Where the world comes to study the Bible

Appendix 2: Reflection Questions

Related Media

Writing is one of the best ways to learn. In class, we take notes and write papers, and these methods are used to help us learn and retain the material. The same is true with the Word of God. Obviously, all the authors of Scripture were writers. This helped them better learn the Scriptures and also enabled them to more effectively teach it. As you reflect on God’s Word, using the Bible Teacher’s Guide, take time to write so you can similarly grow both in your learning and teaching.

  1. How would you summarize the main points of the text/chapter? Write a brief summary.
  2. What stood out to you most in the reading? Did any of the contents trigger any memories or experiences? If so, please share them.
  3. What follow–up questions did you have about the reading? What parts did you not fully agree with?
  4. What applications did you take from the reading, and how do you plan to implement them into your life?
  5. Write several commitment statements: As a result of my time studying God’s Word, I will . . .
  6. What are some practical ways to pray as a result of studying the text? Spend some time ministering to the Lord through prayer.

Copyright © 2020 Gregory Brown

BTG Publishing all rights reserved.

Appendix 3: Walking The Romans Road

Related Media

How can a person be saved? From what is he saved? How can someone have eternal life? Scripture teaches that after death each person will spend eternity either in heaven or hell. How can a person go to heaven?

Paul said this to Timothy:

You, however, must continue in the things you have learned and are confident about. You know who taught you and how from infancy you have known the holy writings, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 3:14-15

One of the reasons God gave us Scripture is to make us wise for salvation. This means that without it, nobody can know how to be saved.

Well then, how can a people be saved and what are they being saved from? A common method of sharing the good news of salvation is through the Romans Road. One of the great themes, not only of the Bible, but specifically of the book of Romans is salvation. In Romans, the author, Paul, clearly details the steps we must take in order to be saved.

How can we be saved? What steps must we take?

Step One: We Must Accept That We Are Sinners

Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” What does it mean to sin? The word sin means “to miss the mark.” The mark we missed is reflecting God’s image. When God created mankind in the Genesis narrative, he created man in the “image of God” (1:27). The “image of God” means many things, but probably, most importantly it means we were made to be holy just as he is holy. Man was made moral. We were meant to reflect God’s holiness in every way: the way we think, the way we talk, and the way we act. And any time we miss the mark in these areas, we commit sin.

Furthermore, we do not only sin when we commit a sinful act such as lying, stealing, or cheating. Again, we sin anytime we have a wrong heart motive. The greatest commandments in Scripture are to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 22:36-40, paraphrase). Whenever we don’t love God supremely and love others as ourselves, we sin and fall short of the glory of God. For this reason, man is always in a state of sinning. Sadly, even if our actions are good, our heart is bad. I have never loved God with my whole heart, mind, and soul, and neither has anybody else. Therefore, we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). We have all missed the mark of God’s holiness and we must accept this.

What’s the next step?

Step Two: We Must Understand We Are Under The Judgment Of God

Why are we under the judgment of God? It is because of our sins. Scripture teaches that God is not only a loving God, but he is also a just God. And his justice requires judgment for each of our sins. Romans 6:23 says, “For the payoff of sin is death.”

A payoff or wage is something we earn. Every time we sin, we earn the wage of death. What is death? Death really means separation. In physical death, the body is separated from the spirit, but in spiritual death, man is separated from God. Man currently lives in a state of spiritual death (cf. Eph 2:1-3). We do not love God, obey him, or know him as we should. Therefore, man is in a state of death.

Moreover, one day at our physical death, if we have not been saved, we will spend eternity separated from God in a very real hell. In hell, we will pay the wage for each of our sins. Therefore, in hell people will experience various degrees of punishment (cf. Lk 12:47-48). This places man in a very dangerous predicament—unholy and therefore under the judgment of God.

How should we respond to this? This leads us to our third step.

Step Three: We Must Recognize God Has Invited All To Accept His Free Gift Of Salvation

Romans 6:23 does not stop at the wages of sin being death. It says, “For the payoff of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Because God loved everybody on the earth, he offered the free gift of eternal life, which anyone can receive through Jesus Christ.

Because it is a gift, it cannot be earned. We cannot work for it. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast.”

Going to church, being baptized, giving to the poor, or doing any other righteous work does not save. Salvation is a gift that must be received from God. It is a gift that has been prepared by his effort alone.

How do we receive this free gift?

Step Four: We Must Believe Jesus Christ Died For Our Sins And Rose From The Dead

If we are going to receive this free gift, we must believe in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Because God loved us, cared for us, and didn’t want us to be separated from him eternally, he sent his Son to die for our sins. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Similarly, John 3:16 says, “For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” God so loved us that he gave his only Son for our sins.

Jesus Christ was a real, historical person who lived 2,000 years ago. He was born of a virgin. He lived a perfect life. He was put to death by the Romans and the Jews. And after he was buried, he rose again on the third day. In his death, he took our sins and God’s wrath for them and gave us his perfect righteousness so we could be accepted by God. Second Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.” God did all this so we could be saved from his wrath.

Christ’s death satisfied the just anger of God over our sins. When God looked at Jesus on the cross, he saw us and our sins and therefore judged Jesus. And now, when God sees those who are saved, he sees his righteous Son and accepts us. In salvation, we have become the righteousness of God.

If we are going to be saved, if we are going to receive this free gift of salvation, we must believe in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection for our sins (cf. 1 Cor 15:3-5, Rom 10:9-10). Do you believe?

Step Five: We Must Confess Christ As Lord Of Our Lives

Romans 10:9-10 says,

Because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and thus has righteousness and with the mouth one confesses and thus has salvation.

Not only must we believe, but we must confess Christ as Lord of our lives. It is one thing to believe in Christ but another to follow Christ. Simple belief does not save. Christ must be our Lord. James said this: “…Even the demons believe that – and tremble with fear” (James 2:19), but the demons are not saved—Christ is not their Lord.

Another aspect of making Christ Lord is repentance. Repentance really means a change of mind that leads to a change of direction. Before we met Christ, we were living our own life and following our own sinful desires. But when we get saved, our mind and direction change. We start to follow Christ as Lord.

How do we make this commitment to the lordship of Christ so we can be saved? Paul said we must confess with our mouth “Jesus is Lord” as we believe in him. Romans 10:13 says, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

If you admit that you are a sinner and understand you are under God’s wrath because of it; if you believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that he died on the cross for your sins, and rose from the dead for your salvation; if you are ready to turn from your sin and cling to Christ as Lord, you can be saved.

If this is your heart, then you can pray this prayer and commit to following Christ as your Lord.

Dear heavenly Father, I confess I am a sinner and have fallen short of your glory, what you made me for. I believe Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins and rose from the dead so I can have eternal life. I am turning away from my sin and accepting you as my Lord and Savior. Come into my life and change me. Thank you for your gift of salvation.

Scripture teaches that if you truly accepted Christ as your Lord, then you are a new creation. Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away – look, what is new has come!” God has forgiven your sins (1 John 1:9), he has given you his Holy Spirit (Rom 8:15), and he is going to disciple you and make you into the image of his Son (cf. Rom 8:29). He will never leave you nor forsake you (Heb 13:5), and he will complete the work he has begun in your life (Phil 1:6). In heaven, angels and saints are rejoicing because of your commitment to Christ (Lk 15:7).

Praise God for his great salvation! May God keep you in his hand, empower you through the Holy Spirit, train you through mature believers, and use you to build his kingdom! “He who calls you is trustworthy, and he will in fact do this” (1 Thess 5:24). God bless you!

Copyright © 2020 Gregory Brown

Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the NET Bible ® copyright © 1996-2016 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible, New International Version ®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, and 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Scripture quotations marked (KJV) are from the King James Version of the Bible.

All emphases in Scripture quotations have been added.

BTG Publishing all rights reserved.

How to Obtain Help from Jesus (Matthew 15:21-28)

Related Media

May 9, 2021

One of the most difficult trials for parents is to watch helplessly when any of your children suffer. You would much rather that the Lord put the suffering on you and let your child be free of the pain. But, of course, it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes, you may try every conceivable option to help, but nothing has worked. Then you conclude, “All we can do now is to pray!”

But prayer is where we should start when we face overwhelming problems, whether with our children or personally. Prayer connects us with the living God who spoke the universe into existence out of nothing. So with Jeremiah (32:17), we should often pray, “Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You ….”

In our text, we encounter a desperate mother who obtained help from the Lord Jesus for her daughter. Jesus and the disciples had traveled out of Galilee northwest into the region of Tyre and Sidon. Mark (7:24) says that Jesus didn’t want anyone to know where He was, but He couldn’t escape notice. This unnamed Gentile woman heard that He was there and virtually forced her way in to see Him.

