• 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

  • What does it mean to be “called” in the New Testament? Question and Answer

    Romans 8:30

    The New Testament uses the word “to call” in more than one way. We can distinguish among three different ways in which we speak of divine calling. There is the idea of “a calling” we have that is a vocation, where God calls us to a particular task, or a particular ministry, or a particular career. We call that a vocation, which is simply the word for “to call.” We also talk about the distinction between the outward call, or the external call of God, and the internal call of God. The outward, external call is that which is proclaimed … View Resource

  • When God created the world, did He know it would be corrupted by sin? Question and Answer

    Not only did He know it, but He ordained it. God, in His infinite wisdom and His sovereignty, that is, His absolute authority over all things, wills everything that comes to pass in history. He doesn’t do it in a way that turns us into puppets or violates our freedom; nevertheless, it is His counsel and His good pleasure that there would be a fall. God didn’t force Adam and Eve to sin, but from all eternity He knew it, He ordained it, and it was part of His glorious plan of redemption. As hard as it is to imagine, … View Resource

  • Is there evidence of Adam and Eve’s repentance and faith after the fall? Question and Answer

    Obviously, Adam and Eve experienced a profound sense of guilt and shame, which Scripture teaches. Even though they fled from God and hid from God, two things stand out in that narrative. One, the first act of redemption recorded in sacred Scripture was when God condescended to make garments to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve. If you look at that whole concept of nakedness from Adam and Eve to Noah and through the whole of sacred Scripture, you will see the motif over and over again that salvation is communicated through the metaphor of covering. On the Day … View Resource

  • What is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? Question and Answer

    Matthew 12:31-32

    THOMAS: Interestingly enough, we talked a little bit about this today in a course that I was teaching here for Ligonier. We talked about the change of view that has taken place since the Puritan period in the seventeenth century. At that time, the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit was a definite sin. It was a definite, existential moment in a person’s life when they said “No” to the gospel or “No” to the work of the Holy Spirit. I was pointing out that Martyn Lloyd-Jones, I think in Preaching and Preachers, said that this was what troubled his congregation … View Resource

  • Should fear play a role in our evangelism? Question and Answer

    My mentor, who was an expert on the theology of Jonathan Edwards, once wrote a little chapter in a book called “Justifying a Scare Theology.” Of course, if anybody was the master of scaring people with his theology, it was Jonathan Edwards. Edwards’ sermons on hell would curl your hair. When he gave his famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” people actually passed out in the church while they were listening to this terrifying description of God’s judgment. Let me answer this from a biblical perspective. The warnings that accompanied the preaching of Christ and the … View Resource

  • Should we cast lots today to help us make decisions? Question and Answer

    I would say no, because we are not under the direct prescription of God to cast lots as a way of discerning His will. There were strict controls on the way in which that was handled in the priesthood, with the urim and the thummim and that sort of thing in the Old Testament. The same is true of the casting of lots under the direction of the Holy Spirit for the replacement of an Apostle in the book of Acts. We do not have a principle set forth in Scripture that commands—or even suggests—that we do that sort of … View Resource

  • Does the incarnation mean that God has changed in space and time from that point on? If not, why and how do we respond to the question? Question and Answer

    SPROUL: The first part is very easy—He certainly does not change. In His being, He is immutable. In the incarnation, He took upon Himself a human nature. He didn’t stop being God and become a human being. To affirm He did is to fall into the old kenotic heresy that was popular in the nineteenth century, which taught that God gave up certain attributes in order to become incarnate. You hear this kind of thing among evangelicals all the time: “God, in order to understand what sin and suffering are, had to become a man and change His nature to … View Resource