• Should the Government Legislate Marriage?

    by Tom Hicks on June 20, 2015

    MarriageThe Supreme Court is hearing arguments for the redefinition of marriage, and many Christians wonder whether or not the government has any business setting the limits of marriage at all.

    I don’t believe the institutional church should generally try to formulate specific public policy or identify herself with particular political issues or candidates. But the church is charged with preaching the whole counsel of God and seeking to form Christian conscience around God’s Word. The purpose of this post is briefly to survey what Scripture has to say about the government’s role in legislating the definition of marriage. (more…)

  • What Kinds of Sin Warrant Church Discipline?

    by Tom Hicks on May 6, 2015

    Church DisciplineOccasionally, when discussions of church discipline arise, some people worry that discipline might be applied to every kind of sin. If we discipline people who persist unrepentantly in adultery, does that mean that we should also discipline people for not giving faithfully, for not reading their Bibles and praying faithfully, for marital conflict, etc.?  Where do we draw the line?   (more…)

  • True and False Repentance: What’s the difference? John Colquhoun answers.

    by Tom Hicks on April 23, 2015

    Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 12.52.18 PMIn his excellent book, Repentance, John Colquhoun gives 8 distinctions between true and counterfeit repentance. For ease of reading, I’ll put his points in my own words and provide summaries and quotations under each point, though I haven’t distinguished between quotations and summaries.

    1. False repentance flows from faith in the law (as a covenant) and is legal; but true repentance flows from true faith in the law and the gospel.

    False repentance comes from a temporary faith in the commands and curses of the broken law which a falsely repentant man fears. When the holy law strikes his conscience, he is forced to believe that it requires perfect obedience and its curse for disobedience stands against him. The only refuges  he has from the curse of the law to pacify his guilty conscience and to satisfy Divine justice and to give himself hope include verbal resolutions, reformations, renewed duties, and other self-righteous schemes. He does not actually become righteous because he seeks it by works (Rom 9:31-32). He may pretend some regard to Christ in this legal progress. He may hope that God, for the sake of Christ, will accept his repentance and forgive his sins.

    True repentance, however, flows from humble belief in the law and gospel. Godly sorrow for sin and turning from the love and practice of sin to the love and practice of holiness issue from reliance on the righteousness of Jesus Christ for all our title to pardon and sanctification and from trusting in Him for pardoning mercy and sanctifying grace. True repentance has a humbling, self-condemning, broken, whole-hearted longing for God’s pardoning mercy. (more…)

  • Dear Christian: THINK Before You Jump On The Bandwagon Against Indiana

    by Shawn Merithew on April 1, 2015

    photo-1427348693976-99e4aca06bb9 We are obligated by Scripture to serve, love, and even sacrifice for the sake of manifesting Christ and communicating His gospel to all persons, whether they be homosexuals, racists, liars, murderers, idolaters, fornicators, tyrants, or any other type of sinner. Christ has instructed us to love even those who are our personal enemies, even when they are persecuting us and pouring out hate upon us. (Matt 5:44, Luke 6:27,35) We are to live this way because we ourselves were once murderers, liars, fornicators, racists, homosexuals, and persecutors of Christians (1 Cor 6:9-11). The only difference between us and any other sinner is the fact that we have been forgiven through faith in Christ. And because we now love Him, we are compelled to actively demonstrate His love and communicate the truth of His grace and forgiveness to all of our fellow sinners, without exception. (Titus 3:1-8) (more…)

  • WANTED: A New Denominational Metric

    by Shawn Merithew on March 23, 2015

    tEREUy1vSfuSu8LzTop3_IMG_2538The metric system never really caught on here in the United States. Most all of us learned it in school, and though we are reluctant to admit it, it is a much better system. A thousand millimeters makes a meter, and a thousand meters makes a kilometer. Could conversions be more simple? But using the metric system is like having to speak the Spanish I learned in high school — it’s difficult and unnatural for me. It doesn’t matter if I have a hard time remembering how many feet are in a mile; I like the ease and comfort of what I’ve always known.

