A Life Not Wasted: Adoniram Judson

By Nate Busenitz

“I have been profoundly impressed with the sacrifices made by Christian men and women throughout the centuries of church history. From martyrs to missionaries, these individuals have served their King with greatest intensity and courage, valiantly standing as examples for those who come behind them. They are individuals of whom “this world was not worthy” (Hebrews 11:38) because their eyes were not set on the worth of this world, but rather on the values of heaven.

One of those individuals is Adoniram Judson.

Though he grew up in a pastor’s home, Judson walked away from the truth as a young man, only to be recovered in a dramatic fashion. John Piper details this part of Judson’s life in his book Don’t Waste Your Life:

What his godly parents did not know was that Adoniram was being lured away from the faith by a fellow student named Jacob Eames who was a Deist. By the time Judson’s college career was finished, he had no Christian faith. He kept this concealed from his parents until his twentieth birthday, August 9, 1808, when he broke their hearts with his announcement that he had no faith and that he wanted to write for the theater and intended to go to New York, which he did six days later on a horse his father gave him as part of his inheritance.  . . .

[Some time later, Judson] stayed in a small village inn where he had never been before. The innkeeper apologized that his sleep might be interrupted because there was a man critically ill in the next room. Through the night Judson heard comings and goings and low voices and groans and gasps. It bothered him to think that the man next to him may not be prepared to die. He wondered about himself and had terrible thoughts of his own dying. He felt foolish because good Deists weren’t supposed to have these struggles.

When he was leaving in the morning he asked if the man next door was better. “He is dead,” said the innkeeper. Judson was struck with the finality of it all. On his way out he asked, “Do you know who he was?” “Oh yes. Young man from the college in Providence. Name was Eames, Jacob Eames.”

Judson was stunned. Though he had tried to run away, it was obvious that God was pursuing him. The Lord providentially used the death of the antagonistic Jacob Eames to bring Adoniram Judson back to Himself.

In 1808, Judson entered Andover Seminary and dedicated himself to full-time missionary service. Four years later, in 1812, he would become one of the first foreign missionaries to set out from North America. Significantly, he married his wife Ann on February 5, 1812. Just two weeks later, the newlyweds set sail for India.

In a moving letter to his future father-in-law, Adoniram Judson spelled out the sacrifice he was asking his future bride to make. Here is part of that letter:

I have now to ask whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her departure for a heathen land, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life; whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death?

Can you consent to all this for the sake of Him who left his heavenly home, and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing immortal souls; for the sake of Zion and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with a crown of righteousness brightened by the acclamations of praise which shall redound to her Savior from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?”

That letter would prove to be prophetic. The couple’s missionary endeavors, taking them first to India and later to Burma (present-day Myanmar), were fraught with suffering and tragedy. They underwent economic challenges, losing the financial backing of their supporters only a few months after leaving the United States. Their plans unexpectedly changed when problems with their visas in India forced them to settle in Burma.

Once there, they faced a severe language barrier — studying the language for 12 hours a day for over three years in order to learn it. When they finally could communicate, their message met with relative indifference from the Burmese citizens — due in part to the prevelant Bhuddism and also to the imperial death-sentence that awaited anyone convicted of changing religion. After 12 years of work, Judson and his fellow missionaries saw only 18 conversions.

Beyond the constant threat of sickness and disease, Judson also faced serious dangers from the government. Suspected of being a spy during Burma’s civil war, he was sent to a death prison where he was tortured, and forced on a death march that nearly killed him. In all, he spent 17 months behind bars while his wife Ann did everything she could to secure his release.

More painful than that, Judson endured the pain of loss some two dozen times. His wife Ann died just a few months after he was released from prison. She would not be the only family member who died during his tenure. From 1812 to 1850, twenty-four of Judson’s relatives or close associates went home to heaven, including several of his children.

As a husband, father, missionary, and friend, Judson truly knew what it was to sacrifice and suffer. Nevertheless, enduring all of this, he steadfastly pursued his goal of evangelizing the Burmese people and translating the Bible into their language. When he died, the translation work had been completed, 100 churches had been planted, and 8,000 Burmese professed faith in Jesus Christ.

