Reading the News as a Christian

There have been numerous instances when I have told Christians that I want to be a journalist and they have responded with, “The news needs more Christians like you.” I have always felt torn by this statement. One part of me wants to defend the news and the reporters who have inspired me to go into the journalism industry, while the other part of me readily agrees that being a Christian would enable me to report with a different perspective, relying on my God-given morals and outlook. I know I am not the only Christian battling between balancing their identity as a believer and their consumption of the news industry.

There seems to be a fine line between Christians and the media. I do admit that almost everyone walks along a fine line of doubt when it comes to the news, Christian or not. However, while I understand the uncertainty due to the flood of biased news, it also saddens me. We are fortunate to have news to educate, inform, and inspire us. The First Amendment did not just give us freedom of religion, but also freedom of the press. We live in a country where we have a news industry that can print what it wants to print and inform the public how it sees fit. So, here’s the question: how do we, as Christians, read and respond to the press?

Just Because It Doesn’t Support Your Views, Doesn’t Mean It’s False

Christian culture, and the so-called views that come with it, either good or bad, seeps beyond church walls and into every aspect of our lives. It has divided Christian brothers and sisters into different political parties. It has dictated which news outlets are deemed reliable and which ones are condemned as fake news. It has led to reposting verified news articles to support a Christian belief, while on the other hand it has misconstrued truth as a weapon and used it to deceive others by posting news on social media that is false just to support a belief. Many people in the world are guilty of creating this division and mask of uncertainty when it comes to news because we all want so desperately for our views to be the views that are true. It’s easy to say “fake news” when an article does not align with our worldview or political party or to spread fake news when it supports our opinions. Still, as Christians, we need to hold ourselves accountable and take a moment before we scream “that’s fake news” or put out fake news because we serve a God who is True (1 Jn. 5:20).

We have a responsibility as Christians to base everything we do on the truth found in Scripture, not on lies suffocating our society today. I read at least four news sources a day. I follow more news outlets on Instagram. I listen to news podcasts and have watched 60 Minutes religiously since I was five. The more you take in, the more you can compare and contrast, weeding out what is incorrect and finding the boiled down, unbiased facts. There are numerous news outlets that are pretty much dead in the center as well such as AP News or Reuters. Go to these unbiased outlets to fact-check when something controversial is happening that shows a large divide between political parties. There are incredible nonprofit news platforms that investigate world or local concerns that are not covered by mainstream news outlets. Remember that when an article or social media post does not align with your personal views, it does not necessarily mean that it is untrue. Or even if it does align with your personal views, it may be false. Remember it’s also your responsibility to assess if something is true or not.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:8

News Can Lead to Understanding, Not Division

If anything, read news that opposes your views and biases, not just supports them. Challenge yourself. Educate yourself. Read news from Christian outlets, like The Gospel Coalition, and read mainstream news outlets. If you are a Democrat, read a right-leaning newspaper. If you are a Republican, read a left-leaning newspaper. Find a newspaper that’s in the middle of the two political parties. Read about different church denominations. Read about Protestants and read about Catholics. Read about places far away from where you live and read about cultures vastly different from your own.

Remember that just because you believe something doesn’t mean that everybody does. Diversify what you read so you can understand these different perspectives and opinions. We cannot love others well if we do not understand them, especially if we do not take the time nor make an intentional effort to understand them. Remember that differences can be united by God’s love. We are all different, but we as Christians are all part of God’s family as brothers and sisters. Our different perspectives and choices display how God created each one of us as unique, but our identities as God’s children reminds us that we are all His, creating a common ground.

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. – Proverbs 18:2

For he is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility…for through him we both have access in one spirit to the Father. – Ephesians 2:14,18

God’s Word is the True Word

At the end of the day, when we are questioning what is true or false, what is biased or unbiased, or what supports Christianity or goes against it, we must remember this: God’s Word is the only True Word. When we are uncertain, we must use our foundation in God’s Word to answer these doubts and questions. Reading an article may answer our questions about what happened around the world today, but reading God’s Word gives us a foundation in Truth and in His Gospel.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:31-32

When we consume articles everyday that focus on racism or war or inequality or poverty, we must go to the Bible to have a foundation of God’s perspective on these different topics to form an informed opinion. Human perspectives on right and wrong and good and evil are constantly changing as we search through the weeds for truth. Through God’s Word, we get to know His character, which will never change and is not swayed by the opinions of men. News gives us a worldly knowledge, but the Bible gives us a heavenly, eternal knowledge (2 Peter 1:19-21).

How the Noahic Covenant Informs Our Voting

In our hyper-political culture, the calls to vote for public officials have never been louder and ubiquitous. Every time you get on Facebook or Instagram, you are given the option to register to vote. Athletes and celebrities have been encouraging us to vote. Clothing brands and alcohol beverage commercials implore us to vote. However, the act of voting is not virtuous in and of itself. In fact, it is unwise to vote if you are uneducated about the issues at hand. The fact that many people are uneducated is the reason why the United States is not a democracy; it is a republic. Our style of government restrains the “tyranny of the majority.” Despite this, our nation’s voters must not just participate by voting, but also know how to vote. Thankfully, God does not leave us in the dark in how we ought to vote. The Noahic Covenant gives us an objective standard that we can use to know whether or not a candidate is a viable option for public office.

The Nature of the Noahic Covenant and Place in Redemptive History

When Adam plunged the whole world into sin, God promised that offspring of the woman would crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15). This is the first announcement of the gospel that Jesus Christ will come and save His people from their sins and defeat Satan and all of his works. However, even in that first announcement of the gospel, God also says to the serpent that he “will put enmity between you (Satan) and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring…” Ever since then, there has been a war between Satan and Christ at play in human thoughts and actions. Due to Adam’s sin, we are born as offspring of Satan (Ephesians 2:1-3).

However, God rescues sinners and makes them His own as He did to Adam, Eve, and Abel (Genesis 4:4). This ongoing Satanic war was first evident in the brutal murder of Abel by his brother Cain after God accepted Abel’s offering but not Cain’s.. Wickedness increased so much on the earth that God decided that He would “blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land” (Genesis 6:7) by a worldwide flood. However, since God is true to His promise to bring forth Christ, He kept a remnant for Himself: Noah and his family (Genesis 6:8). After the flood subsided, God established the Noahic covenant.

God promised that “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22). Disruptions in human life and natural events will continue to occur “while the earth remains”, but God has promised to withhold His wrath from the earth, by not bringing about another flood or worldwide natural disaster. The Noahic Covenant is temporary because this world is temporary. The Noahic Covenant will end when Christ comes again to establish a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1).

God calls Noah and his sons to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1). Noah and his sons do indeed have children, but those children are born as offspring of Satan because of innate sin that is bent towards evil and wickedness. However, God establishes a system of justice to counteract the wickedness of the world. God says to Noah, “And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. Whoever sheds the blood of the man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Genesis 9:6). 

