Every Time Every Human Speaks

The times I’ve been charged with “teaching Christianity in a public school” make me laugh a little bit.

It’s as though administrators, principals, parents, and students think that Christians have some sort of other belief system, apart from their own, that is worthy of alienation. Of course, we know this is simply the world loving the darkness more than the light, because their deeds are evil (John 1). And we were once in the darkness, too.

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But the whole “stop talking about religion in public” is nonsense for another reason: every time every human being speaks, we are speaking our own belief system. For one person to tell another, “Don’t talk about your beliefs,” is to act like the speaker has no beliefs. But the truth is that we all speak our beliefs, every moment of every day.

To tell a Christian to drop the Bible is like telling a postmodern to stop speaking about scientism, neo-Marxism, or relativism. The postmodern literally cannot stop. It’s what she believes in.

We can talk about “separation of church and state” nonsense all day long, but it will never happen because it is a false dichotomy. Every time every human speaks, he speaks his worldview. Just be honest with each other, and lay those beliefs on the table.

Each of us has a belief system. None of them, on the basis of our own faith, is more or less true than another. In other words, nothing is absolutely true just because I believe it. Instead, all beliefs, and their systems, stand or fall based on their historical, internal, and supernatural veracity. And the Bible is the only one that passes any of the three (and all three at that!).

Thus, biblical faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the only worldview that has full historical, internal, and supernatural truth. It stands beneath no other worldview, but it supreme above them all – because Jesus is supreme.

When we talk to those in the kingdom of the darkness, we must love them enough to care for their very souls. The first step is laying our beliefs on the table, explaining them, and asking the unbeliever to do the same. Only then can we have honest conversation that is out of the darkness and into the light.

Jesus Speaks

Of Scripture, Evangelism, and Unbelief

It was a sunny January Tuesday as I worked at my public cubicle in a nearby coffee shop. I noticed two men discussing (false) theology behind me, but I had chatted with one before and thought I’d leave well enough alone.

As their conversation, and the general noise level, rose, I popped on my headphones. The tunes help me focus. They blocked out the noise for a time, but then, cutting through the chatter, I heard the words, “All roads lead to God.”

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And maybe, by the power of Holy Spirit, came a holy zeal. A zeal for the glory of God. Or maybe I just wanted to be right. Either way, it was an open statement in a public place that slaps the Savior in the face. It was time to speak.

Here’s how it began:

Britt: You believe that’s true?
John: Well, I was just quoting someone.
B: But you believe it, too.
J: Well, yeah. I’m a Muslim, and I married a Christian woman! We get along just fine, as long as we talk about what we agree on.
B: I’m glad you are able to get along well with your wife, but Christ and Islam have nothing to agree on. Jesus says He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through Him.
J: Why are you judging me, telling me I’m wrong?
B: I’m not telling you. Jesus is. I’m just repeating what He said.
J: But I don’t believe that book you are quoting.
B: It doesn’t matter. He still said it.
J: I believe those gospel writers changed things he said.
B: Really? Were you there? Because I wasn’t and neither was Mohammed. I trust the first-person sources.

The world wants us to lay down our swords, as Voddie Baucham so eloquently puts it, and play their game on their terms. We must say, “No. Jesus has spoken.”

Regardless of what hell-bent lost people like John and so many others think, Jesus has spoken. And we are His ambassadors, His messengers, His missionaries, His servants. We are not allowed to change the message. If we do, Proverbs calls this kind of failed messenger a “fool” (Prov. 26:6).

So don’t be a fool and try to maim God’s Word. Jesus still speaks: to us, in us, and through us by the Holy Spirit with the Word. We know what He says. Just say it to other humans because you love them, you love God’s glory, and you fear for their souls apart from Jesus Christ.

A Party for Pedophiles

A few years back, I remember my dad’s 50th birthday party. Oldies music blared as we sat around dimly lit, circular tables in a country club ballroom (the best kind!). The random assortment of friends and family danced late into the night. We enjoyed honoring Dad.

