Theology: General & Special Revelation


Over the past 8 weeks, I have had the opportunity to spend time with and co-lead a group that we just called Foundations of the Christian Faith. In essence, the intention was to offer some sort of 101 class for those who were wanting to either learn for the first time and/or for those who wanted to be reminded of the foundational beliefs of the Christian faith in order that we would be led to worship.

A couple weeks ago, I taught on the doctrine of God. It was during this time that we had some great discussion and a few wanted to go a bit deeper. For the sake of time in the class we can only cover so much material, so I’ve decided to build upon what we covered in the class here.

By way of preface, this is still by no means an exhaustive study of God, but it does offer some additional information that is beneficial for us to revel in the beauty of the one true God. I’ll cover these things in a small series of posts moving forward.

It is helpful for us to begin with the question, “Why Theology?” What does that even mean?

Theos = God

Logos = word or discourse

Therefore, Theology is a “discourse about God.” So, by studying theology, we are saying that there is, in fact, a way to know God more…that God communicates with us about himself. So, how does that work?

Revelation of God

Revelation = unveiling or disclosure. Historically, we understand God revealing himself to us in two primary ways.

General Revelation. God has revealed His nature to ALL mankind, so that all humanity is aware of God’s existence. This is general in the sense that it is not unique to only believers. This unveiling of God is evident to all of humanity. Every person in every place is a recipient of general revelation (Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:18-21). Therefore, there is no excuse for any individual anywhere to not seek out the one true God that is evident to them by way of his beauty and intricacy in all of creation. While a person does know that God exists through general revelation, they cannot know the Gospel through general revelation.

Special Revelation. Special revelation is much narrower than general revelation. While all mankind is a recipient of general revelation, not all are recipients of special revelation. Special revelation is unique to the believer and is communicated in a very specific way. I would say that special revelation is the equivalent of saying the Gospel. The Gospel is not an intuitive message. This is something that has to be revealed and/or communicated to an individual or group through either verbal or written communication (Hebrews 1:1-3; Romans 10:11-21).

Special revelation is two-fold.

  1. Revelation through the Scriptures
  2. Revelation through Jesus Christ (John 1:18, “explained/exegesis = to draw out or explain)

It is through special revelation that a person comes to know and love the person and work of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we share the Gospel and do missions so that hearts and minds are opened through special revelation to the story of redemption through God sending his son, Jesus.

to be continued…


Holy Week: in Context

holy week

Last year, Crossway published a series of short videos – one for each day of Holy Week, the final week of Jesus’ earthly life. The videos are extremely helpful in understanding the biblical, historical, cultural and theological context surrounding each day of this intense week of Jesus’ life. Understanding the context to these important events helps breath life into the narrative. Subsequently, we are then able to apply to our own lives the theological weight of Holy Week.

I’d encourage you to watch one per day throughout your week as you acknowledge and remember Holy Week. If you’re a couple videos behind – don’t be discouraged. They are short and I promise you won’t want to stop.









What Should Christians Think About Sex?


There is one topic of conversation, particularly, that gets Christians acting awkward: sex. Largely, there has been little to no conversations about sex within the church. Subsequently, Christians tend to not really know what to do with it.

There are 3 basic views of sex in our culture today.



Sex, for some, has become a religion. By that, I mean sex gives them their identity, their purpose, and their motivation in life. All of who they are is influenced by their sexuality. Everything they do is centered on hunting for those they are attracted to, so that they might have the opportunity to have sex. This person’s life is dominated and ruled by their sexual passions and desire to have sex. When they are unable to physically get sex, they turn to media via their television, dvd’s, cell phones, and tablets.

It’s called, selfish sexuality. The goal for this person is to please themselves by means of sex. Sex rules their life, like a god. Romans 1 talks about how, at that time, even though the people knew that God existed, ruled and reigned over all, they chose to worship what He created instead of Him, the creator. This is still a war that we are battling to this day.

Here are some interesting statistics from Pornography Statistics: Annual Report 2014 by Covenant Eyes. In addition, I would encourage every adult, especially parents, to at least briefly look at these statistics to better prepare your kids.