God expects mankind to punish those who commit acts of violence. In this way, God is able to restrain the offspring of Satan from persecuting the offspring of the woman. Joseph and Mary fled from an unjust king who wanted to kill every child under two years old to Egypt where a more just system of governance was in place (Matthew 2:13-15). God made this covenant with the whole world, both unbelievers and believers. God says to Noah, “I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth” (Genesis 9:15-16). 

The rainbow is the visible sign of promise to the whole world that God will not bring another worldwide flood-judgment. This covenant is a promise that God will show common grace to both believers and unbelievers that He will protect them in justice and provide for their needs (Matthew 5:45). Even Cain was a beneficiary of God’s common grace prior to the covenant when God promised that “vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold” (proportionate justice) (Genesis 4:15).

To summarize, the Noahic Covenant is a common grace covenant wherein God promises to the whole world to uphold the natural and social order. God does this by restraining evil through human governments and withholding His wrath until all of His promises are fulfilled in Christ. This covenant created an ordered “playing field” for God’s plan of redemption to unfold. But how does this covenant affect the way 21st century Americans vote? I will argue that since the Noahic Covenant established a system of governance to restrain evil, and since Americans play a role in governance by electing representatives for us to be in our country’s government, then the Noahic Covenant gives an objective way to measure the viability of candidates who run for public office. The law given in this common grace covenant must be respected by all mankind’s governments

Can We Vote for Unbelievers?

Since the Noahic Covenant is made with the whole world, then we should expect unbelievers to be involved in civil society’s pursuit of justice and peace. While Christians should certainly be mindful of the sin nature of any candidate (including Christian ones), we should never deny our vote to a candidate simply because they do not believe in Christ. Unbelievers, though fallen in sin, still have the law of God written on their hearts (Romans 2:15). Unbelievers, because of God’s common grace (Genesis 20:6), can understand the moral order of the world and act in accordance with it (though not in a way that could please God). Consider the pagan Abimelech in Genesis 20. Abraham lies to Abimelech by saying Sarah is his sister when she actually is his wife. His desire to marry her was extinguished when God appeared to Abimelech in a dream and told him that she is already a man’s wife.. He is repulsed by the idea of almost committing adultery and even rebukes Abraham for his sin of lying (Genesis 20:19).

Moreover, Abraham even makes a political treaty with Abimelech in which they and their servants agree to not steal and oppress one another (Genesis 21:22-24). Abraham was not compromising with the world, but acting wisely as he, a member of God’s redemptive kingdom, lives with unbelievers in God’s common kingdom. It is not wrong to vote for an unbeliever nor is it “syncretistic” to be a member of a political party. What matters is not whether the candidate qualifies for eldership at your church, but whether his or her policies will promote peace and justice in our society.

Religious Liberty

Christians should only vote for candidates who are unconditionally for religious liberty—for every religion. This is because the Noahic Covenant was made with the whole world specifically so that the offspring of Satan would be restrained from persecuting the offspring of the woman. The church grows exponentially when our government officials leave us alone to worship and practice what the Bible teaches. Paul even calls us to pray “for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:2). Persecution in the form of violence or economic oppression breaks the sixth and eighth commandments. According to the Noahic Covenant, persecutors of the church ought to be punished to the fullest extent of the law by the government.

Christianity is not the only religion that should be protected; the religions of Satan ought to be protected, too. Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, etc. should not be persecuted for their respective religions. The Noahic Covenant is designed to protect all image bearers from injustice as both believers and unbelievers live in the common kingdom. Moreover, the common kingdom is not theocratic Israel. We are not to put to death unbelievers since the Mosaic covenant was made with a specific ethnic people in a specific geographic location with specific blessings and curses. The Noahic Covenant offers no blessings for obedience or curses for disobedience. It is simply in place for the sake of preservation. This covenant protects unbelievers from the wrath of God prior to the return of Christ. Because of this covenant, we are able to love our unbelieving neighbors and preach the gospel so that they can be with us in the theocratic reign of Christ in the new heaven and new earth.

Equal Treatment and Proportionate Justice

Christians should vote for candidates who are for treating image bearers equally under the law and metes out proportionate justice. God tells us that He requires a reckoning for the act of murder. Justice for murder, in God’s law, means that the murderer should be rendered the death penalty. While Genesis 9:6 can refer more broadly to the general principle of proportionate justice, it is a good indicator that any candidate who thinks the death penalty is immoral does not know what justice is. The candidates we vote for ought to create laws that are in accord to God’s law revealed in nature (natural law). God not only reveals His law in Scripture, but also in nature. Moral order is woven into the very fabric of creation and is equally observable by both believers and unbelievers.

Since this covenant values the lives of all image bearers equally, any law that values human lives less than others because of their ethnicity is unjust. We should vote for candidates who will pursue justice for all races. There are candidates who push for “racial justice” or “social justice” that also believe it’s acceptable to murder the most vulnberable of our population: the unborn. Those who are for abortion and claim to be seeking justice should not be listened to in our society’s discussion about racism.

Pro-Life and Pro-Traditional Family

The Noahic Covenant was made to preserve life and for families to reproduce. As indicated above, voting for any pro-abortion candidate is not option for Christians—for anyone! This is because the right to life is the basis of all other rights. Moreover, Christians should not consider candidates who promote and plan to pass LGBTQ+ legislation. Why? Andrew T. Walker writes, “Prioritizing the natural family as the main focus of our political order would do more to promote flourishing, end inequality, and repair our broken foundations than anything else on the table. Why? The family is the source of political order.” One of the reasons why American society is crumbling is because we don’t have a standard for sexual ethics. But if our standard is how God designed sexuality to be lived out, then our society will flourish. Living in accord with nature (how God designed the world to work), typically results in prosperity (Proverbs 8:14-21).

Voting is Temporary

Christians should be interested and engaged in politics. This should be so because the state of peace and justice in society depends upon the governance of our leaders. However, since the Noahic Covenant is temporary, elections are too. We need to remember that we are not primarily citizens of the United States, but citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20-21). Our identity is not in this age and whether or not the candidates we vote for win. Our identity is in the age to come. The Lord Jesus is the last Adam who has redeemed from the first Adam’s sin and the world he plunged into sin (Romans 5:16, 1 Corinthians 15:22, 45). There will be a day where there will be perfect peace and perfect justice because Christ is coming again to judge the living and the dead and raise up our dead bodies in glorified, resurrected life forevermore (Revelation 21:1-4).

Why Should I Vote?

Episode 9 of the Dual Citizen features a conversation with Dr. Bruce Ashford, a very special author, professor, and expert in how our spiritual identity impacts the way we engage culture. In his book Letters to an American Christian, Dr. Ashford addresses “the good of politics,” which he argues can be achieved through politics holding its proper place in the created world along with other spheres of culture such as education, family, and art. Government and politics exist to achieve justice for those under a government’s purview. Each sphere has a unique reason for existing, each sphere has a circumference, or limits, and each part of culture is corrupted by sin, twisted and misdirected. But because of Christ’s redemption, we as believers can enter into those spheres and honor Him. We can do this by asking a set of three questions: What is God’s creational design for this sphere? How has this sphere been twisted by sin? As a believer, how can I redirect this part of culture for good?