Adoniram Judson and his family made enormous sacrifices for the sake of the gospel. From a worldly perspective, some might argue that they wasted their lives. They moved far away from the comforts of their North American roots; endured the pain of rejection, hunger, torture, and loss; and did all of this to bring good news to a largely antagonistic and indifferent audience.

Looking back, of course, we see that Judson’s efforts were not in vain. His translation of the Bible is still used in Myanmar today, and his spiritual legacy continues to bear fruit. In 1993, the head of the Myanmar Evangelical Fellowship stated, “Today, there are 6 million Christians in Myanmar, and every one of us trace our spiritual heritage to one man—the Reverend Adoniram Judson.”

-Nate Busenitz,  http://thecripplegate.com/a-life-not-wasted-adoniram-judson/

Chosen to Salvation

“But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth”
2 Thessalonians 2:13

“There are three things here which deserve special attention. First, the fact that we are expressly told that God’s elect are “chosen to salvation”: Language could not be more explicit. How summarily do these words dispose of the sophistries and equivocations of all who would make election refer to nothing but external privileges or rank in service! It is to “salvation” itself that God has chosen us. Second, we are warned here that election unto salvation does not disregard the use of appropriate means: salvation is reached through “sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” It is not true that because God has chosen a certain one to salvation that he will be saved willy-nilly, whether he believes or not: nowhere do the Scriptures so represent it. The same God who “chose unto salvation”, decreed that His purpose should be realized through the work of the spirit and belief of the truth. Third, that God has chosen us unto salvation is a profound cause for fervent praise. Note how strongly the apostle express this – “we are bound to give thanks always to God for you. brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation”, etc. Instead of shrinking back in horror from the doctrine of predestination, the believer, when he sees this blessed truth as it is unfolded in the Word, discovers a ground for gratitude and thanksgiving such as nothing else affords, save the unspeakable gift of the Redeemer Himself.”

-A. W. Pink, Chosen to Salvation, http://calvinismisthegospel.com/chosen-to-salvation-by-a-w-pink-3/

His Robes for Mine

His robes for mine: O wonderful exchange!
Clothed in my sin, Christ suffered ‘neath God’s rage.
Draped in His righteousness, I’m justified.
In Christ I live, for in my place He died.

I cling to Christ, and marvel at the cost:
Jesus forsaken, God estranged from God.
Bought by such love, my life is not my own.
My praise-my all-shall be for Christ alone.

His robes for mine: what cause have I for dread?
God’s daunting Law Christ mastered in my stead.
Faultless I stand with righteous works not mine,
Saved by my Lord’s vicarious death and life.

His robes for mine: God’s justice is appeased.
Jesus is crushed, and thus the Father’s pleased.
Christ drank God’s wrath on sin, then cried “‘Tis done!”
Sin’s wage is paid; propitiation won.

His robes for mine: such anguish none can know.
Christ, God’s beloved, condemned as though His foe.
He, as though I, accursed and left alone;
I, as though He, embraced and welcomed home!

-Chris Anderson, http://www.churchworksmedia.com/hymns/his-robes-for-mine-text/

Fact Checker: Divorce Rate Among Christians

By Glen T. Stanton

“Note: FactChecker is a monthly series in which Glenn T. Stanton examines claims, myths, and misunderstandings frequently heard in evangelical circles.

“Christians divorce at roughly the same rate as the world!”

It’s one of the most quoted stats by Christian leaders today. And it’s perhaps one of the most inaccurate.

At bottom, it is used to explain that Christians are not doing well in living out their faith. But it could also be taken as a statement that redemption by and real discipleship under Jesus makes no real difference when it comes to marriage.  But mainstream sociologists would tell us that taking one’s faith very seriously—in word and deed—does indeed make a marked positive difference in the health and longevity of marriage. Based on the best data available, the divorce rate among Christians is significantly lower than the general population.

Here’s the truth…

People who seriously practice a traditional religious faith—whether Christian or other—have a divorce rate markedly lower than the general population.

The factor making the most difference is religious commitment and practice.

