Theories of the Atonement: What Happened on the Cross?
Throughout church history, there have been various views and theories that conceptualize the nature of Christ’s work on the cross. Because the atonement runs to the very heart of the Gospel, it’s important for us to know how people throughout the history of the church have understood the work of Christ, and to be able to test each by Scripture. Today, I want to briefly survey and evaluate some of the main theories of the atonement.
Monogamy is No Joke
I agree with Marceau that “MONOGAMY IS NO JOKE.” I may even join her in using all caps. It’s an honor. It is our godly context for sexually intimate relationship and family while we await something even greater on the new heavens and new earth. Because God is faithful, I can be faithful. But this author has got it all wrong when she says, “love, in monogamy, is a selfish pursuit.” That is a one-sided relationship and there is nothing intimate about it.
Now’s the Time To End Tax Exemptions for Religious Institutions
So yes, the logic of gay-marriage rights could lead to a reexamination of conservative churches’ tax exemptions (although, as long as the IRS is afraid of challenging Scientology’s exemption, everyone else is probably safe). But when that day comes, it will be long overdue. I can see keeping some exemptions; hospitals, in particular, are an indispensable, and noncontroversial, public good. And localities could always carve out sensible property-tax exceptions for nonprofits their communities need. But it’s time for most nonprofits, like those of us who faithfully cut checks to them, to pay their fair share.
When Everything Seems to Be Changing
Things will continue to change. Both in our world and in our daily life. Some of those changes will feel like a tiny ripple and others will crash into our life and turn it inside out. But no matter what changes we face, we don’t have to fear. We don’t have to hide. Because our anchor is our unchanging God whose character, word, and promises remain fixed forever.
Russell Moore’s ERLC Posts a Flawed “Evangelical Declaration on Marriage”
Far from Christians being too outraged and too panicked over the last two decades, many Christians, especially among ‘elite’ evangelicals, have exhibited a dearth of outrage and alarm, so as to appear reasonable to the broader culture. Many elite evangelicals have contended that the homosexualist push in the country was only one of many issues to consider in elections. Many still live in that denial, even after the SCOTUS decision. The last thing evangelicals need is another statement from elites that outrage and alarm are antithetical to trust in God.
The Church in Exile
No doubt there are those reading this article who find my own position to be one of cultural surrender. Should we not be taking to the streets and the ballot boxes in order to take back what is ours? It might well be that thoughtful political engagement by individual Christians will slow the tide of moral collapse in the civic sphere, or perhaps even reverse it. Our faith should indeed shape how we think and behave in the civic sphere. But I would suggest that whatever one’s eschatology or understanding of the relationship between church and state may be, the practical reality is that we must prepare at least in the short term for the social marginalization of the church and a form of cultural exile.
What Churchgoers Should Do If Churches Lose Tax Exemption Status
Do not use this as an excuse to shy away from the opportunity to speak into the political system. Certainly, such a decision is not the desired outcome. And we could easily decide to give up. But it is a mistake to completely abandon the opportunity this governmental structure gives us. It is an opportunity that many around the world would cherish.
Don’t Expect a Flood of Gay Marriages
If I hated God and despised Christians, I’d be an ardent supporter of same-sex marriage. What better way to express enmity against God and His people? That’s a major reason why so many homosexuals who will never marry, and why so many heterosexuals who have no interest in same-sex marriage, wanted it legalized and mandated by the Supreme Court.
Facebook friends will immediately flee and label me a bigot just for the title of this piece. Most of them will not read what we have to say because they can reach their conclusion simply on suspicion that we might be on the wrong side of marriage equality.
I AM WHO I KNOW
Last week I wrote to you about the temptations and dangers of seeking identity in what we achieve. Today I want to expose an equally appealing and hazardous identity trap: our relationships.
