• What are the essential ingredients of a true church? Question and Answer

    Acts 2:42

    SPROUL: In the sixteenth century, with the rupture of unity in the ecclesiastical situation, there was a huge debate about what makes a valid church because there was such a proliferation of different denominations and so on. The essential ingredients were a place where the gospel is truly preached, the sacraments are rightly administered, and where there is true discipline and government within the church. That’s where you begin. You want to make sure that the gospel is truly being preached. A church that is not preaching the gospel is not a good church—it’s an apostate one. If the sacraments … View Resource

  • Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God? Question and Answer

    SPROUL: One way you could look at it is to say that there is only one God—Yahweh. So, you could say that every form of pagan worship is a worship of the one true God, though a distorted, corrupted style of worship that goes back to the question of idolatry. If you mean to ask whether the content of the theology of Islam with respect to the nature and being of God is the same as you find in the Christian understanding of the being and character of God, I would say that there’s very little resemblance between the two. … View Resource

  • Did King Saul really talk to the spirit of Samuel, or was it a demonic impersonation? Question and Answer

    1 Samuel 28

    The question presupposes that there are only two options—that he was talking to the real Samuel or to a demon. We don’t know the answer to that question. All we know clearly from Scripture is that what Saul was doing was absolutely forbidden by God because it was an example of the act of necromancy, of trying to communicate with the dead. It is not clear whether the witch of En-dor was a magician like some people who do séances today and imitate the voices and figures of those who have passed on, whether it was a demon doing a … View Resource

  • What characteristic of Martin Luther made him effective as God’s instrument to reform the church? Question and Answer

    Isaiah 6:5

    SPROUL: Luther was a beggar who found where he could get bread and told everybody who would listen to him. How can a guy stand against the whole world like he did? The only way to understand that is to get into his personal struggle with his lack of assurance of salvation, with his violent search for justification in the presence of a Holy God, and visit with him in his utter despair. Luther understood who Luther was. And that’s our problem. We don’t understand who God is, and we don’t understand who we are. It’s like Isaiah in chapter … View Resource

  • Is God justified in punishing us for Adam’s sin? Question and Answer

    It is just that we are born with a sin nature because we sinned in Adam. That’s the whole concept. Adam was the perfect representative, not just for himself but for the whole human race. Whether we understand being in Adam through federalism, realism, or different theories, nevertheless it’s because of my unity with Adam and corporate solidarity with Adam that Adam and his progeny were punished with a corrupt nature. The corrupt nature is the punishment. What we call “original sin” is not the first sin, but the result of the first sin. That’s passed to the whole human … View Resource

  • Since heaven is perfect, why do we need the new heavens and new earth? Question and Answer

    When the Bible speaks about heaven, it speaks of it in different terms. Many times when the Bible uses the term ouranos, which is a Greek word for “heaven,” it simply refers to the sky. It is also used to describe the dwelling place of God, and that’s a more specific and exalted view of the term heaven. Now, when we’re talking in Revelation about the new heaven and the new earth, it means that the whole cosmos is going to go through this redemptive process of renovation. Heaven and earth, everything that is, will be renewed by the power … View Resource

  • How does the Holy Spirit work distinctly in the Old and New Testament? Question and Answer

    Joel 2:28-29

    In the Old Testament, we see different aspects of the work of the Holy Spirit. In the New Testament, one of the most important works of the Holy Spirit is the work of regeneration, by which He changes the disposition of our hearts and then dwells within us, never to depart. He works within us to work out our sanctification and bring us into conformity to Christ.In the Old Testament, you couldn’t be born again apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit did His work of regeneration then as He does now. The Holy … View Resource

  • Why did God rest after the six days of creation? Question and Answer

    Genesis 2:1-3

    I don’t know, ultimately, the answer to that. But what I do see in that account is this: after the six days of creation, God rested on the seventh day and hallowed it. This says to me that the ultimate purpose of creation is holiness. We tend to focus our attention on the sixth day, on the creation of human beings. That’s the penultimate purpose. The ultimate purpose is that everything He creates in the first six days will redound to His honor, His glory, and the communion of His holiness. This transcript is from an … View Resource