For others, sex is gross, dirty and evil. This school of thought is rooted all the way back in ancient Greek Philosophy from guys like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. They would say that the physical is bad and that the spiritual is good. Therefore, the body is bad, but the soul is good. Consequently, for them life was just the process of shedding the outer shell (i.e. the body).

So, for them, sex or any type of bodily function was a gross, dirty and evil because it’s association with the physical body. And, believe it or not, this had an vast influence on the early church fathers.

  • Origen (3rd) allegorized the Song of Songs in order to take away the physical implications and castrated himself from a literal view of Matthew 19, “If anything causes you to stumble, cut it off.”
  • Tertulian and Ambrose (4th) preferred extinction to the human race over sexuality.
  • Gregory of Nissa (4th) said that Adam and Eve did not have sex until after the fall and adds that Eve became pregnant from a particular fruit that she ate in the garden.
  • Jerome (4th-5th) threw himself into thorn bushes whenever he would be tempted sexually.
  • At one point then (12th), the Catholic Church forbids priests from marrying and then begins regulating when and where married couples can enjoy sexual freedom.
  • In the Victorian Age (19th), there was an extreme modest view where they would begin to put linens over tables because if men saw the “table legs” they might lust.

While these may seem somewhat odd and extreme, it continues to our own day where for some Christians sex for good pleasure is gross. Various parents, in an effort to encourage their kids to abstain from sex, tell them that “sex is bad, dirty, and not good, so save it for the one person that you marry.” That’s just a weird statement in itself…save the bad and dirty for the one you actually love…

While sex rules over many, it is not God. In addition, sex is not gross. It can be gross, dirty and evil when used out of its intended purpose.


For all, God says that sex is a good gift created and given for heterosexual marriage (Genesis 2:24).

Here are several thoughts on a biblical perspective and purpose of sex.

Pleasure – when we investigate the Song of Songs, children are never mentioned once. The whole book focuses on the marital intimacy between a man and a woman.

Children – Genesis 1:28, “be fruitful and multiply.” So, out of marital intimacy comes children. Many children are a blessing from the Lord (Psalm 127:4).

Oneness – Genesis 2:24 – husband and wife were “one flesh” or “wife will “cleave”. So, through marital intimacy two “become one.”

Comfort – 2 Samuel 12:24 – when a child died a husband and wife were together intimately to comfort one another.

Protection – 1 Cor. 7 – You’ll be highly tempted to sin sexually if you’re not regularly together in an intimate way. So marital intimacy is a safeguard from sinning sexually.

To glorify God – God created our bodies for all of these reasons and when you do those things in the correct context it brings glory to Him. Therefore, marital intimacy brings glory to God in that we are functioning in the purpose for which He intended.

Lastly, here are some other helpful resources for you to enjoy and grow:

A Few Thoughts on Women, Men, Porn, & Sexual Assault by Jefferson Bethke


Family, Marriage, Sex, & the Gospel by David Platt

The Heart of the Matter


The Requirement

Jesus says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart…” and “Blessed are the pure in heart, they will see God.”

So, Jesus is emphatically clear that the heart really matters. Jesus cares a lot about the heart of man. According to Jesus, we are to love God with all our hearts. In addition, if we want to see God, we must have a pure heart.

The Problem

The problem is what we discover in Proverbs 20:9, “Who can say, “I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin?”

The writer is posing a rhetorical question. The answer is no one can claim that they’ve made their own heart pure. Therefore, if one needs a pure heart to see God the implication is that no one can see God.

The question is, “Why do we do what we do?” “Why do we sin?” “Why are we impure?” Philosophy and religion, both, have attempted to answer this question. Here’s a few samples of what they have said.

  • Sigmen Froyd says, “Primal urges that we’ve picked up through our evolutionary processes.
  • Karl Young, a well noted psychologist, says, “Our problem is ultimately collective unconsciousness we’ve carried on from our racial history.”
  • Carl Rogers , an influential American phycologist, says, “We tend to overlook our goodness and we are impinged upon the culture that compels us to do bad things.”

In essence, “we are victims of genetics or environment, or heritage or upbringing.”

The Bible gives a real different diagnosis. It says that ultimately, we have a sin nature. We know that in Genesis 1 God created and everything was good. Fast forward to Genesis 3 when sin entered into the world through Adam, also known as the fall.

