Weekly Once-Over (10.30.2014)

The Beauty Of The Cross: 19 Objections & Answers On Penal Substitutionary Atonement: That said, I do want to engage some of the broadly theological objections against it, as well as correct popular caricatures of the doctrine along the way. I have to say that a number of the issues that people have with penal substitution are quite understandable when you consider some of the silliness that passes for biblical preaching on the subject in popular contexts. Those who affirm the doctrine as true and beautiful do our hearers no benefit when we defend misshapen, caricatured versions of the doctrine. I’ll try to do my best to avoid that in what follows.

7 Marks Of A Deeply Deadly Sin: Not all sin is the same. While every sin places you under the wrath of God, and while any sin is sufficient to create an eternal chasm between God and man, not every sin is identical. In chapter 9 of his work Overcoming Sin and Temptation, John Owen wants you to think about that besetting sin in your life to consider if it is an “ordinary” sin, or if it is one that is particularly deadly and that, therefore, requires something more than the usual pattern of putting sin to death. The deadliness of a sin is not related so much to the category of that sin, but to how deeply-rooted it is in your life, and to how you have responded to God as he has revealed it to you.

Preparing For Sunday Worship: We count preaching as significant, so we expect our pastor will prepare his sermon before he enters the pulpit. We consider worship songs important, so we expect our music teams, pianists, and organists will appropriately prepare before sitting down at their instruments. We believe our engagement in corporate worship is essential, so we should also expect to prepare even as we expect the pastor and musicians to prepare for their participation in the Sunday morning service. How can you prepare for worship? Here are a few ideas.

3 Tips For Discipling You Kids Through Halloween: Halloween seems to be the one holiday in American Christianity that we just don’t know what to do with. We are happy to celebrate cultural or historical holidays like the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, or New Year’s Day. We love religious holidays like Easter and Christmas. But Halloween… Halloween has quite a mixed history, and so we don’t know how to approach it.

What Led You To Become An Atheist? Some Surprising Answers: What leads people away from religion and into atheism? That’s the question that fascinated Larry Taunton so much that he launched a nationwide series of interviews with hundreds of college-age atheists. His question was simple: “What led you to become an atheist?” The answers were surprising, creating a completely unexpected composite sketch of American college-aged atheists. Here’s a summary from his article.

Why Do We Anoint With Oil?: Since the oil was used in both medicinal and sacramental contexts, we at Living Stones have to keep in mind both common grace (which benefits all mankind) and special grace (which is for God’s people), if you will. We acknowledge and respect the medical community, and we believe that God works through the means of the common grace of our doctors. (James tips his hat towards the medical community, in my opinion). Yet, in prayer, we go before God, requesting that he do a miracle, something supernatural in healing the people of Living Stones. When we do this, we are asking for a special grace.

The State Of Theology: New Findings On America's Theological Health: Earlier this year, Ligonier Ministries commissioned a survey of 3,000 Americans in partnership with LifeWay Research. The survey quantified Americans’ theological knowledge and awareness. A combination of true and false statements was used to test participants. The survey addressed core doctrinal topics and issues, such as the Bible, salvation, God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, sin, the Trinity, man, hell, and the nature of the church. In our desire to serve the church in fulfilling the Great Commission, these findings help to point out common gaps in theological knowledge and awareness so that Christians might be more effective in the proclamation, teaching, and defense of the essential truths of the Christian faith.

The Evil In North Korea: That brings us to the most important thing we can do as Christians. “The real business of your life as a saved soul,” Oswald Chambers wrote a century ago, “is intercessory prayer.” If, as Asia specialist Minxin Pei observes, “No modern authoritarian dynastic regime has succeeded in passing power to the third generation,” then the Kim dynasty isn’t long for this world. Perhaps our prayers can push it over the edge.

One Trait That Set Apart The Earliest Christians: But in the second century, as Christianity emerged with a distinctive religious identity, the surrounding pagan culture began to take notice. And it didn’t like what it saw. Christians were seen as strange and superstitious—a peculiar religious movement that undermined the norms of decent society. Christians were, well, different.

The Most Neglected Part Of The Pastor's Job Description: The most significant yet unused disciple making resource we have in our churches are the older, faithful women among us. It’s to our shame if as pastors we don’t have a strategy for investing in them and seeing them invest in others. But it will be for our joy and for the church’s strength if we do.