There are some rather strange elements in the story. At first, Jesus seems aloof and even rather rude in His response to this needy mother. But we need to read this story in light of two factors. First, in the context of Matthew 15, there is a contrast between the religious leaders in Israel and this Canaanite woman. Jesus indicts the religious leaders for honoring God with their lips while their hearts were far from Him (Matt. 15:6). They kept their religious rules without the reality of a relationship with the living God. But this Gentile woman, who was “excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, [a stranger] to the covenants of promise” (Eph. 2:12), approaches Jesus with her problem and goes away with her daughter healed. Since she found mercy with the Lord, there is hope for you, no matter what your background or problems are!

Second, Jesus knows the hearts of every person. He knew that while the Pharisees and scribes put on a good religious front, their hearts were far from God. In Matthew 9:4, Jesus knew the hearts of the scribes who accused Him of blasphemy because He forgave the sins of the paralytic who was brought to Him. Jesus knows the hearts of all people (John 2:24). So we need to approach this story understanding that Jesus knew that the Holy Spirit was drawing this woman in faith to Him. His initial silence and subsequent seeming rudeness were designed to draw her into deeper faith and to display her faith as an example to the unbelieving religious Jews and to the disciples who had “little faith” (16:8). This is the second time in Matthew that Jesus has commended someone for great faith (8:10). In both cases, they were Gentiles. This story tells you that you can come to Jesus and obtain help through faith.

To obtain help from the Lord Jesus, let your problems drive you to Him with overcoming faith.

First, we need to understand that …

1. God intends for problems to drive us to Jesus.

We all are inclined to rely on ourselves or on different human techniques to resolve our problems. Prayer, as I mentioned, often comes in as our last resort. But our problems should drive us deeper into experiencing “the unfathomable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8). No problem is too big or too small to bring to Jesus.

A. Often our problems are beyond human help.

We can safely guess that this woman had tried everything she knew to solve her daughter’s problem. The girl was possessed by a cruel demon. We don’t know how old she was or how she got into this state. Being a pagan woman, this mother no doubt first tried to placate different idols in the hopes that they could help her daughter. Maybe she had gone to a pagan priest who had given her various potions or performed different rituals to try to exorcise the demon. But nothing had worked.

Of course, not all problems are demonic in origin. Some are, but many have other causes. And there are many remedies in our world that seem to work apart from dependence on the Lord. Psychological counseling and 12 Step Groups sometimes “work,” but if they don’t drive you to deeper dependence on the Lord Jesus as He is revealed in Scripture, they are false help. Whether it’s a problem that you think you can handle by yourself or one that is beyond human help, take it to Jesus!

B. Sometimes our problems are embarrassing.

This mother’s “sweet little girl” was possessed by a cruel demon! What an embarrassing problem! Why couldn’t she just have a normal illness like other kids? Maybe other moms gossiped that the little girl’s problem was the mother’s fault. Maybe she had dabbled in the occult. We don’t know the symptoms that this cruel demon caused. But however the demon afflicted this girl, the woman knew that it wasn’t a normal childhood ailment. It was a spiritual problem that was embarrassing and beyond human help.

Sometimes if a problem is really bad or embarrassing, we want to keep it to ourselves. Maybe we’re in denial. We say, “I have this under control! I can quit any time I choose!” Or we minimize the problem: “I’m just normal! Every guy looks at porn!” Or we know that our problem would make us look bad in the Christian community, so we cover it up. I’ve often heard saints say in a prayer meeting, “Unspoken request.” I always think, “Why don’t you tell us what the problem is?”

C. Our problems should not keep us from coming to Jesus, but rather drive us to Him.

Sometimes we mistakenly think that our problem is so severe or so embarrassing that we can’t bring it to the Lord. What would He think? The truth is, He knows all about your problem before you bring it to Him (Heb. 4:13)! He’s never surprised! But the question is, will you try to cover it up or fix it by some human remedy, or will you flee to Jesus as your only hope?

J. C. Ryle observed (Expository Thoughts on the Gospels [Baker], 1:180-181),

Trials are intended to make us think, to wean us from the world, to send us to the Bible, to drive us to our knees. Health is a good thing; but sickness is far better, if it leads us to God. Prosperity is a great mercy, but adversity is a greater one, if it brings us to Christ. Anything, anything is better than living in carelessness, and dying in sin. Better a thousand times be afflicted, like the Canaanitish mother, and like her flee to Christ, than live at ease, like the rich “fool,” and die at last without Christ and without hope.

But this story shows that coming to Jesus with our problems is not always easy. This mother had to overcome several obstacles, which we also may encounter.

2. To come to Jesus, there are often obstacles to overcome.

A. Sometimes you need to overcome the obstacle of cultural differences or race.

This mother was an outsider because of her race. Her Canaanite ancestors were those whom God had commanded Israel to exterminate when they conquered the promised land. If this woman had lived today, she would accuse Jesus of racism! “How dare He treat me as inferior to those arrogant Jews! They’re the ones who stole our land! We demand reparations!” She would organize protesters to demand equality for the Canaanites. But she didn’t argue that God’s choice of Israel was unfair or that His command to wipe out her ancestors had been cruel.

Don’t let the modern cries of “systemic racism” or cultural privilege keep you from coming to Jesus. I’m not denying the sad fact that many Christians and many churches have been racist, which is sin. But classing yourself as a victim may keep you from the only one who can give both temporal and eternal help. You would be the loser if you let Christians’ sin keep you from the Savior.

B. Sometimes you need to overcome the obstacle of insensitive or uncaring Christians.

The disciples were annoyed by this woman’s persistent cries for help. The Greek word translated “shouting” (v. 23) was used of a raven’s croak. She was bugging them! Perhaps they were asking Jesus to grant her request so that she would go away. But clearly, their concern wasn’t for this needy mother or her poor daughter. They just wanted some peace and quiet.

Sadly, sometimes needy people come to church desperate for answers to their problems, but insensitive or uncaring Christians treat them as if they are a bother. The disciples complain (v. 23), “She is shouting out after us.” No, she wasn’t. She was shouting out after the Lord! He is the only one who can meet the needs of hurting people. As the Lord’s people, we need to treat every person with kindness and compassion. But if you come to church and feel mistreated, don’t let that keep you from seeking Jesus!

C. Sometimes you need to overcome the obstacle that Jesus seems silent or uncaring.

It would have been easy for this woman to conclude that Jesus didn’t care about her or her problem. She was obviously desperate to bring her need to Him, but (v. 23), “He did not answer her a word.” Have you ever felt that way when you poured out your heart to the Lord? You felt as if you might as well be talking to the wall! It’s like when you call a company because of a problem and the automated voice assures you, “Your call is important to us. Please remain on the line and your call will be answered by the next available agent.” Right! After 30 minutes you hang up in disgust!

This woman isn’t the only one in Scripture who seemingly got put on hold when she tried to come to the Lord. Abraham was promised a son, but it took 25 years before God came through. David cried out (Ps. 13:1), “How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” The Bible often talks about waiting on the Lord. Don’t let God’s seeming silence turn you away from seeking Him!

When Jesus finally spoke (probably to the disciples, but in this woman’s hearing), He didn’t offer much encouragement. He said (v. 24), “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” That seemed to slam the door shut! She wasn’t one of the elect! For now, He was offering the kingdom to the Jews first (Matt. 10:5-7). When they rejected their Messiah, after His resurrection Jesus told His disciples to take the gospel to all the nations (Matt. 28:19; Matt. 21:43; Acts 13:44-48; Rom. 1:16). But here, Jesus’ exclusive words didn’t stop her (v. 25): “But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, ‘Lord, help me!’” Surely now Jesus would take pity on her!

But, no, He seems to move from uncaring to exclusivist to rude (v. 26): “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” “Children” refers to the Jews. “Dogs” refers to the Gentiles, specifically to this woman. “Bread” refers to the kingdom blessings offered to the Jews. It would have been easy for this woman to say indignantly, “I have more self-esteem than to be called a dog! I’m not going to listen to this abuse!” But surprisingly, she didn’t stomp off in a huff! Rather, she agreed with Jesus and used His words to build her case for Him to heal her daughter. She demonstrates what Jesus calls “great faith,” or what I’m calling, “overcoming faith.”

