• Church,  Culture

    Not All Christians are True Christians

    According to World Atlas, there are an estimated 2.2 billion Christians in the world. The United States makes up the most significant percentage of Christians by country, with an estimated 230 million Christians. However, are all of these statistical Christians genuine Christians? How does one determine whether one is a genuine Christian or not? The Troubling Beliefs of General Christianity In 2020, the Ligonier State of Theology survey revealed some troubling findings concerning Christian beliefs in America. In response to the statement, “Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation,” 40% of those surveyed disagreed. In other words, many of those who are supposed to be Christian denied the exclusivity of Christ (a core teaching of Christianity)! This trend is not limited to lay Christians. A recent survey conducted by Arizona Christian University found troubling trends in the beliefs of…

  • Church,  Hermeneutics,  New Testament

    Is the Book of Acts a Template for the Church?

    Many readers struggle with the book of Acts because they assume that it has to be a model for us to follow. Reading through the book of Acts we might wonder why we don’t speak in tongues, perform miracles, or exercise control over demons. But even on the more practical level, some read the book of Acts as a pattern for church growth. Similarly, I once heard a well-known Christian speaker say that he was in the process of rethinking how his church operated because when he compared his church with the church of Acts, he didn’t see enough similarities. The problem with this view is that the book of Acts was not written to be a template for the church to follow. Rather, the book of Acts is a historical record of how the church developed. The Connection between Acts and Luke One of the ways we can tell…

  • Christian Living,  Church,  Culture

    A Mark of the Fool is Lack of Understanding

    Recently, a meme was circulating on social media, which had a picture on top and on the bottom. The photo on top showed Prince William making an obscene gesture to the crowd by holding up his middle finger. We could see the disrespect and arrogance oozing from the photo. However, the image on the bottom showed a different angle of the same situation. From this new perspective, we observe that the gesture was not obscene at all. Instead, it became evident that the initial view prohibited us from seeing the other fingers. The caption for the meme read, “Seeing only one side can be very dangerous.” I like this meme because it illustrates two aspects of biblical wisdom. First, there are many scenarios where our first impressions or perceptions are incorrect. Only through gaining a complete perspective can we be sure of what we are looking at. Second, wisdom obligates…

  • Church,  Theology

    Paedobaptists and the Problem of New Covenant Regeneration

    Reformed paedobaptists view the new covenant as an extension of the old covenant, not as its replacement,[1] although as I argued before, the new covenant is discussed in terms of replacing the Mosaic covenant. However, in Reformed paedobaptist thought the newness of the new covenant is usually thought to refer to external aspects only. For example, Jeffrey Niell notes, “The newness of the new covenant pertains to the external aspects, the outward administration, of the covenant of grace. The new covenant is not new in its nature of membership.”[2] In other words, “The transition from the old covenant to the new covenant is a smooth unfolding of God’s redemptive plan, because the two covenants are organically connected—they are essentially one covenant of grace.”[3] However, an examination of the texts concerning the new covenant leads one to observe there are significant qualitative differences between the old and new covenants.[4] Although there…

  • Church,  New Testament,  Old Testament,  Theology

    Covenant Theology and Infant Baptism

    Reformed paedobaptists are not shy to assert that their defense of infant baptism relies on covenant theology. In fact, although many Baptists take issue with infant baptism not being mentioned anywhere in Scripture, this is really a simplistic understanding of the Reformed position. In reality, for the Reformed paedobaptist, the entirety of the debate centers around the unified covenant of grace. Note the words of paedobaptist Cornelis Venema: This debate can be reduced to one principal question: Does the covenant of grace in its New Testament administration embrace the children of believing parents just as it did in the Old Testament administration? However complex and diverse the arguments, pro and con, on the subject of infant baptism may be, this remains the overriding issue. Precisely because the debate between paedobaptists and Baptists centers on the doctrine of the covenant of grace, particularly the similarity and dissimilarity of the covenant in…

  • Church,  New Testament

    Dealing with the Divisive Person in Titus 3:10

    In Titus 3:10, the Apostle instructs Titus to “Reject a divisive person after a first and second warning” (CSB). However, in the KJV the divisive person is called a “heretic.” Clearly, the connotation is different. A divisive person is one who is given to strife, quarrelsome, and contentious, and thus is the target of this disciplinary action. Alternatively, according to the KJV, the man’s heretical beliefs are the issue, presumably as this heretic tries to persuade others to his views. Two questions arise when discussing the identity of the divisive man/the heretic: (1) Does the word mean divisive or heretic? (2) Is this process of church discipline different than what Jesus laid out in Matthew 18? What Does the Word Divisive or Heretic mean? The word for “divisive” (CSB) comes from the Greek word heretikos (αἱρετικὸς), from which we get “heretic” in English. To some, this settles the matter. But before we say this, we need to recognize that…

  • Church

    How Should Adult Children Relate to their Parents?

    Ever since I worked in youth ministry, I regularly have been faced with the issue of how do adult children relate to their parents. I guess it is obvious that everyone has to deal with this question at some point, since everyone is either a parent, or a child at some point in their life. Ephesians 6:1-4 is a good starting point for the discussion. Although children are told to obey their parents in these verses, the word for children in verses one and four generally refers to family relationship and not specifically to age. In other words, a 40 year old man is still a child of his father, because that is their relationship. However, the context of both verses indicates that the specific emphasis is on young children and their relationship to their parents. Young children are commanded to be completely obedient to their parents. An important thing…

  • Church,  Culture,  Theology

    Does Dispensationalism Hurt the Church?

    Not too long ago while I was on social media I stumbled across a quote by a Christian cultural apologist who said, “Wherever dispensationalism has gained ground, Christian culture has lost ground.” Although the claim that dispensationalism has hurt the church is not new, it was interesting to see how much agreement the post garnered in the comments. Some commenters labeled dispensationalism as the worst heresy the church has seen. Others said dispensationalism is a damnable heresy which has single-handedly lost the American culture war. In this post I would like to analyze the argument that dispensationalism itself is dangerous and responsible for the cultural loss we see in Western culture today. What is Dispensationalism? As I have written elsewhere, it is unfortunately common for people to wrongly attribute heretical beliefs to dispensationalism which are not inherently a part of the system. Dispensationalism should simply be viewed as a set…

  • Church,  Theology

    Faith and Infant Baptism in Augustine and Aquinas

    The historical evidence shows that infant baptism was regularly practiced from at least the 3rd or 4th century until the present day. One of the topics of discussion in the early church was how baptism could be an expression of faith when infants are not capable of expressing their own faith. Of particular importance in this discussion was Augustine, who is well known for being the most influential theological figure of that time. In Augustine’s discussion of baptism, after having explained that baptism belongs to those who repent of their sins, Augustine addresses the obvious problem of what are infants repenting? “Now, inasmuch as infants are not held bound by any sins of their own actual life, it is the guilt of original sin which is healed in them by the grace of Him who saves them by the laver of regeneration.”[1] In other words, although infants do not have…

  • 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…