The Dignity of Guilt

One of the most loving and dignifying things God does for human beings is insist that they take responsibility for their sin. This is one of the fundamental meanings of the words of Christ: If anyone tries to save his life, he will lose it, but if he loses it for my sake, he will…

An Armory for Modern Christians #2

2 Cor. 10:4-5: Taking Every Thought Captive Introduction We have been given divine power to destroy strongholds, arguments, and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Cor. 10:4-5). This means that we must learn to examine our own thoughts, assumptions, and intentions as faithful…

The Obedience of Faith

Advent IV: Is. 7:10-16, Rom. 1:1-7, Mt. 1:18-25 Introduction What’s the hardest decision you’ve ever made? How do you make decisions in general? Who do you trust to provide the right kind of information? What sorts of things do you fear? Our readings today focus on significant choices, comparing the obedience of faith and the…

Farming in the Wilderness

Advent III: Is. 35:1-10, Js. 5:7-11, Mt. 11:2-11 Introduction What are you waiting for? What do you long for? Advent is an annual reminder that Christians are a waiting people, and this in turn reminds us that there is a profound blessing to be found in learning to wait on the Lord. Two Prophets Isaiah…

A Signal for All Nations: The Politics of Advent

Second Sunday in Advent Is. 11:1-10, Rom. 15:4-13, Mt. 3:1-12 Introduction The gospel of Advent, which is to say the gospel of Jesus, is irreducibly political: it aims at nothing less than the greatest common good and harmony of all men. The question is not whether people will have a Lord, the question is only…

The Sin of Cynicism

Luke XLII: Lk. 11:29-36 Introduction We live in an age of skeptics. Often this is presented as a thoughtful, intelligent position to take, but Jesus addresses the skeptics of his ministry as cynics and sloths. Jesus condemns those “who were seeking a sign” (Lk. 11:16) as evil and full of darkness. Therefore, it’s very important…

Foundations of Mercy & Mission #4: Children, Treasure, and Productivity

Ps. 127, Eph. 4:25-32, Mt. 25:14-30 Introduction So far in this series, we have established that Christian mission flows from the assumption of God’s abundance. We ground our faith in that abundance by prioritizing the use of our time and resources in accordance with God’s word, specifically through obedience in Sabbath keeping and tithing. Last…

The Great Israelite Freakout

In Joshua 22, a rather tense scene unfolds when the children of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Mannasah return to their lands on the other side of the Jordan following the completion of the conquest of Canaan. The two and half tribes return to their land and build an altar on the border…

Foundations of Mercy & Mission #2: Time & Resources

Dt. 5:12-15, Gal. 2:16-20, Mt. 6:19-34 Introduction The mission of Jesus is to baptize the nations and teach them everything He commanded. This is how you distinguish between God providing in what seems like scarcity and folly. If God commands it, then He promises to provide for it. Justification is God’s gracious gift of setting…

Foundations of Mercy & Mission #1: Abundance & Scarcity

Gen. 3:14-24, 1 Jn. 4:7-21, Lk. 9:12-17 Introduction The Bible opens in mission (Gen. 1:27-28), and the mission is predicated on abundance not scarcity (Gen. 1:29, 2:8-15). The mission of the Church rests on an even greater abundance in the inheritance and authority of Jesus (Mt. 28:18-20, Rom. 8:32). Sin is the assumption of scarcity…