What would have been odd is if we gathered that night to praise someone’s sin. “Thanks for coming, everyone, to honor Bob the Drunk. He’s been getting liquored up for the last 30 years, and that’s something to celebrate.”

Keep this in mind until the end. 

In recent days, years, and decades, the LGBTQ agenda has pushed forward in the West on all fronts: television, movies, music, literature, education, news, stealth organizations, etc. Two Fridays ago, they rejoiced, with the President, in the passing of a no-holds barred approach to same sex marriage mirage. (Doug Wilson, to my knowledge, coined this term; and it applies without qualification.)

Without touching the legal issues surrounding the case, it is important to think through the issue biblically. Understand, first of all, that we have all been told several lies surrounding the issue:

  • Sodomy is no different than any other sin. (False.)
  • Homosexuality is laughable, but not condemnable. (False.)
  • Sodomites can be likable and friendly. (Irrelevant to morality.)
  • Marriage is a fundamental human right. (Not in the way you mean it.)
  • Each individual is able to define marriage as he or she likes. (No, God does.)

By the time we have finished strolling through that boiling cauldron of fecal matter, it’s hard to discern the truth. So the rest will be a wake-up call, one you might even think feels “rude.”

What all LGBTQ issues boil down to is this: is sodomy a specially damnable sin that the Bible clearly speaks on, or isn’t it? The relevant texts are many (Genesis 19, Leviticus 20, Jeremiah 16, Matthew 19, 2 Peter 2, Jude 1), but we will focus on Romans 1:24-28 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, [25] because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. [26] For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; [27] and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. [28] And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. [Romans 1:24-28]

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effiminate, nor homosexuals, [10] nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. [11] And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. [1 Corinthians 6:9-11]

In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul is already addressing a church that is “deceived,” much like today’s church. And what are both of us deceived about? This list of damnable lifestyle sins. To review:

  • Fornicators – those who practice sexually immorality
  • Idolaters – those who practice worshipping idols
  • Adulterers – those who practice unfaithfulness to a true spouse
  • Effiminate – sometimes translated, “male prostitutes”
  • Homosexuals – those who practice same-sex sexual relations
  • Thieves – those who practice stealing the property of others
  • The Greedy – those who cultivate hearts of lust for material goods or money
  • Drunkards – those who practice alcoholic overindulgence
  • Revilers – those who practice insulting others and God
  • Swindlers – those who practice tricking others out of money

Each of these is specially damnable. That means they are sins of ongoing practice that exclude humans from God’s kingdom. Those are the words of the biblical text. Any person practicing thievery, drunkenness, adultery, or homosexuality who claims to be a Christian is not a Christian. He or she will not enter God’s kingdom. There is no wiggle room left in this text.

But lots of LGBTQ-supporting folks who claim to be Christ’s will say, “That’s a long list, and Jesus saves from all of them. Why is same-sex attraction ‘especially’ damnable?” To that particular objection, we offer three reasons:

  1. Sodom is no joke. Genesis 19, 2 Peter 2, and Jude 1 all speak of the reprehensibility and terror of homosexuality, by way of connection. Sodom and Gomorrah, for those who don’t read closely, were burned with fire and sulfur from the Lord for their sexual immorality, part of which was certainly homosexuality. It wasn’t merely “gang rape,” as many will say, but a lifestyle of sexual promiscuity of all types and forms, including homosex. Peter and Jude go on to use this as an “example” to lustful men of our day. Sound familiar? It’s what this post is doing now.
  2. Homosex tortures marriage. “Torture” is no understatement. Consider Jesus’ words in Matthew 19 and parallels, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Note the connection between creation order and marriage. Not only does homosex deface marriage, it changes our understanding of what it means to be made “male and female.” 
  3. Sodomy is an abomination. Before we do the whole “that was the Old Testament, man, come on” dance, think about other OT texts you treasure and point to: creation, prophecies of Christ, Psalm 23, the Proverbs. We don’t get to pick and choose which passages are true. When God commands death for man-to-man relations in Leviticus 20:13, that word is inspired, too. Homosexuality is here paralleled with adultery, various forms of incest, and bestiality. All of them appear in one paragraph, and all of theme deserve capital punishment. Thus, when Christians compare sodomy to incest and bestiality, we are repeating the words of our Maker.

