Christians and the Immigration Debate

If there’s any story that dominates the headlines these days, it’s the story of the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy.  Not surprisingly, all of the news coverage has inflamed passions on both left and right.  I’ve seen plenty of posts on Facebook promoting both the administration position and opposition to it, and plenty of debates about who’s right.

None of this has done anything to reduce my suspicion of Christians engaging in political partisanship.  If you want to vote, fine.  If you want to follow the news, fine.  However, moving past that point to political advocacy seems to me like it exposes us to manifold spiritual dangers without the possibility of spiritual gain. Continue reading

Advertisements

Bear with and Forgive One Another

In the last couple of lessons in our “Heaven Bound Together” series, Shawn and I have primarily considered the way that Christians are supposed to help each other through life’s struggles.  We’re supposed to encourage.  We’re supposed to restore.  We’re supposed to bear one another’s burdens.  Generally, we’re supposed to help solve one another’s problems.

However, that leaves a giant issue unexplored.  If other Christians are supposed to help us with our problems, what are we supposed to do when the other Christian is the problem?  Let’s be real, friends.  Sometimes, the worst problems that we have are with people who worship with us.  Our brothers and sisters in Christ can be annoying, hard-headed, and even downright sinful.

This can be intensely frustrating, but we must remember that our responsibilities toward one another don’t end because we think another Christian isn’t acting right.  Instead, we’re supposed to work through even that situation with them.  This morning, then, let’s look at our role in bearing with and forgiving one another. Continue reading

My Problem with Preterism

For several years, one of the low-level fusses in the brotherhood has been about preterism.  Otherwise known as the 70 AD doctrine, preterism argues that all of the prophecies about the end of the world have already been fulfilled.  Thus, 2 Peter 3’s discussion of the earth and its works being burned up should be read in the same light as the Joel 2 prophecy of the sun being turned to darkness and the moon turned to blood.

I think preterists make some valid points.  We need to be careful to read the apocalyptic language of the Bible apocalyptically.  Also, many texts that are commonly read as being about the end of the world are about events that happened thousands of years ago.  I think Revelation 1-19 falls into this category.  Drawing the line between fulfilled prophecies couched in apocalyptic language and unfulfilled prophecies predicting literal future events is not always an easy task! Continue reading

Twisted up by Evil People

When we read the Bible, we learn about some people we simply have to feel sorry for.  Hosea has to marry a prostitute.  Jeremiah has to faithfully proclaim God’s message to a wicked nation that doesn’t want to hear it and will kill him for saying it.  And so on.

On the list, though, we must include Saul’s son Jonathan.  From beginning to end of his life, he seems like a high-character guy.  The major sins that mar the reigns of Saul and even David are absent from his life.  Continue reading

The Superiority of the Son

Ever since I started preaching the gospel, I’ve made a point of trying to honor the sermon requests that people make.  A few weeks ago, I got one such request from Cindy Coleman.  She asked me if I’d be willing to preach a sermon on Jesus.

It’s a rare gospel preacher who could refuse a request like that!  Last week, as I was trying to decide what to say about Jesus, my mind turned to the book of Hebrews.  Hebrews was my dad’s favorite book of the Bible, and it also says many things about Jesus that are not found anywhere else.  As a result, I decided it would be profitable to all of us if we looked at the Hebrews writer’s opening arguments about Jesus.  Let’s consider, then, what he tells us about the superiority of the Son. Continue reading

Baptism and the Faithfulness of God

Whether most Christians think about it or not, their entire belief system is based on the premise that God is faithful.  God’s faithfulness is what makes it reasonable for us to trust in Him and devote our lives to doing His will.  We know that if we keep covenant with Him, He will not disappoint us.

If this were not true, if God were arbitrary and capricious rather than faithful, we would have no reason to seek Him at all.  The day of judgment would be a spiritual lottery, in which one person would be unpredictably rewarded while another is unpredictably punished.  At that point, it makes more sense for us to do what is right in our own eyes and take our chances. Continue reading

What God Sees

One of the great themes of 1 Samuel is the difference between personal appearance and personal worth.  Saul gained immediate approval as king of Israel because he stood head and shoulders above everybody else.  In the words of Shakespeare, he was every inch a king.  However, he failed the tests of kingship, revealing only his moral and spiritual shortcomings.

After Saul’s failure to obey in 1 Samuel 15, God sends Samuel out to anoint Saul’s replacement.  However, even though Samuel has witnessed Saul’s failure, he fails to draw the correct conclusion.  When God directs him to the sons of Jesse, he again evaluates the candidates on the basis of appearance.

In response, God makes the point that Samuel has missed.  He says, “For the Lord sees not as man sees:  man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”  God isn’t concerned with height or attractiveness.  He cares about character instead. Continue reading