The Day I Would Die

I closed my eyes and waited. Today was the day we would die in the arena. Not long ago, I had been asked to throw incense to Caesar and call him that which no mere man was… call him a god. But, Jesus was Lord. Jesus is always Lord. He never changes. Caesar was a mere mortal, a son of man who would wither like the grass. By the grace of God, we who confessed Jesus as Lord would not die; rather, we who die with Him will also live with Him.

Only God knew what awaited any of us in the arena. Sometimes, it made my blood run cold. But, I knew Jesus was with me. Continue reading “The Day I Would Die”

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”

Salvation: Sharing in the Life of the Triune God

One of the most mind-boggling verses in all the Scriptures may be: “I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are one, Father, You in Me and I in them. May they be brought to complete unity that the world may know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.” The Scriptures abound with similar promises. “To him who overcomes, I will give to sit with Me on My throne, even as I have overcome and sat down with My Father on His throne.” “I know My sheep and My sheep know Me, even as I know the Father and the Father knows Me.”

The goal of the Christian life, salvation itself, is, apparently, a participation in the life of the Trinity. This may well be the greatest mystery in Christianity; Continue reading “Salvation: Sharing in the Life of the Triune God”

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”