Audio Transcript In our culture, every sexual orientation gets a label and a definition. A 26-year-old anonymous female listener has been considering those categories. She writes in to us, saying, “Hello, Pastor John! What are your thoughts on the sexual orientation category of ‘asexual’ — of people who experience no general sexual attraction to others? This seems to be me currently. Am I broken? Is something wrong with me? Or do you think in a Christian’s life this would be a God-given signal that one has the permanent gift of singleness? At first I thought so, but then I see another category for those who are ‘demisexual’ — those who experience sexual attraction to someone, but only after a close emotional connection has first formed. I think I may be asexual, but I don’t know. Perhaps I could be sexually attracted to a man later on? “In light of 1 Corinthians 7:6–11, does the Bible applaud asexuality? And how should a currently asexual young woman proceed in thinking about singleness and marriage that embraces singleness and ministry opportunities, but leaves open the possibility of marriage in the future?” What would you say to this young female listener? I hadn’t planned to say this originally, but yesterday I took a walk with my wife, and I said, “Hey, I’ve been thinking about some APJ questions,” and I paraphrased this one to her about a woman who thought she had no sexual attraction to men as a single woman. And my wife looked at me and said, “What’s the problem?” I said, “Okay, I’ll tell her you said that.” That response might make a little more sense if I tell you what I was going to say anyway, but that’s a short answer. Matrimony Without Romance It might be helpful to start… Read More
“Well done, brother. Well done.” It was a sultry summer day in the heart of our nation’s capital. Just outside the restaurant, laborers were setting up fences and hanging bunting in preparation for the July 4 celebration. Inside, we were having a celebration of our own. Some 10 or 12 men had gathered together to celebrate the ministry of one of our own church planters. It was a wonderful occasion. Dozens of people walked by without interest as the brothers laughed, prayed, and encouraged this precious man. One by one, they spoke words of heartfelt gratitude for how he had inspired and encouraged them in their own ministry. One documented the brother’s biblical fidelity, another his eagerness for evangelism, still another his coffee snobbery, followed by another who testified to his love for the church. Our hearts were as full as our bellies as we rejoiced in how this man had helped us all. Had you been in the neighboring booth and listened, I’m sure you would have testified to the success of this planter. And you’d have been right. Only, the occasion of the meal was to say goodbye to this brother and his family as they transitioned out of the city; his church hadn’t made it past the indomitable five-year mark of a church plant. In the eyes of church-planting gurus, he had failed. But in the eyes of God, he had not. Four S’s For far too long in America, we’ve been led to believe a lie. While few will come right out and say it, we’ve been led to believe that church-planting success is defined by the accumulation of what I call the “four S’s:” size, speed, self-sufficiency, and spread. Get a large size, get it quickly, so you might be financially self-sufficient to spread your… Read More
Christians are called to be witnesses of Christ to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). In our day, the ends of the earth are moving into our neighborhoods — at least for those of us in America and Europe. Muslims are emigrating to our cities in record numbers. Many of us don’t need to board a plane to take the gospel to the Muslim world. We only need to cross the street to our neighbor’s house. Unfortunately, many Christians are apprehensive about engaging a relationship or even a conversation with Muslims. Some have a misperception that Muslims will not be friendly. Others are gripped with the fear of potentially offending Muslims by committing a cultural faux pas. Essentially, many are overcome by the fear of the unknown. I want to shed light on some common misconceptions that hinder Christians from reaching out to Muslims with the saving truth of Christ. Misconceptions About Muslims The most common misconception about Muslims is that they are all radical terrorists filled with hatred for the West — or at least they are headed in that direction. The thought is that all Muslims ultimately want to see our society destroyed and Islamic sharia law instituted throughout the land. Although there are movements of radical Islamic terrorists throughout the world, the vast majority of Muslims are among the more hospitable, gracious, and friendly people you will meet. Underlying this misunderstanding is the erroneous thinking that the more devout one gets as a Muslim, the more radical one becomes. Some think that the end of Christian devotion is to sell your possessions and give it all to the poor, while the end of Muslim devotion is to become a jihadist. “In our day, the ends of the earth are moving into our neighborhoods.” Tweet Share on… Read More
Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 296, a resolution “recognizing and condemning the Armenian Genocide, the killing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923.” A total of 405 representatives voted for the bill, while only 11 voted against it and three voted “present.” Here is what you should know about one of the most horrific atrocities against Christians in modern times. 1. The Armenian people have lived in the Caucasus region of Eurasia for thousands of years. The kingdom of Armenia was even the first nation in the world to make Christianity its official religion in the fourth century. But during the 15th century, Armenia was absorbed into the Ottoman Empire, which controlled much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, and whose rulers were Muslim. 2. In 1914, the Ottoman Empire entered World War I on the side of Germany and Austria-Hungary. The Ottoman authorities began a propaganda campaign portraying the Christian Armenians as being “in league with the enemy.” On April 24, 1915, hundreds of Armenian community leaders and intellectuals suspected of being hostile to the Ottoman government were rounded up in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul). Many of them ended up deported or assassinated. That date is now known as Red Sunday, and is commemorated as Genocide Remembrance Day by Armenians around the world. 3. The next month the Ottoman authorities passed the Temporary Law of Deportation (“Tehcir Law”) authorizing the deportation of the Armenian population. The government forced the population to march to concentration camps in desert regions in what is today northern and eastern Syria, northern Saudi Arabia, and Iraq. Scholars estimate that 600,000 to more than 1,000,000 Armenians were slaughtered or died on the marches. 4. The Ottoman authorities implemented a plan to systematically remove and kill all Armenian men who could resist. As… Read More
Excitement was palpable on the first day of Sunday school this year. A table featured notebooks lovingly assembled by hand with verses for children to memorize. Teachers chatted with parents about new songs on the agenda, new curricula, new dramas to unfold over the year. As my kids and I waited in line at the registration table, I glanced at my 6-year-old and prayed he could share some of the day’s joy. Yet as I watched, his enthusiasm ceded to anxiety. He stared at a box of name tags as if they were decayed things. A teacher cheered him hello, but he only blurted, “I don’t want a name tag please.” Then he glimpsed the television in the room. “Please, I don’t want to watch a video!” he suddenly cried. He started to backpedal, dragging his sister and me with him. “I can’t watch a video! Mum, I need to go home!” I placed my hand on his shoulder, but he shrank away, as if my light touch induced pain. Other parents stared in alarm. To anyone watching, the scene was bizarre. But to my family, this was just another moment. Just another day when our brilliant, compassionate, sweet boy, who loves Jesus even more than Legos, fought to cope with a world he isn’t wired to handle. Love the Sojourner God has special concern for those who wander in strange lands. He first commanded the Israelites to care for sojourners in the wilderness during the exodus (Exodus 22:21; 23:9). In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses reiterated God’s instruction before his people entered the Promised Land: “[God] executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:18–19). The… Read More
This is last in this series of posts. And I trust there has been a stirring in your heart as there has in mine – to recover true Evangelicalism for our day. It is when basics like those we’ve been examining here either get assumed, and thus for all practical purposes ignored, or shoved out of the way by other important, but not equally as essential things – that the foundations erode quickly. We go off course. It is one of the features of the Old Testament prophets that they were like “master-builders” (to use Paul’s term) who were constantly calling God’s people back to the original plan. Back from distraction and compromise. Back to the foundations. Back to lives and practices commensurate with the foundations laid. Hence we need those prophetic voices in every generation. It would be in that context that I would exclaim with Paul – “For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged 1 Corinthians 14:31 (ESV). Oh for such a spirit of prophecy to fall on our generation. Calling us back consistently to be about the eternal purposes and plan of God in Christ – and not sidetracked by so many other things. If I might summarize our writer’s points so far – Dr. Ryle has been advocating for understanding true Evangelicalism as having 5 “leading” features. As he’ll note today, these aren’t the only features, but they are the 5 leading ones in his opinion. An opinion I share. The Supremacy of the ScripturesThe Depravity of the human heartThe Centrality of ChristThe Necessity of Regeneration And today: The active Presence of the Holy Spirit (e) The fifth and last leading feature in Evangelical Religion is the importance which it attaches to the outward and visible… Read More
