Friday, November 15, 2019

What About the Lost?

While doing some reading online, I discovered a very challenging question:

I love my friends and family dearly, and I'm so blessed to have them... But sadly I could count my Christian friends/family on one hand. Heaven is always described as this amazing place without sadness and pain which is awesome and all, but how could I ever be joyful knowing that my loved ones aren't experiencing it with me? Where do they go? Will they be persecuted and sent to hell? If so does that mean I will never be with them for eternity?

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

From Kanye to Cartels

On November 4, 2019, nine U.S. citizens, six of them young children, were gunned down in northern Mexico in a vicious drug-cartel ambush. This senseless evil is but the latest act of violence resulting from a broken American society demanding drugs and a broken Mexican society providing them. It has turned much of Mexico into a lawless warzone in which more than 100,000 people have died in the last decade. Clearly, some important policy work needs to be done on both sides of the border. However, there are other, deeper answers that must be found.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Understanding Unconditional Love

I was recently listening to a sermon in which the minister used the term “unconditional love,” and it gave me a mini-epiphany. It’s a concept that I have occasionally had arguments over because I am not very fond of it. I even briefly discussed it in a previous article. While I still back that position, this was an opportunity to reevaluate it and gain some perspective. And perspective, it turns out, is the issue.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The Imperishable Seed

I recently came across an interesting factoid that ties well into an important spiritual truth. In 2005, scientists planted a seed that had been discovered in 1965. The seed had been found in the ruins of Masada, an ancient Judean fortress located in modern-day Israel, and has been carbon-dated as being 2000 years old. Incredibly, it sprouted and has been growing ever since. And it is additionally interesting that the plant is a Judean date palm. That particular variety has been extinct since the 14th Century, so it represents not only new life for a single plant but also the "resurrection" of an entire species.

Friday, November 1, 2019

True Transformation

There’s a take on transgenderism that I feel is worth mentioning, even though it is certainly no epiphany. Plenty of other people have mentioned it before. But this is less about originality and more about the importance of reinforcing truth.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Christians and the Government

As I mentioned last time, my recent article on the various translations of the Bible led to some follow-up questions. This one, though, has less to do with translating Scripture and more to do with Christian political philosophy. A translation issue just happens to be the impetus of it.

Friday, October 25, 2019

The Proper Use of Paraphrases

The article I posted a few weeks ago regarding the different English translations of the Bible generated a few follow-up questions. I feel they are worth exploring in their own entries, so for today, I’ll be discussing the issue of paraphrases. To add to it, I will also give an explanation of the two camps of translation style.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

A Deeper Hope

One of the things I’ve emphasized here at Quest Forums has been the necessity of understanding the context of biblical passages. It can be very easy to take a verse or phrase and put it to use for our own purposes rather than grasping the meaning that is actually intended. That is a quick path to bad theology. If we read something into a quote, ignore the rest of its text, and then allow our opinions to ossify, then error will be inevitable and it can be costly.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Naming Names: Demonic Identification and Spiritual Warfare

It’s nothing new, but there is a troubling trend in certain corners of Christianity that I feel is worth calling attention to. Many people have a fixation on the demonic and the idea that every negative aspect of life is the result of various spirits being present to impose curses. They teach that it is possible to learn the names of these demons and their curses, and that once you know them you can invoke God’s power specifically against them in order to exorcise them out of your life.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A Sign of Trouble

Earlier this year, I did a post inspired by a church marquee that I passed while driving. I was critical of it, not because it was entirely wrong, but because the message was a bit careless. I’ll say now what I said then, it is difficult to make a polished theological point in such a small space. Churches do have a responsibility to try, though. It is a dangerous game to play fast and loose with the truths of God.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Signs of Sincerity in American Christianity

While finishing up the study of Mark over the last few weeks, I started to think about an issue with which many Christians occasionally “struggle.” I put “struggle” in scare quotes because we often look at this particular issue as a 1st-World Problem. That is, something relatively harmless that many other people would love to consider one of the worst things in their life. Still, it has a tendency to cause doubt and it is at least worth discussing.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Who Is Our King?: American Christians and Donald Trump

I know this is likely to anger some people, and I am not exactly striking while the iron is hot, so I will try to keep it brief. But I just want to ask a couple of questions. Back on August 21, Donald Trump tweeted a quote from radio host Wayne Allyn Root. Root, speaking of Trump, had said, “The Jewish people in Israel love him like he’s the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God.”

