The Seriousness of Sexual Sin
It is not the purpose of this article to list and address every mention of sexual sin in the Bible, but merely to show that sexual sins are indeed portrayed as being serious and defiling in the New Testament in a similar way as they were in the Old Testament. In ushering in the New Covenant, Jesus & His Apostles and the writers of the New Testament did not suddenly begin winking at such sins. They taught that sexual sin, unless repented of and forsaken, would disqualify people from finally entering the eternal kingdom of God. There are various sorts of sexual sin. Sometimes sexual sin is spoken against in a general manner in the New Testament, and sometimes we find such sins being spoken against very specifically. However, it is very clear that whatever type of sexual sin is being practiced, it is all defiling (i.e. it all causes spiritual uncleanness). For example: Continue reading The Seriousness of Sexual Sin
A Sermon Using Alexander Campbell’s Address on War
Introduction/Foreword (by Bob McCollough)
- In 1836, the Republic of Texas won its independence from Mexico. Nine years later, in 1845, the United States officially annexed the Republic of Texas which was then admitted as a state. Because Mexico still felt like Texas belonged to them, this brought about the Mexican-American war (1846-1848). As a result of its decisive victory in this war, the U.S. gained a huge chunk of Mexican territory which is now the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Colorado and Wyoming. When the war ended, Alexander Campbell (b. 1788; d. 1866)–who was arguably the most prominent and influential pioneer (esp. during the first half of the 1800s) of what eventually became known as the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement–gave an address on the subject of war. The words and thoughts contained in this lesson I am presenting this morning are essentially his. Campbell’s Address on War (delivered in 1848) is sixteen pages long. So, for the most part, I just condensed his words down to about three pages and put them in modern, everyday English.
Continue reading A. Campbell’s Address on War
by Tolbert Fanning (b. 1810; d. 1874)
Attentive Reader,–Will you agree to set aside your previous beliefs and stifle your prejudices while we examine, by the light of the Scriptures, a theme most dear to the interests of Messiah’s kingdom?
At no period in the world’s history has a discussion of the subject of war been more urgently demanded than at the present. Nations and individuals still settle their difficulties by mortal combat—not at all questioning the divine right of slaying their fellows.
These remarks are not just intended for savages or infidels, but for the civilized nations of the earth, and for such professed Christians as feel authorized by God and their country to take the life of their fellow man. Continue reading WAR
The New Testament Teaching Concerning
THE WAY OF SALVATION
Have you ever heard Christians speak of the “plan of salvation” and wondered what they meant by such an expression? The expression is often used to refer to the normative process revealed in the New Testament by which a person initially becomes a Christian. While the phrase “plan of salvation” is not entirely misleading, it has been a bit overused. After all, the exact expression is nowhere found in the New Testament. Continue reading The Way of Salvation
Christ is the Cause of Salvation; Faith & Good Works are the Conditions
(The efficacy of the death of Christ consistent with the necessity of a good life)
by William Paley (b. July 1743 – d. May 1805)
Our first argument to support the thesis stated above is that although the Bible clearly represents Christ’s atonement as efficacious for the salvation of mankind, it also clearly teaches the necessity of our own efforts toward virtue and good works for salvation’s sake. But the Scriptures go further than that. The Holy Spirit, speaking through the Scriptures, foresaw that as the death & atonement of Christ was revealed to Christians as being instrumental to salvation, that this would lead some Christians to the [mistaken] opinion that mankind’s own works, their own virtue, their personal efforts, were to be set aside or done away with. In other words, the Holy Spirit foresaw that some Christians would [mistakenly] conclude that if the sacrificial death of Christ was effective for salvation, that this would mean that all the moral efforts or good works of mankind were unnecessary for salvation. The Holy Spirit, speaking through the Scriptures, foresaw that some Christians would draw this [mistaken] conclusion from certain teachings that are now located in the New Testament and so He, through the Scriptures, provided a remedy for this erroneous interpretation. Continue reading Christ is the Cause of Salvation; Faith & Good Works are the Conditions
“At the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper.”—Proverbs 23:32
When warning people against the sin of drunkenness, a commonly heard objection is that because Jesus’ first public miracle was to turn water into wine (at a wedding in Cana—John 2:1-11), this supposedly proves that Jesus permits drunkenness, and that it is not a sin. But even if the wine Jesus created had alcohol in it, this does not authorize drunkenness any more than God’s creation of human sexual organs authorizes sexual immorality (fornication & adultery, etc.)! Because, as John Chrysostom said, “it is not wine which makes drunkenness, but the evil purpose, & the using it beyond due measure” (NPNF, 1st Series, Vol. 14, p. 402).
Other things to consider in evaluating Jesus’ creation of wine, is that, in ancient times, people commonly mixed alcoholic wine with water to dilute the fermented wine, and possibly also to make the water tastier & safer to drink. Therefore, because the people at the wedding had the option to dilute the wine Jesus made, any drunkenness that may have resulted from them drinking it was due to their own choice; it was their own sin. The Scriptures call us to exercise self-control in all areas of life (Acts 24:25; 1 Cor 7:5, 9; Gal 5:23; 1 Tim 2:15; 2 Tim 3:3; 2 Pet 1:6; Also, see Gen 4:7). As we exert moral effort to control our impulses, God will cooperate with us and help us, but He will not do it all for us. He leaves us with a real part to play in life.
