Back to the Basics! Introductory Matters #3 Belief!

We are thinking through some of the introductory issues in the Christian faith. Getting back to the basics means we need to review, periodically, the fundamentals of Christianity as we live in this world and want to serve Jesus.

While it is true that everyone lives by some kind of faith (see our previous post about stepping into an elevator), the Good News about Jesus is that we are to exercise faith in Him.

But for many “belief” or “faith” is just another way of saying “this is what I think” or “this is my opinion.” Belief in the Bible is much more than having a correct opinion. It involves aligning oneself with the reality of God and His truth!

The gospel of John has often been called the gospel of belief. Here are a few points which John makes in the fourth gospel about belief:

1. The goal of John the Baptist’s life was that all might believe in Jesus (1:7).
2. Being condemned or not condemned rests on belief or unbelief . . . in Jesus! (3:18).
3. While belief needs to be supported by evidence, it is possible to demand more evidence that one needs to believe (4:48).
4. We can’t work our way to God — The work God wants from us is belief in Jesus! (6:29).
5. Not believing Jesus’ claim to His own identify (the Son of God) means dying in one’s sins (8:24).
6. Believing in Jesus is so important that Jesus allowed one of His friends to die so He could raise him from the dead! (11:15).
7. Jesus demands the same belief in Himself as in God the Father! (14:1).
8. It is a sin not to believe in Jesus (16:9).
9. We can — and should — pray that others will believe in Jesus (17:20).

There is much more about BELIEF in the gospel of John. And I would recommend that you take a Bible you don’t mind marking up (preferably one of your own!) and highlight each use of “belief” or “believe” by John.

I heard one preacher say, “When I share the gospel, I worry about what people will think of me. And I worry what they will think of Jesus. But mostly, I worry about what they will think of me.”

Are you worried what people will think of you?  Use your influence today to challenge someone to believe in Jesus.  There is nothing more important than that!

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Posted by on February 13, 2018 in belief


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Back to the Basics — Introductory Matters #2 — FAITH!

“You Christians live by faith! We seculars live by reason!” You’ve heard this old accusation, right? Believers are empty-headed, unthinking, unscientific. We swallow whatever is offered us in the name of religion.

Uncritical. Gullible. Easy-to-be-fooled. That charge is a bit irritating, don’t you think?

Afterall, the Bible does say that “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6). But “faith” in the Bible is not head-in-the-sand anti-intellectualism. One’s faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed.

However, is it only the Christian who conducts his or her life by faith? No! Most people eat the Big Mac they’ve ordered without conducting an investigation of the young man who cooked it for them. Sometimes men ask for directions from total strangers — and trust them! I’ve seen people in Starbucks request people they don’t know to watch their laptop for them when they visit the restroom.

The best illustration of this truth that all people live by some kind of faith is the following:  A question was sent in to a newspaper answer-man: “How does an elevator work?” The answer-man responded, “An elevator is essentially a small room dangling over a very deep shaft, held up by thin cables that are maintained by building employees who have tremendous trouble just keeping all the toilets working.”

Think about that the next time you enter an elevator. And don’t feel you have to be so defensive as a Christian about you being alone in walking by faith!

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Posted by on February 12, 2018 in FAITH


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Back to the Basics — Introductory Matters #1 — Wraslin’ for Truth!

This new series of posts gives me the opportunity to think afresh on the fundamentals of the Christian faith.  The great football coach Vince Lombardi once addressed his team on the basics.  He started his speech by holding up a football and saying, “This, men, is a football.”  I’m told he also once said, “Most of us are not advanced enough to make advanced mistakes.”

Sometimes we complicate things waaayyy too much.  The Christian faith is composed of fundamental truths that need to be revisited, thought about, and applied to our daily lives.  The half-brother of the Lord Jesus challenges us to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.” (Jude 3).  We are to wrestle for, contend for, struggle on behalf of the basics of biblical truth.

When I was in high school, I loved gym class.  Mostly.  The one subject of gym class that I did not love was wraslin.’  “Wraslin'” is Southern for wrestling.  And inevitably the gym teacher would pair me off with the fattest, sweatiest, meanest guy in the group to wrasle.