3. Overcoming faith obtains Jesus’ help.

This Canaanite mother teaches us five things about overcoming faith:

A. Overcoming faith can operate even when you have a scant knowledge of who Jesus is.

This woman didn’t know much about Jesus. She had not studied the Hebrew Scriptures as the Pharisees did. The news about Jesus had spread into her country (Matt. 4:24), but it probably wasn’t always theologically accurate. She addressed Jesus as “Lord.” Some say that this was just a polite form that we should translate as “Sir.” But I think it was more than this. She was asking Jesus to do a miracle by casting the demon out of her daughter at a distance. So at the very least she recognized Him as a great prophet.

Second Kings 5 tells the story of a little Jewish slave girl who told her master Naaman, who was the captain of the army of Aram, but who was afflicted with an incurable skin disease (called “leprosy,” but not the disease we know by that name), that there was a prophet in Israel (Elisha) who could cure him. So the king of Aram sent a letter to the king of Israel asking him to cure Naaman. The king of Israel tore his clothes and exclaimed (2 Kings 5:7), “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man is sending word to me to cure a man of his leprosy?” But, through the prophet Elisha, God did cure Naaman. So at the very least, this woman was addressing Jesus as a great prophet, even if she didn’t understand that He was the eternal God in human flesh.

Also, she had heard that Jesus was “the Son of David,” the promised Jewish Messiah, a descendant of David who would reign on his throne. She didn’t thoroughly understand the Old Testament messianic promises. But she was ahead of the skeptical Jews, who taunted Jesus as being a son of immorality (John 8:41). She had hope that this renowned prophet, the son of David, who worked miracles in Israel would do the same for her demon-possessed daughter.

You need to understand some of the truth about who Jesus is before you can come to Him for salvation from your sins, but you don’t need a theological degree. You need to know that He claimed to come to this world to save sinners. His death on the cross paid the penalty sinners deserve. His bodily resurrection from the dead proved that God the Father accepted His sacrifice. He promises that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life. So begin there: Believe in Jesus as your Savior from your sin. Then flee to Him with all your problems. He is a gracious and merciful Savior for all who come to Him.

B. Overcoming faith is not based on any merit or worthiness in yourself.

This woman had nothing except her faith to commend her to Jesus. She comes crying out for mercy, which is undeserved favor. She didn’t list her good qualities as a reason that Jesus should answer her plea. She didn’t ask Him to just treat her fairly! She just cried, “Have mercy on me! … Lord, help me!” Never appeal to the Lord based on your good deeds or your qualifications. Come asking Him to be merciful to you, the sinner (Luke 18:13).

C. Overcoming faith often must keep believing through what seems like initial rejection.

I’m just repeating the earlier point here. Don’t let the Lord’s initial silence or rejection by the Lord’s people turn you away from seeking Him. The Bible promises that whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved (Rom. 10:13). Grab hold of that and don’t let go! It promises (Ps. 145:18), “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.” Don’t let what seems like God’s silence or lack of concern drive you away. Rather, imitate this woman in pursuing the Lord and not giving up!

D. Overcoming faith perseveres through obstacles.

Again, we’ve already seen this woman’s persistence, so I mention it briefly. She went after Jesus until she got her request. She was like the widow in Jesus’ parable about the unjust judge (Luke 18:1-8). She kept pestering the judge until he finally said (Luke 18:4-5), “Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.” Jesus’ point was not that God is like that unjust judge, unwilling to grant our requests. Rather, His point was that we should imitate that persistent widow by praying and not losing heart (Luke 18:1). Finally,

E. Overcoming faith uses God’s own words to build a persuasive argument.

This bold woman wasn’t put off by the seeming obstacles in her way. When Jesus said (Matt. 15:26), “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs,” she didn’t say, “Oh well, I tried!” She didn’t protest, “I am not a dog!” Rather, she agrees with Jesus and then builds her case on what He said! In verse 27, “but even” (or “yet even”) should be translated, “for even.” She agreed with Jesus that she was a dog, but then she added that even the dogs can feed on the crumbs that fall from their masters’ tables!

Some people get offended when the Bible (or those preaching the Bible) say, “You are a sinner!” I have often pointed out that modern hymnals change the words of Isaac Watts’ hymn, “Would He devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?” We don’t want to damage our self-esteem by calling ourselves “worms!” A woman in my church in California was indignant when I said that we are worms, until I explained to her that Watts got his language from Psalm 22:6, where Jesus on the cross calls Himself a worm as He bore our sins. She instantly repented!

C. H. Spurgeon said (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit [Pilgrim Publications], 42:430), “Whatever the Bible calls you, accept it, do not quarrel with it, for it is quite true.” If the Bible calls you a sinner, accept it but then build your argument on it: Christ promises to save sinners (Luke 5:30-32; 15:1-32)! Jesus promises (John 6:37), “The one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” Come to Jesus for salvation and He will abundantly pardon all your sins (Isa. 55:7).


You would be mistaken to apply this message by thinking that every request you bring to Jesus will get quick or miraculous answers, as this woman got. Sometimes God graciously answers quickly and even miraculously, but often He does not. We can know God’s will of desire by what He has revealed in Scripture. He (1 Tim. 2:4) “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” But we also know that in His will of decree, He will not save everyone. Some will spend eternity in hell (Rev. 20:11-15). So we should pray for the conversion of lost loved ones, but we can’t know with certainty in advance whether God will save them.

The same is true for our temporal problems. It may be God’s will to heal or to deliver us (or those we pray for) from a difficult trial, but He may have other purposes for us to go through the trial. At the culmination of the great chapter on faith, the author recounts (Heb. 11:33-35a) those “who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection.” But then he abruptly shifts gears (11:35b-40):

And others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.

And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.

Some were delivered by faith; others, because God had a greater purpose, suffered and died by faith. But whatever happened, God was faithful. So the point of the story of the Canaanite mother who sought Jesus on behalf of her daughter is, “Don’t be like the religious Pharisees who practiced their rituals, but lacked reality with God! Be like this humble Canaanite mother, who with great faith brought her problems to Jesus!”

Application Questions

  1. How long should we persist in prayer if the Lord doesn’t seem to be answering?
  2. If faith is the key to getting through to God, then what is wrong with the “name it and claim it” theology?
  3. A person tells you, “I don’t have enough faith to come to Jesus.” What would you say?
  4. How can we grow in faith?

Copyright, Steven J. Cole, 2021, All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture Quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, Updated Edition © The Lockman Foundation

Related Topics: Christian Life, Faith, Suffering, Trials, Persecution

Q. Don’t You Think You Are Overly Harsh In Your Description Of Jacob As A Rascal? After All, God Greatly Blessed Him, And Made Him The Father Of The Nation Israel.


Dear Friend,

You are absolutely right to conclude that I am critical regarding Jacob’s spiritual life, for almost all of his life. Virtually everything he does seems to be done out of self-interest. And when he seeks to gain, it is at the expense of others. By the way, the account of Jacob’s birth (Genesis 25:19-26) foreshadows what his life will be like. If you look at other lessons I have done in Genesis you will find more indications of his lack of spiritual vitality. For example, take note of my words regarding “Jacob’s Seven Laws of Leadership” as contained in this article:

While few have objected to my assessment of Jacob’s lack of spirituality, I have received a considerable amount of push-back regarding my appraisal of both Jonah, and of Esther.[1] But the simple fact is that whether we are reading in the Old Testament or the New, all men are sinners, unworthy of the grace which God bestows on them. It is not man’s goodness, but God’s sovereign grace which prompts His salvation and blessing of men and women. How else could a New Testament apostle call Lot “righteous Lot” (2 Peter 2:7-8)?

The Bible is absolutely consistent in its declaration that men, all mankind, is desperately sinful, and worthy only of divine judgment:


The greatness of God’s mercy and grace is evident by the fact that He chooses some of the worst, most unworthy, most unlikely people to become His children. In this way men can only boast in God, and not in themselves:

26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no man may boast before God. 30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31 so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).

12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14 and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. 15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. 16 Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life (1 Timothy 1:12-16).

Just look at some of those who (to our surprise) are included in the “hall of faith” in Hebrews:

30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace. 32 And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight (Hebrews 11:30-34).

Old Testament saints were not all that “saintly” when you look carefully at their lives. And even after they were called by God, their “sanctification” process in life was ongoing, and never complete, as Jacob himself confessed:

7 Then Joseph brought his father Jacob and presented him to Pharaoh; and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. 8 Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How many years have you lived?” 9 So Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The years of my sojourning are one hundred and thirty; few and unpleasant have been the years of my life, nor have they attained the years that my fathers lived during the days of their sojourning.” 10 And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from his presence (Genesis 47:7-10).