Friday, October 4, 2019

Dealing with Depression

Someone asked a little while ago whether I had written anything for people struggling with depression, or whether I could do so now. While thinking about it, I realized this was a question that would inevitably have me come up short. Depression, while experienced by so many people, is an intensely personal issue. I do not think it is possible to speak of it generally enough to be helpful to people going through it. It requires individual intervention. And of course, I cannot use one of these articles to spell out answers to a particular person.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Iron Sharpens Iron Ep. 2: Is Genesis Reliable?

I'm pleased to present the second video in my series with DJ Allan of Homegrown Ministries. This time around, we discuss what the Bible has to say about the creation of the universe and the history of the world, whether it is true, and why it matters. Thanks for checking it out!

Friday, September 27, 2019

Book Review for "Assurance of Heaven"

For those of you who have been reading Quest Forums articles for a while, this entry is going to be a bit different. Author George Mains recently asked me to review his new book, Assurance of Heaven: God’s Promise to Anyone Who Believes the Gospel. For the sake of full disclosure, I will mention that George is a friend of mine. However, I have no interest in writing reviews for compensation and I am getting nothing for doing this. My critical voice is unencumbered, and you can rest assured that you are getting my honest opinion.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

According to Mark: Victory

We’ve reached the final chapter in our study of the book of Mark. At the end of the previous chapter, Jesus’ body was laid in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea before dark on Friday. All day Saturday, everything remained as still as death. But on the third day, at dawn, the wait was over. Jesus rose from the grave to defeat death for Himself and for all those who believe in Him. His words were fulfilled and God’s will was fully carried out.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Should We Use the King James Version of the Bible?

A friend recently sent me an article on the debate over different translations of the Bible. It’s an interesting read, which I will share here, but it comes with an opinion already built into it. That’s its purpose, I am not being critical, just pointing out that it begins the discussion with the position it assumes to be correct. I was asked to step back just a bit and describe the actual debate and the reasons for it. I’ll still describe my position on the matter and see if I can make a persuasive case, but will save that for the end.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

According to Mark: The Suffering Messiah

Our review of the gospel according to Mark has reached nearly reached its end. I’ve remarked a number of times through this study that it concludes on the highest of notes, but in this entry we are going to see it first reach the very lowest of lows. That, after all, is what triumph requires. Something must be overcome. And Jesus Christ came to overcome sin and death themselves.

Friday, September 13, 2019

One from Many: The Biblical View of Race

Few people follow politics closely, so those of us who do need to keep in mind that others are not necessarily noticing the things we see. Still, I feel it is becoming more and more difficult to ignore a growing problem in this country. On one fringe, white nationalists are increasing in numbers, boldness, and violence. On the other, racial identity politics (in combination with other forms) are being used as a filter for everything in American life. The former tells people like me that my skin pigmentation is somehow a mark of superiority. The latter says that I must be a racist simply because of the way I look. The tension caused by these polarizing viewpoints is not the only problem we have, but it is greatly contributing to them.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Remembering 9/11



18 years. It is hard to imagine. 9/11 is something so formative to my generation, but as of tomorrow, there will be legal adults who were not alive when it happened. Those of us who witnessed it need to be ready to speak of the horrors of that day and the hatred and falsehoods that brought it about. But we also have to remind future generations of the faith, strength, and brotherhood that were shown in response to this ruthless evil. It is so easy to be discouraged by division, but with God's help, we can work for unity. Pray today for the loved ones left behind. Pray for those who have spent long, hard years fighting those who wish to destroy us. And pray for the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the message of salvation to all generations, in this nation and across the world. Relying on Him is our only hope for true and lasting peace.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