Politics may appear to be the most filthy of all the spheres of culture, but there is still the opportunity for good if we redirect the purpose of politics toward its center– achieving justice by involving the populus in decision making rather than oppressive tyranny. How can we practically achieve this? You may feel powerless to influence or “redirect” politics, but you do have power in the form of your vote. Voting, from a bird’s eye view, is one way in which your interests and preferences are represented. It is a way to provide your input about the reach that the political sphere should have over other areas of life such as family, education, health, and faith. This spatial analogy is more theoretical than concrete, but it can be a helpful foundation for understanding politics at a deeper level than what one can see on Twitter.

Because we as Christians have experienced redemption, equity, mercy, righteousness and justice in the Kingdom of God, we have a responsibility to share our hope and beliefs in the sector where humans are trying to accomplish these ideals but are failing because sin has twisted our systems. Christians cannot build perfect institutions either, but we have a unique understanding of the source of justice, order, and goodness because of our experience in the Kingdom of God. Leaders who know God can lead our country towards that which is true, just, and good and away habits that are corrupt, tyrannical, and irresponsible.

Believers should vote because if Christians step out of the political sphere, we decide to refrain from bearing witness in a good, created part of culture. John 20:21 relays a message from Jesus during his final moments on earth: “Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’” We will face persecution in many forms, but Christians are called to stand in every sphere of creation as an arrow pointing to the Creator.

Every human institution is broken, but God’s glory can be displayed through the way we pursue justice and righteousness. Do not be disarmed by the constant crossfire of opinions, but use your voice to fight for things that reflect God’s character, defend the defenseless, and preserve religious freedom while continuing to seek the everlasting Kingdom first. As you take next steps, check out the Dual Citizen’s step-by step voting guide, available here to help you find resources for making big decisions on your ballot.

Does God Desire All to Be Saved? A Review

This is a book review on John Piper’s Does God Desire All to Be Saved?

Nearly three years ago, I was sitting on the floor of my small group leader’s spare bedroom with a dozen high school students when we came upon 1 Timothy 2:4. In his pastoral words to Timothy, Paul writes,

This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
-1 Timothy 2:3-4

As we thought through what this verse might mean, and what the contextual clues in this passage and throughout Scripture had to say about it, we concluded that though God desires all people to be saved, not all people are saved. 

What is keeping God from saving all people?

Thankfully, in light of the contextual clues throughout Scripture, the wisdom of our small group leader, and the teaching we had received growing up, we avoided the heresy of universalism. After quickly dismissing the idea that God saved all people despite their faith, we were stumped. How could God desire for all people to be saved, yet all people not be saved? What hindered God from accomplishing his will? These questions were well over our heads.

Our small group leader explained that he believed God was even more committed to giving us self-determination or free will than he was to saving all people. Essentially, God loves us too much to force a decision upon us, therefore, leaving it up to our choice whether we would respond in faith.

This was problematic to me for several reasons. First, the Scripture shows examples of people like Paul who came to faith as a result of God’s regenerative work in bringing them to new life and faith in Christ’s work. Second, the Scripture seemed to present a greater will of God than to merely give us our own choice.

Conveniently, there are men far wiser than I who have asked these same questions and searched the totality of the Scripture for them. One of those men is John Piper. In Piper’s 2013 short theological essay, Does God Desire All to Be Saved?, the seasoned pastor-theologian asks the same question we asked that night.

The Aim of the Essay

If you’re going to read this essay, you should know that Piper comes in with a few presuppositions. First, Piper assumes that Scripture is inspired by God and does not contradict itself. Second, he presumes that God is sovereign over everything. 

To be clear, both of these presuppositions are orthodox positions, but it is important to remember that Piper’s aim in writing this essay is not to defend these truths, but rather, assuming that they are true. 

To show from Scripture that the simultaneous existence of God’s will for all people to be saved and his will to choose some people for salvation unconditionally before creation is not a sign of divine schizophrenia or exegetical confusion.

By saying this, Piper introduces the idea that God has two wills: a sovereign will and a moral will.

Where This Book Excelled

Generally speaking, this essay was fantastic. In a mere 54 pages, Piper lays out his argument clearly, carefully, and pastorally. There were a few areas where I felt like this book particularly shined.

Built on Scripture

Throughout the essay, Piper builds his assertions not on ever-changing logic or deduction, but on the Scriptures. He immediately points out the seemingly problematic nature of a text like 1 Timothy 2:4, but rather than dismissing it as a misunderstanding, he engages it. 

Though Piper notes that “it is possible that a careful interpretation of [this verse] would lead us to believe that [this] does not refer to every individual person, but rather to all types of people,” he puts that interpretation to the side for the sake of understanding the reality that Scripture teaches God desires for all people to be saved (2 Peter 3:8-9, Ezekiel 18:23, and Matthew 23:37).

Relied on History

While the crux of the argument made in this book is made on the basis of thorough examination of the Biblical text, Piper consistently relies upon the insights of faithful Christians of the past. He frequently points the readers back to authors like John Gill, Adolf Schlatter, Heinrich Heppe, Jonathan Edwards, Theodore Beza, Stephen Charnock, Robert Dabney, and John Calvin. For an idea that initially seems rather novel, Piper does well to point to the men of the past in order to strengthen his case.

Engaged with Opponents

As Piper develops his explanation, he simultaneously interacts with the position of his opponents. In a conversation where both camps claim their position is built on the Bible and relies on history, one of the most revealing aspects of the author’s side is the way that he engages opponents’ own text.

Throughout the essay, Piper walks through the ideas presented in A Case for Arminianism by Clark Pinnock and a number of other contributors. For example, he fundamentally changes the way that we answer the question when he references the words of the late I. Howard Marshall. In the section entitled, “Universal Grace and Atonement in the Pastoral Epistles,” Marshall writes, 

We must certainly distinguish between what God would like to see happen and what he actually does will to happen, and both of these things can be spoken of as God’s will.

Identifying the Epicenter

Piper rightly identifies the points of unity and the grounds of debate when he writes, 

Both the Reformed and the Arminians affirm two wills in God when they ponder over 1 Timothy 2:4. Both can say that God wills for all to be saved. And when queried why all are not saved, both the Reformed and Arminians answer the same: because God is committed to something even more valuable than saving all. The difference between the Reformed and the Arminians lies not in whether there are two wills in God, but in what they say this higher commitment is.

This is crucial because initially it seems like Reformed theologians are forced to perform exegetical gymnastics in order to conclude that there are two wills in God, but Piper is arguing that both sides actually come to the same initial conclusion. 

Where This Book Fell Short

At this point, I have spent ample time explaining the areas in which this essay surpassed my expectations. While this work was incredibly well-written and thought-provoking, a few areas missed the mark.

Overly Reliant on Previous Works

To be honest, if I had not read his other works, Spectacular Sins: And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ and Five Points: Towards a Deeper Experience of God’s Grace, much of the assertions made in this book would seem insufficiently explained. Piper relies heavily upon the conclusions of these two books in order to lay the groundwork for the theological ideas presented here.

