A Picture of Perfect Rest

A wealthy man, a patron of the arts, called three artists to his side and gave each of them a simple commission: “I want you to paint a picture titled ‘Rest.’” Away went the three men, each to his own studio to ponder the assignment, to rough up some initial sketches, to plan and paint his finest work. Months later the three returned to display their paintings. The first unveiled a landscape, a placid pool vividly reflecting the mountains that …

Only the Christian Faith Begins At the Top

Though few tools are simpler than a plumb line, few are more effective at their task. A plumb line is simply a pointed weight—a plumb bob, or plummet, if you prefer—that has been suspended from a cord. The bob dangles from the cord and, through the consistent downward pull of gravity, establishes a vertical reference. Since time immemorial—ancient Egypt at least—a plumb line has been used to establish verticality for walls, towers, castles, and other structures. If you make a …

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Why Is There Only One Way To Heaven?

It is an audacious claim of the Christian faith that there is only one way to heaven. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” we believe. Not most, not some, but all. Since all of us have sinned, all of us are lost and in need of saving. And this saving we so badly need can come from only one Savior since “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under …

Reaching People with the Gospel

On my recent trip to Scotland I participated in an Ask Me Anything event at a local bookstore, and was asked two related questions: What is the best way to reach people with the Gospel in the modern world, and what is your preferred method of evangelism?  Here are my answers to those questions.   Transcript What is the best way to reach people with the Gospel today? People are always reached in the same way, which is through the …

Citizenship and the Gospel of Jesus Christ

When people translate the New Testament from the original Greek language into modern English, they need to make decisions about how to best communicate the author’s intent. The translator doesn’t only ask “what words did he use?” but also “what did he mean to communicate to his readers?” In Philippians 1:27, most translators have made the decision to use the phrase “manner of life.” That’s a great decision that adds a lot of clarity to our understanding. But behind the …

My Dear, Sweet Girl

My dear, sweet girl, I’m so thankful you’re thinking about sin. I’m so thankful you’re thinking about what it means to be a sinner, what it means to realize that so often you do the bad stuff you swore you wouldn’t do. And not only that, but so often you don’t do the good stuff you had promised to do. I know sin is a hard thing to think about, but it’s such an important thing. Yesterday you were comparing …

What Counts as a “Gospel Issue?”

My guess is you’ve probably heard someone use the phrase “gospel issue.” You may well have used it yourself a few times. But what is a gospel issue? What does this phrase mean? I did some searching around to see what counts as a gospel issue and found quite an extensive list. According to at least someone, each of these is a gospel issue: The doctrine of election, the treatment of animals, creation care and conservation, racial reconciliation, racial diversity, …

How the Incarnation Humbles Me

Christmas is fast approaching and, as I so often do at this time of the year, I feel tension between Christmas as a day to commemorate the birth of Jesus and Christmas as a day to exchange gifts and spend time with family. I don’t think there is any good reason to feel this tension, as if these things cannot co-exist, and yet it is there year after year. As Christmas draws near, my church is spending four Sundays looking …

The Essential: Atonement

This is the thirteenth installment in a series on theological terms. See previous posts on the terms theology, Trinity, creation, man, Fall, common grace, sin, righteousness, faith, pride, election, and revelation. Stated simply, atonement refers to the act by which someone or something is cleansed from sin. The concept is first introduced in reference to the installation of the priesthood and the consecration of the tabernacle for Israel’s worship (see Exodus 29:35-37). Atonement is then applied to the rest of …

The Days I Need the Gospel Least

Preach the gospel to yourself! Preach the gospel to yourself every day! I think we are all growing accustomed to being told that Christians need to center their lives upon the gospel and that one of the keys to doing this is to be continually reminded of what is true by preaching the gospel to ourselves every day. I’ve been hearing this for years now and to varying degrees have been practicing it. However, just last week I had a …