According to Mark: Watching and Working

Mark 13, which we have reached in our study of the second gospel, is an undeniably difficult passage. As always, it’s a good idea to read it before diving into my comments. And if you do read it, you’ll see what I mean. It isn’t just the content that is a challenge. We also have to wonder why the discussion was placed here at all. Jesus has been focusing on the fulfillment of His ministry, making His way to the cross. Why suddenly does He make this prophetic pronouncement (the longest block of His teaching in the book)? Or at least, why does Mark record it?

Friday, September 6, 2019

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

According to Mark: Total Devotion

I mentioned in our last study that there was important context to keep in mind as we moved forward into Mark 12:13–44. As a brief reminder, Mark 11 had displayed the opposition to Jesus coming from the highest authorities in Judaism. He handled it deftly, and in fact humiliated them to the point that they were looking to kill Him for it (Mark 12:12). Our passage for today concerns the ways they attempted to establish grounds for destroying the Lord (just as He had predicted; Mark 12:6–11). However, it also moves beyond that conflict to make a more lasting point. It is devotion to God, rather than a concern for appearances, that leads to blessing.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Iron Sharpens Iron Ep. 1: If God, Why Evil?

Join DJ Allan of Homegrown Ministries and I as we discuss the incredibly complex and difficult topic of suffering. If God exists, is good, and all-powerful, then why is there evil in the world?

Music and the Believer

Our question for today was sent in via YouTube, which is great to see. Engagement like that is a big help to Quest Forums, both in giving me content to create and in gaining exposure. Thanks for asking, and hopefully it will be an encouragement for others to do the same! As for the question itself, I was asked,

Why is Christian music its own genre, and is it a sin to listen to non-Christian music?

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

According to Mark: Lacking Fruit

Last week, we saw a major shift as Jesus turned toward Jerusalem and spelled out the reason for His coming, “to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). In Mark 11, He reaches the city and begins the final week of His ministry, which will be the subject of the remainder of the gospel. Today, we will be looking at this chapter and the first few verses of Chapter 12.

Friday, August 23, 2019

The Makings of the Mark

Ok, so I’ve got one today that is going to be a bit on the weird side. I’m going to ask you to bear with me here. There were a couple of odd pieces of financial news in the past few months that were not really related, but between which I saw a loose connection. The first was the announcement of an effort to force Mastercard to ban right-wing groups from receiving payments through the credit giant. The second was the announcement that Facebook would be looking to develop a digital currency called “Libra

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

According to Mark: Depending on Christ

We are a little more than halfway through our study of Mark, but in an important sense, we are nearing the end. That is because, starting in Mark 10, Jesus turns resolutely toward Jerusalem and the destiny that awaits Him there. His credentials have been established for all those who care to see, so now the time has come for Him to complete the great work of providing redemption for mankind.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Breaking the Heart of the Spirit

Today’s question comes from a steadfast friend of Quest Forums who wants to know,

What does it mean to “grieve the Holy Spirit”? And what are the ramifications of it?

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

According to Mark: Progressing in Faith

If you have been following along in our study of the gospel of Mark, then you know about his penchant for unifying themes. The overarching one in every passage is to present Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1). Our target text for today, Mark 8:22–9:50, is no exception. Of course, it also has an undercurrent of its own. Mark, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wanted to send a message about the progression of faith. Personally, I find it to be the most impactful lesson of this book, and I hope it will make that same impression on others.

Friday, August 9, 2019

What is the Trinity?