Lack of Practical Application

Near the end of this essay, Piper notes that Randall G. Basinger argued that “belief in the absolute sovereignty of God is practically irrelevant in daily life.” Piper shows the irony of this statement in light of James 4:13-15, but falls short of giving useful application. The inclusion of actual examples in the Christian life such as evangelism, work, or marriage, would elevate the weight of this essay’s argument.

Who Should Read This Book?

This is not simply a book for the theology nerds, but rather a pastoral call to understand the seemingly paradoxical relationship within the will of God. This is a book for pastors, teachers, business men and women, stay-at-home parents, and even college students. While Piper does not explicitly state how this will affect the Christian life, I believe that by reading it you will not only grow in your knowledge of the Lord, but your love as well.

This topic is dense, but Piper guides the reader through these deep waters. If your aim in reading this book is mere intellectual satisfaction, you’re missing the point. You should read this book in order to grow in your understanding of who God is and, therefore, worship Him for it.

Human Dignity: Not Only Believing in It, but Embodying It

Growing up in the church I always loved hearing the different stories in the Bible, from the Exodus out of Egypt to the tale of Esther and all the way to Jesus and his life on Earth. But, one thing always confused me. I never understood why people treated each other so badly. Why would any person be rejected? Why do people hate each other? God’s love for humanity is so clear throughout all of Scripture, so doesn’t that mean that everyone should love each other too? 

Now that I am in college I’ve come to see how complex it can be to treat everyone equally. Many barriers are societal, but most of them come from within. As Christians living in a world already full of hate, it’s important to remember what God has to say about human dignity. 

The dignity of all people—founded on the Biblical truth that we are created in God’s image—should compel Christians into action, to do all we can to fight for justice and freedom. This seems like a weighty issue, but it can be distilled into two foundational truths: we were all created in the image of God, and we serve a God who seeks justice.

Created in the image of God

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
-Genesis 1: 26-28

The creation account confirms that human dignity is not arbitrary, it is based on the truth that God himself created us. We are worthy and dignified because all of us were made in the likeness of God. Whether rich or poor, regardless of race, religion, background, the Lord created human beings all equal and all worthy, and they should be treated accordingly. I don’t believe that our problem is believing this truth, but instead fully embracing it and displaying it in our lives. 

While listening to a sermon from High Point Church on human dignity, I was struck by an interesting truth revealed through an analogy, the story of the Prince and the Pauper. It is easy for us to understand why the poor pauper would want to switch lives with the prince—in order to attain the dignity that any human deserves—but why would the prince want to switch with the pauper? The pastor explained that it is because the prince has to hold the weight of everyone else’s dignity on his back. The pressure is too much and he wants the freedom that comes with being poor.

If we are being honest with ourselves, even as Christians, we want to experience human dignity for ourselves, but just like the prince, we do not want to have the dignity of others on our backs. Our human nature makes us desire to be treated with dignity. But, in our sinful state, we choose not to treat everyone else with the dignity they deserve; even passively, we choose not to fight for the freedom all deserve. We want to receive the benefits, yet we try to escape the responsibilities. 

None of us can achieve this perfectly, but we are shown the prime example to follow in the Bible. Jesus stands for the dignity of all people, and gladly gives his dignity up for the  freedom of others. 

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;  therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
-Matthew 9:36-38

Jesus showed compassion to all looked down upon in society, he treated them with the dignity they deserved. He even made a point to “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers.”  Jesus didn’t abandon the helpless and poor, but instead ensured their safety and salvation. Following Jesus’ example will lead us to embrace both the dignity we long for and the dignity we were created to receive. 

But What Does This Look Like?  

Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” Then the righteous will answer him, saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?” And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”
Matthew 25:34-40

Matthew highlights the specific steps we must take to live out the truth of human dignity:  we serve the Lord by serving the “least of these” and standing up for them. This means that we honor the dignity of others by loving our neighbor as ourselves; and in doing so, we honor the Lord, in whose image they were made. We must fight against our human nature to treat others differently or view them in different lights. God’s own honor is at stake. 

In our day, there is a scientifically narrow understanding of human beings and how they deserve to be treated. Many people are no longer treated with dignity and live in oppression and bondage, but Christians must always be guided by the truth that we serve a God who seeks justice for all of his people. 

Most of the time, the Bible uses the word “justice” to refer to restorative justice, in which those who are unrightfully hurt or wronged are restored and given back what was taken from them. Psalm 72 reveals this, 

Give the king your justice, O God,
And your righteousness to the royal son!
May he judge your people with righteousness,
and your poor with justice!
Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people
and the hills in righteousness!
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
give deliverance to the children of the needy,
and crush the oppressor.
-Psalm 72:1-4

There are so many people in our world that are not given the dignity they deserve, many are being treated as if they weren’t even human. There are millions of people in bondage who can’t attain freedom on their own. Millions. Over 40 million humans are at risk and not safe, trapped in modern day human slavery, not living in the freedom and dignity that they deserve. 

Knowing that we serve a God that seeks justice, and knowing that all humans deserve to be treated with dignity and worth, we must collectively fight for freedom and life. While not everyone will be called to directly engage in this fight, everyone still has a crucial role to play.

All of us ought to pray, advocate, and care for those around us. We must choose not to live in ignorant bliss, and acknowledge that people everyday are being treated inhumanely. Prayer is a weapon that we possess that can help make leaps and bounds for the freedom fight. We must pray for those both physically and spiritually in bondage, pray for their protection and that they come to know God, and pray that the Lord softens the hearts of the oppressors. Most importantly, we must do our best to live life with a Christ-like attitude showing dignity to all we come in contact with and loving our neighbor. We must treat everyone we come in contact with, with respect and to serve them in the same way as noted in Matthew 25 above.

We are dignified because we are made in the likeness of God, but we only truly and fully embody our dignity when we step out of the societal constructs and into the mindset of Christ. We should not only understand our own worth outlined in the truths of the Bible, but should also embrace our duty to keep the dignity of all others at the forefront of our mind, love our neighbors, and seek justice for the oppressed.

What Does the Bible Say About Racism?

With everything that is going on in our world, there continue to exist tragedies that remind us that racism remains a prominent issue. The surfacing of the recent video of the death of Ahmaud Arbery has reignited the sentiments surrounding inequality, injustice, and racial inequality. I often wonder how many more tragedies it is going to take for people to wake up to this saddening reality. Honestly, I don’t know. 

The impact racism has on our community is grave and it constantly serves as a reminder of a world of horrors that we, today, are still not very far from. Progress has been made, but there is still so much work to do. People wonder what they can do to help it, fix it, or make it better.  As a black believer, I encourage fellow believers to turn to The Bible and ask, Can you love God but hate his people? 

Partiality, Judgement, and Loving Others

The Bible provides us with the resources to live a God-centered life and is not silent on the topics of partiality, judging others based on appearance, and loving others. It is very clear that the Bible condemns racism. 