What appears intuitive is true. Couples who regularly practice any combination of serious religious behaviors and attitudes—attend church nearly every week, read their bibles and spiritual materials regularly; pray privately and together; generally take their faith seriously, living not as perfect disciples, but serious disciples—enjoy significantly lower divorce rates than mere church members, the general public, and unbelievers.

Professor Bradley Wright, a sociologist at the University of Connecticut, explains from his analysis of people who identify as Christians but rarely attend church, that 60 percent of these have been divorced. Of those who attend church regularly, 38 percent have been divorced.[1]

Other data from additional sociologists of family and religion suggest a substantial marital stability divide between those who take their faith seriously and those who do not.

W. Bradford Wilcox, a leading sociologist at the University of Virginia and director of the National Marriage Project, finds from his own analysis that “active conservative Protestants” who regularly attend church are 35 percent less likely to divorce compared to those who have no affiliation. Nominally attending conservative Protestants are 20 percent more likely to divorce, compared to secular Americans.[2]

The following chart shows the relative risk of divorce by religious affiliation among Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish adherents. (Wilcox controlled for other socio-economic factors that impact marital health, thus providing a clearer, cleaner measure of the actual religious dynamic on marriage.)

 

Faith Affiliation

% Divorce Likelihood Reduction

Protestant – Nominal

20

 Protestant -Conservative

 

-10

Protestant – Active Conservative

 

-35

Catholic

-18

Catholic (nominal)

-5

Catholic – Active

-31

Jewish

39

Jewish (nominal)

53

Jewish – Active

-97

Professor Scott Stanley from the University of Denver, working with an absolute all-star team of leading sociologists in the Oklahoma Marriage Study, explains that couples with a vibrant religious faith had higher and more levels of the qualities couples need to avoid divorce.

“Whether young or old, male or female, low-income or not, those who said that they were more religious reported higher average levels of commitment to their partners, higher levels of marital satisfaction, less thinking and talking about divorce and lower levels of negative interaction. These patterns held true when controlling for such important variables as income, education, and age at first marriage.”

These positive factors translated into actual lowered risk of divorce among active believers.

“Those who say they are more religious are less likely, not more, to have already experienced divorce. Likewise, those who report more frequent attendance at religious services were significantly less likely to have been divorced.”[3]

The Take-Away

These data indicate that the divorce rate among serious believers is not something to crow about. It is still higher than most of us are comfortable with.  But there is no reliable, mainstream social-science data that has this rate higher than the general population. Faith and discipleship do make a difference in our lives, but it doesn’t make all our problems go away.


[1] Bradley R.E. Wright, Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites …and Other Lies You’ve Been Told, (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2010), p. 133.

[2] W. Bradford Wilcox and Elizabeth Williamson, “The Cultural Contradictions of Mainline Family Ideology and Practice,” in American Religions and the Family, edited by Don S. Browning and David A. Clairmont (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007) p. 50.

[3] C.A.  Johnson, S. M. Stanley, N.D. Glenn, P.A. Amato, S.L. Nock, H.J. Markman and M .R. Dion  Marriage in Oklahoma:  2001 Baseline Statewide Survey on Marriage and Divorce  (Oklahoma City, OK: Oklahoma Department of Human Services 2002) p. 25, 26.”

-Glenn T. Stanton, http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/09/25/factchecker-divorce-rate-among-christians/

Is Tim Tebow a Chauvinist?

By Russell Moore

“Tim Tebow says he wants a wife with “a servant’s heart.” Does that make him a misogynist?

Jezebela feminist website, picked up on comments Tebow made in an interview with Voguemagazine, in which he said he wanted a wife who lived up to the high standards set for him by his mother and sisters. He wanted to find a woman he found beautiful, he said, but, beyond that, he wanted a wife with a “servant’s heart.”

Jezebel (their name for themselves; I’m not name-calling) summed this up as that Tebow’s perfect woman is “hot, kind and servile.”

I’ve been saying for years that I don’t think Christians ought to be “outraged” by what the outside world says about us. And I’m not outraged by this. But I think it’s a good opportunity to tell our non-Christian neighbors what Christians mean when they say “a servant’s heart.”