How much harder is it for a Christian to get a job or keep a job with a major American corporation than it was, say, 15 years ago? What if that Christian has taken clear, public stands in obedience to Christ and out of loving concern for the lost in accordance with the Gospel and […]
What would you do if you found out that banks in America were not going to open today – or anytime at all this week – and that all bank-held accounts were effectively frozen, with a $60 daily limit on withdrawals? With the first of the month coming up, how would you pay your mortgage? Or, more […]
Can we stop with the “blame Obama” spiel, please? Can we please stop blaming the Democrats, the Progressives and the homosexual activists for leading the culture to ruin when they’re just doing what we’ve taught ’em to do? Let’s face it: Some version of “Can you believe how wicked and evil President Obama is?!” has become an […]
On Friday, millions upon millions of American “Christians” were outraged – outraged, I tell you! – at the “Supreme Court” vote in favor of “gay marriage” as the “law” of the land. Then on Monday the vast majority of these very same outraged Christian conservatives freely shipped the delicate, impressionable little boys and girls that […]
How’s that “real world”, “pragmatic political” approach to life working out for you, American Christian? How’s it actually shaping and molding the future of your children and grandchildren here in the “land of the free” and the home of the NSA? How are all o’ those mountains of votes and billions of dollars spent on “good […]
When I was three, I wanted to be Spider-man. Or an Astronaut. Whichever would be fine. Later in life I came to realize that the Astronaut option pro’ly wasn’t gonna pan out. Even so, I remained hopeful for a radioactive spider bite, so I consoled myself with knowledge that there was always at least an outside shot of […]
The “Supreme Court” verdict is in: “Gay marriage” is legit. [insert “U! S! A!” chant here] Of course, in Reality – as in, the unbreakable reality of a universe defined and held together by God – there is no such thing as “gay marriage”. (See: The Eternal Model for Marriage is Christ the King and […]
There are two topics that we write on fairly regularly here that routinely cause site traffic and interest to dive. But we keep writing about ’em anyway because they’re important. One of those subjects is technology. The other is economics. For various reasons – many of which are rooted in lousy “end times” views that fuel […]
Okay, so by now we all know that it’s really, really easy to point, mock, and snicker at the raging, babbling insanity of many around us as we shake our heads in disbelief and self-righteously ask, “What is wrong with these people?!” You know the people I mean: People like Bruce Jenner, who recently “came out” […]
Does God like dark roast or medium blend? This is what happens when we allow the seeker model to disciple seekers. Or maybe it’s the chair. God puts thoughts in your mind when you have the right chair, and you’ll feel His presence for sure. Tips for viewing this new slick flick from Bill Hybels: […]
Free health care sounds like such a great idea, doesn’t it? But there are huge ramifications for Christians. We can talk about coverage for unbiblical practices now – like abortion and sex change operations, but that’s just the beginning. Wait until socialized medicine is free. What happens when the government can’t fund coverage for the […]
An evil is in the ‘professed’ camp of the Lord, so gross in its impudence, that the most short-sighted Christian can hardly fail to notice it. During the past few years this evil has developed at an alarming rate. It has worked like leaven, until the whole lump ferments!
The devil has seldom done a more clever thing, than hinting to the Church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them. From speaking out the gospel, the Church has gradually toned down her testimony–then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses!
According to Christian News Network:
One of the photographs creating the greatest stir is that of “transgender” actor Viviany Beleboni riding in a two million spectator pride parade in Sao Paulo as he hangs from a cross.
According to BuzzFeed, Beleboni asked an effects artist to simulate Christ’s bloody wounds on his body, and then was affixed to a cross wearing a crown of thorns and only a loin cloth. The sign over Beleboni’s head read “Enough of Homophobia.” He said that the depiction was to parallel Christ’s suffering with that of homosexuals.
Commentators have missed the real significance of Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent in the gay marriage case. He calls the decision a judicial “Putsch,” an attempt to overthrow a form of government—ours. His dissent, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, was written “to call attention to this Court’s threat to American democracy.” His comment about the Court using […]
I have lost count of the number of times homosexual activists and their supporters have asked me the question: “How does gay marriage personally impact you?” Incredibly, they really believe that this question is some sort of knock-down argument which will forever silence me and others. Yeah right – as if.
