The weight of that question is simply crushing. With it comes the acknowledgement that many parents have felt the heartbreak of losing a child. While it is not an easy thing to consider, it is well worth our time to understand how the Bible speaks to this issue.
Millions of babies have been aborted. Others have been miscarried. Still others have died in infancy. What happens to these? What happens to the children (or adults) who are mentally disabled and unable to function in a way where they can express faith in Jesus Christ? Where will their eternal destiny be?
We have basically been given two answers to this question: (1) do something to remove the child’s original guilt or else (2) say the child is innocent and not yet accountable. The Catholic Church takes the first approach. The thought is since everyone is born in sin and with a sin nature, that original stain must be removed. In 1951, Pope Pius XII stated, “…no other way besides baptism is seen as imparting the life of Christ to little children.” Therefore, babies are Christened in an attempt to remove the original sin passed down from Adam.
The second attempt to answer this question is how many Protestants deal with the issue. This approach advocates an “Age of Accountability”. The thought here is that a child is innocent (or at least safe) until he reaches the age where he understands his sin and actions. While the “Age of Accountability” isn’t a phrase used in the Bible, the thought comes from such Scriptures as Isaiah 7:16, “For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken.” This passage clearly shows that there is a point in which a child does not yet know how to refuse evil and choose good. Other passages such as Deuteronomy 1:35-39 show that the little ones and children of Israel do not have knowledge of good and evil. Because of this, they got to go into the Promised Land while those adults who willfully sinned were not allowed.
The problem with both of these attempts is that they each offer a second way of salvation that the Bible does not allow. The Bible is crystal clear that there is only one way to be saved: by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. The only name by which anyone can be saved is the name of Jesus (Acts 4:12). There is absolutely no one who can come to the Father except through Jesus (John 14:6). One must be born again if he is to even see the Kingdom (John 3:3). The Bible simply does not allow any other way to be saved besides coming through Jesus. And the only way to come through Jesus is by way of repentance and faith. There is no second option. (more…)
Luke 10 gives us the privilege of listening in on an intimate conversation between the Father and the Son. As we listen, we learn that Jesus rejoices as He prays. He praises the Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for something very specific in verse 21:
“…I praise You…that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.”
It may seem unusual to us that Jesus would pray such a thing. How can it be that God would ever hide his truth from some while only to reveal it to others?
As we are wondering, Jesus turns to his disciples and tells them how blessed their eyes are for what they see. “Many prophets and kings wished to see the things which you see, and did not see them,” (v. 24) Jesus explains. Yet these men were not just his disciples. These are the infants who had God’s truth revealed to them. Some were unlearned fishermen. All were average guys who were nothing special. Yet these are the very infants to whom God chose to reveal himself. (more…)
As far as I can remember, I’ve only used the title Reverend of myself one time. It was at a funeral home visitation and that was how I signed my name in the guest book: Rev. Eric Douglas.
I’ve not done it since and I don’t plan to ever do it again. You see, I’m no reverend. There is nothing about me that is worthy to be revered. And that’s ok with me.
Pastors or other ministers who prefer this title of Reverend may have never stopped to consider its origins. Pastor or minister seem to have biblical warrant for their usage though not necessarily as titles. Both are descriptions for the function or action one has in his work among the church.
Ephesians 4:11 gives the only genuine usage of pastor in all the Bible. Here, it is not a title but a job description, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some aspastors and teachers.”
Minister isn’t used nearly as much as one would expect. However, Paul does use it a few times such as in Ephesians 3:7, “…of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.” Yet when we realize that minister simply means servant, we understand that there is no honor of distinction in being called one. To function as a minister is simply to do and live as any Christian should; serving Christ and His church. (more…)
Get rid of your vision for the church you pastor. You don’t need it. If you have one, repent.
I can hear the sound of hipster glasses being thrown across the room in protest. Pastors are frantically flipping the pages of their Bibles to make sure Proverbs 29:18 is still there. Pastoral libraries are being checked to ensure that the church growth section still outnumbers their other books 4 to 1. How can a pastor lead without having a vision?