What we don’t mean is that this is something unique to women. I know, I know. You hear this language and you assume Tebow wants a Stepford wife in a French maid’s uniform, massaging his feet and refilling his glass of sweet tea. But this isn’t what evangelical Christians mean when they say “a servant’s heart.”

First of all, in Christianity, a “servant” isn’t a slur.

Now, I get why that’s hard to understand. Our apostolic fathers didn’t get it either. They debated who would be the “greatest” and the “leader” among them. Jesus pointed out that he was the one serving them broken bread and poured-out wine, and he is the king of the entire cosmos. “Who is greater,” Jesus asked, “The one who reclines at table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves” (Lk. 22:27).

Jesus serves his Bride, the church, by washing her feet in the upper room. This is what greatness is, Jesus tells Christians, to serve one another and to outdo one another in building one another up. That servant-heartedness isn’t unique to women; all Christians are called to it. And it isn’t antithetical to strong leadership. Serving is precisely how Jesus rules as king, and how he prepares his people, men and women, to rule with him in the reign to come.

Husbands serve wives. Wives serve husbands. Children serve parents. Parents serve children. Pastors serve churches. Churches serve pastors. That concept might be demeaning in the world ofVogue, but it’s not in a new creation where “the leader is the one who serves” (Lk. 22:26).

I’m not upset at our feminist friends for reading Tebow wrong on this. It’s easy to do, if you don’t know the back-story. But it’s a good reminder to all of us, because we Christians have a hard time differentiating between servanthood and servility too. I know I do, and Jesus has to keep breaking in here and reminding me.

When Tim Tebow says he wants a wife with “a servant’s heart,” he is, like any Christian man, hoping also for a woman who is seeking a husband with “a servant’s heart.” It doesn’t mean he wants a doormat. It just means he wants a Christian.”

-Russell Moore, http://www.russellmoore.com/2012/09/22/is-tim-tebow-a-chauvinist/

(Image Credit)

 

When Should My Children Be Baptized

By Tim Challies

Every Christian parent longs for his children to trust in Christ and to make this profession public. In Baptist churches such a profession is made public through baptism. One of the ongoing discussions among Baptists relates to the age at which children can or should be baptized. Many children raised in a Christian home—perhaps even most of them—profess faith at a young age. Many parents then ask, Should my child be immediately baptized? Here is my attempt to answer this question.

Defining Baptism

Baptism is an ordinance of God given to the New Testament church. It symbolizes that the recipient has been buried and resurrected with Christ and serves as public profession of faith and admission into the local church community. It precedes both membership and partaking of the Lord’s Supper, and as such, is the gateway to full participation in the life of the church.

Three Premises

Here are three premises related to the age of baptism.

Premise #1 – Those who make a credible profession of faith are to be baptized. 
Without exception, the New Testament pattern for baptism is that it follows a credible profession of faith (see Acts 8:12, Acts 9:36, Acts 16:29-34). What makes a profession of faith credible? I look for credibility to be displayed in knowledge and maturity.

Knowledge. For a person’s profession of faith to be credible, he must display at least a basic knowledge of the gospel and of the meaning of baptism. Baptism is not a rite performed upon a person, but an ordinance in which he is a full participant. Therefore the one who is baptized must have knowledge of what is being done and why.

Maturity. Maturity displays itself in autonomy and in counting the cost. The mature person is autonomous in that he has the ability to make independent decisions. He is also one who counts the cost, who has seen some of what a decision may cost him in terms of relationship, prestige or suffering, yet still desires to proceed.

Premise #2 – Children may, and often do, become believers at a young age.
We must be careful never to communicate to children that they are too young to understand the gospel or respond to it. Jesus said, “Let the little children come unto me.” God calls us to share the gospel with our children and to call them to repentance and faith. God graciously allows many children to come to a saving faith, even at a very young age. For this reason every member of a church ought to be active in sharing the gospel with every child in that church, calling on them to respond to it and trusting that God does work in the hearts of young children.

Premise #3 – This is a matter of wisdom and conscience.
The New Testament contains no clear example of a child receiving baptism; neither does it contain a clear example of a child being refused baptism. In the absence of clear commands, the leaders of each church must prayerfully exercise charity and wisdom as they seek to determine whether or not they will make it their practice to baptize children who profess faith.