I well remember one of these occasions. I had a radical reporter from a leftist newspaper who was likely a lesbian herself ask me this question over and over. I tried to assure her it certainly does affect me personally, and I told her that just an hour earlier I was physically manhandled by angry homosexual activists trying to prevent me from entering a pro-family conference.
As these militants were chanting their pro-homosexual marriage slogans, they were abusing me and others seeking to enter the event. It was only because police were on hand to take on the love brigade that we were able to make it in. I would say that is one clear way in which this impacts on me – personally.
But of course it impacts on everyone. I told this reporter that my new book offers nearly 200 documented examples of people who have been fined, fired or jailed for simply disagreeing with homosexual marriage. They were certainly personally impacted by it.
And we must not forget the normative effect of the law. When a law passes, it is making a statement – it is telling us society approves of this or disapproves of that, and so must we. So when it passes a law allowing homosexual marriage it is telling everyone that this is what is right, and you must get on board – or else.
Imagine a state of perfect peace. What do you picture? For me, I imagine retreating alone to the ocean, looking out into the vastness, beauty, and power of its waters.
What does it mean to be persecuted for our faith?
Quite often I hear people say that Christians aren’t being persecuted in the United States. What they mean is that we aren’t suffering…
I have been asked this quite a few times over the years and the issue was brought up again recently due to the Supreme Court ruling on Friday.
We recently surveyed 8,000 Desiring God readers. Our study found that ongoing pornography use is not only dreadfully common, but increasingly higher among younger adults. More than 15% of Christian men over age sixty admitted to ongoing use.
When God Flips That Switch| Tim Challies
I loved this. If you read one, read this one.
In An Instant Messaging Age Sometimes It Is Best To Sleep On It | Nathan Bingham
And if you read two, make this the second.
Prejudice is inherent to humanity. Prejudice, in its most heinous form, can be seen in the recent events of South Carolina. In a stirring article by Albert Mohler on his website, he writes, “The ideology of racial superiority is one of the saddest and most sordid evidences of the Fall and its horrifying effects. Throughout history, racial ideologies have been driving forces of war, of social cohesion, of demagoguery, and of dictatorships.”
As Mohler reflects on and acknowledges this own denominational tradition, one whose founders expressed racism openly, he writes this:
Racial superiority is also directly subversive of the gospel of Christ, effectively reducing the power of his substitutionary atonement and undermining the faithful preaching of the gospel to all persons and to all nations. To put the matter plainly, one cannot simultaneously hold to an ideology of racial superiority and rightly present the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I think that Mohler is expressing something that Paul states clearly in 2 Corinthians 4:14-16. The apostle reflects on the love of Christ expressed through the fact that Christ “died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” And then he draws this conclusion:
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.
What does it mean that we regard no one according to the flesh? The NIV helpfully translates that last phrase, “We regard no one from a worldly point of view.” As Christians, we don’t look at people like the world does. Perhaps more importantly, we don’t look at people the way our hearts often want us to look at them: dividing them up by external things. For those who truly know Christ, there is no place for prejudice that primarily regards people according to their class, clothing, race, education, or other factors.
In fact, Paul says that part of the reason we no longer regard people according to the flesh is that we no longer regard Christ according to the flesh. When Jesus walked the earth, he was dismissed because of the town he lived in, because of the occupation of his father, and for countless other reasons.
As Isaiah 53:2-3 prophesied hundreds of years before Christ would walk the earth,
He had no form or majesty that we should look at him and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hid their faces he was despised and we esteemed him not.
And yet, for those whose eyes have been open to see the true beauty of the glory of Christ and his work, we regard him thus no longer. We see the reality of who he really is and what he had done for us. More so, if we once looked at Christ as the world does but now see his beauty and glory, how can we still look at the world as the world does? How can we still regard people in a worldly way?