    When we talk about how we measure health or success in our Southern Baptist Convention, we also have a system of measurement that we find quite comfortable. Amidst all the information we record on our annual church profiles, there are three main measurements that seem to define church health: number of members, number of baptisms, and number of dollars given to the Cooperative Program. Any church with an upward trajectory in these three units of measure is labeled ‘Missional’ and the pastor is automatically qualified for upper echelon leadership in the SBC. This is just how we think. It doesn’t matter that this system isn’t exactly biblical and that it frequently hides an underlying pandemic of unregenerate membership. These units of measurement are comfortable, easy to track, and they are what we’ve always known. (more…)

  • Why is Denying Justification such a Serious Error?

    by Tom Hicks on February 23, 2015

    JustificationThe doctrine of justification by faith alone on the ground of Christ’s imputed righteousness remains under direct attack in various quarters. Reformulations of the doctrine among proponents of the New Perspectives on Paul (Sanders, Dunn, Wright) as well as men such as Dan Fuller, Norman Shepherd, and Peter Leithart have dangerously distorted the biblical teaching.  As someone who wrote his PhD dissertation on the doctrines of justification in Richard Baxter and Benjamin Keach, I am convinced that modifying the biblical doctrine is a serious theological error. As a pastor of a local church, I have observed how the doctrine of justification humbles the proud, strengthens the fainthearted, gives assurance to the fearful, encourages vulnerable and motivates self-sacrificing love. To deny this doctrine is to deny the very heart and power of the gospel. May the Lord bring theological clarity on this doctrine for the sake of His own glory and for the good of His beloved bride. (more…)

  • What is Contentment?

    by Tom Hicks on February 12, 2015

    Rare JewelI’ve been reading Jeremiah Burroughs classic book, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, and wanted to share a bit of it here.  If you haven’t read this book, let me encourage you to get it and read it.  American culture fosters discontentment and all the miseries and heartaches that go along with it.  Discontentment is coveting what we do not have, longing for it, believing that if we have it, then we will be satisfied.  To be content is to obey the 10th commandment, “You shall not covet” in the power of Christ and the gospel of grace.  Here are 20 ways that Burroughs describes contentment:

    “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Phil 4:11). (more…)

  • The Difference Between the True Christian and the Hypocrite

    by Tom Hicks on January 22, 2015

    Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 5.24.12 PMHow can you tell whether you’re a genuine believer or a false professor? One of the best books describing the true nature of conversion is The Christian’s Great Interest by William Guthrie. The great Puritan theologian, John Owen, highly commended it and wrote, “The author [of The Christian’s Great Interest] I take to have been one of the greatest divines that ever wrote; it is my Vade-mecum [that is, “handbook”], and I carry it and the Sedan New Testament, still about with me. I have written several folios, but there is more divinity in it than in them all.”

    Consider what William Guthrie says in chapter 5 of his book about the differences between the true Christian and the hypocrite. Here are some ways in which the hypocrite may be like the Christian. (more…)

  • Why are we having special topical and thematic studies in Sunday School?

    by Tom Hicks on January 20, 2015

    StudyOn February 15, we’ll begin having special topical and thematic study classes during the Sunday School hour that will work very much like MIT did on Sunday evenings. After 10 weeks of special studies, we’ll switch back to the expositional model of Sunday School. Later in the year, we’ll introduce another 10 weeks of special studies, and then we’ll switch back again. So, why are we doing this? What are the reasons for the change? Consider these four reasons. (more…)

  • Answering Some Objections to Sabbath Day Observance

    by Tom Hicks on November 19, 2014

    SabbathIn a previous post, I briefly sketched the Bible’s doctrine of the Sabbath day. Like nearly every doctrine of the Christian faith, the doctrine of the Sabbath is controversial among some Christians today. In this post, I’ll try to answer some of the most common objections to Sabbath observance.

    1. New Testament Passages. Those who say Christians are not obligated to observe the Sabbath day often point to four key New Testament passages to make their case: Romans 14:1-9, Galatians 4:10, Colossians 2:16, and Hebrews 4:3-10. Let’s consider these one at a time. (more…)

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