One of the most awe-inspiring and important doctrines in Christianity, as well as one of the most difficult to understand, is the Trinity. In fact, there is a sense in which you could say it is impossible to understand. That might be discouraging to hear at the start of a discussion on the subject,  but acknowledging it ultimately permits us to come to terms with it. We are attempting to discover an intimate aspect of the nature of God. We, with our finite and fallen minds, cannot really expect to tie everything up nice and neatly. Concepts like this must, at the last, be taken at face value. The truth comes from what God has told us, not from what we can figure out on our own. We can still form a partial understanding, though, and it is important to try.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

According to Mark: Universal Soul Care

For this entry in our study of the second gospel, we will be looking at Mark 7:1–8:21. We saw last time that Jesus calls His followers to look to Him for provision. As Mark moves forward with his narrative, he builds on this by developing the theme that Jesus provides for all people, not just for the Jewish nation of which He was a part.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Morality with God

The article I wrote last week, which you can view here, was a response to an idea sometimes repeated by atheists. They say that Christians are frightening for saying that it is impossible to be moral without believing in God, and I explained that is not the heart of our position. Rather, it is impossible to have the concept of morality without the existence of God. You can do the right thing without believing in Him, and you can do the wrong thing while believing in Him, but “right” and “wrong” make no sense without an objective, eternal standard.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

According to Mark: Looking for Provision

As you may know, chapter and verse numbers are not an original part of the Bible. It is not as if Mark included them while writing his gospel, which is why we get a bit of an odd start to this week’s entry of our “According to Mark” study. The first half of Mark 6:6 completes the thought of the preceding verses in the chapter, while the second half begins what follows. So today, we are looking at Mark 6:6b–56. At least we are staying inside one chapter this time.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Morality Apart from God

I’ve noticed a recurring thread in atheistic thought that deserves some attention. Oftentimes, you will hear them express a fear of religious people, and particularly of Christians. It is not a fear that we will do them any harm. What they’re afraid of is the basis of our morality. They find it frightening when we say that it is impossible to be moral without the commandments of God. Christians, they believe, only try to live rightly because we are afraid. If biblical morality is a restraint on what we want to do, and what we would do without it, then that expresses a great darkness within us.

Quotables


Tuesday, July 23, 2019

According to Mark: Fear, Faith, and Wonder

Welcome back to the Quest Forums “According to Mark” study. As we have seen so far, there is a simple purity to Mark’s gospel. His primary goal is to make it so that we can see Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1). However, we have also seen that this was not always easy for the people at the time of Jesus’ ministry to recognize, and many were opposed to Him as a result. Those themes continue with our passage for today, Mark 4:35–6:6a.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Justice and Reparations: Personal Responsibility vs. Inherited Guilt

While not one of the biggest stories in America, the contentious issue of reparations for the enslavement of people of African descent has been receiving some attention this year. The concept has been explored a number of times in the past but has never served as anything more than a way to attack opponents as being racist. It has never had a hope of being seriously considered or passed into law, and it stands no chance now, either. It did not happen when Barack Obama was President and the Democrats had near supermajorities in both houses of Congress in 2009-2010. Why it should be successful in 2019, with Donald Trump in the White House and Republicans in control of the Senate, is something none of its proponents can explain. They do not seek to explain it. It is a club for hitting enemies with, not a policy.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

According to Mark: The Purpose of Parables

The heart of Jesus’ teaching is found in His parables. These stories use mundane elements to tell spiritual truths, but not usually so that the connection is obvious. It takes work to understand them, and a willingness to seek out the answers. This is the primary lesson to discover in Mark 4:1–34, one of the largest blocks of the Lord’s teaching in this gospel. We want to be sure we have “ears to hear” (Mark 4:9, 23).

