July 9, 2012
As the third part of this series on battling demons, we look at our divine armor we have from Ephesians 6:14–16.
In verses, 14–16, Paul encourages the saints to stand firm while wearing God’s armor (14). The theme of “standing” firm is picked up throughout this passage (11, 13, 14). Paul employs a word picture of a warrior standing in full armor ready to combat the attack of the enemy. Far from being a distant analogy, the battlefield scene is a present reality in every Christian’s life. read more »
July 6, 2012
Having introduced this series as a guide to staving off those pesky demons, we continue by noting the Divine Reconnaissance we have from Ephesians 6:11–13.
It may be surprising to note that the first thing Paul explains in Ephesians 6 is that we are at war. It is dangerous to enter into combat without knowing the enemy, but God reveals everything that we need to know about the enemy in Scripture. The Apostle Paul begins his explanation of Spiritual warfare by giving a command to put on the full armor of God (4:11, 13). Verses 11–12 give the warrant for this command. The reason we need to put on God’s armor is because we are in a war with Satan and demonic powers whether we acknowledge it or not. read more »
July 5, 2012
Paul writes to Gentile (non Jewish) believers a powerful warning which should drive us to gratitude and humility. He explains that for the present time, Israel has been set aside and salvation has come to the Gentiles (myself and likely you):
 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree,  do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.  Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.”  That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear.  For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.  Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. (Romans 11:17-22 ESV)
This warning makes little sense to those who have no sense of wonder at the fact that a Gentile could be saved at all. It makes no sense to those who think God is obligated to save them. read more »
July 4, 2012
Satan exists and his aim is to attack Christians. Satan is the chief of demons. He is identified as the serpent of old, Satan (cf. Rev 12:9) who deceived Adam and Eve so that they took and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 3). Just as he deceived our first parents, he continues to deceive men today. Jesus told the religious leaders of his day, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Satan is a murderer, a deceiver, and behind false religion. read more »
July 2, 2012
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.
Scripture is God’s revelation to humanity no matter what side of the cross one is on. When God calls out for us to believe and repent, he expects us too! Just because we are now believers, we have no excuse to forgo seeing this passages as “for us.” Our entire life should be marked by trust and repentance. These are not one time acts that ‘get us into heaven’ but are a sustained characteristic that we manifest. We are called to a life of faith and confession. read more »
June 28, 2012
If Genesis 4 tells us anything, it tells us that sin disrupts 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 wanted to be like God by eating of the tree (3:5), though they were like God in his image already (1:26–27). Tragically, they were barred from God’s presence because tried to be like God — the likeness they already shared via his image. Worship was disrupted.
In Genesis 4, we learn how the sinfulness of sin marred the worshipfulness of worship. Both Even and Cain show us how pride and hate wreck havoc on service to God; still, God is faithful when we are faithless. So Eve trusts in Yahweh’s promises, while Cain repents. I am aware that this might be a hard sell — but 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. read more »
June 15, 2012
Biblical Theology is the practice of developing one’s theology by studying the Bible’s progressive revelation, and seeing how truths were revealed chronologically, throughout redemptive history. It means more than deriving theology from a certain book of the Bible, but rather stresses the importance of reading the Bible in chronological order, and seeing how God’s revelation progresses through time. This approach to theology is different from systematic theology, which develops theology by building principals across scripture, without regard to what revelation was in existence at the time.
In Biblical Theology, one starts reading at the book of Genesis and traces the story of God’s revelation until Revelation. This means that the Bible points forward in history, usually finding its fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ. In this sense, often Biblical Theologians follow the line of thinking that all Scripture points to and is fulfilled in Christ. In the past, the concept of Biblical Theology was an approach reserved for the halls of academia. But more recently it has made the map (often pushed by D. A. Carson) into the mainstream of American churches. read more »
June 8, 2012
The idea of Gospel driven sanctification (basically, sanctification means overcoming sin by growing in faith) is becoming more and more popular — and rightly so. Without the Gospel that so transforms the affections, change is impossible. Through responding in faith to the good news that Jesus both died for your transgressions and rose for your transgressions, we are saved, transformed and ultimately resurrected in a body that resembles the Lord Jesus Christ. So Paul can say, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6). But I do worry about how we understand Gospel driven sanctification.
A problem that I see with this movement towards Gospel driven sanctification is not the idea itself but a common misconception about it. What I mean is that we often try to change by simply focusing on the Gospel as an abstract thing. In other words, you find yourself lying, being lazy, or having lustful thoughts so you decide to remember the fact of the Gospel. “Remember, Wyatt, Jesus died for you so be better,” is something I could be tempted to think. But this thought would be dire to my spiritual life, since the Gospel is not only propositions but a rich and comprehensive story about what God has done though sending Jesus into the world. read more »
June 7, 2012
Do you need wisdom to navigate through some of life’s most common challenges? Each and every Christian faces challenges in their walk related to these four things; Grace, Gossip, Fear and Doubt. The word of God instructs: “Let your speech be always full of grace” (Col. 4:6). Have you ever failed on this challenge? We are told in Proverbs 11:12-13 that a gossip is an untrustworthy person, but one who keeps silent and keeps a secret is a man or woman of understanding! Can you fault yourself on saying too much from time to time?
Have you ever sat and listened to a debate about childrearing and wondered if you were going to scar your 6 month old (or 12 year old) for life with your decision? What parent hasn’t? Jesus rebuked his disciples several times saying, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”. Does that sort of passage bring pangs of guilt to your conscience? read more »
June 4, 2012
The sticky truth is that we all sin, and we all fail to stop it. Another sticky truth is that no one has to sin, and we have the power to prevail over it. As cords twine together to make rope, so also these two realities sew together the soul. It for this reason that we all want to the answer the question, How do I rout sin?
As if to torture our already brittle conscious, Paul boldly writes 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, so dying with him in a death like his and raising in a resurrection like his (Rom 6:3–5). In short, sin died when you died.
Still, nobody is sinless (1 John 1:10). 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) makes up the our life’s duel. This rough fabric of sin rubs against our flesh, causing all sorts discomfort and pain, while at the same time smooth silk of holiness is a balm and refreshment to us. We wear a garment sewn with both cloths, though we never want this. read more »