Not Home Yet

If you pay attention to Christian publishing, you’ll observe that certain themes come and go, rise and fall. One author will write a book on a subject and that may ignite interest so that several others follow up to challenge that person’s view, to affirm it, or to pursue it from a different angle. A recent theme, at least in one little corner of the Christian world, has been the notion of “home.” And now Ian K. Smith has added …

We Are All Theologians

For years now, I have made it my goal to release something every day that will encourage people, or challenge them, or instruct them, or otherwise bring them some kind of spiritual benefit. Not surprisingly, I receive all sorts of feedback, and there are a couple of kinds that, more than any other, discourage and dismay me. It’s when people who have been Christians for a long time reveal that they have only the smallest amount of theological knowledge or, …

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If I’m Forgiven, Why Can’t I Keep Sinning?

I was recently privileged to speak at a conference in Quezon City, Philippines. The question and answer session yielded some interesting questions like this one: “If forgiveness is guaranteed and there is no longer any condemnation for me, why not sin?” This was my answer in the context of the sermon I had just preached. Transcript If forgiveness is guaranteed and there is no longer any condemnation for me, why not sin? I think Paul anticipated this in the book of …

Spiritual Gifts: What they Are and Why they Matter

The movement called the New Calvinism has been around for quite a long time now, but still hasn’t solved one of its most basic questions: Do the miraculous or revelatory gifts of the Holy Spirit continue to the present time or have they ceased (positions that are generally labeled “continuationism” and “cessationism” respectively)? And is there room within the movement for people who hold to opposite positions? At the beginning of 2018 I suggested this would be one of the …

7 Sure Marks of a False Teacher

Search through the long history of the Christian church and you’ll see that false teachers have been present at every time and in every era. They were in the early church, the medieval church, the Reformation church, the Puritan church, and of course they are in today’s church. They’ve been a plague since the beginning and they are a plague today. But what’s interesting is that while the times and circumstances may have changed, their methods really haven’t. Whether you’re …

We Have Not Even Heard That There Is a Holy Spirit

It’s a funny little story that could only have happened during the church’s earliest days. Paul has been on one of his missionary journeys and, while traveling through Asia Minor, stumbles upon a little group of believers. But there’s something unusual about them, something missing. Here’s how Luke describes it: And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, “Did …

Hymn Stories: Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah

If Isaac Watts is known as the father of English hymnody, William Williams (1717-1791) is considered by many to be the father of Welsh hymnody. In 1738 Williams heard a sermon by the revivalist preacher Howell Harris, a fiery Welsh layman who had been influenced by the Methodist movement in England. It was through this sermon that Williams discerned his calling to go into the ministry. Williams first pursued becoming an Anglican priest (in the Church of Wales) and entered …

Stuff Christians Say

Stuff Christians Say obviously struck a nerve; it has racked up tens of thousands of views on YouTube and hundreds of thousands on GodTube. Two guys hop between various locations while offering a long list of “stuff Christians say,” those words and phrases distinct to Christianity. “God thing,” “secular music,” “my testimony,” “traveling mercies”–they are all here. It’s appropriate satire because it rings true. As Christians we can become oblivious to the fact that we have developed a lexicon all …

The Essential: Adoption

This is the fourteenth 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, revelation, and atonement. “Our first point about adoption is that it is the highest privilege that the gospel offers” (J. I. Packer, Knowing God, 206). J. I. Packer rightly considers adoption the highest privilege of the gospel—higher even than justification—because of the richness of the relationship with God that it begins. …

Five Verses on Adoption

The word “adoption” (Greek huiothesias) occurs only a few times in the New Testament, and each time it refers to God choosing a people for himself. Though there are not a lot of references to this word, there is a good deal we learn from them about the doctrine of adoption. 1) God adopts those whom he loves and has predestined to be his children “In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the …