid the consequences of speaking truth in love?

I do not know if Brandon Eich is a Christian, but there are nevertheless some salient parallels between his recent dismissal from Mozilla and Louie Giglio’s ouster from the President’s inaugural ceremony last year. Both men exhibited a generous spirit toward all people such that both men surprised their “employers” when it became known that they actually supported traditional marriage. Both men were dismissed despite their otherwise amiable disposition.

There is a lesson for Christians here. Yes, we must be winsome. We must be kind. We should not be pugnacious. It matters how we say what we say. It is our joy to love our neighbors and even our enemies. When we walk in this kind of generous spirit, it will open up bridges of opportunity that wouldn’t otherwise be open. All of that is true.

Having said that, Eich and Giglio also force us to come to grips with a hard truth. No amount of winsomeness will exempt us from the reproach that comes when we speak plainly about what the Bible teaches. If you speak plainly about sin, there will always be some who will vilify you as angry, bigoted, hateful or worse. Jesus told us that it would be this way (John 15:18-21). Continue Reading →


God has His winnowing fork in His hand

I’ve been thinking a lot over the last week about something Peter Leithart wrote last summer in the wake of the Windsor decision. Among other things, Leithart observed that the culture war over homosexuality is all but over and that Christians will be entering a time of conflict and (for some) suffering. Anyone who speaks plainly about what the Bible says will face the onslaught. The separation he predicted is underway right now (see Trevin Wax’s delineation of the fault lines). All ambiguity is being swept away. Looking back, it’s hard to deny that Leithart’s words are prescient of the current moment. He writes:

Windsor presents American Christians with a call to martyrdom. In Greek, martyria means “witness,” specifically witness in a court. At the very least, the decision challenges American Christians to continue to teach Christian sexual ethics without compromise or apology. But Windsor presents a call to martyrdom in a more specific sense. There will be a cost for speaking the truth, a cost in reputation, opportunity, and funds if not in freedoms. Scalia’s reference to the pagan Roman claim that Christians are “enemies of mankind” was probably not fortuitous.

Many churches have already capitulated to the Zeitgeist , and many others will. Some Christians and some churches won’t be up to the challenge. For those who heed Paul’s admonition not to be conformed to the pattern of this world, things are going to get sticky. But we are servants of God. He opens our ears to hear, and he gives us tongues to speak truth. If that means we are insulted and marginalized, if it means we yield our back to the smiters and our face to those who spit on us, so be it.

This will force a major adjustment in conservative Christian stance toward America. We’ve fooled ourselves for decades into believing that Christian America was derailed recently and by a small elite. It’s tough medicine to realize that principles inimical to traditional Christian morals are now deeply embedded in our laws, institutions and culture. The only America that actually exists is one in which “marriage” includes same-sex couples and women have a Constitutional right to kill their babies. To be faithful, Christian witness must be witness against America.

God has his winnowing fork in his hand, and he’s ready to use it. There’s likely to be a lot of chaff, blown away like mist. But there will be a harvest. We’re being sent into an oven, but Jesus will crush the grain of the harvest so that, baked in the fire of the Spirit, it will become bread for the life of the world.


The Final Days of Jesus

Justin Taylor and Andreas Köstenberger have produced a little gem of a book in The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived. The book aims to set forth from scripture just what the title suggests. The authors explain exactly how the last week of Jesus’ ministry unfolded, from Palm Sunday through Resurrection Sunday. They write,

“This book covers Jesus’ final days. In these pages you will read the eyewitness accounts of what the most important person who ever lived said and did during the most important week of his life… We will put the accounts together in roughly chronological order” (p. 13-14).

To that end the body of the book comprises chapters that correspond to each day of the week (see table of contents below). For each event in the final week of Jesus’ life, the scriptural text appears and is followed by concise commentary on that text. The commentary is very well done and will prove helpful to anyone wishing to get an informed perspective on these critical days of Jesus’ life. Continue Reading →


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