I was given a sobering reminder of the seed of this prejudice while I was on a service project last week with our middle school students. A group of us were working at a homeless shelter, and I told our students that we would be eating with the guests at the shelter that afternoon. Almost immediately there was a look of anxiety and questions as to whether we really had to do that because the people smelled weird and were scary.
Wanting to regard people from a worldly perspective is natural to us as sinful people. I remember feeling exactly same way the first time I ate at a homeless shelter when I was a middle school student. Yet, the gospel does not allow for prejudices to remain. In fact, the reality that Christ died for all — the smelly, the unattractive, the high class, the low class, and every color on the spectrum — drives us to no longer regard people as we once did.
If we learned anything from Veggie Tales “Larryboy and the Fib from Outer Space,” it’s that sin that isn’t confronted grows and grows and grows. Let’s not leave our prejudices to fester into something more heinous and ugly. Confront them now with the truth of the gospel and the glory of who Christ is. Let’s put aside external illusion according to the flesh and allow the Holy Spirit to readjust our eyes to the reality of the gospel.
Is Love All You Need?
“All you need is love.”
So said the Beatles. If they had been singing about God’s love, the statement would have a grain of truth in it. But what usually goes by the name love in popular culture is not authentic love at all; it is actually a deadly fraud. Far from being “all you need,” the world’s distorted view of love is something Christians desperately need to avoid.
The apostle Paul makes that very point in Eph 5:1–3. He writes, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.”
The simple command of verse 2 (“walk in love, as Christ loved us”) sums up the whole moral obligation of the Christian. After all, God’s love is the single, central principle that defines the Christian’s entire duty.
That kind of love really is “all you need.”
Romans 13:8–10 says, “The one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments . . . are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Galatians 5:14 echoes that selfsame truth: “The whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Jesus likewise taught that all the law and the prophets hang on two simple principles about love—the First and Second Great Commandments (Matt 22:38-40).
In other words, “love . . . is the bond of perfection” (Col 3:14, NKJV). When Paul commands believers to walk in love, the context reveals that in positive terms, he is talking about being kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving to one another (Eph 4:32). The model for such selfless love is Christ, who gave His life to save His people from their sins. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). And “if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11).
In other words, true love is always sacrificial, self-giving, merciful, compassionate, sympathetic, kind, generous, and patient. Those and many other positive, benevolent qualities (cf. 1 Cor 13:4-8) are what Scripture associates with divine love.
But notice the negative side as well, also seen in the context of Ephesians 5.
The person who genuinely loves others like Christ does must refuse every kind of counterfeit love. The apostle Paul names some of these worldly forgeries. They include immorality, impurity, and covetousness. The passage continues:
Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not associate with them (vv. 4–7).
Immorality is perhaps our generation’s favorite substitute for love. Paul uses the Greek word porneia, which includes every kind of sexual sin. Popular culture desperately tries to blur the line between genuine love and immoral passion. But all such immorality is a total perversion of genuine love, because it violates both the Great Commandment (Mark 12:29-30) by disobeying God’s Word, and the Second Great Commandment (Mark 12:31; cf. Rom 13:9-10) by seeking self-gratification rather than the spiritual good and sanctification of others.
Impurity is another devilish perversion of love. Here Paul employs the Greek term akatharsia, which refers to every kind of filth and impurity. Specifically, Paul has in mind “filthiness,” “foolish talk,” and “crude joking,” which are the peculiar characteristics of evil companionship. That kind of camaraderie has nothing to do with true love, and the apostle plainly says it has no place in the Christian’s walk.
