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A biblically faithful view of wealth and health

In previous posts, we explored the false teachings of today’s prosperity gospel preachers. Now, let’s ask: What is a biblically faithful attitude toward wealth and health?

We should be content with what we have.

Paul experiences many hardships in his ministry – beatings, shipwreck, hunger, cold, imprisonment, and much more. Yet he writes that he has “learned” to be content (see Phil. 4:11-12). Further, he reminds Timothy that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6).

We should be indifferent toward wealth.

Prosperity is neither good nor evil. But our attitude toward wealth reveals a great deal about us (see 1 Tim. 6:6-10, 17-19).

Agur’s request of the Lord in Prov. 30:8b-9 expresses a proper attitude toward worldly gain: “Give me neither poverty nor wealth; feed me with the food I need. Otherwise, I might have too much and deny You, saying, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or I might have nothing and steal, profaning the name of my God.”

Jesus specifically warns us against laying up treasures on earth (Matt. 6:19-21) and reminds us that we cannot be slaves to both God and money (Matt. 6:24).

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Is the canon of Scripture closed?

Some Christian scholars today cast doubt over the canon of Scripture – those 66 books that the Church has long held to be the complete written revelation of God. They justify their views by claiming: (1) that surviving texts of the Old and New Testaments are corrupt and therefore unreliable, or (2) that early Church leaders deliberately excluded certain books for personal or political reasons.

As Craig L. Blomberg responds in Can We Still Believe the Bible?: “there is not a shred of historical evidence to support either of these claims; anyone choosing to believe them must do so by pure credulity, flying in the face of all the evidence that actually exists.”

But what if we discovered an apostolic writing that has remained hidden for the last 2,000 years?

For example, in 1 Cor. 5:9, Paul alludes to an earlier letter to fellow believers in Corinth. We don’t have that letter, nor are we aware of its specific contents. Let’s say, however, that archaeologists unearth a clay pot containing a manuscript dating from the mid-first century and fitting the description of Paul’s letter.

Should the Church welcome 3 Corinthians as the 28th book of the New Testament? Not so fast.
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Jude’s doxology

The Missouri Baptist Convention has published a new resource called The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith. The 275-page book is available in print and Kindle editions on Amazon, and in print from the MBC. But we also want to make each of the 16 chapters available online. This post features the last half of Chapter 16: Doxology: To the Only God Our Savior.

Previously: To the Only God Our Savior

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Now to Him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless and with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now, and forever. Amen. (Jude 24-25 HCSB)

Jude ends his epistle with a wonderful four-part doxology, or word of praise. To “the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord,” Jude offers:

Glory– the sum total of all that God is and does. The word “glory” captures all the divine attributes in their radiance. The Greek word doxa, from which we get “glory,” means honor; renown; an especially divine quality; the unspoken manifestation of God; splendor. We see this in Yahweh in the Old Testament. In the desert, the Lord provides a place in the crevice of a rock for Moses, and covers His servant with His hand to protect him from the certain death that results when sinful humans see God’s glorious face (Ex. 33:20-23).

Such glory belongs only to God (Isa. 42:8; 48:11). However, in the New Testament, we see divine glory as an attribute of Jesus – an attribute He shared with the Father before the creation of the world (John 17:5). On the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus shows Peter, James, and John his glory. His face shines like the sun, and even His clothes become as white as light (Matt. 17:1-8). The writer of Hebrews notes this about Jesus, “He is the radiance of His [God’s] glory, the exact expression of His nature …” (Heb. 1:3a).
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Shame, honor, and the gospel

Missionaries to Muslims often report resistance to the gospel message – not because Muslims reject Jesus as a great prophet, but because the Qur’an denies the doctrines of original sin and the atonement.

The idea of natural-born sinners runs counter to the Islamic belief that man is basically good but ignorant of Allah’s will. This may be overcome by repeating the shahada – “There is no god but Allah; Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah” – and by embracing the five pillars of Islam.

In addition, Muslims deny Jesus’ substitutionary death because they cannot believe Allah would allow his second greatest prophet to suffer shame on a Roman cross.

In other words, many Muslims reject the gospel because it does not align with their cultural perspective that stresses shame and honor rather than guilt and innocence.

So, how can Christians, who embrace the doctrines of original sin and the substitutionary death of Jesus, present the gospel cross-culturally? Is it even possible?
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What Islam and Mormonism have in common

Satan is clever but not original.

He cannot create, procreate, raise the dead, or inspire Scripture. But he can take things God created for good and twist them for his evil purposes.

He is especially proficient in false religions, from Algard Wicca to Zoroastrianism. While the world’s wayward faiths are diverse, the evil one’s fingerprints are on all of them.

To illustrate, let’s look at similar patterns in two very different belief systems: Islam and Mormonism.

It would seem these religious organizations have little in common. Their doctrines and rituals are distinctly different. Yet their claims to truth bear remarkable similarities. Consider six such parallels.

(1) A false god. Both Muslims and Mormons profess belief in the God of Scripture. However, their gods stand in stark contrast to Yahweh, the one true and living God.

 Islam’s god, Allah, is monolithic, impersonal, unknowable, and unapproachable. He is the author of both good and evil and fatalistically determines all things.

Mormons worship Elohim, or “Heavenly Father,” as the god of this world. Once a man, he attained deity, as did his first-born spirit child Jesus (Jehovah). Mormons believe there are many gods and many worlds and that men may themselves become gods one day.
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