The Age of Baptism

With these premises in mind, I believe there is wisdom in waiting until children are older before baptizing them. My reasoning is primarily grounded in the second test of credibility: maturity.

At some stage children are too young to make a credible profession of faith.

Imagine that you are listening in while a father has a conversation with his two-year-old son:

Dad: “Do you love Jesus, Johnny?
Boy: “Da!” (That’s his sound for “yes.”)
Dad: “Do you trust Him with all your heart?”
Boy: “Da!”
Dad: Do you think your sins make you bad?”
Boy: “Da!”
Dad: “Do you give Jesus your whole life?”
Boy: “Da!”

Is it possible that God just saved that boy? Absolutely! Can we have any degree of certainty that this is a genuine conversion? No, we can’t. The age of that child calls into question his ability to understand and respond to the gospel. His cognitive abilities and his self-awareness have not yet developed to the point where we can be certain that he can understand what it is that he is agreeing to. It is not unlikely that the same boy would answer “Yes,” when asked if storks deliver babies and if Santa Claus delivers gifts.

I use this illustration to display what all Christians affirm: There is evidently an age at which a child is too young to make a credible profession of faith. Though that child may be genuinely saved, he lacks the maturity, the autonomy and the ability to count the cost that will give us confidence that his profession is credible. Therefore, it would be unwise of us to baptize him until we can establish the validity of his profession. The question is, When does a child reach that level of maturity?

It is wise to wait to baptize a child until he has reached a certain level of maturity.
I believe that a person should be baptized when the credibility of his conversion becomes naturally evident to the church community. This will normally be when the child has begun to mature toward adulthood and is beginning to live more self-consciously as an individual. At this time he is able to understand that there will be a cost to being a Christian; he is able to anticipate this and to count it all joy. At this time he is also developing autonomy. In the process of leaving behind his child-like dependence on his parents he begins to make more and more of his own choices. Such independence and maturity will allow him to relate to the church directly and as an individual rather than being primarily under the authority of his parents. I believe that such criteria typically correspond to the teen years, and more typically, the mid-to-late teen years.

Delaying baptism does not mean we should consider childhood conversions or baptisms invalid.
While I believe it is best to delay baptism until a child’s knowledge and maturity offer substantial evidence of true conversion, this by no means negates the possibility or likelihood of childhood conversions. Neither does it render invalid the baptisms of those who are baptized as young, believing children.

Pastors ought to take every opportunity to meet with children to speak to them about their souls.
Even if it is not a pastor’s practice to baptize young children, he should always thrilled to meet with children to speak to them about their souls. When a child expresses a desire to be baptized, it presents a pastor a wonderful opportunity to spend time with that child, to hear how the Lord has been working in his life, and to encourage him to continue to seek the Lord.

What are the benefits of waiting to baptize children?
Delaying the baptism of children who profess faith offers several benefits:

  1. It allows membership in the church to proceed logically from baptism so that every baptized believer can immediately serve as a fully-functioning member of the church. This avoids the confusion of whether young children can be members of the church or whether they can be baptized but not members.
  2. It accounts for the uncertainty that may attend childhood conversions. Often a child professes faith, then retracts or doubts his profession, and then affirms it again. This model allows the child to proceed through much of this turbulence before he is baptized, thus preventing doubt about whether he was truly saved before his baptism.
  3. It calls on parents to lead their children and to understand that their children are not being disobedient in waiting for baptism. Their obedience in this area comes in submitting to their parents and the elders of the church.
  4. It esteems baptism as a one-time act to be anticipated as a public, credible, mature profession of faith.

-Tim Challies, http://www.challies.com/articles/when-should-my-children-be-baptized

How Christians Should Engage Latter-day Saints

By Russell Moore,   

“Christians often wonder why Mormons believe such an incredible system: golden tablets translated with “magic glasses,” an advanced society of ancient American Indian Israelites who left behind no archaeological evidence at all, a “revelation” of polygamy that was reversed when Utah needed to do so for statehood, a “revelation” barring black Mormons from the priesthood that was reversed after the triumph of the civil rights movement, an eternity of godhood producing spirit babies, and special protective underwear.