The Bible also teaches us that God is an impartial God. He shows no partiality towards certain races nor does he favor one type of person over another. We are all seen as the same in Christ. In Acts, Peter comes to the realization that God shows no partiality, saying,

Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
-Acts 10:34

“Every nation”  and “anyone” are words that tell us that across nations, anyone and everyone that fears him and does right is acceptable to him. This means that God’s love for his people crosses over racial and ethnic backgrounds too. In James 2 we find these words, 

But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
-James 2:9

Evidently, God commands us not to show partiality toward others or show favor of one person over another due to their ethnicity, nationality, wealth, or appearance.

Judging Others Based on Appearance

Jesus, at the Feast of Booths, tells the crowd “Do not judge by appearance, but judge with right judgment” (John 7:24), and in the Old Testament in 1 Samuel when David is anointed king, God tells Samuel, 

Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.
-1 Samuel 16:7

These words reveal to us God’s true nature and the basis upon which he passes judgment. It has nothing to do with the color of your skin, what clothes you wear, and the number of good deeds you’ve done. He searches your heart.

Loving Others

The environments we grow up in shape and influence our beliefs, judgments, biases, and prejudices.  However, one’s unique exposure, or lack thereof,  does not provide us with a proper excuse for the decisions we make, and how we choose to love others. 

 1 John is very clear on loving others and God, as it states: 

If anyone says “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
-1 John 4:20

We Love God by Loving All His People

Since the fall of Adam and Eve, we humans have found ways to distinguish ourselves from other people, allowing that separation to shape our thoughts (see James 2:4). Much of this is due to our human nature and sin. However, we have to make the conscious decision to look beyond our differences and see people for who they are: made in the image of God.

The Bible is very vocal about God’s love for his people who are made in His image. In the book of Genesis, on the sixth day, God created man. He said, 

“Let us make the man [humankind] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish in the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image, and in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
-Genesis 1:26-27

The word “created” appears three times along with the word “make.” We were created in His image with such intentionality. God made no mistakes. We are all made in His likeness and that includes people of every ethnicity, nationality, and tribe.

As we go deeper into Scripture, we discover passages like 1 John 4:20 and see how crucial it is to love others well. With the coming of Christ, we were given a new commandment about loving others in John 13, and this command appears in the New Testament eleven times. Jesus said, 

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
-John 13:34

He also tells us to “treat others as you wish to be treated” (Matthew 7:12) and to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).

Search Your Heart 

Through Christ, we are unified and the gift of salvation is available to people of all ethnicities. His grace is universally available to different people groups. In Galatians Paul tells us: 

For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
-Galatians 3:26-28

This verse is one of my favorites because it tells us that despite the degrees of separation that we’ve created, believers are one in Christ. 

So what can people do to work against racism? They can search their own hearts and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to them any prejudices, thoughts, or assumptions that are discriminatory.  They can seek God’s truth and extend love to everyone whether they look just like them or different. They can be vessels of change, speak up, and hold others accountable.

Is Sexual Activity Outside of Marriage Always a Sin?

With couples aspiring to engage in deeper forms of intimacy, the question will inevitably be asked—how far is too far?  I, for one, have asked myself that same question. Today, adolescents are starting to date earlier than in the past, so, predictably, the ladder of intimacy will reach newer heights sooner rather than later. For the Christian, the core desire should be to honor and glorify God with our bodies just as with our minds and hearts. As we navigate exactly how to do that, let’s look to scripture for guidance, knowing that, “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16)

What Does the Bible Say?

In the Bible, “sexual immorality” is translated a total of 26 times (Matt. 15:19, Act 15:20, 1 Cor 6:18, Gal 5:19, & 1Th 4:3). The actual Greek word translated as “sexual immorality” is porneia, and when the original authors wrote “flee from porneia,” the audience at the time knew exactly what that meant. One of my favorite analogies on this topic is one I came across while reading a book titled Sex, Dating, and Relationships: A Fresh Approach by Hiestand and Thomas published in 2012. I hope that this analogy will emphasize that the command to flee sexual immorality is not one we should take lightly.

Imagine a wife has baked a cake, and she explicitly instructs her husband not to eat the cake. He nods in understanding, yet as soon as she leaves the kitchen, he cuts himself a generous slice and then bites it and chews it, savoring all the flavor, and then spits it back onto his plate having never swallowed it. His wife steps back into the kitchen and looks at him in disgust. She says again, “I told you not to eat the cake!” The husband tries to justify it by saying that he did not actually eat the cake. He defines eating as swallowing, and since he did not swallow the cake, essentially, he never ate it. In theory, he did not have “eating relations” with that cake.

It is a silly analogy but I hope it is a convicting one. Some may think that the Bible is not clear when it comes to addressing sexual activity outside of marriage, but I beg to differ. Given the historical and cultural framework of the New Testament, the authors did not need to spell out how far is too far. In sum, all premarital sexual activity—however  light or seemingly harmless—is sinful. Paul reminds us that there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality because it is improper for God’s holy people (see Eph. 5:3).

A Heart Issue

Any sin is the result of failing to honor and glorify God. Our sexual sin is a problem of worship. In Genesis 39 when Joseph is tempted to sleep with Potiphar’s wife, he is quoted as saying, “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (Gen. 39:9). Joseph was not primarily thinking about the wrong he would be doing to Potiphar, instead, he quickly fled because he did not want to sin against his God. The reason sexual sin is such a big issue is primarily because it is sin against a righteous and holy God. Second, it is a sin against our own bodies. Paul writes, “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” (1 Cor. 6:18)

You may have heard it said that your life is an overflow of your heart. Therefore, our sexual sin is the result of our heart not  having ultimate satisfaction in Christ alone. As John Piper points out, God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. I want to encourage us all to resist the temptation to rename sin, attempting to make it look like it’s not sin. When it comes to sexual sin and lust, there are numerous sexual innuendos. “It’s okay to look at the menu as long as you do not order anything,” or “How do you know what car you want to buy if you don’t test drive a couple first?”. Crude sayings like these will always fail because, put simply, they are a way of attempting to ignore what is clear and definite in the Bible. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt. 5:27-28) 

Lust can be described as “looking with the intent to act.” Jesus conveys that lust is sinful, and it is not merely something to be managed. We don’t need new behaviors, we need new hearts. As God’s people, we must put to death the old self and put on the new self, as Paul writes in his letter to the Colossians. English theologian John Owen writes in his book The Mortification of Sin, “be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.” Sexual activity outside of marriage, even lust, is choosing to glorify ourselves and our desires rather than Christ. When we do not actively pursue something, we end up passively pursuing something else. 

In my own relationship, my fiancée and I have had the conversation of how far is too far, and we know that Scripture says even a hint is too far. For that reason, we know what gets our bodies “ready” for sex. Only by God’s grace and discipline have we kept clear of sexual activity, and it is not always easy. But my encouragement to us all is to know three simple words—Christ is better. The Psalmist writes, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

How Do We Move Forward?

The key to moving forward is looking to the Bible as authoritative and not merely as a book of suggestions. Nonetheless, we do not obey to earn God’s love, we obey because He has already given it. For the Christian, identity proceeds action, never the other way around. A beautiful picture of this can be found in the book of Ephesians. In Ephesians 1:5, Paul writes, “He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” Then in 5:1 we see, “Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children.” Again, identity proceeds action.