Both Abraham (Genesis 12:10-13; 20:1-18) and Isaac (Genesis 26:6-11) lied about their wives, claiming they were their sisters, putting their wives at risk in order to protect themselves. Isaac sought to give his blessing to Esau, rather than to Jacob (Genesis 27). Jacob employed all kinds of clever schemes in order to take advantage of Laban (see Genesis 30:31-43). David took a man’s life, and his wife (2 Samuel 11). He also foolishly numbered Israel (2 Samuel 24; 1 Chronicles 21). Solomon, in his last days, married many foreign wives (1 Kings 11). Elijah tried to resign his position (1 Kings 19). Great leaders of Israel, like Eli, Samuel, David, and Solomon, did not do well as parents.

I think we can agree with James that the Old Testament saints were very much like us. Elijah, for example, was described by James as “a man of like passions” (James 5:17). And this should actually give us hope:

For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope (Romans 15:4).

How do we gain hope through perseverance and encouragement from the Old Testament Scriptures? Through the realization that God did not necessarily pick “the winners,” but men and women like us, who were flawed and prone to failure. The end result is that God gets the glory, and we gain hope by realizing that God chooses to save and to use “losers” like us.

6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; 7 nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED.” 8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. 9 For this is the word of promise: “AT THIS TIME I WILL COME, AND SARAH SHALL HAVE A SON.” 10 And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; 11 for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, “THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER.” 13 Just as it is written, “JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED.” 14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.” 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires (Romans 9:6-18).

In His choice of disciples (who would become apostles) the men Jesus chose were not those who were deemed “most likely to succeed.” Praise God He manifests His grace and power by using flawed people like the saints of old, and like us.

[1] I must admit that as time has passed my indictment of Esther has softened, and my indictment of Mordecai has intensified.

Related Topics: Christian Life, Grace, Old Testament

O Caminho Romano para o Céu

Existe um Caminho Romano que conduz ao Céu! Mas não é uma daquelas estradas construídas pelos trabalhadores de César. Não pertence a nenhuma das 53 000 milhas de estradas que os romanos construíram.

Encontrará o “Caminho Romano para o Céu” claramente assinalado na Carta aos Romanos - o sexto livro do Novo Testamento.

Este pequeno livro de dezasseis capítulos foi escrito pelo Apóstolo Paulo quando se encontrava em Corinto. Enviou-o aos cristãos de Roma através de Febe, serva da igreja de Cêncris (Romanos 16:1,2).

Lucas conta a história de dois ladrões que foram crucificados no dia em que Jesus morreu. Um deles perdeu-se para sempre. O outro foi salvo para sempre. Este ouviu Jesus dizer: “Em verdade te digo: hoje estarás comigo no paraíso” (Lucas 23:43). Confessou que estava perdido e que era culpado e merecedor de morte! (Lucas 23:40-42).

  • O ladrão não convertido morreu nos seus pecados (Lucas 23:39).
  • Já o ladrão arrependido morreu para os seus pecados (Lucas 23:42).
  • Jesus Cristo morreu pelos nossos pecados (I Timóteo 1:15).

“Como está escrito: Não há nenhum justo, nem um sequer” (Romanos 3:10).

“Pois todos pecaram e estão privados da glória de Deus” (Romanos 3:23).

“Por isso, assim como por um só homem [Adão] entrou o pecado no mundo, e pelo pecado a morte, assim a morte passou a todo o género humano, porque todos pecaram” (Romanos 5:12).

Todos pecaram. Eu pequei. Você pecou. Mas há boas notícias: “Deus, porém, demonstra o seu amor para connosco, pelo facto de que, quando éramos ainda pecadores, Cristo morreu por nós” (Romanos 5:8).

Agora, abra a sua Bíblia ou Novo Testamento na Carta aos Romanos. Juntos, vamos desenhar um mapa do Caminho Romano para o Céu.

COMO DESENHAR O MAPA: Comece em Romanos 3:10. Sublinhe este versículo e escreva na margem “O Caminho para o Céu Começa Aqui”. Depois, escreva também na margem “Romanos 3:23”.

Procure agora Romanos 3:23: “Todos pecaram e estão privados da glória de Deus”.

Mais uma vez, escreva na margem “Romanos 5:12”.

Foque-se agora em Romanos 5:12 e, ao lado desse versículo, escreva “Romanos 5:8”. Sublinhe o versículo 8, escrevendo ao lado deste “Romanos 10:9-13”.

Leia agora esses versículos:

“Portanto, se com a tua boca confessares que Jesus é o Senhor, e se em teu coração creres que Deus o ressuscitou de entre os mortos, serás salvo. É crendo de coração que se obtém a justiça, e é professando com palavras que se chega à salvação. A Escritura diz: Todo o que nele crer não será confundido. Pois não há distinção entre judeu e grego, porque todos têm um mesmo Senhor, rico para com todos os que o invocam. Porque todo aquele que invocar o nome do Senhor será salvo” (Romanos 10:9-13).

Eis o mapa. Pode seguir este mapa bíblico até ao Céu. Pode ainda utilizá-lo para conduzir outros até ao Céu.

A Bíblia diz que todos pecaram. A este respeito, leia Romanos 3:10 e 3:23.

O preço do pecado é a morte. Acerca disto, leia Romanos 5:12 e 6:23.

Jesus pagou o preço pelos nossos pecados. Leia Romanos 5:8.

Está disposto agora a pedir a Deus que perdoe os seus pecados? Está pronto para aceitar Jesus como seu Salvador, Aquele que pagou o preço pelos seus pecados?

Se assim for, reze esta oração, ou outra semelhante...

Querido Deus, eu creio que Jesus Cristo veio para ser o meu Salvador. Peço-te que perdoes os meus pecados e entres agora no meu coração. Toma-me como sou e faz de mim o que desejas que eu seja. Em nome de Jesus. Ámen.

De acordo com a Bíblia, se morrer nos seus pecados, irá para o Inferno. Contudo, se confessar os seus pecados e aceitar Jesus Cristo como seu Salvador, Ele conceder-lhe-á o dom gratuito da vida eterna, e você estará no Caminho Romano para o Céu.

Autor desconhecido

網上牧師雜誌 – 中文版(繁體), TCh Ed, Issue 36 2020 年 夏季

A ministry of…

作者: Roger Pascoe 博士, 主席
郵箱: [email protected]













例子#2:女人蒙頭(哥前11).這裡有三種不同的解釋(參見R.C.Sproul, Knowing Scripture,107)。選項#1:並非原則,而只是當時文化下的一種方式。這種解釋認為,這個命令只限於當時巴勒斯坦地區的文化。在那裡基督徒婦女低於男人。她們依據當時巴勒斯坦的風俗蒙頭,來體現她們的從屬地位(a)她們的謙遜,以及(b)她們對男人的順服。但是在我們現代的文化下,女人既不被要求蒙頭,也不被認為低於男人。



女人蒙頭一直以來都有爭議,在部分基督徒範圍內至今持續。這段經文的詮釋具有極大的爭議,主要因為它包含一些難懂的字句。保羅在一處說,女人的頭髮就是她們頭上的遮蓋,由此她們為什麼還需要頭巾呢(哥前11:15)? 這段經文的應用也有極大的爭議。在今天某些文化下,女人(不論是否是基督徒)都會帶不同的蓋頭(比如,穆斯林婦女的面紗;東歐女人的頭巾)。




這四個指導方針會幫助你理解和解釋經文中的文化問題(改編自R.C.Sproul, Knowing Scripture,108ff).


