Toward a Catholic Christianity: Its Essence and Importance

When we hear the word, “catholic,” we usually think of the Roman Catholic Church. Because some of us believe the Church of Rome has terribly strayed from the gospel of Christ, we tend to view the term “catholic” in a negative light. In reality, though, the term “catholic” can be a good word. It simply means, “universal.” When it’s applied to the church, the term highlights the relationship that all true local churches bear to one another. Although the Bible distinguishes individual local churches, it also speaks of these churches collectively as “the church of Jesus Christ.” Continue reading

Passover or Cover-over? How Jesus Shields Us from God’s Wrath

A careful reading of Luke 22:14-20 reveals that the Lord’s Supper is closely associated with an OT Jewish feast called “Passover.” This fact underscores an important truth: Christianity is not at odds with the religion of the Old Testament. Rather, it’s the fulfillment of OT religion. That’s why Jesus appends the Lord’s Supper to the Passover. Not surprisingly, the apostle Paul actually refers to Jesus as “our Passover lamb” (1 Cor. 5:7). The implication is that if we want to understand and appreciate what Jesus did for us on the cross and what the Lord’s Supper symbolizes, we need to understand and appreciate the OT Passover. Continue reading

Rural Shepherd or Royal Sovereign? Another Look at Psalm 23

Psalm 23 may be the most well-known and well-loved passages of Holy Scripture. It certainly ranks high on the “playlist” of most Christians. Especially notable is its use of the “shepherd” metaphor to convey God’s provision and protection of his people: “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Unfortunately, many interpret this metaphor in purely pastoral motifs. They see Yahweh in terms of a rural shepherd but miss the strong royal overtones of David’s imagery. In doing so, they deprive themselves of some of the richness of the psalm’s encouragement. Continue reading

Father of Lies: The Serpent Casts Doubt on God’s Word

As we saw in our former post, the woman successfully parried the Serpent’s first attack by wielding the “Sword of the Spirit,” namely, God’s Word. But the Serpent’s initial exchange was designed only to set up the humans for his main attack. In the Serpent’s second communication with the woman (Gen 3:4-5), he advances an attack against the veracity of God’s word and the goodness of God’s character. Continue reading

Is God’s Love Like a Hurricane?

The first line of John Mark McMillan’s song “How He Loves” compares God’s love to “a hurricane” and the believer as “bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.” But hurricanes are overpowering forces that bring destruction, suffering, and, in some cases, death. Not surprisingly, the apparent dissonance of the metaphor and the glorious truth it’s meant to portray has left some people wondering whether a hurricane is an appropriate metaphor for God’s love. I believe it is. Continue reading

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