Homosexuality is particularly deviant, defiant, and well-loved in today’s culture. But, do not fear, little flock; God is not mocked. 

Last week, a sister in our church claimed she would have “no problem” going to a homosexual wedding ceremony. I was surprised. Maybe she doesn’t know what she’s saying, I thought. I asked a few questions about what she meant, and it became clear that she understood her words.

“Then would you go to a 10-year celebration for an adulterer? Or a con artist? What about a pedophile?”

“Ew, no, of course not.”

“Then you’ve been fooled. Homosexuality is worse.”

Manhood at the Master’s Feet

The Psalms and Matthew 18-19 tell us that manhood is more than bullets, brawn, and beast-killing. Jesus was the manliest man who ever lived, and he bounced children on His knee:

Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away. (Matthew 19:13-15, ESV)

Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them,” but American men say, “Leave the children to the women, I’ve got hunting to do,” – as though killing animals, even to feed your family’s bodies, is more important than spending time with them to feed their souls.

Jesus says, “Children are a blessing;” American men say, “Children are a burden,” – as though pouring one’s life into someone else’s is not the best use of our relational time on this earth.

Cultural views of manhood reduce children to annoyances, play-toys, or “choices.” Jesus has a better stance: children get blessings, and they give blessings.

Dads and would-be dads out there, maybe instead of listening to Planned Parenthood, mainstream media, or hip-hop artists, we should sit at the Master’s feet.

How to Explain a Quote from Literature

In class, we have been working on explaining quotes in paragraph form. Here is our three-step process:

  1. Note the context. This is the “who-what-when-where-why-how” of the quote itself. Where does it appear? Who said it? What was happening in and around that scene? 1 sentence, including citation (page or act/scene/line number).
  2. Explain the quote. Use your own words to explain the words on the page, but don’t just re-quote the quote. 1-2 sentences.
  3. Connect the quote to main themes. Pick 1-2 themes in the larger book/poem/play and explain how the quote connects to those. 1-2 sentences.

See the worksheet for examples, and happy explaining!

You Can’t Teach Critical Thinking if You Don’t Believe Anything

Or, “The Great Lie of American Secularism”

“Critical thinking,” everyone says, is a buzzword in education these days. Conference speakers, school administrators, parents, and political leaders all kick the dust around it. Yet true critical thinking remains an enigma. Why?

Because you can’t teach critical thinking if you don’t believe anything.

The logic is simple:

  • Premise 1: Critical thinking is the set of thinking skills involving synthesis, analysis, creation, and evaluation.
  • Premise 2: Each of these skills require a set of definite criteria, i.e. stated beliefs.
  • Premise 3: American secularism devalues any defined criteria, and, in fact, provides none of its own.
  • Conclusion: Secularists can’t teach critical thinking.

If you find these statements controversial, or have never thought of the implications of your own beliefs, take a moment to break these thoughts down.

Critical Thinking Defined (Premise #1)
The first premise isn’t controversial – it’s a simple definition of critical thinking, or “higher-order” thinking skills. Philosophers and educators have agreed on these for thousands of years. The pyramid of thinking skills goes up from knowledge to comprehension to application to synthesis/analysis to creation to evaluation.

Bloom's Taxonomy

Bloom’s Taxonomy of Thinking Skills

Critical thinking skills, in other words, are the development and deepening of acquired knowledge with direction in its development. By definition, the skills have to go somewhere. Understanding this, premise 1 stands.

Higher-Order Thinking Skills Require Beliefs (Premise #2)
Premise 2 is where I may lose some people, and where the crux of my argument lies. Beliefs not only help critical thinking, they essentially enable it. There is no true “critical thinking” that cannot take apart knowledge and put it back together within an external control, a worldview.

