Category Archives: theology
A group of my friends recently completed going through my book DocTALK! We had some great discussions on the doctrines of the Christian faith. We spent just one hour going over the chapter and talking about whatever issues the chapter raised. And you missed it! That might not be the worst decision you’ve ever made in 2021, but, hey! 2022’s a whole brand spanking new year!
Years ago I contacted the publisher of Calvin and Hobbes with a great idea. As a theologian, I suggested putting together a book of Calvin & Hobbes cartoons illustrating theological ideas. They sent me a form letter giving me permission to use two or three cartoons — at a cost! They obviously didn’t understand what I was wanting to do!
So, this new series of posts will feature a Calvin & Hobbes cartoon — and I will share a theological or biblical point or two.
Theology puts things in perspective! And perspective is what we need in our confused, self-absorbed, transient world!
Time for a Great Quote! A.W. Tozer on Scripture and Theology! (“We should set our hearts to study theology.”)
“Whatever keeps me from the Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to be. Whatever engages my attention when I should be meditating on God and things eternal does injury to my soul. Let the cares of life crowd out the Scriptures from my mind and I have suffered loss where I can least afford it. Let me accept anything else instead of the Scriptures and I have been cheated and robbed to my eternal confusion. The secret of life is theological and the key to heaven as well. We learn with difficulty, forget easily and suffer many distractions. Therefore we should set our hearts to study theology. We should preach it from our pulpits, sing it in our hymns, teach it to our children and make it the subject of conversation when we meet with Christian friends.”
Paul Little was an evangelist with the Billy Graham Association. He fell asleep at the wheel while driving to a Bible conference in Canada. The night before he died, he spoke with a friend of mine who asked him, “Paul, how are you doing? I know you are extremely busy.” Paul responded, “Jim, I feel like I’m in a revolving door and I can’t get out.” The next day he was with the Lord.
I tell that story to remind myself that life is brief and that we have to be careful not to over-extend ourselves. There is much work to be done in the Kingdom — but you and I don’t have to do it all!
As a theologian, I’m deeply invested in helping believers know WHAT they believe and WHY they believe it. But the question I can’t escape is IF I believe. What I mean is — I can say I believe many things, but does my life show that I truly believe?
What about the issue of salvation? Jesus-followers say they believe that their sins have been forgiven because of Christ’s work on the cross, that they are now at peace with God, and that Jesus is the only way a person can know they are going to heaven when they die. Do we REALLY believe those truths? If so, how should our lives reflect those beliefs in our behavior.
One of my favorite texts is Titus 2 where we read —
God’s grace does much more than save us. It teaches us how to live (both negatively and positively, v. 12); it teaches us how to wait (v. 13); and it teaches us how to do what is good (v. 14). IF I believe what the Bible says about SALVATION, my life ought to show God’s grace as I live a self-controlled, godly, patient, pure life.
The Challenge: Thank God today for your salvation. And ask Him to direct you today to reflect one of those qualities of living a SAVED life!
The inspiration for these posts is my appreciation of Paul Little’s books Know What You Believe and Know Why You Believe. Those are very helpful works — especially to new Jesus-followers.
My question for those of us who’ve been in this thing called Christianity for a while is this: As important as the WHAT and the WHY are in Christian belief, the issue really is IF we truly believe. IF we believe what we say we believe, certain behaviors ought to follow. “Faith without works is dead,” says the Apostle James. And the last thing the world needs to see is a dead Christianity!
What about the doctrine of SIN? Do we really believe what the Bible teaches about SIN? That we are born in sin (Ps. 51:5) and become quite proficient in practicing SIN. Do we agree that SIN is repugnant to God and that the only remedy to our SIN was the substitutionary death of the Son of God for us?
In speaking of “original sin” (meaning the original rebellion of Adam and Eve in the Garden), Chesterton claimed original sin to be ‘the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved’. Sin was a fact, ‘a fact as practical as potatoes.’”
How easy it is to minimize our sin, to euphemize our rebellion, to excuse our evil. I heard of a preacher who made a reference to the list known as “the seven deadly sins.” He said that many asked him after church for the list! I understand the following ad was in the Holland, Michigan, Evening Sentinel: “Wanted — Man or woman for part-time cleaning. Must be able to recognize dirt.” The Bible helps us recognize the dirt in our lives.
SIN is real — and often preceded by temptation. In fact, I wrote a book entitled When Temptation Strikes: Gaining Victory Over Sin. I agree with Stephen Brown who said, “Sin is not what you want to do but can’t; it is what you should not do because it will hurt you and it will hurt you bad.”
If we are serious about SIN, then we will follow the biblical prescription of repentance and confession! And we will not only hate sin, but will consciously be in the process of killing sin. Colossians 3:5 says: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” And we will agree with Sam Milolaski that “Unless God is angry with sin, let us put a bullet in our collective brain, for the universe is mad.”
Today’s Challenge: When was the last time you confessed known SIN? Aren’t we to confess our sins daily? Write out a prayer of confession, admitting both what you’ve done or thought and what you’ve not done or thought.
Paul Little was a great evangelist who wrote several very helpful books. His best known is probably How to Give Away Your Faith. But he also wrote Know What You Believe and Know Why You Believe (the latter was selected by Christianity Today magazine as one of the 50 most influential books of 20th century evangelicalism).
Mr. Little died tragically in a car accident in 1975.
I’m all for knowing WHAT you believe and knowing WHY you believe what you believe. But, it seems to me that a pivotal question is knowing WHETHER or IF you believe. What I mean is, we say we believe that people without Christ are going to hell, but do we really believe it?
So this series of posts will be examining IF we truly believe what we say we believe. Let’s begin with the basic issue of FAITH. Do we “believe” in FAITH?
Now, it’s important to point out that “faith” in the Bible can refer either to our confidence in God or to the content of truth that we affirm (the Christian “faith” as opposed to the Jewish “faith,” etc.). Do you and I believe in the FAITH?
I am not saying that our faith is to be in our faith. That is, when I pray for something I am to trust God to answer my prayer in the way which He deems best. When He doesn’t answer the way I think He should, I need to examine the answer I wanted, instead of losing confidence in Him. Does that make sense?
The one chapter epistle of Jude challenges the believer: 3 Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.” We are wrestle on behalf of, fight for THE FAITH.
TODAY’S CHALLENGE: Would you say you are fighting for THE FAITH, the content of truth God has revealed in His Word, the Christian worldview which we have embraced? Or have you given up the fight, leaning against the ropes in the ring taking body blow after body blow? IF you and I truly have accepted the Christian FAITH, we will contend for the truth God has revealed.