• 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…

  • Apologetics,  Theology

    What is the Catholic View of Salvation?

    A question I occasionally get is what the difference is between the Catholic Church and the Evangelical church. Isn’t the Catholic Church just another option for where to go to church, based on the preference of the individual? To many people it is. However, the Catholic Church officially holds to beliefs which do not align with what the Bible teaches, and therefore it is not a true church. In fact, the Catholic Church is a pseudo-church which is leading millions of people to hell. Whoa now, is that a little strong? Now, I have many friends and relatives who go to the Catholic Church. So I don’t write this without knowing friends who are in the Catholic Church. But that personal experience does not affect what is objectively true—the fact that the Catholic Church teaches a different way of salvation. The Catholic View of Salvation In Catholic belief, one must enter into…

  • New Testament,  Theology

    The Link between Salvation and Good Works

    Many people do not connect good works with salvation at all. As a case in point, I remember a time about five or six years ago I had the opportunity to have a conversation from a man from Texas. As we talked about Jesus and the church, he mentioned that everyone went to church in the South and that it was a way of life. When I pressed him further, he admitted that there were many in the South who would verbally identify as Christians but live just as pagan as anybody else. When I asked this man how someone goes to heaven he articulated a very clean and precise presentation of the gospel. He told me that going to heaven was only possible through Christ’s sacrifice and that good works play no part in earning salvation. At that moment I was kind of stunned, because he was articulating a…

  • New Testament,  Theology

    Three Stages of a Christian’s Sanctification

    It is popular in New Testament scholarship to view sanctification only in a positional sense. It is true that much of the New Testament refers to sanctification in a positional sense, meaning our standing before God as being special and set apart. While this is undoubtedly true, there are good arguments to utilize sanctification terminology to refer to the entire process of our salvation, from the initial stages to our ultimate glorification in heaven. Thus, we can think of our sanctification as involving three distinct stages. Positional Sanctification The word is self refers to making holy, or setting something apart. Thus, we are not surprised when Hebrews 10:10 says that we have positional sanctification because of the once-for-all death of Christ. This positional sanctification is even granted to the worldly believers in Corinth (1 Cor 1:2). Thus, when we speak of sanctification, we must acknowledge that there is a positional…

  • New Testament,  Theology

    What Makes Jesus Happy?

    Happiness is often thought of as the chief goal in life. Thus, many people assume that, as a perfect human, Jesus must have been a very happy individual. However, I don’t see Jesus being happy very often in Scripture. In fact, I can only identify two times in the gospels where Jesus is described as happy. One of those times is in John 11:15 where Jesus is happy that he was not there to save Lazarus, so that the disciples would see God’s power displayed through Jesus. The other time Jesus is happy is described in Luke 10:21, At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.” If we…

  • Christian Living

    The High Cost of Following Jesus

    Many people buy into the lie that Jesus wants you to believe in Him so that He can fix your life. Many people think following Jesus is the key to a prosperous life. I have heard preachers say that if someone wants to be a better athlete, a better doctor, a better musician, then come to Jesus! The truth is, Jesus never promised that following him would make your life better. In fact, He constantly warned that following Him may make your life worse! Take Luke 14:25-33 for example. Jesus tells any who are interested in following Him that they must be willing to sacrifice three things. In following Christ, you must be willing to sacrifice life’s closest relationships. If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My…

  • Hermeneutics,  New Testament

    Does Baptism Save You? Looking at Acts 2:38

    There are a few texts that seem to indicate that baptism saves an individual. In order to work through the apparent contradiction in Scripture, many will cross reference other texts to explain away the passage. Last time I pointed out that it doesn’t make sense to read one passage upon another. It can be helpful to cross reference, but the key to understanding Scripture is identifying authorial intent. The key to proper biblical interpretation involves knowing the author, the audience, the purpose of the passage, and the context. Knowing this information keeps us from injecting our own meaning or purpose into the text. It also helps us derive our theology from what the text means rather than conforming the text to our own theology. Coming off of last post, I thought it would be helpful to use Acts 2:38 as a test case for a proper contextual interpretation. What follows…

  • Ethics,  Theology

    What Does it Mean to Be Human?

    Someone asked me this last week if I would write down my thoughts on what it means to be human. My answer will of course focus on the Bible, since that is the best source for understanding the intricacies of what it means to be human. Being human means being a creature made in the image of God (Gen 1:26-28). There are two important aspects to this statement. First, human beings are creatures made by a Creator. Hence, man is obligated to follow and obey the Creator. No creature has the authority to supersede the Creator, and thus morality and ethics are completely derived from the Creator himself. Second, although mere creatures, human beings are accorded honor that is unparalleled in creation—human beings are made in the image of God. As such, mankind is given direct authority on behalf of God to function as caretaker and guardian of the rest…