Friday, July 12, 2019

Finding Repair: A Life Lesson in Auto Care

Have you ever had a leaky tire plugged? I had that done a few weeks ago and was struck by the imagery of it. A short while beforehand, I had noticed that one of my tires was looking a little flat. It wasn’t by much, not as if I was riding on the rims, but enough that I could see that bit of widening at the bottom.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

According to Mark: The Family of God

Diving right into our continuing study in the Gospel of Mark, this entry focuses on Mark 3:7–35. Mark begins this particular passage by recapitulating the Lord’s power to heal and liberate the suffering. He is still attracting a large following, which has grown to include people from a wide geographical extent. And this, most likely, explains why He decides to introduce a leadership structure into His movement.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

American Freedom and Christian Liberty

I’m taking a break from my normal publication schedule to make sure this article gets out on Independence Day itself. I have made a habit of saying that for Americans, Thanksgiving is our most religious holiday. That is certainly true, but we must never forget that today is also closely tied to faith. Christians who live in this country should be mindful of how our beliefs have shaped this nation and its liberties. We should also appreciate how those liberties protect our right to believe.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

According to Mark: Religion vs. Grace

In this portion of our study on the gospel of Mark, we will be looking at Mark 2:1–3:6. That’s a good bit of ground to cover, but we will be paring it down to the theme that unites the five stories told here. As always, of course, the first thing to keep in mind is that we are being presented with Jesus Christ. The most important element is seeing Him for who He is. But in these passages in particular, that means learning about Him through the ways that He confronted the religious authorities of His day.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Saints of the Old Testament

This question comes to us from a YouTube comment. I was asked my thoughts on the process of salvation during the Old Testament. After the coming of Jesus Christ, we know that salvation is found in the grace of His finished work on the cross. What about those who lived before Him, though?

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

According to Mark: The Powerful Teaching of Jesus

The previous article in our study on the Gospel of Mark (which you can find here) looked at Mark 1:1–15 and focused on the groundwork that was laid for the ministry of Jesus. In those verses, the evangelist established that Jesus is everything that matters. As Messiah and Son of God, He is the good news of salvation to the world.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Scientific Errors in the Bible?

I’ve recently had an interesting conversation with a young Muslim man in Afghanistan. It went in a number of directions, but started with a simple question. He asked,

Why does the Bible have scientific errors?


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

According to Mark: The Groundwork of the Gospel

Following the introduction from last week, we are ready to move into the actual text of the Gospel of Mark. Technically, this is going to be more introduction, but I’m ok with it since it is Mark’s own. He starts out with a plan that he wants us to know, and we are quickly going to see some of those themes we talked about last time.

Friday, June 14, 2019

The Bible and Other Scriptures

Over the past few months, I have been making an effort to include some simple visual content in between my primary posts. A recent one included a quote from Charles Ryrie in which he said,

The Bible is the greatest of all books; to study it is the noblest of all pursuits; to understand it, the highest of all goals.

I think this is a marvelous comment on its own, but even better, it led to a question for Quest Forums. Someone saw it and asked,

“What would you say about other religious books?”

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

According to Mark: Introduction

A few weeks ago, I mentioned in another post that the book of Mark is a good place to start when reading the Bible for the first time. I have recommended it for that on a few occasions, and many others do the same. Since I last spoke about it, though, it has been on my mind to do a study on Mark’s gospel for Quest Forums. After a bit of time planning things out, I am ready to forge ahead with it.

Friday, June 7, 2019

What Is the Name Above All Names?

Over the years, I have used a number of study Bibles. It’s a great, simple way to gain a variety of perspectives, and I highly recommend it. But sometimes, even coming from different perspectives, they can have similar conclusions. I happened to notice this recently when reading the CSB Study Bible’s take on Phil. 2:9–11, and realizing how often I had seen their interpretation before. Not only had I seen it before, but it has never really sat right with me on those occasions. Possibly, it is a good example that scholars can make errors even when they all make the same one. Or possibly, it is a sign that I have a lot of hubris to think I can take them all on. Still, I think it is a matter of plain meaning and it is worth taking the risk.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

One Covenant or Two?: Evaluating Supersessionism

Around the same time that I heard about Rick Wiles calling Ben Shapiro “an antichrist,” which I covered in a recent post, I was also reminded about the debate surrounding supersessionism. The two go together, so I felt it would be good to follow up here.

