All, Every, and Not One
One day it will be said of you that not one of the good promises God made to you in his Word failed, but that each and every one came to pass. One day it will be said of all those who are his that God was faithful to his every word and true to his every promise. And together we will praise the name of the Lord our God.
We live out our Christian lives in a place between Egypt and the Promised Land. We have been justified but not yet glorified—we have been delivered safely through the Red Sea but have not yet forded the Jordan and arrived on its far bank. We may not physically wander as did the Israelites of old and we may not actually follow pillars of fire and cloud, but we no less make a pilgrimage and we are no less dependent upon the goodness, the grace, and the guidance of our God. We are no less reliant upon his promises to sustain us when the path is uncertain, when our enemies rise up, when the way before us seems to stretch on interminably.
The Israelites were prone to doubt God—to doubt his strength, his power, his intentions. They were prone to doubt that he would prove true to his promises and lead them to the land that flowed with milk and honey, the land that would be their home and their rest.
In so many ways the story of the Pentateuch is the story of God proving his faithfulness over against his people’s faithlessness. It is for good reason that so few who saw God parting the sea between Egypt and the wilderness were permitted to see God parting the river between the wilderness and Promised Land. There were consequences for their doubt and for its many manifestations in grumbling, rebellion, and idolatry.
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Judge NotBy Stan Gale — 1 year ago
In a Christian family it is not only the children who must abide by the law of God but the parents must as well, even though they are the ones who exercise discipline. We are all sinners in need of grace. None of us occupies the high moral ground. Any judgment on our part must be rendered with humility, in full knowledge that we stand only by the grace of the One who is able to save and to destroy (Jas. 4:12).
There is only one lawgiver and judge. (James 4:12, ESV)
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” James tells us how to avoid sabotaging that noble goal. “Do not speak evil against one another, brothers” (Jas. 4:11).
Speaking evil can be toxic to a relationship, introducing a pollutant that can poison the waters and be difficult to clean up, and even once cleaned up can leave traces that might never be purged. We might think in terms of slander or berating another.
James describes this evil-speak as emanating from someone who has assumed the position of a judge. Jesus also addressed the matter in the Sermon on the Mount when He said, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matt. 7:1).
How many times have we heard people excuse and enable wrong behavior by saying that the Bible tells us not to judge? But the Bible doesn’t say that. In fact, we are enjoined to judge (1 Cor. 5:12), including providing a kingdom assessment of the righteousness or unrighteousness of actions (Mt. 18:15-20).
Biblical Conversion is Not Self-ImprovementBy Bill Muehlenberg — 9 months ago
The very bad news of the gospel regarding the sinner’s hopeless and diabolical situation is more than matched and surpassed by the very good news of the gospel that speaks of the incredible saving power of God. It is the power to transform us into forgiven saints with the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and the power to enable us to live a life that is pleasing to him. All this has nothing to do with self-improvement and everything to do with the matchless grace of God.
Mankind’s greatest and most urgent need is to get right with God. That of course presupposes that we are NOT now right with God. We are sinners who live in alienation from and hostility to God. The whole point of the life and work of Christ was to make a way for lost sinners to be reconciled to a holy and just God.
But we must be clear as to what biblical conversion is all about. And that means being clear about our condition as sinners and our complete inability to save ourselves and turn our lives around. Since I am again reading through Jeremiah, I recently came upon a familiar passage found there. Jer. 13:23 says this: “Can an Ethiopian change his skin or a leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.”
Our condition as sinners is one of utter hopelessness and inability. Consider some of the things the New Testament says about who we are as sinners and what we are like as sinners:
-spiritually sick (Luke 5:31-32)-rebellious children (Luke 15:11-32)-lost (Luke 19:10)-enslaved (John 8:34)-in darkness (Acts 26:18)-remain in darkness (John 12:46)-under the power of Satan (Acts 26:18)-God’s enemies (Romans 5:10)-slaves to sin (Romans 6:22)-influenced and led astray to mute idols (1 Corinthians 12:2)-spiritually blind (2 Corinthians 4:4-6)-God’s enemies (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)-slaves to those who by nature are not gods (Galatians 4:8)-dead in your transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2:1)-objects of wrath (Ephesians 2:3)-dead in transgressions (Ephesians 2:5)-darkened in their understanding (Ephesians 4:18)-separated from the life of God (Ephesians 4:18)-darkness (Ephesians 5:8)-in the dominion of darkness (Colossians 1:13)-alienated from God (Colossians 1:21)-his enemies (Colossians 1:21)-idol worshippers (1 Thessalonians 1:9)-held in slavery (Hebrews 2:15)-not a people; who had not received mercy (1 Peter 2:10)-sheep going astray (1 Peter 2:25)
That is quite a list. It is a damning indictment of those who we are without Christ – which is all of us. And that is why Scripture speaks about what it is like to have a real, God-given conversion:
-We are moved from death to life.-We are moved from darkness to light.-We are moved from the kingdom of Satan to the kingdom of God.-We are moved from bondage to liberty.-We are moved from slaves to sons.-We are moved from being enemies of God to friends of God.
