Archives For Theology

Have you ever thought about how Jesus viewed the Old Testament? Since the Old Testament was the entire Bible in His day, His view of it can be understood as His view of the Bible.

Matthew has the first record of Jesus’ temptations. When Satan came to Jesus in the wilderness in order to tempt Jesus, the Savior’s response was to quote Scripture. His strength to resist temptation was found in obedience to God’s Word.

Later, when confronting the Pharisees, Jesus said, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, because he wrote about Me. But if you don’t believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” How trustworthy were the writings of Moses? Jesus, the living Word of God, equated Moses’ words with His own.

Following His resurrection, Jesus met two disciples walking to the town of Emmaus. During the ensuing discussion Luke relates that Jesus began “with Moses and all the Prophets” interpreting “for them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (24:27). Later, after Jesus vanished before their very eyes they said to…

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heaven&earth.proclaimBy Russell D. Moore

I have long suspected that many Christians dread not just death but heaven. We won’t admit that, of course. Our hymnody, of whatever era, is filled with songs about the joy of the afterlife, and “what a day of rejoicing that will be.” We’re glad we’re not going to hell or to oblivion. But most of our songs and sermon mentions are about that first few moments in heaven: when we see Jesus, when we’re reunited with our loved ones, and so on. It’s like the happy ending of the story. And that’s the problem.

The Gospel tells us that Satan keeps unbelievers bound by fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-15). Believers, too often, dread death also, though not as much from fear as from boredom. We see the story of our lives as encompassing this span of 70 or 80 or 100 years. The life to come is our “great reward” in “the afterlife.”

But just think about that word “afterlife.” It assumes eternity is an endless postlude to where the action really happens. It’s “after.” Our “reward” happens after we’ve lived our lives. Here’s why this…

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McFatridge.PrayerActionBy Claude King

Years ago, while reading one of my dozens of books by Andrew Murray, I learned that our modern posture of prayer (kneeling with hands clasped with head bowed) didn’t come from Judaism but from a medieval ceremony. I undertook a study of that ceremony while writing a booklet, “Consecrate the People: Renewing Our Covenant Commitments to Jesus Christ.”

The homage ceremony

In the homage ceremony a king, lord or landowner would call his vassals or subjects before him to pledge their loyalty and obedience to their lord. The king would hold out his open hands. The subject would kneel with bowed head and place his hands inside the hands of his king. Then he would say these words, “I am your man.” (The name of the ceremony comes from the Latin word for man.)

That simple statement essentially meant, “I belong to you.” It included the obligation to obey any request of the king, even the call to battle. That pledge of obedience also included a readiness to obey even if the assignment would cost the life of the subject. It could become a pledge of obedience even…

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Subversive KingdomSome people talk as if the church isn’t necessary to this endeavor anymore, that it no longer applies to his plan and mission to the same degree it once did. They say, “God is at work outside the church”–and, yes, he is. They say, “The kingdom is bigger than the church”–and, yes, it is. They say, “The kingdom of God is not the church”–and no, it isn’t.

But the missionary purpose that forges our identity, placed within us by a missional God, continues to draw us into the core of his kingdom activity. The ministry of his gospel has been designed “so that God’s multi-faceted wisdom may now be made known through the church” (Eph. 3:10, italics added). And so that through us, he receives glory.

The church, therefore, remains his central tool for accomplishing the subversive kingdom’s agenda. No, we are not the means of reconciliation any more than the misinformed modern citizen is the potential conduit to heaven on earth. God does the saving, not the church. But just as he sent Jesus here to establish a beachhead for the kingdom, and just as Jesus dispatched his first disciples…

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canned foodIt’s that brief season of the year when most people are still on track with their resolutions to eat more healthfully and lose weight. In pursuit of that goal, millions have consulted Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, online diet plans, calorie-counting apps and a host of other nutritional guides — most of which have great value.

But what about the Bible? Does it have anything to say about our eating habits?

Certainly it does. Incorporating Scripture’s wisdom into our New Year’s resolutions could mean the difference between success and failure

First of all, we should make a distinction between healthy eating and fasting. The Bible says a great deal about fasting, but that’s abstaining from food for a purely spiritual purpose.

Healthy eating habits are a different matter, which the Bible also addresses. For one, the apostle Paul calls the body “a temple of the Holy Spirit” and urges, “You are not your own … glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). The context is an exhortation to flee sexual immorality and not profane the body that was created to honor God, but there’s an application to diet as well. Honoring…

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Color.ofCross.pcom_-300x231Woulda, coulda, shoulda.

Regret is a painful thing. We look back on the foolish things we have done and the good things we have left undone. We lament wasted years, wrong attitudes, hurts inflicted on others, missed opportunities.

Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse, spent years caring for patients in their last days. She identified the most common regrets they expressed about their lives in an article, and later a book, titled “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.” They are:

1. “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

“This was the most common regret of all,” Ware writes. “When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.”

2. “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”

“This came from every male patient that I nursed,” Ware reports. “They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also…

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For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2 (NIV)

New Years ResolutionsHow are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? Have you already given up on them?

One of my friends made these resolutions to guarantee success —

  • I won’t lose ten pounds this year.
  • I commit to watching the Super Bowl this year.
  • I will listen to my iPod at least four days a week.