Covetousness is yet another corruption of love that stems from a narcissistic desire for self-gratification. It is the exact opposite of the example Christ set when He “gave Himself up for us” (v. 2). In verse 5, Paul equates covetousness with idolatry. Again, this has no place in the Christian walk, and according to verse 5, the person who is guilty of it “has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”
Such sins, Paul says, “must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints” (v. 3). Of those who practice such things, he instructs his readers to “not associate with them” (v. 7), but rather to “expose” their deeds of darkness (v. 11).
Christians, then, are not showing authentic love unless they courageously speak the truth about all the popular perversions of love. Most of the talk about love these days ignores that principle. “Love” has been redefined as a broad tolerance that overlooks sin and embraces good and evil alike. But that is not love; it is apathy mixed with compromise.
God’s love is not at all like that.
Remember, the supreme manifestation of God’s love is the cross, where Christ “loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (v. 2). Thus Scripture explains the love of God in terms of sacrifice, atonement for sin, and propitiation: “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
In other words, Christ made Himself a sacrifice to turn away the wrath of an offended Deity. Far from dismissing our sins with a benign tolerance, God gave His Son as an offering for sin, to satisfy His own wrath and justice in the salvation of sinners. That is the very heart of the gospel.
God manifest His love in a way that upheld His holiness, justice, and righteousness without compromise. True love “does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Cor 13:6). That is the kind of love we are called to walk in. It is a love that is “first pure, then peaceable” (cf. Jas 3:17).
Conversely, any so-called “love” that ignores God’s holiness or denies biblical truth is a deadly counterfeit that threatens to enslave and to deceive. It is the love you don’t need, because it is not really love at all.
* * * * *
Today’s post is adapted from Dr. MacArthur’s article in The Master’s Seminary Journal entitled: God’s Word on Homosexuality: The Truth about Sin and the Reality of Forgiveness.
The Christian’s Response to the World Doing What the World Does
Now that we Christians have had a few days to cool our jets a bit, we can reposition and recalibrate ourselves. Events like those transpiring last Friday provide opportune times of reminder for God’s people of our mission. When some of the more powerful human courts in the world express their fallenness, and the grandstands of culture erupt in praise, Christians are handed an occasion to be reminded of what we’re doing here on earth.
Humanity is still fallen. Jesus is still risen. Christians are still commissioned.
Being bestowed with every spiritual blessing from heaven means we have a responsibility to be a blessing on earth. One helpful place to go for biblical instruction on the matter is the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to the Colossian church. These believers lived in a culture which clashed with the biblical worldview. Things like homosexuality and unfriendly political stances were the norm. So, how did God, through the pen of the Apostle, shepherd his people to respond?
“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col. 4:5-6).
Overall, the idea is that when lost people do what lost people do, God keeps his church in their midst, as fellow-sinners (who have been saved by Christ), in order to wisely and humbly interact for his glory and their salvation.
Here are a few reminders to help us respond wisely as we live among the lost:
You Don’t Really Know Who You Friends Are Until… – “You don’t really know who your friends are until their relationship with you becomes a liability instead of a benefit. Many celebrities, and even Christian celebrities, have learned this lesson the hard way. In the blink of an eye, or the release of a news story, they went from fêted to ignored, from celebrated to invisible. They learned quickly that many of their so-called friends had actually not been friends at all, but people thriving on a kind of symbiotic relationship where each benefited the other. When the relationship become a liability, their friends were suddenly nowhere to be found.”
40 Questions for Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags – “For evangelicals who lament last Friday’s Supreme Court decision, it’s been a hard few days. We aren’t asking for emotional pity, nor do I suspect many people are eager to give us any. Our pain is not sacred. Making legal and theological decisions based on what makes people feel better is part of what got us into this mess in the first place. Nevertheless, it still hurts.”
4 Perfections of God’s Transforming Word – “What are the particular traits or characteristics of God’s Word that render it so useful a tool and so powerful a weapon in the hand of the Holy Spirit? Hebrews 4:12 and Psalm 19:7–9 address this question directly. From Hebrews 4:12, we learn that God’s Word is quick and powerful. From Psalm 19:7–9, we learn that God’s Word is perfect and sure; right, pure, and clean; true and righteous altogether.”
