• 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…

  • Church,  New Testament

    Titus 1:6 – Children Who Believe? Or Faithful?

    According to the NASB, Titus 1:6 states that leaders in the church must have children who believe. In other words, a church leader who has children, must have children who believe (i.e., Christians). Leadership certaintly is a high calling. The significance of leadership is magnified within the Church because of the importance of the Church as a unified witness of God’s plan of redemption to the watching world. For this reason, Paul clearly lays out two lists of leadership qualifications which give the standard of character for the would-be leader in the Church (1 Tim 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). These lists are essentially the same, although a few differences exist. As noted above, the biggest difference is Titus 1:6, which seems to mandate that an elder have children who believe (i.e., Christian children). On the other hand, other translations choose the phrase “faithful children” instead of children who believe. A brief…

  • 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…

  • Church

    Why Do the Dates for Easter Change?

    Growing up I was always frustrated that Easter was always on different days of the year. In contrast to Christmas or Thanksgiving, Easter always seemed to change. Sometimes it was in March, sometimes in was in April. How is one to make sense of it all? There is actually a method of behind the madness. And the method goes back a long time into history. If you compare all of the possible dates for Easter, you will observe that Easter can occur on any Sunday March 22 through April 25. Why between those dates? Easter and the Council of Nicaea It can be traced back to 325 AD, when the Council of Nicaea decreed that Easter was to be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox (which falls on March 21). The reason the Council of Nicaea took up the issue, was because…

  • Apologetics,  Church,  Ethics,  Old Testament

    What is Marriage?

    We are in the midst of a time where terms are being redefined to suit one’s own purpose. However, if we want to think rightly and accurately about an issue, we need to think in terms of the definitions laid out in God’s Word. Nowhere is this more evident than in the question, “What is marriage?” In contrast to how marriage would have been defined even 10 years ago, the first search result of the question, “What is marriage” (Psychology Today) defines marriage as follows: Marriage is the process by which two people make their relationship public, official, and permanent. It is the joining of two people in a bond that putatively lasts until death, but in practice is often cut short by separation or divorce. Notice how marriage is defined here. Marriage is simply two people making their relationship (which already exists) public. This cultural definition of marriage is in stark…

  • Church,  New Testament

    Are Apostles for the Church Today?

    Although it is becoming more and more popular to argue that there are Apostles in the church today, this is far from a majority position. Rather, it is generally recognized that the Greek word used for apostles in the New Testament can be used in both a generic sense (simply meaning “sent one”), or in a specific sense. Romans 16:7 is an example of a generic sense where Paul uses the term “apostle” to refer to individuals who are sent out from a church for some purpose. But there is also a more specific category of apostleship which relates specifically to apostles who represent Jesus Christ as His authoritative ambassadors. In other words, these Apostles were viewed with the authority of Jesus because He commissioned them himself. Note, for example, that Paul, an Apostle of Christ, had the authority to give instruction which was on the same level of Christ…

  • Church,  Hermeneutics,  Theology

    7 Beliefs that Don’t Define Dispensationalism

    Readers of this blog may be curious as to what makes someone a dispensationalist. Simply put, dispensationalism is a set of doctrinal beliefs that deal with hermeneutics (how to read Scripture), ecclesiology (how the church operates), and eschatology (what the end times look like). Hence, a dispensationalist holds a distinctive set of beliefs about understanding Scripture, the role and function of the church, and about the end times. I have written elsewhere about how one can define dispensationalism, but in this post I want to highlight seven fundamentally errant beliefs that are sometimes associated with dispensationalism. These are charges that are often leveled against dispensationalism in a variety of circles. I have listed them in their accusatory forms. Dispensationalism teaches multiple ways of salvation. Unfortunately, this myth is often repeated, but has no basis in reality. Some people accuse dispensationalists of believing OT saints were saved by keeping the Law…

  • Church,  New Testament

    What Does it Mean to be Filled with the Spirit?

    Ephesians 5:18 commands believers to “be filled with the Spirit.” But what does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? Being filled with the Spirit has been understood in a variety of ways. Some have interpreted as some sort of spiritual manifestation of speaking in tongues. Others have said being filled with the Spirit is the same as being filled with Christ. Although there are many notions as to what being “filled with the Spirit” means, I think if we pay attention to the grammar and broader context of Ephesians, we can understand this passage. First, there is the problem of what it actually means to be filled “with the Spirit.” Many of the English versions (NASB, ESV, KJV, etc.) translate it “with the Spirit” which is ambiguous, because it could mean two different things: “Filled with the Spirit” could communicate content (one is filled with the content of…

  • Church

    Justin Martyr on the Early Church Practice

    Justin Martyr is a name unfamiliar to many. However, Justin Martyr would have been very familiar in early Christianity. He was a first class Christian apologist, and in his writings he defended the peacefulness of Christians by describing the practices of the church around 150 A.D. (within 60 years of the Apostle John’s death). To those who question whether the contemporary practice of church is far different than what it would have looked like for early Christians, I find the testimony of Justin Martyr particularly insightful (First Apology, 67, ca. 150 A.D.). Justin Martyr on the Order of Service On the day called Sunday there is a gathering together in the same place of all who live in a given city or rural district. The memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits. Then when the reader ceases, the president in…