There is one guy who I suspect played for keeps when he made New Year’s resolutions. You know him, the zealot who could never do anything half-way, the let’s-get-real-about-our-faith Apostle Paul.

My thought is Paul only had one resolution on his list New Year’s list – ‘This year I resolve to know nothing but Christ and him crucified.’ (1 Corinthians 2:2)

Paul’s message is radically simple: Salvation is in Christ alone.

  • It’s not Christ plus your call to ministry.
  • It’s not Christ plus your theological education.
  • It’s not Christ plus the size of your congregation.
  • It’s not Christ plus your powerful preaching.
  • It’s not Christ plus how many you lead to Jesus.
  • It’s not Christ plus your years of sacrifice.
  • It’s not Christ…

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Color.ofCross.pcomTIME Magazine is calling it, “The Massacre of the Innocents“. And, it was.

Yet, that phrase has another meaning that many might not know. The Gospel of Matthew recorded this:

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been outwitted by the wise men, flew into a rage. He gave orders to massacre all the male children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, in keeping with the time he had learned from the wise men. Then what was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; and she refused to be consoled,because they were no more” (Matthew 2:16-18).

Bible scholars think that this small village of Bethlehem had a population of about 1000, which means about 20 infant boys would have been killed by Herod’s evil command. Yes, 20 children. Though Jesus was not among the killed, the weeping was real and loud for those who experienced yet another loss. And, we know that God grieved with Rachel who weeped for her children.

Yet, outside of the Gospel of…

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Gospel TheologyI recently heard Tim Keller speak on his new book Center Church (more on this in the blog later). The image above is his outline on gospel theology which is about one-eighth of the book. I am halfway through the book and I believe it is the most important book on church leadership written in my lifetime.

Here are a few quotes, including four stellar declarations of a church that is true to the Gospel:

#1 We are a church not just for ourselves but for those who don’t believe

#2 We are a church not just for ourselves but for the poor

#3 We are a church not just for ourselves but for the whole body of Christ

#4 We are a church not just for ourselves but for our church community

Two other quotes:

“In some ways we need to shape the church to be more engaged with the culture and in other ways we need to shape the church to be more confrontational with the culture.” – Tim Keller

“In the church members should say,  ’I give up the right to live my life the way I want, and I submit myself to a covenant community.’” -…

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By Russell D. Moore

Zombies are everywhere. Ever since the classic “Night of the Living Dead,” the undead have shown up in movies. Zombies now are featured in top-rated cable TV shows, and in apocalyptic novels and survival guides. An entire genre has ignited around the concept of adding zombies to classic literature (“Pride and Prejudice with Zombies,” etc.). But why are we drawn to these gruesome figures?

In the New York Times, columnist Amy Wilentz reminds us why zombies scare us, and why we can’t help but watch through our clenched hands covering our eyes. The zombie myth is rooted in something quite real, and quite terrifying. The zombie stories emerged in a Caribbean context of brutal slavery. The zombie’s horror is that he is, she writes, a slave forever. After all, if even death cannot free you, you can never be free.

That’s exactly the point, and here’s why it should matter to Christians.

Zombies are horrifying not simply because they’re mean and aggressive. They are horrifying because they represent what ought to repulse us: the rotting decay of death. But they still walk. And, beyond that,…

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By James A. Smith Sr.

Your view of politics — or, more specifically, the role of Christians and Christianity in politics — is probably wrong (at least at times).

Don’t be offended; my views over the years also have been wrong — and I must continually resist being seduced by some wrong thinking about this matter.

Some readers got no further than the headline of this editorial, deciding the subject matter is of little to no interest, illustrating at least one wrong view of politics. Others aren’t reading these words because they firmly believe Christians’ involvement in politics is not only unnecessary, but also actually harmful to a godly life — yet another incorrect way for Christians to assess politics.

Those faulty views and others could play a significant role this election year. With the general election just under three weeks away, this is no time for Christians to hold and propagate misunderstandings about politics and government.

A sure guide to understanding this matter is theologian Wayne Grudem and his book, “Politics According to the Bible” (Zondervan, 2010). Before explaining the biblical demands of Christian citizenship, Grudem outlines “Five Wrong Views…

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By Leonard Sweet & Frank Viola

Jesus: A Theography (Thomas Nelson, 424 pages, hardcover) is the new release by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola (authors of Jesus Manifesto). This new book uniquely tells the story of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation, connecting all the dots together, showing that the Bible is one beautiful narrative of Christ.  The following is an excerpt from chapter 11, “Jesus: Preacher and Teacher.” Click here to read a sample chapter along with details, resources, and discounts.


JesusWe tend to forget that crucifixion was the ultimate form of torture. The science of exquisite torture has never been equaled, much less exceeded, than in crucifixion. The crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth was no exception. Crucifixion was more than an ugliness blotted out by Easter, more than a speed bump on the road to resurrection.

Part of the cruelty of crucifixion was the emotional as well as physical torture. 

There is no odor so bad as that which arises from goodness tainted.

—Henry David Thoreau

Yes, Jesus’ physical agonies were beyond imagining. But the emotional agonies were even worse—the humiliation of being stripped naked, with all bodily parts and functions exposed for the humiliating gaze of the public; the…

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