• Does repentance require confession? Question and Answer

    Repentance certainly requires confession. It is not simply a resolve to change and behave differently in the future from what I do today. I don’t believe that I need to confess every sin I’ve ever committed to everybody in the world or to all the people in my family. Ultimately, my sin is against God, and what repentance always requires is confession of our sin before God and confession accompanied by contrition—real remorse. I know that I have never approached the full measure of remorse and contrition for my sins that I should have. I believe it was Thomas à … View Resource

  • How many wills does God have? Question and Answer

    2 Peter 3:9

    When we talk about the will of God, it gets complicated because the New Testament uses two different Greek words that are translated by the English word “will.” It would be nice if you could know which will of God a text is speaking about based on which Greek word it uses. Unfortunately, those two words are often used interchangeably, so that doesn’t help. From the context of Scripture, however, we do distinguish among several words with respect to the will of God. For example, we speak of His sovereign, efficacious will. We define this will as that which comes … View Resource

  • How will we become sinless in heaven? Question and Answer

    1 John 3:2

    SPROUL: This is why we talk about the order of salvation and the way the term salvation is used in every tense of the Greek verb—“we were saved,” “we were being saved,” “we have been saved,” “we are saved,” “we will be saved,” “we will be being saved.” The pattern is that we’re justified the moment we believe. Luther’s famous motto, simul justus et peccator, “at the same time just and sinner,” means we’re justified by an imputed righteousness but remain sinners in and of ourselves. However, sanctification begins immediately. We are being conformed to the image of Christ as … View Resource

  • Should we pray to the Father, to the Son, or to the Holy Spirit? Question and Answer

    Our worship, prayers, and all of the attending things are Trinitarian from beginning to end. When we look at the function of the different members of the Godhead with respect to prayer, we see that the second person of the Trinity, Christ, intercedes for us as our Great High Priest. That’s why we usually pray in the name of Jesus. Additionally, the Holy Spirit assists us in articulating our prayers to the Son, who then carries them to the Father. We make that distinction among persons, but we’re distinguishing among three persons of one being. So, all that we do … View Resource

  • Does God love the wicked the same way He loves the elect? Question and Answer

    John 3:16

    When the Bible says, “God so loved the world” (John 3:16), it doesn’t say that He loved everybody in the world equally. This text is pointing to the world, the generic cosmos. God loved this fallen world enough to send His only begotten Son into this world to save believers. It doesn’t say that He sent His Son into the world to save everybody in the world, but rather to save those who would put their faith in Him. In theology, we distinguish among three different kinds of God’s love. First of all, there is the benevolent love of God. … View Resource

  • Did anyone believe in justification by faith alone before the Reformation? Question and Answer

    One of the classic works on this question was written by a man by the name of James Buchanan. It was simply titled Justification, which addressed the chief issue of the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century. One of the great values of Buchanan’s contribution is that he traced the doctrine of justification by faith alone through the patristic period and all the way through church history, showing that it was never totally extinguished within the Roman system that had radically departed from the biblical doctrine. So, that information is available. This is a critical matter. I wrote a book … View Resource

  • Is there hope for a child who turns away from Christ as a college student? Question and Answer

    THOMAS: Yes, of course Scripture provides hope for anyone who turns away from Christ. There is always the possibility of repentance—even deathbed repentance. The dying thief, pastorally, is an important example that even on one’s deathbed one can turn and embrace Christ. Of course, one doesn’t want to use that as a ploy not to believe in Jesus at an early age. As a Presbyterian, I would also draw comfort from the view of the covenant that our children are in covenant. Therefore, even though they may drift and wander and rebel and become prodigals in a season of life, … View Resource

  • Who can administer the sacraments? Question and Answer

    Hebrews 5:4

    4. There be only two sacraments ordained by Christ our Lord in the Gospel; that is to say, baptism, and the Supper of the Lord: neither of which may be dispensed by any, but by a minister of the Word lawfully ordained.[1] […] The final clause of section 4 is frequently disputed among Christians: neither of which may be dispensed by any, but by a minister of the Word lawfully ordained. In the so-called Jesus movement of the 1960s and 1970s, young people reacted against traditional authority structures and created an underground church that dispensed with … View Resource

