• Christian Living,  Ethics

    Does the Bible Say Same Sex Attraction is Sin?

    Although some would argue that any same sex relationship is a good thing if it doesn’t harm anyone, in Christian circles there is usually a more clandestine approach to encourage acceptance of the gay lifestyle. This approach says that same sex attraction itself is not a sin, it is following through on the attraction that is the sin. In other words, to be attracted to the same sex is not a sin as long as one does not act on those impulses. In one sense, there is a difference between the gravity and consequences of following through on the attraction, but the real question is whether desires themselves can be sinful? People will often differentiate the issue between orientation and behavior. Some people will say that it is not sinful to be a “gay Christian.” It is only necessary to live celibate. However, there are two significant reasons that same…

  • Christian Living,  Hermeneutics,  Old Testament

    Train up a Child in the Way He Should Go? A Promise?

    Proverbs 22:6 has been interpreted in some circles as a promise to parents that if they do their jobs right, their child will never abandon the faith. However, this in turn has resulted in many parents feeling as if God has broken His promise to them when their child turns from the faith. Train up a child in the way he should go:And when he is old, he will not depart from it (Prov 22:6, KJV) Although this verse has been used by many parents and church leaders as a promise, it is important to slow down and read this verse carefully. A Proverb is a Principle, Not a Promise First, a proverb is not a promise! Proverbs are axiomatic (self-evident) sayings about how life normally works. But, there are plenty of exceptions to proverbs, because life is complicated by many factors. For example, although Proverbs 21:17 says the one…

  • Christian Living,  New Testament

    Understanding the Gospel as Story

    It is very popular in today’s evangelical culture to advocate living a “gospel-centered” life. Further, Christians are quick to remind others to “preach the gospel to yourself every day.” I think I understand what Christians mean by this, but I have seen a few problems that come from this kind of catchphrase Christianity. My goal is not to dissuade people from using these phrases, but to try to use biblical definitions to help others understand what living a gospel-centered life means. What is the Gospel? Most people are familiar with the fact that “gospel” is usually used to translate a Greek word, euangelion, which means, “good news.” More specifically, however, I think it is fair to say that most people use the term “gospel” to refer to the following logical sequence. All human beings are sinners; and as sinners we are bound for eternal damnation. Jesus came to earth, lived…

  • Christian Living,  Old Testament

    Principles in Proverbs on Wise Communication

    Communication is important. More importantly, how communication is done is important. Jesus himself said that “the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart” (Matt 12:34b). It is underappreciated in our culture that what we say—whether verbally, over text, or on social media—these acts of communication reveal our hearts. It is a good and important exercise to evaluate our own communication and see how we line up. The ancient world prized wisdom, specifically the discussion of how to act in daily life. Unsurprisingly then, Proverbs provides some of the most pithy and helpful statements on how a righteous man or woman engages in communication. In many cases, Proverbs will contrast the righteous and his communication style and the non-righteous. What follows are a few of the many principles derived from Proverbs on how the righteous communicate. The Righteous Brings Benefit by His Communication The mouth of the righteous is…

  • Christian Living

    True Greatness in the Christian Life

    As a Sophomore in college I remember having an opportunity to eat dinner with a wise man. This man was a teacher who taught only one class at the college, biblical hermeneutics. Although he only taught one class at the college, he was a full time teacher at a local high school as well. He had devoted his life to teaching young guns like myself how to understand the Bible and how to live the Christian life. Seeing him eating by himself one day at the school cafeteria, my friend and I went over to join him. I tried really hard to think of some good questions to ask him, but could only come up with one that I guess I had been thinking about. “Prof, do you think it is okay to want to be great?” The question came out of my own understanding of success. To me greatness…

  • Christian Living,  New Testament,  Theology

    Is God in Control of My Sickness?

    Nobody enjoys sickness or infirmity. Whether it is a significant disease or a minor sickness, infirmities often are a source of consternation and complaint. Regardless of whether it is our own sickness, or the sickness of a loved one, Christians are constantly driven to questions about God’s relationship to sickness and suffering. Does God have control over sickness? Sickness and God’s Glory One of my favorite passages which addresses the issue of sickness or infirmity and God’s control is John 9. As Jesus and His disciples traveled in Jerusalem, they pass by a man who was blind from birth. The disciples ask Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2). The assumption behind the disciples’ question is that sin and sickness are connected. The disciples supposed that it was either the blind man’s sin, or his parents’ sin that brought about the…

  • Christian Living

    Loving by Leaving Rather than Staying (Prov 25:17)

    As Christians, we always are trying to get better at loving other people. To love one another is, according to Christ, the tell tale sign of being a believer (John 13:35). In contrast to viewing love as a mere feeling, Christians understand there is a deeper definition of love (1 Cor 13:4-7). Love meets the needs of others. Love exalts others. Love seeks the betterment of others. Through everything, biblical love is the supreme element in healthy, God-honoring relationships. As I was reading through Proverbs the other day, I was struck by one of the practical ways to show love. “Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor’s house, lest he have his fill of you and hate you.” Prov 25:17 One’s home has always been viewed as a sanctuary, a place of security and comfort. To invade that security and comfort too often can cause a stress on any…

  • Christian Living,  Culture,  Ethics,  New Testament

    Avoid Every Appearance of Evil (1 Thess 5:22)

    Growing up I often heard the King James Version rendition of 1 Thessalonians 5:22, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” The implication of course was that Christians should avoid even the appearance of evil, not just evil actions themselves. Unfortunately this verse, like many others, has often been misinterpreted and misapplied. English Translations of 1 Thessalonians 5:22 KJV Abstain from all appearance of evil. NKJV Abstain from every form of evil. ESV Abstain from every form of evil. HCSB/CSB Stay away from every kind of evil. NIV Reject every kind of evil. NASB Abstain from every form of evil. NET Stay away from every form of evil. Comparing the various English translations, we can see that only the KJV translates this verse as “appearance of evil.” There is a significant difference between “appearance of evil” and “form/kind of evil.” Hence, we note that it is the KJV against the rest of the English translations. Although some would use this difference…

  • Christian Living,  Church,  New Testament

    Should Christians Confess their Sins?

    One question I periodically come across is whether there a place for Christians to confess their sins after conversion. Obviously it is an integral part of Christianity to believe that all sin (past, present, and future) has been dealt with by Christ on the cross. He has paid for all sin in full, assuring the believer of forgiveness and a future hope of eternity with Christ in heaven. So, is there any need to confess sin after conversion? A verse that is central to whether or not we should confess our sins after we are saved is 1 John 1:9. At first reading, 1 John 1:9 seems to imply that believers ought to confess their sins. However, some have argued that if 1 John 1:9 teaches believers are to confess their sins after conversion, then this would undermine the very heart of the gospel. The Broad Biblical Teaching on Forgiveness…

  • Christian Living,  Church

    Does God Command Believers to Fast?

    I remember listening to a sermon one time and the preacher was telling us that he would fast to reprioritize his life. He said that one time he experienced a fast for 30 days, leading to a tremendous religious experience. In relating this story, he seemed to imply that we ought to fast in order to experience that as well. This kind of belief is not uncommon. In fact, with simple searches you can find guides on Christian fasting. Of course the assumption is that this is something we should intentionally be pursuing. However, I am convinced that the church is not commanded to fast. Rather, fasting is a natural consequence of sinners living in a fallen world. New Testament Commands to Fast? The first observation that supports this argument is that there is no command in the New Testament to fast. Although the word for fasting is used twenty…