Archives For Theology

Occasionally I will hear people criticize others in a Bible study for saying things like, “I think this passage means…” I’ve even been criticized for saying, “I think…” in sermons. The critics say, “It doesn’t matter what you think, it only matters what the passage says.” But the words, “I think…” actually play a very important role in discussions about the Bible. So here are some reasons to keep saying, “I think…” when studying the Bible.

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There are many people with an unhealthy view of God. Some people believe God is an angry tyrant with unreasonable expectations for mankind, ready to strike people dead at any moment. They believe His primary characteristics are wrath and fury. While it is sad people feel this way, it is equally heartbreaking that others believe the God of the Bible has no rules or expectations for mankind and will punish no one. We must have a balanced and biblical understanding of God’s character.

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If we are going to restore New Testament Christianity, then I believe we need to restore a biblical emphasis on the Return of our King. As Christians, the Return of Jesus is our hope. It is what we should be longing for (2 Timothy 4:8). But many of us don’t long for His appearing, because we don’t understand the pivotal role the Return plays in the Christian story. Here are a few things we can expect when Jesus comes back.

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People tell me all the time, their main goal in life is to go to heaven when they die. In fact, I’m quite certain I’ve said the exact same thing before. I’ve always thought that was the very best goal a person could have, but I’ve changed my mind. The more I think about that phrase, and especially the context in which it is usually stated, the more I think it often reveals a misunderstanding deep in our hearts. Here are a few thoughts on having heaven as a our main goal in life.

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We often say things like, “We’re all sinners.” Or, “I’m a sinner, the same as anyone else.” There is certainly some truth to those statements. We are certainly all guilty of sin and we all still struggle with sin. However, the Bible doesn’t really use the word “sinner” to refer to faithful Christians. Let’s talk about why Christians aren’t called sinners and why it may be detrimental to your life to think of yourself as a sinner.

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When the children of Israel were going into the Promised Land, God gave them a law. The law was part of His covenant relationship with them. But after Jesus came, many Jewish Christians wanted to know what role the law should continue to play in their lives. Were Christians obligated to keep the law? If not, what was to keep them from living sinfully? The apostle Paul boldly claimed that Christians “are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14). Could that really be true? If so, what would that look like? What would that mean?

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We attend Bible classes, Bible studies, devotionals, and worship services. We read our Bibles and listen to sermons. We memorize passages of Scripture. But do we ever stop and ask ourselves, “What’s the point of all of this?” What are we really trying to accomplish? Is the goal to impress God and others with our biblical knowledge? Is the goal to know all the stories? Is the goal to know all the rules, so we don’t accidentally break one? Here is what the Bible says is the whole point of Christian teaching.

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It is biblical to speak of “obeying the gospel,” although I’m sad to say that the way I’ve most often used that phrase is not very biblical. I’ve often said, when someone was baptized, “He obeyed the gospel,” as if obeying the gospel was something that was accomplished by being baptized. That is not a very biblical way to speak of someone “obeying the gospel.” It is so much more than being baptized, because a person is never finished obeying the gospel.

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In Philippians 2:12 Paul wrote, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” That phrase is quoted a lot, but I wonder how many of us have ever stopped to consider what it actually means. I know I have personally failed to appreciate the context of this passage and have misused this passage a number of times. Perhaps you have as well. Here are a few thoughts on what it means to “work out your salvation.”

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If you’ve ever been overwhelmed by guilt, you’ve probably heard someone say, “God has forgiven you, but now you need to learn to forgive yourself.” In fact, you may have even tried to comfort someone else by telling them, “You’ve got to learn to forgive yourself.” This may come as a shock, but while this advice sounds good, it is not biblical to encourage people to forgive themselves.

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