• 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…

  • Ethics,  Old Testament

    Why is Incest Wrong According to the Bible?

    Although incest is specifically prohibited by Leviticus 18, we often (unfortunately) isolate this text from its foundation. In biblical law it is important to understand the relationship between Law and creation to aid the process of application. In the case of incest, we need to understand that incest is prohibited because of its connection to Genesis 2:24. Tracing the Language of Incest to Genesis 2:24 Leviticus 18:6–18 begins with the introductory phrase, “None of you shall approach any blood relative of his to uncover nakedness” (אִישׁ אִישׁ אֶל־כָּל־שְׁאֵר בְּשָׂרֹו לֹא תִקְרְבוּ לְגַלּוֹת עֶרְוָה). This verse functions as an introductory phrase which relates to the entire section on incest. The pertinent phrase we need to consider is “blood relative,” which can be literally translated, “flesh of his flesh” (שְׁאֵר בְּשָׂרֹו). This phrase invokes repetition of a concept which is first mentioned in Genesis 2:24 in the description of the “one flesh”…

  • Apologetics,  Old Testament

    Who Was Cain’s Wife? Was it Incest?

    A natural question arises concerning Adam and Eve’s children. Who was Cain’s wife? If there were no other humans besides those who came from Adam and Eve, then by definition wouldn’t Adam and Eve’s children be committing incest? Cain would have no option except to marry his sister, which would be incest! If Cain married his sister, that would seem to be wrong because of Genesis 2:24’s definition of a “one flesh” relationship? Cain is not the only one who might be guilty of incest by that definition. Abraham married his half-sister (cf. Gen 20:12). At the very least, this would seem to be poor planning by the Creator; at the worst, it would be a plan where the Creator causes His creatures to sin. Although there have been a variety of answers to question of who Cain’s wife was and why apparent incest was allowed, one solution holds promise…

  • 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…

  • Theology

    What is Covenant Theology?

    What is covenant theology? This is a question I get periodically, so that it would be helpful to write a brief introduction on it. In the past I have defined the beliefs of dispensationalism (as well as the things that do NOT define dispensationalism). Thus, it is only fair now that I spent some time defining covenant theology. Adherents of covenant theology claim that covenant theology is the natural outworking of God’s covenantal relationship with humanity.[1] Although that general statement would find very few detractors, the details of covenant theology are often debated, even among proponents. Although Ulrich Zwingli is referred to as the initiator of covenant theology,[2] it developed into a full-fledged system through the contributions of Zwingli’s successors.[3] Within this system there is broad agreement as to how the system is constituted. Covenant theologian, Michael Horton, notes, A broad consensus emerged in this Reformed (federal) theology with respect…

  • 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…

  • Apologetics,  Ethics,  Theology

    Can God Love Us and Still Allow Evil?

    Is it possible that a loving God would allow evil? Think about the evil we see all around the world. Rape, murder, death, accidents, suffering—all evidences of evil. If God is in complete control (i.e., sovereign), how can we justify His love when He allows such evil? This is a common argument brought forward by unbelievers. However, it is also a question that believers ask in the midst of suffering and evil. What should our response to this kind of statement? There are three things to remember which help us reconcile this apparent problem of evil as well as provide a proper answer to an unbeliever. 1. God defines love, love does not define God Adam Ford has a helpful Christian comic which illustrates this point brilliantly (see full comic here). We must not let the culture’s version of love form who our God is. The Bible not only reveals…

  • Theology

    The Non-Salvific Benefits of Common Grace

    There are a variety of ways one could define common grace. In Wayne Grudem’s systematic theology, he defines common grace as “the grace of God by which he gives people innumerable blessings that are not part of salvation. Common refers to something that is common to all people and is not restricted to believers or the elect only” (Grudem, 657). This systematic category of common grace is worth exploring in Scripture because it teaches us of God’s blessing and mercy even to the unsaved. Sometimes the believer can mistakenly think that God doesn’t give blessing to unbelievers, but that is surely not the case. Because God is gracious and kind, those blessings do find their way to unbelievers in a variety of ways. As a part of common grace, God gives general blessings to all mankind. Matthew 5:45 and Acts 14:17 speak of God giving rain and sunshine and fruitful…

  • Hermeneutics,  Scripture

    Meaning in Scripture: More Than Words

    Communication is a complicated process. Not only are words involved, but tone, mood, and non-verbal signals are also a part of the process. Even within written communication examples of sarcasm, irony, jokes, and gloom all abound. Communication is complicated because it includes both words and emotion. This is why when we read Scripture, we must remind ourselves that we should not read as if Scripture were void of emotion or feeling. When we communicate with each other we are always naturally looking at the context to determine meaning. This is why a phrase or sentence can have multiple meanings, based on who the speaker/writer is and the intent of what the speaker/writer is trying to communicate. For example, what does “I forbid it!” mean? In perhaps an obvious situation, the phrase stands as a prohibition for a particular action (as in, I forbid you from playing computer games all day). However,…

  • 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…