• Are all Christians called to be missionaries and/or do the work of missionaries? Question and Answer

    We’re all called to serve Jesus Christ. The word “missionary” just means somebody who is sent. And we’re all sent, we’re all drawn into Christ and we’re sent out by Christ to live in the world as witnesses to Christ. In that sense, wherever God places us we are sent by Him with the gospel. If there is a broader question, then that’s the question of, “Where do we do that and in what context do we do that?” Now that’s a question that someone would need to talk through with their elders or with their minister. But the central … View Resource

  • How is the exclusivity of Christ alone under attack in different cultural contexts? Question and Answer

    DE CHIRICO: The seal of the gospel that my city and my nation have received as the standard form of the gospel was a Rome-alone kind of gospel. In our twenty-first-century context it has been substituted with a mercy-alone gospel. This is the keyword of the present pope: mercy. Mercy has no limits, it has no place for an exclusive Christ. It has shifted into an inclusivist Christ, a pluralist Christ, and a multifaceted Christ to the point that, while still maintaining the forms of traditional Christianity, it has quickly adapted to become a multi-religious type of offer. So even … View Resource

  • How do you explain the doctrine of election to an unbeliever? Question and Answer

    The first thing I would say is that it is not the place to begin in talking to an unbeliever. The second thing is that since the reality of election is grasped only by faith, that’s what we really need to emphasize. The third thing I might say, however, is that the one thing the doctrine of election does is underline that we are utterly helpless, and we need God to save us. I think it’s true that people sing about that, and yet when you ask them about it they say, “No, I don’t really believe that.” What’s the … View Resource

  • Why did Jesus speak in parables? Question and Answer

    Matthew 13:11-17

    He actually answers that question Himself, or gives one answer to it, when He tells the parable of the sower and the soils and His disciples don’t get it. They come to Him and say, “What was that all about?” and He explains it to them. He says, “I’m giving these explanations to you because you’re my disciples. But one of the reasons I tell these parables is because when I tell the parables it actually makes clear whether people really grasp the meaning of the kingdom or not” (see Matt. 13:11-17, Mark 4:10-12, or Luke 8:9-10). I don’t know … View Resource

  • Will Christians who have been forgiven answer for their sins in judgment? Question and Answer

    1 Corinthians 5:10

    First of all, let me try and put it this way: When we are justified, we are justified with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. What that means–if you can begin to take it in–is that when you stand before God you are able to say, “I am as righteous before You as Your Son Jesus Christ.” Now that can sound very arrogant. But if you then ask, “Well how is that?” the answer is, “Because the only righteousness with which I’m justified is Jesus Christ’s righteousness.” There is an absoluteness about the perfection of that righteousness. There is an absoluteness … View Resource

  • What are apocryphal books, and should Christians read them? Question and Answer

    I’m a Presbyterian, and the confession of faith that the denomination I’m in uses is the Westminster Confession of Faith. In its first chapter it makes a comment on the apocryphal books, which basically is that they have no more value than any other piece of literature. The reason that is characteristic Reformed teaching is because unlike, for example, the prophecy of Isaiah or Jeremiah, the apocryphal books are not recognized by the apostles as part of the canon of the Old Testament Scriptures. So there is no reason that Christians should treat them in that way. In the Anglican … View Resource

  • How should I preach the doctrines of grace? Question and Answer

    Matthew 11:25-30

    I think, pastorally, one must always recognize that in some of these areas people do not have the paradigms to be able immediately to take in what Scripture teaches. Sometimes they have been taught in a way that is contrary to the doctrines of grace. So I usually say to younger men, or men who are younger than myself, “One of the best things to do with someone you think really is a Christian is sit down with them or preach to them with this question in mind, ‘How did Jesus think about this?’” Because sometimes people think they have … View Resource

  • How do we obey the moral law without being moralistic? Question and Answer

    John 14:15

    We obey the moral law, first of all, by understanding what it’s for, and there are various ways of putting this. For all my life I have been interested in the game of golf. Golf is played according to rules. I have never met a golfer who has said to me, “Let me move my golf ball nearer the hole,” and I said, “That’s fine,” because the game ceases to work when you don’t play it according to the rules. Take the Ten Commandments, for example: the moral law. The moral law given in Exodus 20 is a written form … View Resource

  • What are the essential qualities of a Christian? Question and Answer

    1 Corinthians 13:13

    Think for example about what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13. Here is a church where certain gifts are being held up before the people as indications of a kind of super-spirituality. And basically what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13 is, “You can have all of these gifts and actually be nothing in God’s kingdom.” So what would be the sign? The sign would be the presence of faith and hope and love (1 Cor. 13:13): faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, trusting in Him; hope—remember how Peter speaks in 1 Peter about the hope that is given to … View Resource

  • Why should we pray if God has planned all things? Question and Answer

    In a way that’s a form of a bigger question that sometimes people who ask that question don’t ask, which is, “If God has planned all things, why should we do anything?” And we understand that what we do as Christians we do for a variety of reasons. One is because God has taught us to do it in His Word. So the bargain basement level answer to the question is that we pray because God has told us to pray, even if we don’t understand how prayer works and how He employs our prayer. The second thing is to … View Resource

  • How do you know if God has called you to be a pastor? Question and Answer

    1 Timothy 1:6

    When Paul is reflecting on young Timothy who has been called to the ministry, he says to him in 2 Timothy 1:6, “Fan into flame the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands.” I think there are three elements there that help us to recognize a call to the ministry. And a call to the ministry can come in very different ways. One of them is that God has gifted us. Another is that, beginning to recognize those gifts, the church begins to make room for them. And so there is a recognition … View Resource

  • How do I know that I am elect? How do I know my faith is genuine? Question and Answer

    Ephesians 1:3-4

    The way in which we come to know our election is through faith in Christ. So we must never try to bypass Jesus Christ, because, for example, as Paul says in Ephesians 1, we are chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:3-4). So, often, I think we need to say to people, “Instead of trying to go directly to your election you need to go directly to Jesus Christ.” And when you come to Christ, there is a kind of confidence that you find in Christ that He has embraced you and that you are His. … View Resource

  • Which comes first in the ordo salutis (order of salvation)—faith or regeneration? Question and Answer

    John 3:3-5

    I think first of all of what Jesus said in John chapter 3, when he said to Nicodemus that unless you’re born from above—which is regeneration—you’ll neither be able to see or enter the kingdom of God (John 3:3-5). And we enter the kingdom of God through faith. So in that conversation, I think it’s very clear that in order to come to faith, first of all, God has to give us a new heart. And that is really what John had said in the prologue to the gospel as well, that those who came to believe in Him were … View Resource

  • What is the gospel? Question and Answer

    2 Corinthians 15:3-4

    SPROUL: When I would teach in the doctor of ministry program and I’d have the clergy in there, I would ask them to define the gospel. And if I got ten percent of them to give an adequate answer to it, I would be happy. Because that word is thrown around so much it has died the death of a thousand qualifications. In New Testament terms, the gospel is the proclamation of the person and work of Jesus Christ plus how the benefits of that work can be appropriated to us by faith and by faith alone. So the gospel … View Resource

  • Is it important that a church subscribe to a confession? Why or why not? Question and Answer

    Anything smaller than that, or theoretically larger, will not give you the stability that a solid confession of faith will do. For example, you might say, “The Bible is our confession.” But that wouldn’t help us. All that tells us is that the contents of this book constitute our confession. The real question is, “Tell me what are the contents of this book are.” A really good confession of faith is a summary of the theology of the Bible, written, of course, in a particular historical context but with a view to the people of God in every place and … View Resource