The Christian’s Response to the World Doing What the World Does – “Now that we Christians have had a few days to cool our jets a bit, we can reposition and recalibrate ourselves. Events like those transpiring last Friday provide opportune times of reminder for God’s people of our mission. When some of the more powerful human courts in the world express their fallenness, and the grandstands of culture erupt in praise, Christians are handed an occasion to be reminded of what we’re doing here on earth.”
Can Evangelicals See Themselves in the LGBT Movement? – “Rod Dreher recently posted a letter from one of his readers. The letter recounts the experience of a Millennial for whom a change of heart on the issue of same-sex marriage led to his departure from evangelicalism. Responding to Dreher’s contention that the arguments of same-sex marriage advocates are founded upon emotion, the letter writer counters that many Christian opponents of same-sex marriage “have traded in nothing but emotion for the last 30 years.” He suggests that, having grounded their opposition to same-sex marriage solely in an unexamined disgust, the moment young evangelicals have humanizing engagements with gay persons they are left without any argument against same-sex marriage, and their Christian convictions are thrown into confusion.”
James White – Total Depravity vs Free Will
How Much Do You Study Your Bible?
It’s Just the Truth
“If you alter or obscure the Biblical portrait of God in order to attract converts, you don’t get converts to God, you get converts to an illusion. This is not evangelism but deception.” – John Piper
The Star Of Bethlehem Again?
Our Pastor told us about this but I could only find basic info online about this conjunction on June 30th. If you watched the Bethlehem Star documentary, you know that Regulus and Leo were involved in the process then making it KING KING KING. Well, it is about to happen again and we think it must mean that our Father is soon to start the 7 year return process for Jesus. We pray that is the case!!!
I have recently read your post on Jephthahs daughter. I have a “vow” that haunts me to this day. As a young teen I felt very guilty over a sin. I told God “if I do this again, you can take my salvation away.” Of course I committed that sin (and still do). I am terrified that because I made that “vow” that I am held to it. Here I am 32 years old and I am still struggling with the fear. It is stories like this in the Old Testament that haunt me. I would love some insight.
Temporary Bodies In Heaven?
I’ve heard the idea of temporary bodies at death discussed both pro and con, that when a person dies, and are immediately in the presence of the Lord, they appear to be in spirit form, hence, the spirit would be without a body. However, in Rev. 6:10-11, referring to Tribulation Saints in Heaven, they ask why has God not avenged their blood on those who dwell on the earth, they are then given white robes to wear for a little season until their fellow servants, who should also be killed, arrive in Heaven. Would this indicate that even though we arrive in Heaven in a spirit form after death we are given some kind of body in which to reside until the Rapture?
What is The Gospel?
“My Last Day” — the Jesus Anime
9 powerful minutes of animation that begins with a thief behind bars watching the scourging of Jesus, and it ends with the thief dying next to Jesus, and waking to see Him in a beautiful place.
The dying thief: What was so great about his faith?
Our Time is Short
Ready to start your new life with God?
Who do you think that I am?
With that brief question Jesus Christ confronted His followers with the most important issue they would ever face. He had spent much time with them and made some bold claims about His identity and authority. Now the time had come for them either to believe or deny His teachings.
Who do you say Jesus is? Your response to Him will determine not only your values and lifestyle, but your eternal destiny as well.
Consider what the Bible says about Him: Read more
Look to Jesus
Have you ever felt a little lost and wished there was a quick-start guide to your relationship with God? This is it!
30 Day Next Steps
John Beckett, a leading Christian businessman, has written a series to read over 30 days for new believers.
New Believers Guide
The New Believer’s Guide is a series of articles designed to show you how to walk in the new life Christ has given you— a life of faith and freedom.
Jesus is the Savior of the world. Discover who Jesus is today in this series.
Know Jesus Christ and your life will be transformed
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