Remember, the meaning of “integrity” is soundness, wholeness, honesty of life. The key question is, “What is the principle with which we will synthesize and analyze?” Secularists have no principle but themselves, who are ever changing as the weather (remind anyone of Jude 1:12-13?). Thus, true synthesis and analysis are impossible without coherent worldview principles.

In mathematics, breaking down numbers into parts, equations, or proofs requires a controlling principle, i.e. the soundness of our number system. Without this, analysis and synthesis fail in numbers, as in the rest of life.

When it comes to the skills of creativity, we live in a strange culture. To American secularists, “creativity” is its own value, apart from beliefs and morality. Historically, beauty has been valued for its conformity to truth. In a truth-less culture like ours, however, a painting or motion picture or song is called “good” without any baseline meaning for the word “good” itself. As Al Mohler has observed, however, character terms like morality and integrity “lack all content if they aren’t specifically tied to worldview convictions.” Thus, teachers who teach creativity without conviction are like well-wishers who send sailors off in on a voyage to nowhere, saying, “Have a great journey!”

Now we can see where the highest critical thinking skill, evaluation, will go. Without worldview, evaluation also fails. If all the steps before it have flown apart at the seams, we should not expect evaluation to succeed. Evaluation is the culmination of study and thought. Without beliefs, both those preceding skills and the end result are impossible. To put it another way, how are we to evaluate if we have nothing to evaluate against?

American Secularism Believes Nothing (Premise #3)
Of course, it is impossible to believe nothing. Everyone has a worldview. But here we mean, “nothing positively defined outside ourselves.” We truly believe we are the measure of all things. The universe’s buck stops with us. We ought  to command the waves, the wind, the seas, and the stock markets – and we’re mystified when we can’t.

Because of our radical individualism, we believe that no truth exists outside of ourselves. If enough of us agree on something, that can become a cultural “truth,” but that “truth” fails when it face a “truth” from another culture. Again, the war of little “truths” proves that we believe in no Truth at all, only what works for us until culture or personal discernment proves otherwise.

Every secularist has a worldview, but the sine qua non of the secular worldview is that truth doesn’t exist.

Secularists Can’t Teach Critical Thinking
If premises 1, 2, and 3 are true, the conclusion is that belief-less secularists can’t teach belief-dependent critical thinking. Critical thinking is a bundle of skills that depends not only on raw knowledge, but on a coherent worldview – an integrity of thought – that enables and propels honestly critical thinking.

Further, thinking that only aims to support self (the primary secular principle) can never be truly critical, because critical thinking requires the critical evaluation of ourselves. We are the ones who must finally be evaluated, not merely do the evaluating. Without self-evaluation, all of our learning becomes an exercise in narcissism, hypocrisy, and vanity.

Even more, for critical thinking to reach its true end, we must evaluate ourselves now – because we will one day be evaluated by God, according to His perfectly coherent, perfectly true worldview.

Dear Pastor, Do Your Job

What do I do with this?

What do I do with this?

According to a multiplicity of biblical texts like Mark 1:15, Ephesians 4:10-15, 2 Timothy 4:1-5, and Hebrews 13:7, the pastor’s job is to preach the Bible for the glory of God:

  • His job is not to be a community organizer; his job is to preach the gospel that might get him stoned.
  • His job is not to meet with other pastors and become well-known; his job is to teach the Bible so well that every man under his charge might well become a pastor.
  • His job is not to counsel the hurting sheep but to feed all the hungry sheep, including the hurting. Counseling may follow preaching, but it must not precede it.
  • His job is not to attract unbelievers; his job is to preach the gospel and believe that God will bring whomever He may will.
  • His job is not to manage services, though the preaching ought to well flow in congregational worship. His job is to preach the gospel as an act of worship both to the God who spoke His Word and to bring the people to worship this same God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • His job is not to manage the church like a business; His job is to lead her by speaking the Word of God to her.