Additionally, the Bible teaches that we have inherited that sin nature from our father Abraham. We have a sin nature. It is not the functional sins in your life that condemn you to hell, those are just indicators that you have a sin nature and are already condemned to hell. You could live a perfect life and still be condemned to hell due to the sin nature that you inherited from Adam, also known as original sin.

When Adam sinned, we were all implicated. One of the great myths today is that we are all individual, autonomous human. We are not. You either have your sin nature from Adam or your righteousness from Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). Adam sinned and we are all implicated. This is why the Psalmist was able to say that we are wicked from our mother’s womb and it is rooted all the way down in our heart.

The Safeguard

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flows the springs of life.”

Keep an eye on your heart. The picture is that your life is like a river that is flowing from your heart, the spring. Therefore, the problems in your life have to be dealt with upstream. You can modify the river all you want to, but if the source is never addresses, eventually the pollution will come right back.

Therefore, the problems and struggles in your life are indicators of a health issue in your heart. Safeguards are great, but not that answer. They are helpful, but not the answer. If there are things you don’t want in a river, you have to go upstream and find the source of pollution. The affects are downstream, but the problem is upstream. The answer is not behavior modification, it is a heart issue.

History tells us, while not confirmed, that the early church father, Origen, from a literal translation of Matthew 9 castrated himself to keep from sexual temptation. That’s not going to work because it’s a heart issue. In the Victorian Age they began to drape linen over tables because “if men saw the legs of the tables, they might be sexually tempted.” That’s nice – and weird – , but it won’t work.

Jesus echoes the same thing.

Mark 7:20-23 says, “And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mark 7:14-23 ESV)

In this passage, Jesus is speaking to religious people and they had this ideology… “In here, I’m good” “Out there, it’s bad.” So the sin isn’t in me, it’s out there. “I’m a holy good person and the world is filled with evil.” “So as long as I stay away from it I can maintain my purity.”

Religious people tend to think this way “I am pure, the world is evil.” So, for them, the answer is stay away from the world. Jesus says, that’s not the case. He says that the world is not filled with “good people” and “bad people,” but it is filled with bad people who are either repentant or unrepentant.

So it’s not safe “out there”…and it’s not safe “in here.”

The Answer

The Bible, ultimately, says that the answer is regeneration.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 says, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”

This is a common theme in the O.T. God says this multiple times in Jeremiah. He says “I’ll give you a new what… a new heart.”

This is where Christianity is different than other religions. Other religions are about behavior modification, trying harder. Christianity is about getting a new heart. It’s not just doing better with the old heart…you get a new heart.

“…and a new spirit I will put within you…” So this is a gift of God, a work of God, and an act of God. We call it grace. The new heart has the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit and repents of sin.

Does this mean you’re perfect? No, it says a new heart, not a perfect heart. You’re still being sanctified. We still have to deal with the residue from our old sin nature and walk in the Spirit on a daily basis because the devil has come to steal, kill, and destroy.

Here are 14 marks of a new heart just from proverbs…

  1. Faith – 3:5
  2. Desires obedience – 4:4
  3. Is corrective – 5:12
  4. Teachable – 10:8
  5. Contentment – 14:30
  6. Loves wisdom – 15:14
  7. Cheerful – 15:15
  8. Helpful – 15:28
  9. Discerning – 16:21
  10. Persuasive – 16:23
  11. Humble – 18:12
  12. Intelligent – 18:15
  13. Beautiful – 27:19
  14. Repentant – 28:14

Dear Brittany Maynard: Why We Don’t Have To Be So Afraid of Dying & Suffering that We Choose Suicide


On November 1, 2014, Brittany Maynard plans to take her own life by swallowing a prescribed pill from her doctor in order to be in control of her own suffering by choosing, herself, when to end it all.

My wife and I, many of our friends, and I am sure many of your friends, have been praying for Brittany in this very bleak, raw, and real time in her young life.

In my desire to know more about Brittany Maynard’s story, I came across a beautiful letter written to Brittany by Kara Tippetts. I was so moved by her gentle, compassionate, empathetic, Gospel-centered spirit that I had to share it here. With her permission, here it is below. My hope is that you would also be moved to spend some time in prayer for both of these ladies and their families as they share their story publicly.