We can only move forward when we come to a better understanding of God’s design and purpose for sex. God intentionally created sex in a way that brings Him great glory and us great joy. This can only be found in the context of committed, covenantal marriage. In the book Catching Foxes, John Henderson writes, “God-honoring sexual union happens between one man and one woman, within the marriage covenant, as an expression of faith and worship toward God.” In fact, sexual activity is commanded in Scripture for the husband and wife. It is also meant to be pleasing for one another (see 1 Cor 7:1-5). When we correctly see that the Bible is not anti-sex, but pro-intimacy within the covenant of marriage, our understanding of the gift of sex will transform the way we think about sexual activity and ultimately lead us to a chaste life. 

Now,if some of us have failed sexually, what should we do now? Accept grace and seek repentance just like everyone else. As a Church body, we should be seeking to restore those who have fallen into deep sexual sin, not ostracizing them or thinking of ourselves as better. Jesus levels the playing field. For the ones who have failed sexually, know that healing does not come without repentance. Tony Merida—council member of the Gospel Coalition—writes, “Repentance involves acknowledging the sin, believing that you need to change, experiencing the grace of Jesus, and then changing your life.” With that being said, of course, you can be a Christian if you have fallen or are currently in sexual sin, but true Christians will not desire to persist in that state. If you are currently in sin, are you content being there, or do you have the desire to change? If the answer is the latter, surround yourself with a body of believers who can encourage you and walk with you in this time. 

My Prayer for Us All

I pray that as you and I seek to grow in Christ-likeness, may we remember to glorify God with our bodies. May we seek Christ above all else. And may we know that Christ is better. May that knowledge increase our trust in Him, enabling us to say“no” to the sinful pleasures of this world and “yes” to the Creator and Sustainer of it all.

Coronavirus and Christ: A Review

In response to the recent events of the COVID-19 global pandemic, John Piper has released a new book entitled Coronavirus and Christ. In these short 112 pages, Dr. Piper responds to the health crisis that has affected nearly every person on earth. His ministry, Desiring God, is very clear that they have two primary interests in mind: the sovereignty of God and Christian hedonism. In this book, Piper views the events of COVID-19 through the lens of these two doctrines.

Calvinism & Christian Hedonism

If you are going to read this book, you should know that Piper is openly committed to a Reformed understanding of salvation, which is often referred to as Calvinism. In addition to this, he is a Christian Hedonist. Piper famously summarized Christian Hedonism by saying that, “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him.” 

This book will not primarily argue for those doctrines, but will assume they are true. If you are not familiar with these doctrines, you may want to read Five Points: Towards a Deeper Experience of God’s Grace and Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist.

Catastrophic Events of the Past

Piper’s Response to 9/11

Piper is not new to writing on the relationship between these two doctrines and current events. After the attacks in New York on September 11, 2001, many were wondering if God caused this event to happen. Piper argued that,

The very power by which God governs all evils, enables him to govern your life. He has total authority to turn this and every other evil in your life into your everlasting life.

He then went on to say that, “The sovereignty of God is the very rock solid foundation that enables us to carry on in life.” This is important to remember because it is a very crucial idea that paved the way for Coronavirus and Christ.

Piper’s Response to Hurricane Katrina

After the catastrophic Hurricane Katrina that struck Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, Piper responded to NPR Senior News Analyst, Daniel Schorr, by saying that,

Our guilt in the face of Katrina is not that we can’t see the intelligence in God’s design, but that we can’t see arrogance in our own heart. God will always be guilty of high crimes for those who think they’ve never committed any.

Piper later went on to write Spectacular Sins: And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ in response to the events in New Orleans as well as the general idea of God’s sovereignty in relation to evil and tragedy.

The Aim of This Book

Without the previous books and articles responding to current events, there is no way that someone could have written, published, and translated a book in seven languages within weeks of the pandemic’s global spread. With that being said, if you are familiar with Piper’s work, then you will find this book to be a timely reminder of timeless truths rather than a creative expression of new ideas.

What Fell Short

As a student of journalism, I live in a world that possesses a particular disposition towards novelty, but as a student of theology, I am reminded of the importance of historical roots. Initially, due to my background in journalism, I was frustrated by the lack of novelty, but my background in theology reminded me that new isn’t always needed. To be honest, my first impression of this book was that it was incomplete. While it contained quite a few reminders and Biblical answers that I will address in the latter part of this review, something was missing.

As an adherent of the Reformed soteriological views that Piper argues from, my problem was not as much with what was in the book, but what was left out. To be clear, my primary issue was not with Piper’s theology, but with his overwhelming repetition.

Book Structure

The book is split into two primary sections: “The God Who Reigns Over the Coronavirus” and “What is God Doing Through the Coronavirus?”

The God Who Reigns Over the Coronavirus

In this section, Piper laid the foundation for his argument by succinctly explaining the doctrines of God’s sovereignty and Biblical authority. In the promotional material for the book, Desiring God markets the book as an invitation:

[The book invites] readers around the world to stand on the solid Rock, who is Jesus Christ, in whom our souls can be sustained by the sovereign God who ordains, governs, and reigns over all things to accomplish his wise and good purposes for those who trust in him.

Sound familiar? It is very similar to Piper’s response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Yet Piper does not mention the events of Hurricane Katrina or September 11th in this work. This frustrated me because it weakened his argument. By choosing not to point back to specific events of the past, this book seemed like it was trying to present novel ideas, yet it clearly was not. To be fair, he does mention the cancer diagnosis that he received in 2005. Apart from a subtle reference to terrorist attacks and tsunamis, it seemed like this book could have related the issue of the coronavirus back to previous national and global events where God’s sovereignty could be clearly seen.

Additionally, this section seemed to be far too concise to effectively articulate the foundational beliefs that would lead a Christian pastor to look at a global pandemic killing hundreds of thousands of people and conclude that God had ordained for it to happen.

What Went Well

Despite my initial frustrations, I thoroughly enjoyed Piper’s new book. Again, it did not seem to be anything more than a reminder of the timeless truths, but sometimes a reminder is exactly what we need. While I felt like this book lacked something, the content presented in the book was incredibly helpful.

What is God Doing Through the Coronavirus?

Contrary to my frustrations with the overly abbreviated first half of the book, the latter half of the book was worth the frustrations. In these chapters, Piper presents six Biblical answers to what God might be doing through the coronavirus.

Naturally, I am critical of someone who supposes to know the exact purposes of God in any horrendous event such as a pandemic, yet Piper humbly articulates that these are six ways God uses evil throughout the Scriptures. God’s meticulous sovereignty is seen throughout Scripture, in the midst of good and evil. The answers that Piper presents are not speculative or prophetic, but exemplary Biblical principles.

I sympathize with Preston Blakeley, one of The Church Editors, who recently wrote,

His statement that “the coronavirus is God’s thunderclap call for repentance” caught me off guard, and I felt as if this statement could have been worded better. He redeems this in his explanation: this pandemic reminds us that we are finitely human, and Piper begs us to see that God desires that we cease to be the child who is “making mud pies… because he cannot imagine a holiday at sea.” We are faced with the trivialities of our own existence, and we are increasingly reminded of our opportunity to trade in trinkets for gold.