Friday, May 31, 2019

False Choices in the Abortion Debate

A short time ago, the Alabama legislature passed and Gov. Kay Ivey signed what is perhaps the most pro-life law this nation has seen since Roe v. Wade. It bans all abortions except for when the life of the mother is at stake, and does so on the explicit understanding that human life is intrinsically valuable and begins at conception. Not even pregnancies in the case of rape or incest are excepted from this law, which is in keeping with that understanding of life’s value.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Reckless Love and Emotional Faith

It’s funny, I wrote something similar to this a few years ago. Or at least, I wrote about the fact that I do not pay careful attention to trends in the Christian music industry. Some controversial things occasionally happen in it, but I am lucky to ever hear about them. This is another example of me being late to the party.

Friday, May 24, 2019

American Patriotism and Biblical Promises

I’m going to step on a rake here by criticizing an element of American patriotism. I didn’t actually have Memorial Day in mind when I came up with this, the timing just worked out that way. Hopefully, though, it will actually end up being appropriate. And I think I have enough of a history of love of country to have earned the right to point out its misapplication. My goal is not to tear down the U.S. Rather, it is to understand the Bible accurately. Doing so actually improves patriotism rather than degrading it.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Is Ben Shapiro an Antichrist?

A few weeks ago, I heard that a televangelist named Rick Wiles had labeled Ben Shapiro “an antichrist.” I was already familiar with Shapiro, whom as many of you know is a practicing Orthodox Jew. Wiles, on the other hand, was new to me. Most of what I was hearing about him was critical, so I decided to check out his site and get the story straight from the horse’s mouth.

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Blessing of Confidence

There are certain segments of Christianity that teach having a relationship with God means having good things all the time. That if you have enough faith, then you can have your dream house, perfect health, a full bank account, untroubled relationships, and any number of other things. I do not think there is anything necessarily wrong with wanting, or even praying for, these things. They are a blessing from God. The problem comes when we put them first and when our faith depends upon them.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Can Salvation be Lost?

This article may take us into contentious waters since it is an issue on which sincere believers in Christ sincerely disagree. While I am going to take a side, I want to say first that anyone’s position on it does not determine the validity of his or her faith. If we further discuss it, I hope we can all keep that in mind. Second, and in relation to that, we need to be on the lookout for unifying themes that overcome our division. That is what I intend to do, especially in closing.

Friday, May 10, 2019

How To Get Started with the Bible

Today’s question seems simple enough, but it presented me with some challenges. I was asked,

How do I read the Bible?

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

What Caused God?

The internet can be a wonderful thing for connecting people. Case in point, this question was sent in by someone living in West Africa:

Friday, May 3, 2019

Is Acts Accurate?

This time, we’ve got a great question that required a deep dive but ended up with a nice, straightforward solution. I was asked,

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Psychics Aren't the Answer

I recently overheard a troubling conversation that I feel compelled to discuss, especially because I am concerned I did not make the most of the moment. Frankly, I am not sure I made a mistake. I will spell out the details and allow you to decide. But at the very least, I hope to learn from my situation and that others will also be better prepared as a result.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

What's With the Bunnies?

With the Easter season just passed, we have a good question from a young person. He asks, “What do rabbits have to do with Easter?”

Friday, April 19, 2019

How Do I Get to Heaven?

What do you think you have to do to go to heaven? Do you feel like you deserve to be there when you die? That’s a trick question, as I intend to show. Sadly, many people spend their whole lives trying to answer it. If that describes you, stop. The first thing we need to know, the first element of salvation, is knowing that we cannot achieve it. Nothing you can do will get you there, and you can never deserve the blessings of God (Rom. 3:23).

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Friday, April 12, 2019

"C'mon, It's 2019"

If you spend much time on the internet, there is a good chance you have heard a comment like the one in the title of this article. It is among the most common, and sadly, most effective forms of criticism in secular culture. If you espouse a classical (especially a Christian) morality, then you stand a chance of being told this.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

More Than a Feeling

Someone recently sent me a great question on a topic where Christians have been dropping the ball too often over the past few generations.