Letter by Kara Tippetts


Dear Brittany Maynard,

This morning my best friend and I read your story.

My heart ached for you, and I’m simply grieved by your terminal brain tumor, for the less than 6 months the doctor’s gave you, you just past your 29th birthday.

With a heavy heart, I left my home and headed for my oncologist. I too am dying, Brittany.


My oncologist and I sat for a long time with hurting hearts for your story. We spoke in gentle tones discussing the hard path you are being asked to travel.

I came home and my friend and I sat on the bed of my five year old and prayed for you. We simply prayed you would hear my words from the most tender and beautifully broken place of my heart.

We prayed you would hear my words that are on paper coming from a place of tender love and knowing. Knowing what it is to know the horizon of your days that once felt limitless now feels to be dimming.

So hear these words from a heart full of love for you.

Brittany, your life matters, your story matters, and your suffering matters. Thank you for stepping out from the privacy of your story and sharing it openly.

We see you, we see your life, and there are countless lovers of your heart that are praying you would change your mind.

Brittany, I love you, and I’m sorry you are dying. I am sorry that we are both being asked to walk a road that feels simply impossible to walk. 

I think the telling of your story is important.

I think it is good for our culture to know what is happening in Oregon.

It’s a discussion that needs to be brought out of the quiet corners and brought brightly into the light.You sharing your story has done that. It matters, and it is unbelievably important. Thank you.

Dear heart, we simply disagree. Suffering is not the absence of goodness, it is not the absence of beauty, but perhaps it can be the place where true beauty can be known.the-crucifixion-3

In your choosing your own death, you are robbing those that love you with the such tenderness, the opportunity of meeting you in your last moments and extending you love in your last breaths.

As I sat on the bed of my young daughter praying for you, I wondered over the impossibility of understanding that one day the story of my young daughter will be made beautiful in her living because she witnessed my dying.

That last kiss, that last warm touch, that last breath, matters — but it was never intended for us to decide when that last breath is breathed.

Knowing Jesus, knowing that He understands my hard goodbye, He walks with me in my dying. My heart longs for you to know Him in your dying. Because in His dying, He protected my living. My living beyond this place.

Brittany, when we trust Jesus to be the carrier, protecter, redeemer of our hearts, death is no longer dying. My heart longs for you to know this truth, this love, this forever living.

You have been told a lie. A horrible lie, that your dying will not be beautiful. That the suffering will be too great.

Today my oncologist and I spoke of your dying, of my dying, and of the beautiful partnership I have with my doctors in carrying me to my last moments with gentle care. For two thousand years doctors have lived beside the beautiful stream of protecting life and lovingly meeting patients in their dying with grace.

The doctor that prescribed you that pill you carry with you that will hasten your last breath has walked away from the hippocratic oath that says, “first, do no harm.” He or she has walked away from the oath that has protected life and the beautiful dying we are granted. The doctors agreeing to such medicine are walking away from the beautiful protection of the hippocratic oath.

There are also people who are speaking in ugly tones that make those of us who believe in Jesus seem unsafe, unkind, or unloving. Will you forgive us for the voices that feel like they are screaming at you from a heart that isn’t loving.

But in my whispering, pleading, loving voice dear heart- will you hear my heart ask you, beg you, plead with you — not to take that pill. Yes, your dying will be hard, but it will not be without beauty.


Will you please trust me with that truth.

More importantly, will you hear from my heart that Jesus loves you. He loves you. He loves you. He died an awful death upon a cross so that you would know Him today that we would no longer live separate from Him and in our death.He died and His death happened, it is not simply a story.

He died and He overcame death three days later, and in that overcoming of death He overcame the death you and I are facing in our cancer. He longs to know you, to shepherd you in your dying, and to give you life and give you life abundant- eternal life.

For everyone living knowing death is eminent- that we all will one day face this it – the question that is most important. Who is this Jesus, and what does He have to do with my dying? Please do not take that pill before you ask yourself that question.

It’s a question we all must ask, as we are all dying.