Many of the answers Piper presented are worded in ways that we don’t really speak, yet the truths presented within their explanations are incredibly helpful. In his review of this book, Blakeley does well to remind us that we can “trade in trinkets for gold.” This helpful illustration points us back to another one of Piper’s key themes: don’t waste your life. In the same way that Piper’s short theological essay, Don’t Waste Your Cancer encouraged readers not to waste their pain, Coronavirus and Christ encourages readers not to waste this time of uncertainty and anxiety.

How to Read This Book

Between the relative briefness and the abundance of time now available due to current “safer-at-home” restrictions, take a few hours and read this book. Pray through the passages of Scripture that Piper points the readers to and ask the Lord to use this as a reminder of God’s sovereignty in the midst of uncertainty.

You can read or listen to this book for free on:

I received this free review copy from Crossway. The opinions of this review are my own.

Sharing the Gospel with a Muslim

Islam is one of the largest religions in the world yet one of the least understood by many Christians. In fact, a couple of years ago, I only knew a few details about Muslims, but in general, I used to avoid them and viewed them as hostile radicals. It wasn’t until a dear brother in Christ invited me to take a course on how to share the gospel with your Muslim neighbor, that I began to see them as they really are.

My favorite part of this course was that we not only gained knowledge and information, but every afternoon we went out into the city to meet people of the Muslim faith. We went from the mosque to their businesses, and even had the opportunity to go into their homes. I was surprised when I realized that viewing them as generally hostile people was found to be false.

In fact, they were very kind and hospitable—and the more I learned about them, there was this burden in my heart for them to know the Lord. I was amazed at how dedicated Muslims are to their religion. It made me sad that they are trying to please God when their religious traditions and practices are so far from the truth. Muslims are working tirelessly trying to earn their salvation through their own works. 

It is important to know some information on Islam so that you will be able to testify to Muslims if you have the opportunity. While you have probably heard about them or see one in your local community, it is important to recall that not all of them are terrorists as media portrays them, in fact the majority of them are just trying to follow the teaching of their holy book the Quran; but before we dive into more specific details, let’s see some important words that you need to understand.

First, a Muslim is a person who practices Islam. Islam is a religion like Judaism or Buddhism. Not all the Muslims come from the Middle East, in fact the most populated Muslim country in the world is Indonesia.  We also need to know that not all Arabs or people from the Middle East are Muslims, they can be Christian or other religions as well. There are two types of Isalm: the Sunnis and Shiites. Depending on those two groups, there are different beliefs in how they understand the Quran and practice Islam. In Arabic, “Allah” means God. They believe there is only one God, as we believe, but have many beliefs that differ from us when we talk about God. 

Muhammad is the prophet for the Muslims. He lived 600 years after Christ and he was from the Arab peninsula. Muhammad was influenced by the teachings of Christianity and Judaism and founded the religion of Islam. He said that the angel Gabriel appeared to him in a cave and revealed the Quran, which is their holy book. This is only a glimpse of the major aspects of Islam, because there is much to cover, but for now we can work with what we know.

Why Testify to the Muslims?

If this is a question you have, I encourage you to take a look at these three points on why it is important to testify to Muslims. One of the main concerns that believers may have is that it can be challenging to speak to or share the gospel with Muslims, but in reality they are just like any other people, blinded by the lies of Satan. We believers should have a burden for every person who is trying to seek God but using the wrong approach to do so.

The Bible Encourages Us to Share the Gospel

One key verse when we look at the subject of sharing the gospel, is Matthew 28:19, but we always look at it in the broad sense. Let’s take a look at this verse from another perspective.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
-Matthew 28:19

I’m sure you have read this passage before, but it is interesting to see the word Nations in the Greek. In Greek, nations is translated from ἔθνος (Ethnos), which can also mean people group or as some scholars translate it properly, “people joined by practicing similar customs or common culture.” And if we look at this translation, many Muslims are just that: they are the largest people group in the world, joined by culture and religion. So, there is a clear command from the Bible to preach to them! It is also important to acknowledge that not all of the church is trying to reach the Muslims. 

One of the challenges we may face is that we think that Muslims only live in the Middle East, in Africa or Asia, but let me tell you, there are Muslims all over the world. According to Pew Forum, in 2017 there were an estimated 3.45 million Muslims in the United States and 1.8 billion around the world. Now we have an advantage, Muslims from all over the world are here. They study with us, they are living in our communities, they go to the same school, they are exposed to the same culture, and there is no language barrier. It is the perfect opportunity to reach them. 

Jesus Loves the Muslims and He Died for Them

When you meet a Muslim, you must remember one key verse that we all as Christians learned very early in our faith.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
-John 3:16

Yes, we must remember that Jesus loves them, that he died for them, and that we can be a tool of God for sharing the wonderful news of the gospel. This wonderful news is a promise for them, and we as Christians should use the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us to share the gospel with them, now we do not need to travel to the Middle East. They are here and we can use that as an opportunity for the glory of God. 

You May Be the First Person Ever to Share the Gospel with Them

Even though they may live in America or in a western country, Islam is a very closed religion. For a Muslim (those who really practice the teaching of the Quran) there’s no difference between culture and religion. For them being Muslim is everything. Islam is a religion of rules and there’s no place for the grace of God. For them God is an impersonal God way beyond our reach and He needs to be worshiped and served, and if you follow the teachings of the Quran maybe, just maybe, God will choose to let you into paradise. There is no assurance of salvation for a Muslim. There is no personal relationship with God. 

And this is why when you share the gospel with them you may be the first person ever to explain that salvation is a gift from God and that God loves them. Even if they do not become believers you are sharing something new to them, something that Islam does not offer. This can be an awesome opportunity, and I am sure that the joy it will bring to you is priceless. 

Like John Piper says,

If you live gladly to make others glad in God, your life will be hard, your risks will be high, and your joy will be full.

I would like to remind you that sharing the gospel with a Muslim is not an easy task. One of the reasons for this is the problem that if a Muslim becomes a believer he needs to turn his back to his family, culture, and sometimes even his country. Even though all this is nothing compared to the riches found in our Lord Jesus Christ, it is one of the biggest barriers a Muslim faces when they come to Christ.

Key points that a Muslim Must Understand

Even before you come to the point to ask them if they would like to become a believer, your Muslim friend must understand several important points, For time’s sake, I am going to list only two that are for, in my understanding, most important. 

Why do Christians Believe that Jesus Is the Son of God?

For a Muslim, saying that Jesus is the Son of God literally means God is his physical father, not the way we understand it. It is imperative that we explain the virgin birth of Jesus; maybe you can show them Luke’s account of Christ’s birth:

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[e] will be called holy—the Son of God.
-Luke 1:35

Make sure to remind them that the reason Jesus is called Son of God is because he comes from God. Another example or illustration you can use is that in Arabic the phrase “son of” is used to show a place of origin, for example people from Lebanon are called “son of Lebanon.” In Egypt it is very common to hear “son of the Nile.” We can use these examples to show a Muslim that Jesus is the Son of God because He came from God.