What we must understand is that Latter-day Saints (LDS) believe these things for the same reason that people everywhere believe the things they do: they want to believe them. Very few Mormon converts become convinced by rational arguments of the prophetic office of Joseph Smith. Indeed, Mormon missionaries don’t ask one to do so; instead relying on a “burning in the bosom” that the claims of Smith are true.

To understand the draw of Mormonism, evangelicals should read the works of Latter-day Saints who explain why they love their religion.

Coke Newell, a convert to the LDS church in his late teens, lays out why a drug culture vegetarian would find the LDS church compelling.  In so doing, he glories in the ancient mysteries of Mormon cosmology and eschatology: from a God and a Goddess who produce offspring to a future in which deified humans rule a vast cosmos. Newell makes clear that he isn’t simply convinced by Smith’s claims; he is convinced because he loves the picture of reality they portray.

This should come as no surprise to Christians who have read the Apostle Paul’s revelation of the roots of human idolatry in the first chapter of Romans.  Fallen humans have affections and inclinations that they then prop up with beliefs, convincing themselves that their systems are true.  With this the case, evangelicals should take more than a scattershot approach to knocking down Mormon claims (although this is necessary). We must also present a counter-story to the Mormon story: one that resonates with the beauty of truth and holiness.

Evangelical “how-to” sermons are not going to reach our LDS neighbors. Neither are anti-theological churches that major on Christian experience and piety disconnected from doctrinal content. Instead, we must present the gospel the way the apostles did in the aftermath of Pentecost: as a “mystery” that now explains everything in terms of God’s purposes in Jesus Christ.

For an example of how to proclaim the gospel to Mormons, we should pay attention to Paul’s proclamation of the gospel to a cultural milieu that closely resembled that of Salt Lake City: the pagan enclave of Ephesus.  Paul presented Jesus as the key to understanding God’s cosmic plan, as the reason for human existence, human worship, human fatherhood, even human sexuality. Paul did not shy away from speaking of what we intuitively seem to know is true: that there is an ancient warfare of which the affairs of human beings are only a part.

The apostle understood that for the Ephesians, and for the Mormons, and indeed for all of us outside of Christ, the allure of falsehood is because falsehood is parasitic on the truth. We need not just ask whether Mormons believe things that are untrue and dangerous; they do. We must ask also why they believe these things, and counter them with the revealed truth.

Latter-day Saints do not need an unbiblical and unsatisfying vision of Christian hope that is not much more than an eternal choir practice. Instead, our LDS neighbors (and all of us) need to hear of the biblical glory of a restored universe in which human beings will rule with Christ over all things, a universe in which nature itself is freed from the curse and in which human friendship, love, and community continue and grow forever.  LDS families don’t just need to hear that we are pro-family. They need to understand that we are pro-family because the family reflects the Fatherhood of God (Eph 3:14), a Fatherhood that finds its meaning not in pre-mortal spirit babies but in the sonship of Jesus Christ (Rom 8:15).

Yes, we need apologetics directed toward Mormons. And, whatever some evangelical leaders may say, we must not back away from the sad reality that Mormonism is not even remotely Christian.  But we must remember that we will not convince Mormons with rational arguments alone.

This means we can’t rely on piecemeal attempts to point out discrepancies in the Book of Mormon, or archeological proofs against the Nephite civilization, or philosophical holes in Mormon cosmology. All of these things are important, but we must remember that, deep within their hearts, Mormons fear that Joseph Smith is wrong. They, like we before conversion, are “suppressing the truth” (Rom 1:18).

The Spirit can conquer this kind of deception, and he does so through the word of truth.  This doesn’t mean proof-text argumentation, necessarily. It does mean presenting the big picture of Scripture, tying it together in the pinnacle of all truth, Jesus of Nazareth.  This is not the subjective, irrational “burning in the bosom” of our Mormon missionary friends. But let’s remember where they found the “burning in the bosom” language.

When Jesus was walking with the dejected disciples to Emmaus, he took them through all of the Scriptures, showing them how the Christ was the focus of them all. After he left them, they said to one another: “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:32).

