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Friday, October 31, 2014
Today while much of the world wallows in the excess and prurience of Halloween, some Christians will instead pause to celebrate a different holiday. Reformation Day marks the anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his Ninety-five Theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. That audacious act by a passionate monk is often recognized as the flashpoint of the Protestant Reformation.
Thursday, October 30, 2014
Paul’s pastoral counsel to his protégé Timothy was clear: “Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching” (1 Timothy 4:13). He told Timothy to read the text, explain the text (doctrine), and apply the text (exhortation). You don’t read it and jump right into application. You read it, then explain it, and then apply it. That’s what “accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) is all about. Otherwise, misinterpretation is the likely result, and misinterpretation is the mother of all kinds of mania.
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
There is nothing more basic to Bible study than Bible reading. Imagine trying to interpret a middle chapter in the allegorical Pilgrim’s Progress without knowing the larger story, or studying the significance of World War II without a good understanding of World War I. Proper Bible study cannot be built on a scattered compilation of pet verses or a narrow study of a particular doctrine—it must be grounded in a comprehensive understanding of broad biblical themes and history. And the only way to obtain that is faithful, diligent Bible reading.
Monday, October 27, 2014
The tremendous access to God’s Word today has also bred a dangerous complacency. Bibles now occupy ornamental places in our homes. We would consider it foolish to find a treasure chest and never open it to see what’s inside. Yet in reality, that’s what happens when a Bible is relegated to decorative use.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
From time to time at Grace to You we have the bittersweet duty to bid farewell to a faithful servant whom the Lord has called to another ministry. We recently said goodbye to Travis Allen, who has been called to pastor Grace Church in Greeley, Colorado. And after fourteen years of faithful service at Grace to You, it’s appropriate to recognize how the Lord has used Travis for the sake of His kingdom.
Friday, October 17, 2014
A final point to consider, specifically with reference to modern prophecy, is that by eliminating the simple biblical standard by which false prophets may be identified, modern charismatics have opened the door for chaos and doctrinal confusion in the church. Fake healings and false tongues are bad enough, but when someone claims to have private revelation from God, the sufficiency and singularity of Scripture is instantly clouded, and the authority of Scripture is undermined. It is a terribly dangerous breach of a fundamental principle of evangelical Protestant and biblical conviction.
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Looking back over the history of the Pentecostal and charismatic movements, it is significant to note that Pentecostalism’s distinctive teachings have always been outside the historic mainstream of Protestant and Reformed conviction. All the Reformers and their heirs were cessationists. They believed and taught emphatically that God is intimately involved and providentially in control of every detail of everything that happens in the universe. They also held the firm conviction that apostolic sign-gifts ceased when the apostolic era passed. They saw no conflict between those two articles of faith. Nor did any cessationist imagine a conflict there until three pernicious trends began to turn the tide of twentieth-century evangelicalism.
Monday, October 13, 2014
Southern California has always been a hub of Pentecostal influence. Although the first experiments with modern tongues-speaking took place in rural Kansas in 1901, Pentecostalism became an actual movement with the Azusa Street Revival of 1906, in a dilapidated section of downtown Los Angeles.
Friday, October 10, 2014
A gun-toting, beer-drinking, foul-mouthed “pastor” recently made headlines when he was arrested for driving while intoxicated. In an emotional apology to the church, he confessed he had been abusing alcohol for years. While the extent of his drinking had been kept relatively private until then, he had built both his reputation and his church on the extreme exercise of his Christian liberties.
Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Overconfidence is a sure way to fall into temptation and sin. To assume you’re beyond the world’s grasp, immune to its enticements, and free to do whatever you like is often the first step toward the harsh realization that you’re not.
Monday, October 06, 2014
Exercising our freedom must never come at the cost of offending another brother or sister in Christ. The principle of love demands that, whenever necessary, we willingly sacrifice our liberty for the sake of protecting each other. That is Paul’s theme in 1 Corinthians 8.
Thursday, October 02, 2014
First Corinthians 8 is Paul’s response to a gray-area question dividing the church at Corinth. Paul doesn’t simply give the Corinthians a “yes” or “no” answer to their questions about eating meat sacrificed to idols. He helps them think through the purpose of their liberty and the implications of the activity. He wants them to consider the effect it will have on believers whose consciences are not so free. And while eating meat sacrificed to idols is not an issue most believers will face in the church today, Paul’s instructions give us a lot of practical help for the gray areas we will face.
Monday, September 29, 2014
When God’s Word doesn’t address an aspect of life—whether it’s an activity, entertainment, or some other experience—how do believers know what they can and can’t do?
Friday, September 26, 2014
God’s Word does not give us detailed instructions for every aspect of Christian life. Believers are frequently confronted with situations, questions, and decisions that Scripture says nothing about. God’s people have been set free from the Old Testament law, but that freedom leaves us with a lot of important decisions to make in life’s gray areas.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Scripture is clear and understandable, but it’s not exhaustive. Throughout the history of the church, believers have faced countless issues that God’s Word is silent about. While the Old Testament law provided detailed instructions and restrictions for most areas of life, believers today are not bound by God’s covenant with Israel—we’ve been set free in Christ. But how do we know what to do with our freedom?
Monday, September 22, 2014
How do believers navigate life’s gray areas? When it comes to activities, amusements, or anything else God’s Word does not specifically address, how should conscientious Christians determine what they can and can’t do?