Did Jesus Really Die on the Cross? 

For a Muslim, Jesus did not die on the cross. They refuse to believe that a merciful God would kill a Prophet. For them, God disguised Judas Iscariot as Jesus and Judas was the one who died on the cross, not Jesus. They believe Jesus was hidden and then he went to heaven. There is a simple quranic verse we can use to prove that Jesus really died. Surah 19:33 is Jesus speaking and according to the quran he talks about his death, “And peace is on me the day I was born and the day I will die and the day I am raised alive.” 

We can use this verse and ask them about what they think about that. After that you can read with them Isaiah 53 and ask them who they think the verse is talking about. You can show them how this passage points to Jesus and tell them the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22. Explain to them that Jesus was the Lamb. Read to them this passage from John:

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
-John 1:29

This verse also talks about the Lamb of God. Explain to them why the death of Jesus on the cross is so important; you can use illustrations such as a judge and a jury and how Jesus is our only solution when we are judged by a just God.

God Can Use You to Share the Good News to the Muslims.

I encourage you to keep researching on this subject to be able to be fully prepare to share the gospel to a Muslim. We only covered the basics, but even though you do not know everything about Islam, you are capable by the Holy Spirit to share to any Muslim. Take into consideration that we do not want to argue with them like Paul encourage us in 1 Peter:

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.
-1 Peter 3:15

As we share the gospel with them let us not forget that the word of God is powerful to change every heart and that Jesus loves every Muslim. We can share that love by our example, love, and by showing them the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Cosmic Battle for the Family

As a father goes, so goes the household. And as the household goes, so goes society.
-Michael Foster

Fathers are essential to families. Men leading by Christian virtue is essential to fatherhood. And godly families are essential to having a good society. The culture at large would have us believe otherwise, but if God created the institution of family, does he not have the authority to say how it ought to be? God has an intended design for what man and woman are and what a family and its purpose is. Satan has been at work in our society, seeking to destroy its foundation. If Christians are going to win the cosmic battle for the family then we need to make a few observations:

  • God’s design of man and woman for marriage is the only design that works.
  • Fathers are integral to a child’s development and the family’s stability.
  • Sex is a sacred act, given by God as a gift within His parameters.

The secular world will never admit these facts. Rather than seeking to encourage strong families, there are forces at play that propagate its very destruction. We see this firstly in the attack on design.

Attack on Design

God implemented the institution of the family at the very beginning with Adam and Eve. Going through Genesis we see that God’s intended design for marriage was the joining together of one man and one woman (Gen. 2:24) with the mission to “be fruitful and multiply” and to take dominion over all the Earth (Gen. 1:28).

Satan has been attacking God’s design for the family ever since sin entered the world. In America, we have seen the degeneration of biblical marriage and biblically-informed ideas about family. In the past few decades alone, this country has legalized no-fault divorce, gay marriage, and abortion. Notice that the legalization of these three things is intimately tied to the institution of family:

  • No-fault divorce reduces the meaning of wedding vows and a marriage covenant.
  • Gay marriage is antithetical to the true nature and purpose of marriage.
  • Abortion attacks our God-given mandate to bear fruit and multiply and eliminates the consequences of fornication.

Why is Satan so focused on tearing down God’s family design? It’s because he knows that there is power in God’s people coming together and faithfully creating the next generation of God-worshippers. And when that generation grows up living for Christ, they continue the pattern of creating the next God-fearing generation. The fight for the sanctity of God’s design of marriage and family is a cosmic battle that we need to fight together.

Attack on Men

There has been a multi-generational attack on biblical manhood that is most noticeable in our culture today. The number of examples that could be given on this topic would take a large series of articles to fully analyze. Suffice it to say, masculinity is demonized in our culture. But it takes biblically masculine men to lead their families in following after Christ.

This is because a father is designed to create stability and structure within their family. But when a father is absent from their family, the mother ends up bearing responsibility that she was not originally intended to bear. The impacts of absentee fathers are various but are most noticeable in their children. Multiple studies have shown that children growing up without a father in the household are influenced to such a degree that it correlates with their development, behavior, and even their economic situation.

All this to say that having Christian men leading their homes is vitally important. It’s important to God and it’s important to having a faithful, God-fearing society. This is why we need to encourage biblical masculinity in men.

Let it not go unmentioned that encouraging biblical femininity in women is essential to God’s design and purpose for family as well. While the scope of this article is primarily centered around fathers, motherhood ought to be recognized for the powerful role that it plays in a family as well. Children that grow up without a mother suffer similarly to children that grow up without a father. Mother and fathers are equally essential to raising a family in the way that God intended.

Attack on Sex

Being a man isn’t just about being masculine, though. If that masculinity isn’t accompanied by virtue then the result is selfish men seeking to please their lustful desires.

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God.
-1 Thess. 4:3-5

God intended for us, men and women, to have great self-control over our sinful desires. But Satan has influenced the majority of culture today to give in to whatever “feels good” to us at the moment. Our culture views pre-marital sex as the norm and shames those who refrain from it. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to us, for even in Paul’s day people approved those who practiced sexual immorality (Rom. 1:32).

The perversion of sex in our culture has led to the tragedy of abortion. Men and women seek to escape the consequences of their actions by murdering their children. Children are gifts from the Lord (Ps. 127:3) and ought to be cherished. Every Christian should be united in fighting against this horror. 

Satan has strategically attacked the God-given mandate to be fruitful and multiply by influencing the widespread approval of legal child-murder. This has no doubt encouraged pre-marital sex and distorted God’s design for biblical sex. This is why we must be led by the word of God, grow in self-control, and stand up for truth at all costs.

Imminent Victory

Regardless of rampant fatherlessness, the deconstruction of the family, or the legal murder of children, Jesus Christ is Lord over everything. He is sovereign and is bringing all things under His rule (Ps. 110:1). It is because Christ sits at the right hand of the Father that we can faithfully and confidently proclaim the good news of the gospel. As God works through His people to confront the culture with His good news, we can rest assured that we are not fighting an uphill battle. Jesus Christ is King and already has the victory secured for us.

Rules of Engagement

Practically, Christians can be doing things to further the gospel and God’s design for the family. Bringing the gospel to the front lines of abortion mills is vital. Countless children have been saved at the hands of Christians who go to the clinics and plead for life.

We can also always seek to grow in holiness and purity, remembering that it is Christ who gives us that very power to will and work for His pleasure (Phil 2:13).

Christians should hope to see societal improvement. Since the dawn of creation, God gave us the mandate to take dominion over the earth. This is one of the reasons that He created the institution of the family. God’s word has a lot to say about the nature and purpose of family, and our worldview should be informed by His word. We are currently in a war of worldviews, so it is important to think through these things with Scripture as our foundation.

If Christians want to honor our Lord in this cosmic battle for the family, we must trust in the Father who will never abandon His children, and go forth bearing the message of His Son who came to save rebels like you and me.