我們需要區別神的律法(比如獻祭)與文化制度的不同。神改變了律法,因為律法本來就不是為了永久設定的(哥後3:7,11,13;來8:7ff)。文化制度,比如婚姻、奴隸制度。有人認為,新約對待奴隸的態度已經改變了(比如阿尼西姆不被處死,卻被以弟兄相待),因此就認為婚姻關係(比如妻子不再在丈夫的權柄之下)以及女人在教會的角色(女人也可以做牧師)也是可以改變的。但是就像R.C.Sproul指出的,“我們必須仔細區分聖經只是承認其存在的制度,比如在上有權柄的(羅13:1,KJV),以及聖經積極建立、認可以及命令的制度,比如婚姻”。他繼續說道,“順服在上權威機構(比如羅馬政府)的原則,並不是說神認可這個機構,而只是呼召我們要謙卑和公民式的順服。上帝在他的終極隱秘旨意中可能會指定一個凱撒奧古斯都,但並不認可凱撒是基督徒道德的模範。然而,在新舊兩約中,婚姻構成及權柄模式都是在積極建立和認可的背景下給予的。把聖經的家庭制度和奴隸問題看得等同,就是混淆了它們之間的諸多不同。因此聖經為基督徒在壓迫或邪惡的情況下的行為提供了基礎,同時也有為反映神創世的美好設計而建立了結構或制度。” (Sproul, Knowing Scripture, 109)




比如,你有時候會聽到傳道人說保羅關於女人的頭髮和蒙頭的命令,是因為他想要女基督徒與當時文化下廟裡的妓女區分開來。但是,就像R.C.Sproul指出(見Knowing Scripture, 110)的,這是把某些學者的猜測讀進經文裡面,好像這是這個命令背後的原因。實際上,在這個例子中,把這種猜測讀進經文中是錯誤的,因為保羅說女人順服男人的命令(哥前11:8-11)是基於神創造的先例,在第一世紀是以蒙頭的方式來體現的。這和廟裡的妓女沒有任何關係,雖然,毫無疑問,廟裡的妓女確實表現出了厚顏無恥的行為,不僅露出了他們的頭,還剃光了他們的頭髮(參考哥前11:5b-6)。


方針 #3: 不論何時,只要作者給出的命令是基於神的創造,他給出的都是一個沒有時間限制,適用于所有文化的、普遍的原則。




因此,我們可以得出兩個結論:(1)基於創造的教導是跨文化的,除非因為神漸進的啟示,在後來的經文中有了修改(Sproul 111);(2)雖然基於創造的原則是沒有文化限制的,但是這些原則體現的方式可能是文化性的。

方針 #4:當不確定一個聖經的命令是文化性的還是跨文化的,要寧可作為跨文化的。





















基督徒的生命是因忍耐的盼望而維持。我們的盼望不是做夢式的盼望,也不是“耶誕節的美好願望”式的盼望,也不是一個被沉重的環境壓碎的盼望。有人說“基督徒的盼望是你對一種沒有經歷過的實際的確信” (Alistair Begg)。我們的盼望是福音的盼望,是救贖的保障,是我們救主即將再來的期待。我們的盼望是我們這些曾經沒有盼望的人,現在所擁有的、取代失望和壓迫的盼望。







福音救贖的大能體現在(1)神主權的揀選“被神所愛的弟兄啊,我知道你們是蒙揀選的”(1:4。如果你沒有被神“揀選”,你無法成為福音為中心的人——被神所愛,蒙揀選的人。不論你是否理解,也不論你是否喜歡,揀選都是聖經裡面的一個教義。揀選這個詞,被用來形容神主權選擇某些人得到救恩(參考 弗1:4; 羅 9:11; 11:5, 7, 28;彼後 1:10)。




福音的救贖大能體現在2)聖靈籍著神的話做工 講道是神指定的傳講福音的方式,這就需要使用神的話。但是講道不僅僅是言語,單單靠言語並不能改變生命。籍著言語,我們傳講神的真理;籍著聖靈,我們經歷神的大能。保羅說“因為我們的福音傳到你們那裡,不獨在乎言語,也在乎權能和聖靈”(1:5a

福音救贖的能力是當神的話語得到聖靈的應用,因為神的話和聖靈同時做工。John Stott寫到:“我們軟弱的人所說出來的神的話,需要得到神權能的肯定…我們不能把神結合在一起分開,也就是神的話和聖靈。神的話是聖靈的寶劍。聖靈沒有神的話就失去了武器;而神的話缺少了聖靈就失去了能力。” (John Stott, The Gospel and the End of Time, 帖撒羅尼迦前書, 34)















我們可能不會像中國、蘇丹、越南、柬埔寨和許多其他地方的基督徒一樣遭受逼迫,但我們將面對無神論者和進化論者的嘲笑,同性戀者和激進宗教團體的公然憤怒 ,以及那些反對福音絕對真理和排他性的人的敵對。



















這就是真正屬靈的、真實基督信仰的寫照:“敬虔的人,是那些在他們的行為和言語中彰顯福音的人”。 以福音為中心的人因為我們的所作所為而為人所知—通過作工體現信心,用服侍表達愛,用忍耐表達盼望的人。以福音為中心的人因為他們的所是而為人所知—那些生命被福音改變,自己效法主也成為別人效法榜樣的人。


III. 講道大綱

如果想聽關於這些的英文講道,請點選連結: Link 1 - 啟 2:18-20; Link 2 - 啟 2:20-23; Link 3 - 啟 2:23-29.

題目: 給七個教會的信: 推雅推喇 –進步的同時也有墮落


要點1: 基督認可這個教會的進步 (2:19)

要點 2: 基督定罪這個教會的墮落 (2:20)

要點 3: 基督警告教會,如果它不悔改 (2:21-23)

要點 4: 教會肯定他對教會的恩典 (2:24-29)

Related Topics: Pastors

网上牧师杂志–中文版(简体), SCh Ed, Issue 36 2020 年 夏季

A ministry of…

作者: Roger Pascoe 博士, 主席
邮箱: [email protected]













例子#2:女人蒙头(哥前11).这里有三种不同的解释(参见R.C.Sproul, Knowing Scripture,107)。选项#1:并非原则,而只是当时文化下的一种方式。这种解释认为,这个命令只限于当时巴勒斯坦地区的文化。在那里基督徒妇女低于男人。她们依据当时巴勒斯坦的风俗蒙头,来体现她们的从属地位(a)她们的谦逊,以及(b)她们对男人的顺服。但是在我们现代的文化下,女人既不被要求蒙头,也不被认为低于男人。



女人蒙头一直以来都有争议,在部分基督徒范围内至今持续。这段经文的诠释具有极大的争议,主要因为它包含一些难懂的字句。保罗在一处说,女人的头发就是她们头上的遮盖,由此她们为什么还需要头巾呢(哥前11:15)? 这段经文的应用也有极大的争议。在今天某些文化下,女人(不论是否是基督徒)都会带不同的盖头(比如,穆斯林妇女的面纱;东欧女人的头巾)。




这四个指导方针会帮助你理解和解释经文中的文化问题(改编自R.C.Sproul, Knowing Scripture,108ff).


我们需要区别神的律法(比如献祭)与文化制度的不同。神改变了律法,因为律法本来就不是为了永久设定的(哥后3:7,11,13;来8:7ff)。文化制度,比如婚姻、奴隶制度。有人认为,新约对待奴隶的态度已经改变了(比如阿尼西姆不被处死,却被以弟兄相待),因此就认为婚姻关系(比如妻子不再在丈夫的权柄之下)以及女人在教会的角色(女人也可以做牧师)也是可以改变的。但是就像R.C.Sproul指出的,“我们必须仔细区分圣经只是承认其存在的制度,比如在上有权柄的(罗13:1,KJV),以及圣经积极建立、认可以及命令的制度,比如婚姻”。他继续说道,“顺服在上权威机构(比如罗马政府)的原则,并不是说神认可这个机构,而只是呼召我们要谦卑和公民式的顺服。上帝在他的终极隐秘旨意中可能会指定一个凯撒奥古斯都,但并不认可凯撒是基督徒道德的模范。然而,在新旧两约中,婚姻构成及权柄模式都是在积极建立和认可的背景下给予的。把圣经的家庭制度和奴隶问题看得等同,就是混淆了它们之间的诸多不同。因此圣经为基督徒在压迫或邪恶的情况下的行为提供了基础,同时也有为反映神创世的美好设计而建立了结构或制度。” (Sproul, Knowing Scripture, 109)




比如,你有时候会听到传道人说保罗关于女人的头发和蒙头的命令,是因为他想要女基督徒与当时文化下庙里的妓女区分开来。但是,就像R.C.Sproul指出(见Knowing Scripture, 110)的,这是把某些学者的猜测读进经文里面,好像这是这个命令背后的原因。实际上,在这个例子中,把这种猜测读进经文中是错误的,因为保罗说女人顺服男人的命令(哥前11:8-11)是基于神创造的先例,在第一世纪是以蒙头的方式来体现的。这和庙里的妓女没有任何关系,虽然,毫无疑问,庙里的妓女确实表现出了厚颜无耻的行为,不仅露出了他们的头,还剃光了他们的头发(参考哥前11:5b-6)。


方针 #3: 不论何时,只要作者给出的命令是基于神的创造,他给出的都是一个没有时间限制,适用于所有文化的、普遍的原则。




因此,我们可以得出两个结论:(1)基于创造的教导是跨文化的,除非因为神渐进的启示,在后来的经文中有了修改(Sproul 111);(2)虽然基于创造的原则是没有文化限制的,但是这些原则体现的方式可能是文化性的。

