Hypocrisy in the American Church: A Scandal and Disgrace

In one of the Letters to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul wrote that an immoral person who refuses to repent should be expelled from the Church. Then he writes, “I do not mean for you not to associate with unbelievers; to do that, you would have to leave the world.” So, obviously, the idea is that there should not be persistent public sin in the Church, but, as Jesus did, we should relate to and love people, regardless of whether their sins are particularly heinous or disgusting in whatever way.

This is precisely what I do not see in the American Protestant Church. Others may have the same problem or very similar and closely related problems, but I’m going to focus on a manifestation of this plague which afflicts Protestantism. Continue reading “Hypocrisy in the American Church: A Scandal and Disgrace”

Christian Citizenship

“Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we eagerly await the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

“No man can serve two masters. He must love the one and despise the other.”

Christians can only ever offer allegiance to God alone. We were born into various different countries and, by the command of God, we are to pay taxes and offer due honor to the authorities of our country, whether it be the United States of America or Iran or China. We are obligated, by the command of God, to obey the laws of the nation to which we belong, just insofar as the laws of the nation do not conflict with the laws of God. The instant they do, we are obligated to “disobey” them – they are no longer laws and have no more authority – all authority comes from God.

Ultimately, however, our citizenship is only in heaven. We can never be about our country. We are ambassadors of Christ and must always remember that fact. Continue reading “Christian Citizenship”

Christian Forgiveness: As God in Christ Forgave You

There are a lot of lies about forgiveness that people, even Christians, spread.

When He was being nailed to the cross, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

Later, St. Paul would write to the Christians, “Forgive, just as God in Christ forgave you.”

Forgiveness starts with God. It is a free gift of grace. Jesus bore our sin. He was nailed to the cross to provide for our forgiveness. He felt our sin in all its magnitude, horror, and depth of evil so that He could forgive – really forgive – us. He suffered all the hurt and evil of our sin, and so forgave us.

That is why we forgive: because God has forgiven us so much more. Continue reading “Christian Forgiveness: As God in Christ Forgave You”

Faith: The Sight of the Soul Upon God

Sometimes, people wonder whether faith comes before regeneration or the other way around. Other times, people trust in and look to faith, or what they think is faith, instead of God. I believe that all these issues (and maybe more besides) stem from a misunderstanding of what faith is.

“Now, faith is the confidence of things not seen and the assurance of things hoped for.” That’s from Hebrews. In 2nd Corinthians, Paul writes, “We fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen, for what is seen is passing away, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” Continue reading “Faith: The Sight of the Soul Upon God”

How Should We, as Christians, Respond to ISIS?

How should we, as Christians, respond to ISIS?

For most things, clarification and disentangling of different meanings present in a word is helpful. I believe that by ISIS we generally mean two things at the same time which together form one thing; namely a group of people who do certain types of despicable things. Firstly, we mean the actions of ISIS. Secondly, we mean the individuals in ISIS. We do not have to feel the same way about both (besides the fact that we could not, even if we wanted)! In order to determine how we should respond to ISIS we are going to try untangle how and why we feel the way we do, why we do not have to, why ISIS is what they are, and how we (being who we are) should react to them (being who they are).

Our Fear of ISIS

I am not, here, interested in the probability of ISIS doing certain things or the power of ISIS to do these things. In some ways, I think, this is simple enough. We are afraid of ISIS and, since fear is a horrible emotion to feel, we try to dull it with hatred. Further, the actions of ISIS are, in fact, completely worthy of hatred. First, why are we afraid? What exactly are we afraid of? Continue reading “How Should We, as Christians, Respond to ISIS?”

I Will Look Upon Your Face in Righteousness: How Can I Envy Though My Enemies Have All Their Desire

I was reading Psalm 17:15 and verse 15 specifically stood out to me. “As for me, I will look upon Your face in righteousness, I will be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.” In the context on the previous verses, “Arise, O YHWH, confront him, bring him low; Deliver my soul from the wicked with Your sword and from men with Your hand, O YHWH, from men of this world whose portion is in this life and whose belly You fill with Your treasure; They are satisfied with children, they leave their abundance to their babes,” 15 is powerful. It is as if David is saying, “How can I envy, even though my enemies have all their desire? Yes, Lord, give my enemies all that this world can offer, if You will. It does not concern me. I have something far greater, far better, far more everlasting. I shall look upon Your face in righteousness, I shall be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake, You who are my only good. [Ps. 16:2]” Continue reading “I Will Look Upon Your Face in Righteousness: How Can I Envy Though My Enemies Have All Their Desire”

Authority: Romans 13 in the Context of Life in America

A while ago I was reading a book where the following was recounted, in more detail: a man is preaching about Jesus to a group of people who’ve gathered to listen. Another man shows up and tells him to stop. He ignores the man telling him to stop until he notices that the man is a police officer, at which point he perceives his demands to be authoritative and complies.

I don’t wish to criticize the individual in question. I don’t know the particulars of the situation; maybe he was blocking a route and it really was appropriate for him to move. What really bothered me about the story was actually where and how the writer told it; he was using it to illustrate the weight of authority. As such, it is singularly unhelpful and even harmful. Continue reading “Authority: Romans 13 in the Context of Life in America”

(Part II) The Promises of God: Prayer – Whatever You Ask

Over and over again, Jesus said things like, “Whenever two or more of you agree on anything that you ask in My Name it shall be given you,” or “Whatever you ask in My Name, I will do,” or “Until now you have not asked for anything in My Name. On that day you will ask, and I do not say that I will petition the Father on your behalf; no, the Father Himself loves you, because you have believed in My Name,” or, this, in 1st John, “Now, if we ask for anything according to His will we know that He hears us, and we know that if He hears us then we have what we asked of Him.” Continue reading “(Part II) The Promises of God: Prayer – Whatever You Ask”

Why The Believers Were Shocked by Peter’s Release: It Wasn’t What They Were Praying For!

I was just reading an interpretation, which I can’t let go, of that part in Acts where the believers are praying for Peter and then can’t believe his release in a Bible Study guide a friend received. The interpretation, which I have seen in more places than I can count, was that that the believers didn’t really expect God to answer their prayers; they’d seen James killed and they were desperately praying for Peter’s release but they didn’t really believe that God could or would answer their prayers.

I’m going to be honest. I can’t stand that interpretation. That’s why I’m writing this article right now. I don’t think the believers were praying for Peter’s release at all. They’d seen God deliver Peter from prison before; Continue reading “Why The Believers Were Shocked by Peter’s Release: It Wasn’t What They Were Praying For!”

(Part I) The Promises of God: Introduction and Psalm 23

First, I’m going to give you some background for why I believe it is necessary to address the staggering nature and meaning of God’s promises. Then, I am going to go through Psalm 23 in the light of other Scriptures. I would like everyone to keep in mind throughout that all the promises are made in Christ and ultimately are Christ, even as we are told “Jesus Christ His Son, who is the only true God and eternal life,” and that it is in Christ that all the promises are “Yes and Amen.”

There is an unfortunate problem in America. There are a lot of people who don’t want to warn would-be believers to count the cost of discipleship. They shrink from telling people what Jesus did: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. Anyone who loves father or mother or wife or brother or lands more than Me is not worthy of Me.” Continue reading “(Part I) The Promises of God: Introduction and Psalm 23”