  • Does God love us just the way we are? Question and Answer

    SPROUL: The kingdom of God is not Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. There are few things more dangerous than preachers preaching that God loves everybody unconditionally, because the message people hear is: “There are no conditions. I can continue to live just as I’m living, in full rebellion against God, and I have nothing to worry about because there aren’t any conditions that I have to meet. God loves me unconditionally. I don’t have to repent. I don’t have to come to Jesus. I don’t have to leave my life of sin. There are no conditions and no strings attached; God loves … View Resource

  • Since everyone knows God (Rom. 1:18–23), how does that affect our defense of the faith? Question and Answer

    Romans 1:18-23

    SPROUL: I can remember being invited to speak and give the case for the existence of God on a college campus to the atheist club there. I went through a defense of theism, but I also went back to the passage in Romans 1:18–23 and said: “I’m happy to try to discuss with you all the intellectual questions that are involved in trying to prove and demonstrate the existence of God. However, I want to put my cards on the table upfront and tell you that, in light of what the Apostle teaches in this passage, I’m persuaded that I’m … View Resource

  • When should I leave a church? Question and Answer

    SPROUL: Along with the question of when should you leave the church, another thing I would say is that there are times when you may leave the church where it’s not absolutely necessary to leave the church, and there are also times where you must leave the church. If a church is so derelict in the truth that the Word of God is not preached or that heresy is preached, you must leave the church. Why? The church is the principal organ that God has given to nurture your soul and that of your children. To keep yourselves in a … View Resource

  • Can praying to Mary or the saints keep a professing Christian out of heaven? Question and Answer

    SPROUL: It’s a gross act of idolatry to be praying to Mary and to the saints. That is a very serious matter. I think there are thousands—perhaps millions—of people within the Roman Catholic Church who really are trusting in Christ and Christ alone for their salvation. They are not trusting the way of salvation that their own church teaches, just like there are multitudes of people in Presbyterian churches that don’t believe in the Reformed doctrines. That’s the happy inconsistency of our friends who are in Rome. However, they have to understand that Rome has categorically, consistently, and clearly denied … View Resource

  • Is it ever permissible for a Christian to refuse medical treatment? Question and Answer

    This is a question that comes up all the time in the field of Christian ethics. One of the problems we have in dealing with all of these modern, heretofore unthinkable advances in technological medicine is that all the other ethical questions Christians have to struggle with have been reflected upon by the best Christian minds for two thousand years. Now, all of a sudden, we have a whole crisis list of ethical questions surrounding modern medical advancements. In one sense, the church really hasn’t had time to reflect long enough and deep enough on all of the ramifications involved … View Resource

  • Can our prayers change God’s will? If not, why pray? Question and Answer

    Numbers 23:19

    SPROUL: To ask that question is to answer it. What could I possibly say to God that would change His mind? Would I give Him information that He didn’t have before I talked to Him? Could I give Him counsel or wisdom that He lacked before I talked to Him? You and I both know that we are not God’s guidance counselors. We don’t change His mind. If we don’t change His mind, why pray? First of all, we pray because He commands us to pray. Second of all, through the instrument of prayer, we enter into communion and dialogue … View Resource

  • If Jesus was born of “the substance” of the Virgin Mary, how was He without original sin? Question and Answer

    Hebrews 4:15

    SPROUL: When we talk about Jesus receiving “the substance” from His mother, the Virgin Mary, we’re talking about His human nature. Because we’re talking about His deriving His human nature from His mother, you would think that human nature would pass along all of the ramifications of original sin, as is the case with every other human being. That raises all kinds of theological questions that touch upon this. One of the oldest theological questions is the question of how the soul is transmitted from parents to their children. The two schools of thought on that are creationism and traducianism. … View Resource