方针 #4:当不确定一个圣经的命令是文化性的还是跨文化的,要宁可作为跨文化的。





















基督徒的生命是因忍耐的盼望而维持。我们的盼望不是做梦式的盼望,也不是“圣诞节的美好愿望”式的盼望,也不是一个被沉重的环境压碎的盼望。有人说“基督徒的盼望是你对一种没有经历过的实际的确信” (Alistair Begg)。我们的盼望是福音的盼望,是救赎的保障,是我们救主即将再来的期待。我们的盼望是我们这些曾经没有盼望的人,现在所拥有的、取代失望和压迫的盼望。







福音救赎的大能体现在(1)神主权的拣选“被神所的弟兄啊,我知道你是蒙拣选的”(1:4。如果你没有被神拣选,你无法成为福音为中心的人——被神所爱,蒙拣选的人。不论你是否理解,也不论你是否喜欢,拣选都是圣经里面的一个教义。拣选这个词,被用来形容神主权选择某些人得到救恩(参考 弗1:4; 罗 9:11; 11:5, 7, 28;彼后 1:10)。




福音的救大能体2)圣灵籍着神的做工 讲道是神指定的传讲福音的方式,这就需要使用神的话。但是讲道不仅仅是言语,单单靠言语并不能改变生命。籍着言语,我们传讲神的真理;籍着圣灵,我们经历神的大能。保罗说“因的福音到你那里,不独在乎言,也在乎能和圣灵”(1:5a

福音救赎的能力是当神的话语得到圣灵的应用,因为神的话和圣灵同时做工。John Stott写到:“我们软弱的人所说出来的神的话,需要得到神权能的肯定…我们不能把神结合在一起分开,也就是神的话和圣灵。神的话是圣灵的宝剑。圣灵没有神的话就失去了武器;而神的话缺少了圣灵就失去了能力。” (John Stott, The Gospel and the End of Time, 帖撒罗尼迦前书, 34)















我们可能不会像中国、苏丹、越南、柬埔寨和许多其他地方的基督徒一样遭受逼迫,但我们将面对无神论者和进化论者的嘲笑,同性恋者和激进宗教团体的公然愤怒 ,以及那些反对福音绝对真理和排他性的人的敌对。



















这就是真正属灵的、真实基督信仰的写照:“敬虔的人,是那些在他的行和言中彰福音的人”。 以福音为中心的人因为我们的所作所为而为人所知—通过作工体现信心,用服侍表达爱,用忍耐表达盼望的人。以福音为中心的人因为他们的所是而为人所知—那些生命被福音改变,自己效法主也成为别人效法榜样的人。


III. 讲道大纲

如果想听关于这些的英文讲道,请点击链接: Link 1 - 启 2:18-20; Link 2 - 启 2:20-23; Link 3 - 启 2:23-29.

题目: 给七个教会的信: 推雅推喇 –进步的同时也有堕落


要点1: 基督认可这个教会的进步 (2:19)

要点 2: 基督定罪这个教会的堕落 (2:20)

要点 3: 基督警告教会,如果它不悔改 (2:21-23)

要点 4: 教会肯定他对教会的恩典 (2:24-29)

Related Topics: Pastors

网上牧师杂志–中文版(简体), SCh Ed, Issue 37 2020 年 秋季

A ministry of…

作者: Roger Pascoe 博士, 主席
邮箱: [email protected]

I. 加强圣经的理解











Part 3第三部分






现在,在第四部分,我们要列出解释圣经的十个简单的规则。我发现,R.C.Sproul的著作Knowing Scripture, 63-99对这很有帮助。

规则 #1: 按照作者的原意理解经文


规则#2: 根据其他的经文理解经文








(3) 它能够确保你理解经文中神的渐进式启示。随着时间的推移,神越来越多地将他自己,他的心意、目的等等,通过经文启示给我们。


规则 #3: 使用清晰的、主要和大量的经文来解释那些意义不太清楚的、次要的、少量经文。



规则 #4: 做“逻辑”推理和推断的时候,要谨慎。




规则 #5: 不要要求圣经符合不合理的文学标准

所谓“不合理的文学标准”,我指的是你对任何其他文学作品都不会要求的标准。R. C. Sproul把这叫做“阅读圣经像阅读其他任何书籍一样”(Knowing Scripture, 63)。一个圣经评论员这样说:“任何对阅读其他文学作品不恰当的规则,我们不会在理解圣经的时候要求这样规则的帮助” (Mal Couch著. A Biblical Theology of the Church, 15)



需要注意这个警告:哪怕我们能够正确理解单词的意义和语法,这并不意味着每个阅读圣经的人都能够对经文说的是什么以及在生活中的应用得出正确的结论。对于此,我们需要圣灵的启示,这是只有信徒才拥有的。非信徒或许能够理解单词的意思,能够分析所使用的的语法,他们也能够像对其他文学作品一样使用文学分析手段,但是非信徒并不能对经文得出正确的结论,因为他们没有圣灵的启示(哥前2:14;弗4:18)—他们对经文的理解只能停留在文学水平。虽然他们有智力上的理解力,但是并没有属灵的理解力。因此,非信徒并不顺服经文的权威,他们得出错误的结论,并不能看到经文的属灵意义;他们并不能赋予圣经该有的价值; 他们不接受圣经对信仰和实践的指示;他们也不会接受将经文应用到他们的生活中。如果我们想要赋予圣经该有的价值,正确理解经文说的什么,以及将它应用到我们的生活中,我们需要圣灵的启示


规则 #6: 从个人应用的角度阅读和理解圣经




规则 #7: 了解经文的文学修辞和体裁,并相应地解释。


规则 #8: 仔细研究单词的语法结构和意义




规则 #9:以基督为中心阅读和理解圣经

我这里所指的是,从新约的角度来阅读圣经。每一个信息都应该指向基督或者在基督里的基督徒生活。每一次讲道都应以圣经救赎的中心为指导(参考Bryan Chapell所著的Fallen Condition Focus” (FCF) in Christ Centered Preaching, 1994)。这个中心不但是迷失者的救赎,也使信徒成长,使他们成为神想要他们成为的样子。Chapell说:“对一段经文恰当的理解以及一场讲道的中心都要求有清晰的FCF(堕落状态的中心)”

从神学上说,每一场讲道的目的都应该和所讲经文有相同的目的,就是“人类状况的一个方面,需要圣经的教导、训诫和/或安慰”(Chapell 43)。把这个作为目标,那么每一场讲道在其目的上都是统一的。

规则 #10: 从神学的角度阅读和理解经文












耶稣安慰他的门徒说,世界若恨你,你知道恨你以先,已恨我了(1518)。这里的安慰就是,经历被世界恨的基督徒是和他们的主一起受苦。 耶稣首先遭受了世人的恨恶,基督徒现在为基督受苦。使徒保罗把这称为一种特权,一个礼物:蒙恩,不但得以信服基督,并要他受苦(腓1:29)。耶稣并没有呼召我们去经历任何他没有经历过的事情。因为受苦和敌对,很多耶稣的门徒不再跟随他(约6:66)。他们无法忍受不宽容、拒绝、羞辱和身体上的惩罚。这也是许多现今的基督徒面临的挑战。

所以,1、世界恨基督徒因为他们首先恨了基督;2、世界恨基督徒因为我们是被基督所拣选的(15:19-20)。 若属世界,世界必属自己的;只因你不属世界,乃是我从世界中拣选了你,所以世界就恨你15:19)。”“属世界的指的是和世界认同,相信世界的信仰和道德标准,接受世界的习惯和特点。如果你也这样做,耶稣说世界必”你,因为你是属它的。如果你被这个世界的标准所激励和塑造,这个世界就会把你当作属它自己的来接受你。但真理是世界并不接受你。事实上,世界恨你只因你不属世界。你不属世界的原因是耶稣从世界中拣选了你














1.我们能够为基督做见证,因为圣灵赐予我们能力(15:26)在15:18-25中,耶稣警告他的门徒会有逼迫,并且他解释了他们会受逼迫的原因。现在,在15:26-27中,耶稣劝戒和安慰他的门徒,告诉他们在敌对和逼迫当中为他作见证的力量来源。就像他在14章开头告诉他们的,耶稣再一次提醒门徒,我们在面对逼迫时的安慰和力量来自于圣灵。但我要从父那里差保惠来,就是从父出来真理的圣灵,他来了,就要见证15:26)。耶稣应许门徒,当他回到天堂,他会赐下保惠从父出来的给他们 。这正是五旬节发生的事。










要点 I:名义和实际之间存在着差异:“我知道你的行为,按名你是活的,但其实是死的”(3:1)



要点 II:警醒和作工是有联系的



要点 III:有必要回想和悔改(3:3-6)