According to the Bible, drunkenness is not only unwise and unhealthy, it is deadly spiritual poison to the human soul. Unless such a sin is forsaken, it will cause a person to be condemned to hell. Consider the Scriptural evidence below to see what Jesus, and His apostles Peter & Paul had to say on this subject. Continue reading Drunkenness is Spiritual Poison!
In order to complete my M.A. in Church History/Historical Theology, I had to take an Essay Exam, and one of the topics to be written on was that I had to select what I thought were the 3 most important developments in Christianity during the Modern Period (c. 1650-present), explain why I chose those three developments, and explain their emergence, significance, and their lasting impact on Christianity. The article which follows, which I have entitled “Strong Delusion,” is the essence of my answer. It discusses the following three developments in Protestant Evangelical Christianity during the Modern Period: (1) the supposed need for a dramatic, convincing conversion story or a crisis-conversion; (2) the supposed requirement to know without a doubt that you are saved; and (3) the globalization of Easy Believism or Security-in-Sin.
The reason I selected these three developments in Christianity during the Modern Period as being the most important is because of the negative (and potentially deadly) combined or cumulative effect I believe they have had upon Christianity, myself included. Understanding how they developed is helpful in escaping their negative influence. Continue reading Strong Delusion
The Trinity & the Penal Satisfaction Theory of the Atonement
The relation that exists between a particular aspect of the Trinitarian teachings of classical Christianity and a particular theory regarding the atonement of the cross (a theory which is now widely assumed to be the only acceptable version of the atonement) was initially perceived by this writer while doing research on the subject of the popular teaching of Unconditional Eternal Security (a.k.a. Once Saved Always Saved). The connection that exists between the atonement of the cross and intra-Trinitarian relations became evident because of how Unconditional Eternal Security advocates would very often attempt to support their arguments by appealing to the atonement of the cross. They commonly assert that all of our sins have been paid for (past, present, and future) and can never be charged back to our account because God’s wrath has been satisfied—Jesus took the punishment from God that we deserved.
Like Charles Stanley (president of the S.B.C. 1984-1986), advocates of Unconditional Eternal Security often assert that holding to a position of Conditional Security is tantamount to denying the finished atoning work of Christ. However, not only can it be proven that Unconditional Eternal Security advocates depart from the earliest, most universally held consensus of Christian teaching on the subject of salvation security, but in their desperate efforts to defend their doctrine by appealing to and arguing from the Penal Satisfaction theory of the atonement, they only reveal how inconsistent this concept of the atonement is with a well-established key element of Trinitarian doctrine—the inseparability of the three divine persons. Continue reading The Trinity & the Penal Satisfaction Theory of the Atonement
ARE ALL SINS OF THE SAME DEGREE BEFORE GOD?
Protestants often make the assertion that there is no such thing as “big” sins and “little” sins, or else they will say something similar to dogmatically declare that all sin is the same in God’s sight. And admittedly, there are some Scriptures that could be brought forward and interpreted in such as way to give support such an idea, but what does the overwhelming majority of the evidence show concerning such an assertion? While it is true that the Christian tradition (including the Old and New Testament) clearly speaks of a general state of sin or the general condition of being sinful (i.e., living/walking according to the flesh or being carnally minded in contrast to living/walking according to the Spirit or being spiritually minded), the evidence also clearly reveals distinctions within that general state or condition showing that there are differences regarding not only quantity of sins, but also quality of sin(s). In John 19:11, it is recorded that Jesus spoke the following words to Pilate:
“You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”
Looking at the statement above that was spoken by Jesus Christ, one would think that it would be fairly easy for His followers to accept the notion that there truly is such a thing as a greater sin—because in making this statement to Pilate, Jesus Christ Himself unambiguously used the language of comparison when speaking of sin. But because Jesus’ professed followers are often inclined to dismiss the very words of the Author and Finisher of their faith (not to mention the plain, ordinary rules of grammar) while preferring and holding tightly to the Reformed Protestant platitudes that they have been indoctrinated with, please consider the remainder of the evidence contained in this document, especially the Scriptures listed below that are accepted by all Christians as being part of the canon. Continue reading All Sins of the Same Degree? Levels of Punishment & Reward?
Recently, while having a conversation with my Church History/Historical Theology professor about the changes in theology that Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430) either brought into or caused to become far more widespread in the church, I expressed the idea that we need to examine and carefully consider what the church believed on various articles of belief prior to the time of Augustine, because the basic contents of the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3), and “the rule of faith” were formed and delivered to the early church before Augustine had even been born. My professor responded by saying that the problem with such an idea is that defining exactly what the “rule of truth” or “rule of faith” consisted of in the church of the first three centuries was like trying to nail jelly to the wall—meaning that it was no easy task, or that it was something very difficult or something next to impossible to accomplish. And while I believe there is some truth to what he said (because the rule of truth was variously stated depending on both who the writer and what the circumstance was), I also believe that there is still a great deal of value in our knowing what the most universal consensus was in the church of the first three centuries on how to understand or interpret the Scriptures as a whole and especially the various passages on which there are so many different and even contradictory interpretations floating around within Christianity today.
Continue reading Nailing Jelly to the Wall