So a radical change takes place when the sinner is converted. It has to be radical: we are talking about bringing spiritual life to dead men and women. And that is why the Apostle Paul for example speaks about the power of God when it comes to the conversion of sinners.
As he said in Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” The word for power (dunamis) is used two other times in this chapter: in v. 4 which discusses God’s power in raising Jesus from the dead, and v. 20 which speaks of God’s power in creating the world.
Many Christian commentators could be mentioned here who have spoken to these truths. C. S. Lewis for example said this: “Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms.” And again: “Conversion requires an alteration of the will which does not occur without the intervention of the supernatural.”
How I Would Explain a Christian View of Transgenderism to a Non-ChristianBy Samuel D. James — 12 months ago
Written by Samuel D. James |
Wednesday, June 22, 2022
To miss God’s design is to not live as God intended. It’s to sell ourselves short, to make for us lives and identities and destinies that are far, far poorer than what God intends. That’s why Christians talk about this stuff: because the good life really is possible.
Let’s begin with the observable facts of anatomy. Males have different reproductive organs than females. More than that, the reproductive organs of males appear to be designed to fit together with those of females. If you took a class on safe sex in high school, your teacher (or book, or video, or whatever) almost certainly assumed that female reproductive organs had to be treated differently than male ones. Thus, every boy in that class was expected to know how to put on a condom, and every girl in that class was expected to know what the birth control pill does. I doubt there was much confusion in the class over why girls weren’t expected to practice with condoms on themselves or the boys weren’t asking questions about the pill.
Now of course, this doesn’t prove that all the biological males in the class experienced male gender identity, or that the biological girls experienced the opposite. But the point is simply that sex education depends on a meaningful distinction between maleness and femaleness, and that this distinction is a given one, not simply an artifact of culture. No one was brainwashed into thinking they have the physical parts between their legs that they can plainly see. Boys see their boy parts, and girls see their girl parts, and from the moment boys and girls are born other people relate to them not simply as generic humans but as boys or girls, mostly because of these observable human parts.
Christianity begins with the teaching that God created a man and a woman, Adam and Eve. When Adam saw Eve for the first time, he was so excited that he broke out into song. Christians take “Bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh” to mean that Eve was like Adam, yet unlike him. She was a human being, but she “completed” him in a very real way. In fact, in Genesis, we are told plainly how this completion was immediately expressed: through sex. “The man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.” Adam and Eve’s natures as like yet unlike demanded sexual union. So in the Christian religion, men and women were created by God with bodies that are like yet unlike, and the expression of this mysterious, complementary creation is sexual union. There is no sex without bodies, and there are no bodies without maleness and femaleness.
Now here is where many critics of Christianity argue that this doctrine simply fails to describe the lived reality of many people. What about the intersex? What about those with gender dysphoria? What about those who say they know they are a different gender than their biological sex?
Two answers are in order here. First, while the existence of intersexed persons and persons with gender dysphoria is often treated like a golden gun against the Christian position, this is a gross oversimplification of what usually happens with these folks. We have research that suggests more than 90% of teens diagnosed with gender dysphoria will eventually grow out of it. Gender dysphoria should be understood as a psychological malady, not as a kind of person.
Second, the Christian position certainly anticipates the possibility of feeling alienated from one’s body. Christians believe that Adam disobeyed God and introduced sin into the world. Sin corrupted the Adam’s relationship with God, with Eve, with the earth, and even with himself. Adam and Eve’s recognition that they were naked and now ashamed is a sign of profound alienation between Adam and Eve and their bodies. Before sin, they accepted themselves and each other and rejoiced without shame. After sin, they cover their bodies and hide their persons from God.