- “他要穿白衣与我同行,因是配得的。”(3:4b-5a

- “我也必不从生命册上涂抹他的名”(3:5b-c

结论: 圣灵向众教会所,凡有耳的,都当听。”(3:6

Related Topics: Pastors

網上牧師雜誌 – 中文版(繁體), TCh Ed, Issue 37 2020 年 秋季

A ministry of…

作者: Roger Pascoe 博士, 主席
郵箱: [email protected]

I. 加強聖經的理解











Part 3第三部分






現在,在第四部分,我們要列出解釋聖經的十個簡單的規則。我發現,R.C.Sproul的著作Knowing Scripture, 63-99對這很有幫助。

規則 #1: 按照作者的原意理解經文


規則#2: 根據其他的經文理解經文








(3) 它能夠確保你理解經文中神的漸進式啟示。隨著時間的推移,神越來越多地將他自己,他的心意、目的等等,通過經文啟示給我們。


規則 #3: 使用清晰的、主要和大量的經文來解釋那些意義不太清楚的、次要的、少量經文。



規則 #4: 做“邏輯”推理和推斷的時候,要謹慎。




規則 #5: 不要要求聖經符合不合理的文學標準

所謂“不合理的文學標準”,我指的是你對任何其他文學作品都不會要求的標準。R. C. Sproul把這叫做“閱讀聖經像閱讀其他任何書籍一樣”(Knowing Scripture, 63)。一個聖經評論員這樣說:“任何對閱讀其他文學作品不恰當的規則,我們不會在理解聖經的時候要求這樣規則的説明” (Mal Couch著. A Biblical Theology of the Church, 15)



需要注意這個警告:哪怕我們能夠正確理解單詞的意義和語法,這並不意味著每個閱讀聖經的人都能夠對經文說的是什麼以及在生活中的應用得出正確的結論。對於此,我們需要聖靈的啟示,這是只有信徒才擁有的。非信徒或許能夠理解單詞的意思,能夠分析所使用的的語法,他們也能夠像對其他文學作品一樣使用文學分析手段,但是非信徒並不能對經文得出正確的結論,因為他們沒有聖靈的啟示(哥前2:14;弗4:18)—他們對經文的理解只能停留在文學水準。雖然他們有智力上的理解力,但是並沒有屬靈的理解力。因此,非信徒並不順服經文的權威,他們得出錯誤的結論,並不能看到經文的屬靈意義;他們並不能賦予聖經該有的價值; 他們不接受聖經對信仰和實踐的指示;他們也不會接受將經文應用到他們的生活中。如果我們想要賦予聖經該有的價值,正確理解經文說的什麼,以及將它應用到我們的生活中,我們需要聖靈的啟示


規則 #6: 從個人應用的角度閱讀和理解聖經




規則 #7: 瞭解經文的文學修辭和體裁,並相應地解釋。


規則 #8: 仔細研究單詞的語法結構和意義




規則 #9:以基督為中心閱讀和理解聖經

我這裡所指的是,從新約的角度來閱讀聖經。每一個資訊都應該指向基督或者在基督裡的基督徒生活。每一次講道都應以聖經救贖的中心為指導(參考Bryan Chapell所著的Fallen Condition Focus” (FCF) in Christ Centered Preaching, 1994)。這個中心不但是迷失者的救贖,也使信徒成長,使他們成為神想要他們成為的樣子。Chapell說:“對一段經文恰當的理解以及一場講道的中心都要求有清晰的FCF(墮落狀態的中心)”

從神學上說,每一場講道的目的都應該和所講經文有相同的目的,就是“人類狀況的一個方面,需要聖經的教導、訓誡和/或安慰”(Chapell 43)。把這個作為目標,那麼每一場講道在其目的上都是統一的。

規則 #10: 從神學的角度閱讀和理解經文












耶穌安慰他的門徒說,“世界若恨你們,你們知道恨你們以先,已經恨我了(1518)。”這裡的安慰就是,經歷被世界恨的基督徒是和他們的主一起受苦。 耶穌首先遭受了世人的恨惡,基督徒現在為基督受苦。使徒保羅把這稱為一種特權,一個禮物:“因為你們蒙恩,不但得以信服基督,並要為他受苦”(腓1:29)。耶穌並沒有呼召我們去經歷任何他沒有經歷過的事情。因為受苦和敵對,很多耶穌的門徒不再跟隨他(約6:66)。他們無法忍受不寬容、拒絕、羞辱和身體上的懲罰。這也是許多現今的基督徒面臨的挑戰。

所以,1、世界恨基督徒因為他們首先恨了基督;2、世界恨基督徒因為我們是被基督所揀選的(15:19-20)。 “你們若屬世界,世界必愛屬自己的;只因你們不屬世界,乃是我從世界中揀選了你們,所以世界就恨你們(15:19)。”“屬世界的”指的是和世界認同,相信世界的信仰和道德標準,接受世界的習慣和特點。如果你也這樣做,耶穌說“世界必愛”你,因為你是“屬它的”。如果你被這個世界的標準所激勵和塑造,這個世界就會把你當作屬它自己的來接受你。但真理是世界並不接受你。事實上,世界恨你“只因你們不屬世界”。你不屬世界的原因是耶穌“從世界中揀選了你們”














1.我們能夠為基督做見證,因為聖靈賜予我們能力(15:26)在15:18-25中,耶穌警告他的門徒會有逼迫,並且他解釋了他們會受逼迫的原因。現在,在15:26-27中,耶穌勸戒和安慰他的門徒,告訴他們在敵對和逼迫當中為他作見證的力量來源。就像他在14章開頭告訴他們的,耶穌再一次提醒門徒,我們在面對逼迫時的安慰和力量來自於聖靈。“但我要從父那裡差保惠師來,就是從父出來真理的聖靈,他來了,就要為我們作見證”(15:26)。耶穌應許門徒,當他回到天堂,他會賜下“保惠師從父出來的”給他們 。這正是五旬節發生的事。










要點 I:名義和實際之間存在著差異:“我知道你的行為,按名你是活的,但其實是死的”(3:1)



要點 II:警醒和作工是有聯繫的



要點 III:有必要回想和悔改(3:3-6)







- “他們要穿白衣與我同行,因為他們是配得過的。”(3:4b-5a

- “我也必不從生命冊上塗抹他的名”(3:5b-c

結論: “ 聖靈向眾教會所說的話,凡有耳的,都應當聽。”(3:6)

Related Topics: Pastors

Are God’s Justice And Mercy Incompatible?

Related Media

In the book, The Impossibility of God,1 the editors present five categories of arguments that they claim disprove God’s existence. One such claim asserts that “a contradiction between two or more of God’s attributes” renders God impossible, as follows:

  1. If God exists, then the attributes of God are consistent with one another.
  2. Some attributes of God are not consistent with one another.
  3. Therefore, God does not and cannot exist.2

For instance, Theodore M. Drange argues that God as both an “all-just” and “all-merciful” judge cannot exist. An all-just judge will always “treat every offender with exactly the severity” deserved, while an all-merciful judge “treats every offender with less severity” than deserved. And as both cannot be true, God cannot exist.3 Interestingly, the Bible presents the exact same problem and Drange has rightly identified it. In this puzzle we have the fundamental problem facing people under God’s righteous condemnation. How can God, like a corrupt judge that ignores the law and leaves the guilty unpunished, remain righteous if He ignores the demands of His justice to have mercy on sinners?

Essential to a proper approach to all difficult theological and philosophical issues, the answer to this vital question requires understanding the relationship of God to mankind from the beginning, including our appropriate responsibility to Him as our creator. Broadly, God created everything and everyone. From God we have life and every good thing, apart from Him we have nothing. To Him we owe all things, while He owes us nothing. And as God is infinitely excellent, we should treat Him as His dignity deserves. Thus, we read, “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut. 6:4-5). Christ repeated the mandate as the “greatest” commandment (Matt. 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27). The Shema, then, states the minimum we owe God as our glorious creator, sustainer, and giver of every blessing.

Sin, however, fails to treat God as He deserves, either by ignoring what He has told us to do, or by doing what He has told us not to do. The penalty for sin includes physical and spiritual death. “The soul who sins will die” (Ez. 18:4). “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die’” (Gen. 2:16-17). When Adam and Eve sinned, they immediately died spiritually when their loving communion with God was shattered and He became their judge and adversary. They hid themselves in shame from the One they once loved and enjoyed. Physical death, that mortal enemy and curse, came later and has afflicted humanity ever since. “Through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin” (Rom. 5:12).

