• Do Paul’s instructions about head coverings apply today, since he appeals to creation, not culture? Question and Answer

    1 Corinthians 11:2-16

    If you read almost any commentary on 1 Corinthians, you will see that the commentators look at the life situation in which the epistle was written. They notice that, in Corinth, which was a somewhat loose city, a sign of a prostitute was to go around with an uncovered head. So, the commentators say that, in all probability, the reason why the Apostle exhorts women to cover their heads during church is because they don’t want to have that cultural scandal of appearing like prostitutes. My problem with that is this: If the Apostle gives an injunction and doesn’t give … View Resource

  • Do you think the state will soon require churches to perform same-sex weddings? Question and Answer

    THOMAS: The church is not tied to the state, so the state can’t mandate what the church does, and the state cannot mandate what the church believes. If it came to a point where the state was insisting that individual churches perform homosexual marriages, we would be much further down the line than we are right now. Is that possible? Yes, I suppose it’s possible. But at the minute, unless you’re a church that’s affiliated with the state, such as the Church of England, the Anglican Church, it’s not here yet. In the Anglican Church, Parliament would dictate the rules … View Resource

  • What is the difference between sin, transgression, and iniquity? Question and Answer

    FERGUSON: Sin, transgression, and iniquity are different words in the Old Testament. Most of us are familiar with the Greek term hamartia, meaning “sin,” which conveys the idea of falling short of the mark. We are made for the glory of God, but sin causes us to fall short of the mark. Transgression has the very basic idea of crossing the line. God has given us His law, and we cross the line. Iniquity has the sense in Psalm 51, for example, of “twistedness.” There is a twistedness in us as a consequence of this. All of these words are … View Resource

  • How do scholars estimate when each book of the Bible was written? Question and Answer

    SPROUL: There are different methods. The main method is through external sources, by looking at what the ancient extra-biblical writers would quote. For example, if a text of Scripture was quoted by Eusebius, and you know when Eusebius lived, then that helps to date the book. You also do this by looking at internal references and first-century history to see where the weight of the evidence falls. Of course, this becomes a matter of huge controversy with higher criticism. The higher critics have, for the most part, forced the majority of the New Testament writers into the second century, although … View Resource

  • How should we respond to the hyper-grace movement? Question and Answer

    Romans 6:1-2

    If we’re talking about “hyper-grace” in terms of grace covering everything, there are those in that movement who are basically antinomian. That is, they believe that once we experience grace, we’re no longer under the law in any sense, even in the instructive sense. A person is saved by grace, not by law, and we understand that. Nevertheless, there is the old question that Paul writes, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” And his answer is, “God forbid!” (Rom. 6:1–2). Some people want to make it sound like once you have experienced grace, then basically you can … View Resource

  • 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