This was not, and is not, the anti-propositional relativism of postmodern epistemology, nor is it the irrational mysticism of New Age occultism. It is the human heart created in the image of God, freed by the Spirit, resonating with the truth.  This is what the apostle John means when he writes that we know the spirit of truth from the spirit of error because the one who is from God “listens to us,” the prophetic-apostolic instruments of divine revelation (1 John 4:6).

We must remember this when we welcome our LDS neighbors over for dinner, or when we lovingly spend an evening with diligent Mormon missionaries. When divine revelation is presented in all of its Christocentric glory, there is a longing within us for this story. That’s because it is true. And more than that, it is the truth, and the way, and the life.  That is good news for Latter-day Saints, and for old-time sinners like us.”

-Russell Moore, http://www.russellmoore.com/2012/09/11/how-christians-should-engage-latter-day-saints/

Psalm 1

Psalm 1: The difference between the righteous and the wicked.

“Happy the man whose cautious feet
Shun the broad way that sinners go,
Who hates the place where atheists meet,
And fears to talk as scoffers do.

He loves t’ employ the morning light
Amongst the statutes of the Lord;
And spends the wakeful hours of night,
With pleasure, pondering o’er his word.

He, like a plant by gentle streams,
Shall flourish in immortal green.
And heav’n will shine with kindest beams
On every work his hands begin.

But sinners find their counsels crossed:
As chaff before the tempest flies,
So shall their hopes be blown and lost,
When the last trumpet shakes the skies.

In vain the rebel seeks to stand
In judgment with the pious race;
The dreadful Judge, with stern command,
Divides him to a diff’rent place.

“Straight is the way my saints have trod;
I blessed the path, and drew it plain;
But you would choose the crooked road,
And down it leads to endless pain.””

-Issac Watts, The Psalms and Hymns of Isaac Watts

Does God Love Everyone?

By Kevin DeYoung

“Yes.

And no.

The question is deceptively difficult. The Bible speaks of God’s love in several different ways. D.A. Carson, in his excellent book The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God, mentions five (16-19):

1. The peculiar love of the Father for the Son, and of the Son for the Father.
2. God’s providential love over all that he has made.
3. God’s salvific stance toward his fallen world.
4. God’s particular, effective, selecting love toward his elect.
5. God’s love toward his own people in a provisional way, conditioned upon obedience.

After giving a brief biblical explanation for each way, Carson explains the danger of emphasizing one aspect of the love of God over the others.

If God’s love is defined exclusively by his intra-Trinitarian love, which is perfect and unblemished by sin, we won’t grasp the glory of God in loving rebels like us.

If God’s love is nothing but his providential care over all things, we’ll struggle to see how the gospel is any good news at all because, after all, doesn’t he love everyone already?

If God’s love is seen solely as his desire to save the world, we’ll end up with an emotionally charged God who doesn’t display the same sense of sovereignty we see in the pages of Scripture.

If God’s love is only understood as his electing love, we’ll too see easily say God hates all sorts of people, when that truth requires a good deal more nuance.

And if God’s love is bound up entirely in warnings like “keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 21), we’ll fall into legalism and lots of unwarranted self-doubt.

Talking about God’s love sounds like a simple theological task, but it’s actually one of the trickiest. I’ve heard of churches debating whether their kids should be taught “Jesus Loves Me” (some of the children might be reprobate, you never know). I know many more churches which so emphasize God’s all-encompassing love for everyone everywhere, that it’s hard to figure out why anyone should bother to become a Christian. The fact is that God loves everyone and he doesn’t. He hates the world and he loves the world. He can’t possibly love his adopted children any more than he does, and he is profoundly grieved by our sin. The challenge of good theology is to explain how the Bible provides warrant for all those statements and how they all fit together.

Any one truth about the love of God pressed to the exclusion of the others will make for a distorted deity and deadly discipleship. “In short,” Carson counsels, “we need all of what Scripture says on this subject, or the doctrinal and pastoral ramifications will prove disastrous” (23).”

-Kevin DeYoung, http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2012/09/06/does-god-love-everyone/