After all, vision is the be all and end all of pastoral leadership in many pastor’s minds. It is the hallmark of a great pastor. Its presence is viewed as the evidence that a pastor has bounced back from burnout. And if you are part of the 80% of pastors who struggle in this area, you just need to resign. Either get a vision or get out.
But I want to offer a different and hopefully biblical perspective. Don’t let the majority position of, “either get a vision or get out” scare you, Pastor. The position that should be held is, “If you do have your own vision for the church, repent.” Get rid of it. You don’t need it. (more…)
Ministry is often different from person to person. There are a lot of moving parts that will affect a Christian’s ministry. Some Christians may strive to be salt and light as they work at Wal-Mart, the bank, or the local restaurant. Others may have packed up their family to get the gospel into a foreign country. Still others may serve faithfully by telling the kids at their church about Jesus. You’ll have some Christians who desire to be pastors and work week after week teaching and equipping one body of believers.
Ministry often looks different depending on the context in which one ministers.
But there are two non-negotiables in ministry that are true for each and every Christian who ministers. These two truths are evident among every biblical ministry across the world. The Christian must recognize these two non-negotiables if he or she is going to be faithful to minister: (more…)
This was originally published on my previous blog “Truth Matters” on November 13, 2012.
Image from foxnews.com
Let me say it loud and clear: America needs Duck Dynasty. It may be among the most important shows on television.
To some, Duck Dynasty may only seem like a silly reality show. Its 30 minutes of bearded men making duck calls, drinking sweet tea, hunting and blowing stuff up. But that’s just what you see on the surface. If you look more closely, what you will discover is that Duck Dynasty is a biblical show. I do not mean that it is biblical in the sense that the Robertson family leads a 30-minute Bible study. What I mean is that Duck Dynasty is a positive example of Matthew 5:13-16:
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven”.
The Robertson family provides a taste of salt and a glimpse of light for our culture. In a culture that is tasteless and dark, Duck Dynasty is a show that is well-able to influence us in a positive way. It has worked its way in among the entertainment world and has the ability to change it from the inside-out. It is a modern-day Trojan horse that is fulfilling a biblical mandate.(more…)
We Christians are an odd bunch. The goal of our lives is to bring glory to God while we are being transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ. In fact, even the name “Christian” means “Little Christ”. For the Christian, the whole of our identity is found in following after and becoming like Jesus.
But you would never know this by the way that we pray.
You see, Jesus came to earth in order to suffer and die. He came not to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many. He is the Suffering Servant from Isaiah 53. Nothing about His life shouts “Comfort”. This is why He would tell some who wanted to follow, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20).
If you are going to follow Jesus, you must follow by way of the cross. You must deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him. This is the truth that the Christian proclaims with his life.
But you would never know this by the way that we pray.(more…)
In the beginning, the King already reigned
Holy and perfect, He had nothing to gain.
Yet by His sovereign will He chose to create –
To display His glory and show His name as great.
The King gave the command to “Let there be”
And there appeared everything; light, stars, land and sea.
But He wasn’t finished, one more He chose to form.
Molded out of the dust and in His image, Man was born.
The man and his wife walked with God in perfect harmony
Trusting, following, they enjoyed life with the King.
Freely living they had only one rule by which to abide,
“Eat from any tree in the garden but one, or else you will die.” (more…)
Main Point: The will of God isn’t something hidden from us that we must find. God makes moral decision-making clear to us (He doesn’t want you to cheat on your taxes), but does not always tell us what to decide in non-moral decisions (Should I move to Michigan and be a carpenter?). Therefore, we trust that He holds the future and then make a decision after reading His word, consulting others, and praying. (more…)
Genesis 6 does not allow room for misinterpretation. Things were bad. Mankind was wicked. The world was corrupt. Every intent of the thoughts of man’s heart was only evil continually.
Mankind was so wicked that the Bible says, “The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart” (Genesis 6:6). Sin and wickedness accrue the wrath of God. And God’s judgment was surely coming, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them” (6:7).
The world was about to experience God’s wrath in a mighty way. Everything and everyone would be wiped out. God’s plan was to destroy all flesh and see to it that everything on the earth perish (6:17). There seemed to be no hope. (more…)