Often when we see churches going astray and becoming diseased, it is simply because her pastors have forgotten these basic principles. God’s Word never changes, dear pastor, so there’s no need to innovate with bells, whistles, and rock-and-roll show tactics. As Andrew Peterson sings to his son, just “stick to the old roads.”

Stories Live Out Truth

I’ve been saying for a while, in various conversations with students, teachers, and parents, that Christians (and conservatives in general) have failed to defend the philosophical foundations which once made our country the freedom-loving, capitalism-enjoying, life-defending, worship-freeing nation it was meant to be. Those days, clearly, are gone. Now all parts of the “right” (our country’s term, not mine) are fighting for our philosophical lives.

Here, however, I am not assuming that all Christians are conservative politically or that all conservatives are sympathetic to Christian views. I am only saying that Christians and conservatives share some of the same public values, and that Christians should care about the truth being told in our country.

This is why Rod Dreher’s recent piece, “Story Lines, Not Party Lines,” is so important. In it, he makes the case for the importance of stories and why America needs conservative true stories so badly:

Kirk understood that the world might be won or lost on front porches, in bedrooms at night, around family hearths, in movie theaters and anywhere young people hear, see, or read the stories that fill and illuminate their moral imaginations. If you do not give them good stories, they will seek out bad ones.

“And the consequences will be felt not merely in their failure of taste,” Kirk said, “but in their misapprehension of human nature, lifelong; and eventually, in the whole tone of a nation.”

One direct application for me was this: what stories am I telling my family, my students, my friends and church and world? The world may be won or lost according to stories like mine.

Why? Because, as Dreher explains, “Stories work by indirection: not by telling us what to believe but by helping us to experience emotionally and imaginatively what it is like to embody particular ideas.” Embodiment must come with ideas, and is not optional.

This squares well with the Bible’s tight balance between positive doctrinal literature (epistles, wisdom, prophetic writings), positive and negative narrative accounts (OT history), and those that skillfully intertwine both (Pentateuch, Gospels, Acts, Revelation). God Himself sees truth as not only abstract but very livable. Jesus Christ was and is and always will be truth embodied in flesh.

Our children, husbands and wives, churches, friends, schools, and nation desperately needs stories worth telling – the kind of stories that are worth mimicking, the kind of stories that are worth building our lives on. Are you telling those stories, or are you leaving it up to the televison, internet, or paperback section?

Free Will and Free Reading

How Autonomous Free-Will Ruins Theology

Once in conversation, I noticed a connection between our (wrong, evil, disastrous) idea of “free will” and how we read the Bible. It works like this: once the door of “free-will” is open to ourselves, we apply it to everything we read, too. Once we are free to “choose” God, we think we are free to “choose” whatever other “truth” fits our selfish hearts.

The alternative, should we not yet see, is to submit ourselves wholly to the Word of God  in personal decisions, in interpreting the Scripture itself, and in interpreting the world around us. Either the Word rules you, or you think you rule. It really is that simple.

But what most (though not all) bad interpretations come down to is simply an amplified sense of self. In all bad theologies, we become divinized versions of ourselves, able to contort and invent the Scriptures as we see fit. We don’t submit to the rules of Scripture (context, context, context; theological principles and reading the whole as a unit) because we have better rules.

Indeed, out of this false sense of righteous self, we reject the rules and make God’s Word (should we actually be able to “make” it) say what we say. Instead of speaking the Scripture, we force the Scripture to speak us.

The Foundation and the Fire

What Gospel Preachers, Pastors, Leaders, and Teachers Must Understand

Gospel teacher, the Bible teaches that your work will sooner or later be exposed. Whether you build a true building upon the foundation of Jesus Christ, build a weak building on Jesus Christ, or teach an altogether false gospel (and those are the three categories), God will expose your work sooner or later – and that with fire. 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 says:

11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw–
13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.
14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.
15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

However you teach, preach, minister, and lead, you are accountable to God for it: “the Day will disclose it.” Paul writes the same earlier, “He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor.” Every minister is the same: an underservant accountable to God alone – not to numbers, not to other ministers, not to evangelical organizations, not mainly to the congregation, but to God alone.