“That’s life in a secular age. That’s belief under the conditions of doubt. That’s pastoring and leading the church under the conditions of doubt. Because even watching things happen—whether you’re watching people move from death to life, through salvation, or whether you’re watching people experience healing, physical or emotional or whatever—the reality of secularism is that there’s this nagging, needling condition of doubt.” — Mike Cosper Date: April 2, 2019 Event: TGC 2019 National Conference, Indianapolis, Indiana Listen to this episode of The Gospel Coalition Podcast. Related: Find more audio and video from the 2019 National Conference on the conference media page. Visit TGC The Gospel Coalition US
Audio Transcript Why does the Bible stress the power of Jesus’s name? The question comes from a listener named Jared. “Hello, Pastor John. I have a question for you that my wife and I have wondered about for a while now. Why the biblical emphasis on praising the name of Jesus? And praying in the name of Jesus? Of course we want to, and it’s a pattern we see all over the New Testament, especially in the book of Acts (2:38; 3:6, 3:16; 4:10, 18; 5:40–41; 8:12; 9:27; 10:48; 16:18; 19:13; 26:9) and in Paul (1 Corinthians 1:2; Philippians 2:10). To ask it another way: Why is there power in Christ’s name rather than saying there’s power in Christ’s person?” What would you say to Jared and his wife? Well, the answer to that last question is easy: There isn’t. There isn’t power in Christ’s name, rather than saying there’s power in Christ’s person. There is power in Christ’s name because there is power in Christ’s person. But Jared knows that. That was just strange wording. What he really wants to know, I think, is what he said at the beginning: Why do we see such an emphasis on praising the name of Jesus and praying in the name of Jesus, doing all of these things in the name of Jesus? What does the focus on name imply in the New Testament? So let me try to answer that in maybe three steps. What’s in a Name? The fact that in the Old Testament God went out of his way to make a connection between someone’s God-given name and the essentially important thing about that person is significant. For example, Genesis 17:5: Abram changed to Abraham. “No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham,… Read More
‘; jQuery(“#listen”).html(htmldata); flag = 1; } }); }); We are called to put on the new man, and another essential quality that characterizes the new man is to be a giver and not a taker. We need to put off stealing; but it is not enough to stop stealing, we need to also start giving.
Following a short essay by Bishop J. C. Ryle, a leading evangelical Anglican of the 19th century, we have seen that Evangelicalism isn’t what most would think of today when they hear that word in the public sector. In a sense, we’ve let others define that term for us rather than insisting on making it clear what WE mean by it. And to be fair, many self-professed Evangelicals have poured into the current public perception by doing what they do in the political and social realms in the name of Evangelicalism. When in fact those endeavors may have more to do with their brand, than the core features we’ve been discussing. The great churchman of the 16th century Richard Hooker noted that when people have a cause and a particular slant in controversial issues or those they are greatly exercised over, they tend to make that issue an all-or-nothing proposition before long. And in doing that, they then pour everything into it in such a way that their very Christianity rests in the issue itself. And as a result, those who do not agree with them on this issue are suspect even in their Christianity. So for some, a representative republic as a form of government or free-market capitalism become synonymous with Biblical Christianity – and anyone holding to anything else in any way can’t even be a Christian! Thus in the process, Evangelicals end up deconstructing our own Evangelicalism. All that to say, that we need to get back to real basics here. So far we’ve seen the first 3 leading features of Evangelical Religion – and today our writer sets forth the 4th one. a) The first leading feature in Evangelical Religion is the absolute supremacy it assigns to Holy Scripture, as the only rule of faith and practice, the… Read More