In our wrestling room the ceiling had posters that read, “If you can read this, congratulations!  You’ve been pinned!”  And, “What are you doing on your back?!”  I was the speed reader for the class.

We are not to get pinned to the cultural mat by the world around us!  We are to know and to defend and to live out and to struggle on behalf of the truths of the Christian faith.

How about you?  Are you wrestling for the faith that has been once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3)?

The Challenge for Today:  What truth of the Christian faith can you stand for today?


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Some of My Favorite Quotes: G.K. Chesterton on Mental Modesty!

Gilbert Keith Chesterton, (29 May 1874 – 14 June 1936), better known as G. K. Chesterton, was an English writer, poet, philosopher, dramatist, journalist, orator, lay theologian, biographer, and literary and art critic. Chesterton is often referred to as the “prince of paradox“. Time magazine has observed of his writing style: “Whenever possible Chesterton made his points with popular sayings, proverbs, allegories—first carefully turning them inside out.”

Chesterton is well known for his fictional priest-detective Father Brown, and for his reasoned apologetics. Even some of those who disagree with him have recognised the wide appeal of such works as Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man. Chesterton routinely referred to himself as an “orthodox” Christian, and came to identify this position more and more with Catholicism, eventually converting to Catholicism from High Church Anglicanism. George Bernard Shaw, his “friendly enemy”, said of him, “He was a man of colossal genius.” Biographers have identified him as a successor to such Victorian authors as Matthew Arnold, Thomas Carlyle, Cardinal John Henry Newman, and John Ruskin.

One of my favorite Chesterton quotes is the following.  He is discussing the issue of certainty and truthfulness:  “But what we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. . . . We are on the road to producing a race of men too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table.” (G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, pp. 31-32).  (your comments?)

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Posted by on February 10, 2018 in G.K. Chesterton


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On Distorting the Love of God — D.A. Carson

“If people believe in god at all today, the overwhelming majority hold that this “god,” however he, she, or it may be understood, is a loving being. But that is what makes the task of the Christian witness so daunting. For this widely disseminated belief in “the love of God” is set with increasing frequency in some matrix other than biblical theology. The result is that when informed Christians talk about “the love of God” they mean something very different from what is meant in the surrounding culture. Worse, neither side may perceive that this is the case… to put this another way, in present-day Western culture many other and complementary truths about God are widely disbelieved. I do not think that what the Bible says about the love of God can long survive at the forefront of our thinking if it is abstracted from the sovereignty of God, the holiness of God, the wrath of God, the providence of God, the personhood of God, to mention only a few nonnegotiable elements of basic Christianity.” (


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Posted by on February 9, 2018 in "The Love of God"


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Moral Relativism: Wrong for me but not for you?

A story is told of an argument over moral relativism that took place in a dorm room at the University of Vermont.

The student began to espouse… “What is true for you is true for you and whatever is true for me is true for me. If something works for you because you believe it, that’s great. But no one should force his or her views on other people since everything is relative.”

. . . I picked up his small stereo and started out the door with it. “Hey, what are you doing?” he shouted.

“What’s wrong with you?” I queried. “Are you having problems with your eyes? I am leaving your room with your stereo.”

“You can’t do that,” he gushed.

“Well,” I replied, “since I lift weights and jog regularly, I think I can in fact do it without any help. But maybe you meant to say, ‘You ought not do that because you are stealing my stereo.’ Of course, I know from our previous conversation that this is not what you mean. I happen to think it is permissible to steal stereos if it will help a person’s religious devotions, and I myself could use a stereo to listen to Christian music in my morning devotions. Now I would never try to force you to accept my moral beliefs in this regard because, as you said, everything is relative and we shouldn’t force our ideas on others. But surely you aren’t going to force on me your belief that it is wrong to steal your stereo, are you? You know what I think? I think that you espouse relativism in areas of your life where it’s convenient, say in sexual morality, or in areas about which you do not care, but when it comes to someone stealing your stereo or criticizing your own moral hobbyhorses, I suspect you become a moral absolutist pretty quickly, don’t you?”

From J.P. Moreland, Love Your God with All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1997), 153.


Posted by on February 8, 2018 in moral relativism


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One Strange Habit of Advancing Age!

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Posted by on February 7, 2018 in old age


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