  • What would you say in response to the doctrine of baptismal regeneration? Question and Answer

    Romans 2:28-29

    I would say, first of all, that I’m not at all an advocate of baptismal regeneration. I don’t think that baptism conveys regeneration either for infants or for adults. Regeneration is a sovereign work of God the Holy Spirit. Now, baptism is a sign of regeneration, but that doesn’t mean the sign is conveyed automatically by the sacrament itself. As a Protestant, I believe that the sacraments are effective by and through faith. In the operation of baptism, God makes a promise to His people and to their seed. If they come to faith (and that would presume they were … View Resource

  • Is all Scripture equally applicable? Question and Answer

    2 Timothy 3:16

    I would agree that all Scripture is equally inspired. I don’t believe that it’s all equally clear. There are some parts of Scripture that are much more difficult to understand than others. I’ll go to the brink of heresy for a second to make a point: it’s not all equally important. Now, Jesus never spoke a desultory word, and everything that God reveals is important. But it’s not all equally important. When He reveals to us that Mary and Joseph went up to Bethlehem, that’s important so we know that it fulfilled prophecy and all the rest. But that’s not … View Resource

  • Does “semper reformanda” mean that the church should always be changing? Question and Answer

    SPROUL: Unfortunately, every heretic appeals to that mantra, semper reformanda, “always reforming.” We mistake novelty with reformation. The point of that motto initially was that, in the sixteenth century, not all of the errors in the church were reformed. Not all of the dirty linen was cleansed. There was still a lot of work left to do. And there’s always a lot of work left to do. But “always reforming” does not mean “always changing.” There are those today who say that the Reformation was a tempest in a teapot, or that it was all a misunderstanding, or that it … View Resource

  • How should we respond to those who say that the Reformation no longer matters? Question and Answer

    SPROUL: One noted British theologian has made the comment in print that the issues of the sixteenth century aren’t the issues anymore today, that all of a sudden the division has been healed, that Rome doesn’t teach indulgences anymore, and that it doesn’t have a treasury merit anymore. What are they thinking? What are they reading? Read the Catholic Catechism of the 1990s and see whether there’s any treasury of merit, indulgences, and the rest. If anything, the issues are greater today, partly because of the impact of nineteenth-century liberal Protestantism. If anything has moved the gospel back in the … View Resource

  • How can I obtain eternal life? Question and Answer

    2 Corinthians 5:21

    SPROUL: The obtaining of eternal life is simple: we put our trust in Christ and in Christ alone for our salvation. Everyone who puts their trust in Christ alone, as the Bible promises, as Jesus promises, has life eternal (John 3:16). There’s no other way to get it except by faith alone. It’s not by our works (Eph. 2:8–9). We can’t merit it. We can’t earn it. We can’t deserve it. We put our trust in Christ, who alone is worthy of the gift of eternal life.In the book of Genesis when Adam and Eve were created, they … View Resource

  • How do we share the truth without being argumentative? Question and Answer

    Ephesians 4:15

    It’s hard not to be argumentative or offensive because, when you disagree with anybody, the tendency is for people to be offended. When you talk about being argumentative, that is a negative description of things. But giving solid biblical arguments is what we are called to do. Now, to make a sound argument to support the truth claims of a position is not necessarily to be argumentative. Argumentativism describes a hostile, mean spirit. So, one doesn’t have to be argumentative to make sound arguments, and I would encourage people to make clear and biblical arguments for the truth. … View Resource

  • What is the role of civil authorities in the Christian life? Question and Answer

    Romans 13:1-7

    The civil magistrate is under the sovereignty of God and is a minister of God. I can remember speaking at the inaugural prayer breakfast for a governor several years ago in the state of Florida where I said: “Today’s your ordination day. God has ordained the church. He’s also ordained the state, and all who are functioning in that role are under the authority of Christ, who is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” People may declare the separation of church and state, but often they mean by that the separation of the state and God. But, remember … View Resource