So ask yourself two simple questions:

  1. Do I believe verse 11, “No one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ,”? Do I believe that Christ, not my words nor my ingenuity nor my attendees, is the foundation? Do I feel that deeply in my soul? Do I live and teach and preach that fact? If I do, servanthood and accountability in the ministry will flow out of that Spirit-filled fact.
  2. Do I believe 1 Corinthians 2:2, Luke 24:27, Luke 24:44, 2 Timothy 3:16, and a host of other passages which teach that teaching and preaching Jesus Christ alone from all the Scriptures for the salvation of sinners is the central, foundational, essential criterion by which all “Christian” ministry will be judged? If I do believe this, teaching Christ from the whole Bible will be not a chore, not a boredom, but a blessing of the “wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 3:15).

If, however, you believe #1 but not #2, then your work will soon be exposed by the purifying fire of God Almighty.

If, even worse, you believe neither #1 nor #2, then verse 15 doesn’t apply to you, because you are not a Christian. Your life, rebelling against Jesus Christ’s lordship from head to toe, is no Christian life at all and will be consumed with fire.

We see then that this passage is not about heretical teachers but weak ones. Heresy – including the prosperity “gospel” lies (1 Timothy 6:6-10) – kills both the teacher and its believers.

Dear Pastor, Why Not Preach the Word?

One of my favorite radio hosts is always reviewing sermons, and I love it. So it made me wonder: why don’t you, dear pastor, preach the Word?

  1. Do you think that your ideas are wiser than God’s? No? Then preach the Word.
  2. Do you fancy your stories to be more entertaining than God’s Word? No? Then preach the Word.
  3. Do you find your topical sermons to be more directly applicable to people’s lives? Never! It canot be that you are a better exegete than the Holy Spirit! Preach the Word.
  4. Do you think your pop culture references are better connections than those inspired of the Spirit? No? Then preach the Word.
  5. Do you long to see souls saved from sin, death, and hell? God promises only one means, so preach the Word.
  6. Do you want to see Jesus Christ exalted over your own means, methods, and mole-hills? If not, leave the ministry. If so, preach the Word.
  7. Do you want to see Christ’s church upbuilt? Then preach the Word.
  8. Do you want to see your wife and children saved, strengthened, and sustained until the end? Your family vacation stories won’t do it. Preach the Word.
  9. Do you struggle with pride in your ministry? Only one means slays pride, so preach that Word.
  10. Do you care about the gospel ministry more than anything else you could give your life to? You’d better, so preach the Word.

Twelve Ways Romans Uses the Law

Romans uses the Mosaic law to:

  1. Convict of sin (ch. 1)
  2. Give just grounds for God’s wrath (ch. 1-3)
  3. Prick the conscience and lead to repentance (ch. 2)
  4. Show our utter inability and depravity (ch. 1-3)
  5. Show the glory of God’s promise to Abraham (ch. 4)
  6. Show our failure in the First Adam (ch. 5)
  7. Show Christ’s glory as the Second Adam (ch. 5)
  8. Explain our slavery to sin (ch. 6)
  9. Heighten our sense of sin (ch. 7)
  10. Show our freedom in Christ by the Spirit (ch. 8)
  11. Explain the proud failure of even the most law-oriented (ch. 9)
  12. Explain Christ’s substitution for us (ch. 10)

As always, there are probably more. But the point is: neglect neither the law nor its teachings!

There Ain’t No “Man Sauce”

I was talking to my students the other day about the Christian doctrine of manhood and womanhood, found preeminently in Genesis 1:27:

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

What we learn here is at least three key points:

  1. God is the creator of man, and He gives us a God-centered meaning. We are not self-created nor self-determining. From the beginning, autonomous humanity is a contradiction in terms.
  2. God created male and female in His own image. Both male humans and female humans glorify God by their respective designs. Men and women are different by design and yet united in their purpose to glorify their Creator.
  3. God created male and female persons from the beginning. God never thought of Adam as an gender-less being, only later to add on the “man sauce.” God never thought of Eve as an androgynous person, later deciding to dip her in a “lady potion.”

