Doctrine and Unity

Those who know me well know I am committed to endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph 4:3). I am also committed to sound doctrine for the same reasons. I often see commitment to sound doctrine and commitment to unity in the Body presented as opposing principles, but that idea doesn’t reflect reality. I don’t believe any believer in Christ has ever had a stronger commitment to unity in the Body than the Apostle Paul. He was obsessed with it and saw it as an elementary implication of the gospel. As a Pharisee, a Hebrew of Hebrews, his Jewishness was an integral part of his identity, perhaps the most fundamental aspect of it. Yet, it was primarily to him that the mystery of Jews and Gentiles together in one Body was revealed. He was the one sent as the Apostle to the Gentiles. It was he that publicly rebuked Peter for his implication that the Gentiles were not equal members of the Body, and it was he that championed the Gentiles’ case as fully acc

Full of Grace and Truth

                John 1:14 tells us that Jesus is “full of grace and truth.” It’s an amazing thought. In Jesus Christ, God is manifested in a way man could see and touch and hear and understand. We know God is light and in Him is no darkness at all, so He must be the perfect embodiment of truth, and when this Truth came to us, it was to bring glad tidings of grace upon grace, even though that good news cost Him His life. He is full of grace and truth. No one has ever been more truthful and no one has ever been more gracious because He is perfectly filled up with both. So why are we so often told that we need to have balance between grace and truth? I can’t count how many times I’ve heard something along those lines. It is presented as if these concepts are in tension and Christian maturity has the correct balance between the two. A graceless person might be said to “lean too much on truth and not have enough grace,” or someone who has few convictions might be told, “It’s good to

Understanding Romans 9, Part 1, Context and Theme

This post was originally published at Introduction There are a lot of passages in Scripture that people intentionally avoid. Usually it is because they have an idea about what it says, and they don’t like that idea. Romans 9 is one of those passages, and there are a lot of jokes at the expense of non-Calvinists because of it. Calvinists use it as a proof text for the idea that God unconditionally predestined some to salvation and some also use it to suggest that the unelect are predestined to damnation. It says things like, “He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens,” and that is assumed to mean that God chooses individuals for each from eternity past and without conditions. I don’t expect this series of articles to solve the debate about Romans 9, or even to persuade those who are committed to Calvinism. That isn’t the point of this series. What I’m hoping to accomplish is to help those who say, “I’m not sure I understand Romans 9, and I hav

Carnal Christians. No Such Thing?

Carnal Christians. No Such Thing? First Corinthians 3:1-4 is a passage that has ironically been a source of contention between Christians with different views. Lewis Sperry Chafer had a dictionary of theological cuss words and guilt-by-association arguments hurled at him for publishing his view that 1 Cor 2:14-3:4 does indeed teach the existence of carnal Christians. That First Corinthians was written to Christians is not in doubt (see 1:2, 26, 30; 3:16; 6:19-20). And even in the passage in question, Paul compares them to "babes in Christ" (3:1), which is a poor comparison if they are not in Christ. For this reason, the disagreement about this passage is not on whether these carnal people are truly Christians, but whether these Christians are rightly characterized as carnal in general. For example, Brian Borgman writes from the Reformed perspective: Nevertheless, Paul does not imply that their carnality is universal, but rather localized to one serious and destructive are

Understanding Hebrews 10:26: Is Christ’s Sacrifice Sufficient for Me?

(Originally posted at Bible wasn’t given to us as a bunch of unconnected verses that all make perfect sense on their own. Sometimes, without the context, verses can sound like they mean the opposite of what the authors meant by what they wrote. It’s a terrible thing, but many times people take advantage of this fact and use isolated verses in a way that hurts people and devastates their walk with Christ. (Sometimes it’s out of ignorance. Sometimes it’s malicious. It’s always tragic.) It’s especially common for people to cite Scripture out of context in order to cause believers to doubt Christ’s love for them or the security of their salvation. This article is about one verse that is often used this way. It’s Hebrews 10:26, which reads, “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” (NKJV, same throughout the article). Often, people throw this verse out there on social media like a grenade wi
Patient Hope for Struggling People By Andy Stacy I have been serving in various capacities in Olympia, WA for several years. In the last few years there has been a steady increase in homelessness and apparent drug use. Tents and RVs popping up out of nowhere, more and more people wandering around just looking out of their minds. I’m not one to see a demon under every bush, but I’ve watched people here scream and suffer and thought, “There’s definitely something demonic going on there.” It’s not the wild west here, people still have jobs, take their families to the park, normal things. But things are definitely getting worse. Like most regional problems, local ministries are affected. Friends and family succumb to a lifestyle of drug use and suffer the consequences. It touches everyone in our church in some way. And it’s not hard to understand. Without Jesus, I would be right there. To me, without Jesus, there is no reason not to live for the pleasure that drugs bring. So that’s th

Boldness and Access in Prayer - Hebrews 9 and 10

(Taken from The Guts of Grace ) When the temple made of stones still stood during Jesus’ earthly ministry, someone entering the temple would go through a gate in a large wall to reach the Court of the Gentiles. Here, anyone who wanted to come and worship the Lord could come. If this person were Jewish, he or she could pass through the beautiful gate and enter the Women’s Court. All Jewish people, both male and female, could enter this area. Through one more gate was the Court of Israel, where all Jewish men were allowed to go. This is where the Brazen Altar was, and where the priests would perform sacrifices. Through another large gate, the men of Israel, who were also of the tribe of Levi, who were also descended from Aaron, and whose lots had been cast that day could enter. This was the Holy Place. But still, even these could not go past the three‑inch (7.5cm) thick, intricately woven fabric that set the Holy of Holies apart. The Holy of Holies was where God’s Shekinah glory was ma