Ipsissima Vox: A Defense of Eve’s First Response to the Serpent

The majority of commentators interpret Eve’s first response to the Serpent as the inception of a sinful attitude toward God. They base their negative reading of Eve’s initial response on the fact that she fails to quote verbatim the prohibition God gave to Adam (2:17), which, presumably, Adam had communicated to Eve. In their estimation, Eve’s “reformulation” of God’s word casts God and his prohibition in a negative light. But is this a responsible way to interpret Eve’s response? Did the first human sin begin at Genesis 3:2-3 or at 3:6? Continue reading

All Fun and No Funerals Makes Jack a Dumb Boy

Death is an occasion and funeral homes are a place marked by much sadness and grief. And yet, according to Holy Scripture, there is something potentially beneficial about such an occasion and such a place. As the writer of Ecclesiastes puts it, “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to a house of feasting” (7:2 NIV). To paraphrase, “Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties” (NLT). Why would the Bible make such an assertion? What is this passage teaching us? Continue reading

Snake or Seraph? The Identity of the Serpent in Genesis 3

Genesis 3:1 introduces a new character into the Eden narrative and signals a shift in the plot. He is introduced as “the serpent.” Initially, the reader may picture nothing more than a legless reptile (suborder: serpentes). The Hebrew term נחש is generally used to refer to a type of a reptile, usually a legless reptile such as a snake (Num 21:6; Deut 8:15; Ps 58:4; Prov 23:32; Isa 65:25; Jer 8:17; Amos 5:19; Mic 7:17). But additional information in the account suggests that this entity is more than a mere snake. Continue reading

Commemorating Christ’s Coronation: How I Justify a First-Day Sabbath

Reformed Christians pride themselves on their commitment to the Bible as their ultimate authority for faith and practice. But not all our beliefs and practices seem self-evidently biblical to non-Reformed believers. One striking example is our view that the first day of the week, i.e., the “Lord’s Day,” is in fact a “Christian Sabbath.” All agree that God explicitly commanded Israel to observe a seventh-day Sabbath (Exod 20:8-11). But where in the NT are Christians explicitly commanded, “Remember the first day as a Sabbath to the Lord”? Nowhere. That raises the question, How may a Reformed believer defend the notion of a first day Christian Sabbath? Continue reading

Worship for Dummies

God created man for worship. Jesus declared that the Father is seeking worshippers who will worship Him “in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24). Not surprisingly, the Shorter Catechism begins by affirming, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” But this raises the question, “How should God be worshiped?” To be more precise, “What kind of worship pleases God?” The answer is vital. Thankfully, it’s not that complicated. Even a child may understand. Continue reading

The Well-Meant Offer: Its Logical Consistency

Having framed the question of and summarized the objections to the “well-meant offer” of the gospel, we’re prepared to defend the doctrine. And our first argument pertains to the doctrine’s logical consistency. Claiming that God desires the salvation of a non-elect sinner and that it’s also the case that God doesn’t desire the salvation of a non-elect sinner sounds like a contradiction. The same would be true of the following juxtaposed remarks: “I like chocolate ice-cream,” and, “I don’t like chocolate ice-cream.” Illogical! Right? Not necessarily. Let me explain.

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Look and Live! John 3:16 as a Universal Gospel Invitation

Some may not think I’m a Calvinist when it comes to John 3:16. Actually, I’m a John Calvinist when I interpret this verse (double entendre intended). I don’t think the verse (and its larger context) is simply designed to teach people biblical doctrines or facts, such as “God loves sinners” or “believers go to heaven.” It has a larger aim. Namely, God through the apostle John wants to solicit a faith-response on the part of the reader. Continue reading

Stairway from Heaven: Babel, Bethel, and Jesus Christ

At Babel sinful humans build a tower to reach God. At Bethel God places a stairway earthward to reach men. At Babel humans attempt to make a name for themselves. At Bethel God chooses to make the name of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob great. At Babel God scatters humans to prevent them from thwarting his plan of redemption. At Bethel God promises to scatter Jacob’s offspring to ensure the fulfillment of his salvific agenda. In a word, Bethel teaches us that true religion does not come from human effort but from a gracious act of divine condescension.1 Continue reading

The Well-Meant Offer: Listening to the Detractors

In the 1920s, a schism arose in the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) over the doctrine of common grace and the free or (more precisely) well-meant offer of the gospel. Those who rejected common grace and the well-meant offer left the CRC to found the Protestant Reformed Church (PRC). Two decades later, a similar controversy arose within the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC). A general assembly commissioned a committee to study and give a report on the question of whether God desires the salvation all men indiscriminately (whether elect or non-elect). The result was a “majority report,” which affirmed the well-meant offer, and a “minority report,” which denied it. Continue reading

The Well-Meant Offer: Defining the Debate

The great English preacher C. H. Spurgeon was known for his deep passion for the lost. He is reputed to have once prayed, “Lord, hasten to bring in all Thine elect— and then elect some more.”1 If Spurgeon really prayed that prayer, we can be sure he was employing a little rhetorical “hyperbole.” In reality, Spurgeon didn’t believe any but those elect from the foundation of the world would be saved. Nevertheless, his burden for lost souls was so strong that he longed for God to save even those that appeared to be reprobate. Continue reading