The fact that God created two genders, alike in purpose but different in design, means that from the beginning He conceived of us as gender-centric humans. All that we are, in the personhood-identity sense, is wrapped up in our identity as either male or female, but not both and not neither.

To put a point on it, God never thought of you as X person and later decided you would be a man or a woman. He always conceived of you as either a man or a woman because your gender is intrinsic to your personhood.

Our world would avoid an army of confusions if we understood that gender is not an afterthought, not an add-on. It is essential as males and females made in the image of God.

Archives: “Do Stuff” Still Isn’t the Gospel

Talking with a friend tonight, we were both reminded of the great glory of the grace of God in the gospel. God requires not that we “do stuff” to earn His favor or His forgiveness, but commands us to trust Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins and eternal favor. The gospel isn’t that we “do stuff,” but that Jesus has already done all we need.

Here’s a rundown:

  1. Jesus Taught Justification by Faith Alone
  2. Did Jesus Teach Justification by Works?
  3. What Preaching the Gospel Is, and Isn’t
  4. Matthew 23: More Reasons “Do Stuff” Isn’t the Gospel
  5. “Do Stuff” Isn’t the Gospel
  6. Drink Deeply of Jesus Christ
  7. Hate at the Bottom of Your Heart
  8. Opinions We Make Into Law
  9. Is Your Church Characterized by Commands or Christ?

My prayer is always that we treasure Jesus Christ more through believing the gospel.

The Real Reason for “Atheism”

A few years back, I read Christopher Hitchens’ rather angry book, god is not great. As I reflected on it, it occurred to me that there are no real atheists. There are no true, self-assured atheists. There are only people who are lying to themselves.

“Wait, that sounds crazy! What about Hitler, Nietzsche, Stalin, and a host of serial killers and mass murderers?! What about the worst of the worst?!”

Contrary to humanistic psychology, the Bible teaches that all people have a knowledge of God, then reject that knowledge. Consider:

  • “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good.” (Psalm 53:1)
  • “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” (Romans 1:18)

Notice in both verses that there is a knowledge of God that is innate within every human that unbelievers then deceive themselves about (“the fool says in his heart”) and reject (“suppress the truth”).

Why Do They Reject?
If self-proclaimed “atheists,” then, have a knowledge of God which they reject, why do they reject Him? The answer lies in their lifestyles, their self-chosen desires, their lusts of the flesh.

The Bible regularly connects self-deception about God to the desire to “do abominable iniquity,” such as violence against other humans (e.g., abortion), perverted sexual desires, envy, deceit, slander, disobedience to parents, and the like.

It is often assumed that beliefs lead to lifestyles, and this is very true. But the connection works in the other way, too. We suppress God’s truth because we want to do abominable evils against Him and our fellow man, then our false beliefs allow us to do just so.

The Evil Circle
Apart from God’s gracious deliverance, our evil desires lead us to believe lies. In believing these atheistic lies, we justify our own evil desires. It is an evil, dark circle of deceit.

Women and men want to kill “unwanted” children, so they invent doctrines that allow it. A young man wants to steal a pair of shoes, so he decides God hasn’t spoken in the Ten Commandments. A young woman wants to feel loved, so she morphs God’s institution of marriage to mean “being in love.”

To put it another way, in the unbeliever, the atheist, the “fool,” desires rule beliefs. Individuality governs truth. Selfishness stomps out the reality of God’s revelation.

For Christians, it is just the opposite. By the grace of God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, we have escaped the rule of ourselves to be conformed to God’s Word. God’s Word is reality, truth governs and changes individuals, and faith redeems desires toward the all-satisfying God.

Pray for those today who are still caught in this evil circle, and don’t think for a moment that their false beliefs are the strongest force in their hearts. Rather, it is their selfish, dark, evil desires to defame their Maker.

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