Moreover, neither God’s holy dignity and power, nor the nature and requirements of His justice have changed. Scripture presents God as a righteous judge, whose strict justice applies to everyone always, without respect to persons. “Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all” (Jam. 2:10). “But the LORD abides forever; He has established His throne for judgment, And He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity” (Ps. 9:7-8). The standard for Adam and Eve applies to everyone. And while Christ fulfilled the Mosaic Law, He also lived the perfect life of honor and obedience eternally owed to God. The moral duty of all people—as articulated in the Shema and repeated by Christ—never ends. People owe God perfect love and obedience forever.

At the same time, Scripture teems with descriptions of God’s mercy to people of His choosing. For instance, “What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion’” (Rom. 9:14-15). Again, “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Ps. 103:10-12). Perfect justice and mercy even appear in the same verse: “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished” (Ex. 34:6-7).

But how can this be? Granted, God is free to do as He wills, when He wills, to whom He wills, and no finite and fallen creature can tell Him otherwise. “‘Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty? Let him who reproves God answer it.’ Then Job answered the LORD and said, ‘Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to Thee?’” (Job 40:2-4). Nonetheless, God cannot violate His flawless character, including His perfect justice. Should He pervert justice in a single case, He would cease to be perfect and thus cease to be God. Moreover, if He applied His strict justice without exception, He could be merciful to none. After all, Adam and Eve were cast from paradise for one sin. Thus, the argument that an all-just and all-merciful God cannot exist would seem to have merit. It would also appear that Scripture has created an unsolvable dilemma, calling into question its own coherence and trustworthiness, and the existence of the God it proclaims.

In Christ’s encounter with the rich young ruler, He used the gentleman’s refusal to give up his wealth to illustrate how none who love anything more than Christ can enter into heaven. When Jesus declared, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Matt. 19:24), the disciples understood the indictment and asked in astonishment, “then who can be saved?” Indeed, “If Thou, LORD, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” (Ps. 130:3). “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). “There is none righteous, not even one” (Rom 3:10). “There is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins” (Eccl. 7:20). “Who can say, ‘I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin?’” (Prov. 20:9). All stand guilty before God and worthy of His condemnation.

From the perspective of the accused, the situation was bleak. God will never relax the demands of His justice to grant mercy—the penalty for sin must be paid. Yet, Christ did not leave His disciples in despair, adding,iH “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27; cf. Matt. 19:26, Luke 18:27). God, Himself, would become one of us. God, Himself, would take our place and satisfy the perfect obedience required by His justice. And, God, Himself, would pay the just penalty we deserve for our disobedience and contempt. “He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Heb. 2:17).

Long before the earthly ministry of Christ as High Priest, the prophet Isaiah predicted this saving work:

For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. (Isa. 53:2-6).

And further:

By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living, For the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. (Isa. 53:8-11).

Indeed, the entire sacrificial system of the Jewish Tabernacle and Temple foreshadowed God’s solution to the dilemma of justice and mercy in saving sinners, including the provision of a priestly mediator between God and man (in particular, the high priest who entered the Holy of Holies once a year with the blood of the sacrifice to cover the sins of Israel); the practice of substitution (a lamb for a man); and sacrifice for sin (the death of a substitute in the place of the sinner). Thus, John the Baptist proclaimed at his first sight of Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Christ’s sinless life met the requirements of God’s strict justice in loving God with all His “heart, soul, and might,” giving God the Father His due as the supremely excellent creator and sustainer of all. On the cross He suffered infinite wrath in our place, paying the penalty for our sin by His agony and death.

As a man, Christ was the perfect substitute for mankind. As God and man, He was the perfect mediator between God and man. And as God, His suffering and death paid an infinite penalty for the sin of mankind. This He did once for all time, never to be repeated.

By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified (Heb. 10:10-14).

In His cry from the cross, "It is finished!" (John 19:30), Christ proclaimed the successful accomplishment of God’s plan of the ages, the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies concerning His redeeming work and the reality of the event foreshadowed in the Tabernacle and Temple ceremonies—the satisfaction of God’s justice for the salvation of souls. The Lamb of God came not to abolish the standard of God’s perfect justice, but to satisfy its requirements on behalf of sinners:

Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished (Matt. 5:17-18).

How, then, do the benefits of Christ’s magnificent work become the possession of the sinner? By grace through faith in Christ, alone, we are saved from the condemnation of our sin.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him (John 3:16-17).

But how does faith save sinners? Does the act of believing constitute a good work of such merit that it meets the demands of God’s justice? Does God accept faith in the place of the requirements of His law? If Christ, alone, satisfied the requirements for forgiveness of sin and the obtaining of eternal life, how does faith save?

We know that none are saved by their own good works, for “by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight” (Rom. 3:20), and “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus…since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified” (Gal. 2:16). Our good works can do nothing to earn God’s favor; salvation is by grace. Moreover, faith, of itself, cannot satisfy the standard of God’s strict justice—Christ, alone, met the requirement of sinless obedience and payment of the penalty for our disobedience. How, then, does faith save us if Christ met the standard of God’s righteous justice and we remain sinful and guilty?

Saving faith constitutes the open, empty, and unworthy hands that accept the free gift of Christ’s satisfaction of God’s justice on our behalf. Faith denies the least merit of our own to earn acceptance by God as it receives the merit earned for us by Christ. As in marriage the bride and groom are legally united as one in a bond of love, so saving faith unites the believer and Christ in a bond of love. When the bride says, “I do,” all that belongs to him becomes hers. And when the bridegroom says, “I do,” all that belongs to her becomes his. (Granted, most of his junk gets thrown out in the process, but I digress.) In the same way, faith unites to Christ such that the merits of what He accomplished for salvation become the possession of the believer. In a “great exchange,” our sins were credited to Christ when He suffered and died on the cross, so His righteousness in meeting the demands of God’s justice on our behalf is credited to us when we embrace Him in faith. By faith the believer is “covered in the righteousness of Christ.” “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2Cor. 5:21). “For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17). “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:4). In this way, salvation by faith upholds God’s righteous justice. “Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law” (Rom 3:31). The obligation to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and might remain unchanged, as Christ, in perfect righteousness, performed it in our place. Again, the prophet Isaiah spoke of this:

I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels (Isa. 61:10).

Sadly, though the “Light of the World” satisfied God’s justice and offers forgiveness of sin and eternal life to all who would receive Him as Savior, many reject this precious gift:

There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:9-13).

Indeed, “the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it” (Matt. 7:14). Why?

And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed (John 3:19-20).

For the religious deniers of Christ as God and Savior, the principle that our best behavior cannot meet God’s standard of justice, or that we cannot by our own merits earn God’s favor, pose a great obstacle to faith in Christ. For atheists and the irreligious, submitting our will to God’s sovereign authority is too much to ask, or “contrary to human dignity,” as Kant would have it. In the end, the battle is fought between two wills: God’s will in and through Christ, or our own.

In drawing this article to a close, we have in the present objection to the God of the Bible an example of what besets the best of atheistic arguments. From a human perspective, the justice and mercy of God present an unsolvable problem. Yet God, who created and sustains all things, who transcends what He has made, who determines the rules of reality and defines the nature of justice and mercy, has solved the problem according to His wisdom. Yet, even if God clearly meets the demands of our limited grasp of logic, God’s solution remains foolish and unacceptable to many.

For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.’ Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe (1Cor. 1:18-21).

And while God’s ways need not be understood to be true, the “unsolvable,” from our narrow perspective, does not constitute a problem in the infinite mind of God. He remains just in having mercy on sinners through faith in Christ, who paid our penalty and satisfied the requirements of divine justice on our behalf. And regardless, God is sovereign, answers to no one, and remains under no obligation to have mercy on a single soul, especially those who scorn the person and work of Christ—who suffered infinite wrath from boundless love for the unworthy to purchase for them endless and unmeasurable happiness. Neither must God have mercy on those who reject Him despite the obvious display of His genius and power in creation, despite the clear evidence of His goodness in every blessing, and despite the knowledge of God in every heart through His law written on the conscience. In each case, God’s free choice is neither contrary to His justice or mercy. The penalty for sin will be paid, either vicariously in Christ or personally without Christ, while His free offer of mercy stands for all who would seek Him. “For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Heb. 2:2-3).

From Craig Biehl, Too Small: Why Atheists Don’t Know What They Say They Know, Unpublished Manuscript, 2021.

Scriptures are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, copyright© 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

1 Michael Martin and Ricki Monnier, eds., The Impossibility of God (Amherst: Prometheus Books, 2003).

2 Introduction to “Multiple Attributes Disproofs of the Existence of God,” in The Impossibility of God, 181.

3 Theodore M. Drange, “Incompatible-Properties Arguments: A Survey,” The Impossibility of God, 195-6.

Related Topics: Apologetics, Character of God