The book of Esther presents us, as teachers, with an incredible opportunity to tell a dramatic and captivating story. But the narrative also presents challenges. God is not mentioned once throughout the book. We tend to want to make judgments and draw conclusions about the motives and morality of the characters. But in this conversation, Christopher Ash—writer-in-residence at Tyndale House in Cambridge, and author of Teaching Ruth & Esther—warns us away from over-evaluating Esther morally, and from leading those we’re teaching to either cheer or boo at the actions of the characters, since many of the book’s actions are ambiguous. Instead, he demonstrates how we can teach the book of Esther in a way that points to Christ, a greater mediator than Esther, a more righteous man than Mordecai, who brought about a greater reversal than the king’s edict. Listen to this episode of Help Me Teach the Bible. Recommended Audio Resources Recommended Print Resources Visit TGC The Gospel Coalition US
The gratuitously distracted, and often unexamined, lives of modern unmarried men can be concerning enough. Then the seriousness of the problem rises higher when we say, “I do.” And even more when we bring children into the world. One of the greatest needs wives and children have — and all the more in our relentlessly distracting age — is dad’s countercultural attentiveness. Perhaps human attention never has been more valuable. Today the largest corporations in the world no longer compete for oil, but for human attention. And when attention is short and scarce, one of the greatest emerging tragedies of this new era is distracted dads. And in the church, its digital-age analog: distracted pastors. Qualification for Christian Men “He must manage his own household well.” The risen Christ, through his apostle Paul, requires as much of any officer in the church, whether pastor or deacon (1 Timothy 3:4–5, 12). As is plain from the rest of the leadership qualifications, however, these traits aren’t meant to set leaders apart from the congregation, but to make them “examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:3) of every Christian’s calling. Christ means for these attributes to be true of us all, and so it is essential that they be modeled, at minimum, in the leadership. By extension, Christ means for every dad to “manage his own household well.” “Before and beneath God’s call that we care for our households, and for his church, is his care for us.” Tweet Share on Facebook This qualification to “manage his own household well” forges a special relationship, among the other requirements, between church leadership and domestic husbanding and fathering. Why must a pastor be one who manages his household well? “For if someone does not know how to manage his own household,” Paul reasons, “how will… Read More
We are saved by faith and much is said by Christians about faith. But the true, infallible test of the reality of faith is how it responds when it is tested. Anyone can say they have faith, but the testings and trials will show if that faith is real or not.
Being Evangelical isn’t new – though some would (rightly I believe) think that we have lost our moorings. It was the 14th Century firebrand, priest and pre-Reformer who was known in his day as doctor evangelicus. Doctor of the “evangel” or the Gospel. The term gained popularity early in the Lutheran side of the Reformation and spread from therewith the awakening of the Gospel across Europe. Those men wanting to be identified with the recovery of the gospel in terms of its central doctrine of justification by faith called themselves evangelici viri – evangelical men. Luther in turn liked and used the expression in German as die Evangelischen. The direct connection in each case was the idea of the gospel – the “evangel”, or “good news.” And “evangelical continued to gain popularity, and achieved its widespread use during the 18th century in the revival movement associated with Wesley and Whitefield. That is the heritage of Evangelicalism. A heritage all but lost today, as it was in J. C. Ryle’s day when he sought to rearticulate its foundations. So far, we’ve looked at 2 of those foundations from Ryle’s essay: “Evangelical Religion.” (a) The first leading feature in Evangelical Religion is the absolute supremacy it assigns to Holy Scripture, as the only rule of faith and practice, the only test of truth, the only judge of controversy. (b) The second leading feature in Evangelical Religion is the depth and prominence it assigns to the doctrine of human sinfulness and corruption. And now… (c) The third leading feature of Evangelical Religion is the paramount importance it attaches to the work and office of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the nature of the salvation which He has wrought out for man. Its theory is that the eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ, has by… Read More