2018 is almost over! As the year ends, we took a look at all the articles we published this year. Here are our top articles from 2018. We hope you enjoy reading them!
Revelation, like the rest of Scripture, is about Christ, and any interpretation that ends up with something else as central has not only missed the entire message of the book but, to put it simply, is wrong. By, "about Christ", I mean that it is about His person (He is both fully God and fully man), and His work (His life, death, and resurrection) on our behalf, and not merely about His second coming.
Daily ordinary hospitality, practiced for Christ’s glory, sanctifies your boundaries and fortifies your faith. It also exposes the idolatry in our hearts that falsely declare our homes our castles and our time our own. Hospitality combats the crushing loneliness that too many brothers and sisters in Christ bear by offering basic care: a meal, a hug, a prayer. When we share a rhythm of life, we know before anyone asks how we can help and what others need. Right before the eyes of this post-Christian world that dismisses orthodox Christianity as dangerous or useless, Christian hospitality seizes the power of Christ, grabs with our open hands the promises of heaven, and brings Christ’s love to bear on those in our arm’s embrace. With redeemed hearts and the promises of God, we have much to share with others. Hospitality is a lived theology that your unbelieving neighbors can taste and feel.
One Sunday at a church I served as pastor, a woman named Ann showed up. From the start, it was clear that her life had been shredded up by hard living. Ann explained to our greeters that she was in recovery from a heroin addiction, to which the needle streaks and scars on her arms gave witness. She was barely thirty-days sober…For Mary Magdalene, Peter, Ann, and all who trust in the resurrected Jesus what remains is a future with no more death, mourning, crying, or pain (Revelation 21:1-7). It is a world where we will be like Jesus, because we will see him as he is (1 John 3:2).
There’s a constant struggle between the old and the new man (Gal. 5:17), and this conflict is itself an indication that we have been enlightened by God to see our sin as something we must fight against. We don’t always experience victory on the battlefield though, and often the Christian life can feel like a string of defeats. The good news is when we sin, we have an advocate before the Father pleading our case (1 Jn. 2:1), and as he grants us victory, we rejoice over the death of our sin, rather than mourning its loss.
The popular phrase in the medieval church was “God will not deny his grace to those who do what lies within their power.” A modern equivalent is “God helps those who help themselves,” and according to a Barna survey, 87 percent of today’s Evangelical Christians (the heirs of the Reformation) affirm that medieval Roman Catholic conviction. In fact, two-thirds of the Evangelical Christians in America said that we all pray to the same God whether we’re Buddhists, Muslims, Jews or Christians, two-thirds. Grace alone has fallen prey once more to the moralism and self-confidence of the human heart.
God gives what he commands. In the old covenant, God commanded the nation of Israel to circumcise their own hearts (Deut 10:16). In the new covenant, God promises to do that himself. We can’t even believe in Christ unless the Holy Spirit gives us faith, according to Ephesians 2:1-10 and many other passages…But God requires our obedience, just as any good father does. “If you love me,” Jesus said, “then you will keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15).
When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he taught them to request that the Father “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” (Matt. 6:12). This prayer captures something significant about being a Christian. We live by faith under grace and act out of grace. We are free to forgive in the way the rest of the world is not. We can act in mercy because God has carried out justice in Jesus’ life and death for us.
How can we think about these things? Why do some children raised in Christian homes grow up loving God, while others, sometimes from the same home, turn away? In answering this question, we must identify two issues that have an impact on the persons our children become: the shaping influences of their lives and the Godward orientation of their hearts.
Although it is true that a person who has committed suicide cannot repent of the sin (unless they repented ahead of time for what they were about to do), it is not true that the Bible teaches suicide is an unforgivable sin. The Bible never teaches this. Repentance itself does not seal us into the heavenly kingdom—the Holy Spirit has given us such a seal (Eph. 1:13, 4:30). Although confessing our sins before God does increase our fellowship with him, it does not seal us any more than we have already been by the blood of the lamb.
People are always asking the question, “Should we have our children with us in public worship?” This question is clearly an issue that divides a lot of churches, and is often a key reason why some American parents will attend one church over another, otherwise-sound church. To this, I have one thing to say…Let the little children come into big church.