I recently wrote a book, The Hardest Peace, and I also blog about my journey of my living and my journey towards my last breath. It is not simply a story of dying of cancer, but of living this breath. It’s a book for each of us that has breath still to breath, to embrace our living, and to look upon our dying with grace.Living in BIG LOVE and meeting my end in love. Stunning, important, love.

But more than my book, I would jump on a plane tomorrow to meet you and share the beautiful brokenness of my story and meet you in yours if you would ever consider having me.

I pray my words reach you.

I pray they reach the multitudes that are looking at your story and believing the lie that suffering is a mistake, that dying isn’t to be braved, that choosing our death is the courageous story.

Nohastening death was never what God intended.

But in our dying, He does meet us with His beautiful grace.

The hippocratic oath matters, and those that are choosing to walk away from it need to be challenged.

My heart hurts that they have decided to swim from the shores of grace that it protected in our living and dying.

I get to partner with my doctor in my dying, and it’s going to be a beautiful and painful journey for us all.

But, hear me —  it is not a mistake — beauty will meet us in that last breath.

The Doctrine of the Trinity, part 1


Jokingly, I am known as the “resident theologian” at a local men’s ministry meeting. In that, I was asked to speak and teach on the doctrine of the Trinity, which is beyond any human mind.

The great church father, St. Augustine, said, “If you try to explain it [the Trinity] you’ll loose your mind. If you deny it [the Trinity] you’ll loose your soul.”

Therefore, the doctrine of the Trinity is an inexhaustible conversation. With that said, the Bible is clear in 4 different areas concerning the Trinity.


Four Essential Affirmations

The biblical teaching on the Trinity embodies four essential affirmations:

  1. There is one and only one true and living God.
  2. This one God eternally exists in three persons—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
  3. These three persons are completely equal in attributes, each with the same divine nature.
  4. While each person is fully and completely God, the persons are not identical.

The differences among Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are found in the way they relate to one another and the role each plays in accomplishing their unified purpose. The unity of nature and distinction of persons of the Trinity is helpfully illustrated in the diagram above.


To be continued…

Good Friday


Good Friday is the somber day where we remember what we did to Jesus. And it culminates with Easter Sunday where we remember what God to for us.



Part of the issue with Good Friday is emotionally connecting with the substitutionary death of Jesus in our place. The Bible does give us short details of exactly how Jesus died, and that is perhaps because many people in His day were witnesses to Crucifixion, as it was very common.



The fact that we lack firsthand knowledge of the crucifixion makes it all the more important that we take time to think through what crucifixion looks like, and the beatings and scourges.



Good Friday is to be somberly viewed as if you were sitting at a funeral of the most important man that has ever lived, the God-man, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.



I would then encourage you to spend the rest of the evening and Saturday remembering specific sins in your life where you have failed to honor and glorify God in thought, word, deed, and motive.




Then I would invite you on Easter Sunday, as Jesus got out of His grave, to also get out of your bed and get out of your house and find a Bible teaching church where Jesus is made much of.



If you reside or are visiting in the immediate area, I would love to have you join us at First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks, but as long as you gather with God’s people to remember God’s Son, we will rejoice in that.



Here are a few Good Friday resources:



3 Big Questions Kids Ask on Good Friday   | from The Resurgence

It is Finished (Good Friday)   | from Desiring God Ministries

Good Friday Reflections on Isaiah 53   | from The Village Church


If Only We Had Faith Like the Little Drummer Boy


I’m the kind of guy that begins playing Christmas music in November. Emmanuel, Joy to the World, Mary Did You Know, Angels We Have Heard on High, and Silent Night are just a few of my favorites. While I am not anti snowmen, reindeer, and Santa, I do tend to enjoy the Gospel-centered ones most. Music has always been one of the art forms that most moves me. The one Christmas song that I have most identified with this year has been The Little Drummer Boy.


Without examining each and every word of the lyrics as if it were the Bible, I want to merely give you a brief narrative of the little drummer boy and how I identify with him by looking at several phrases chronologically.


1. Our finest gifts we bring. Like the little drummer boy, I too enjoy bringing my finest gifts to the King, Jesus. The problem lies in the fact that the Bible teaches that even our finest gifts are like filthy rags – lit. dirty menstrual rags – (Isaiah 64:6).


2. I am a poor boy too. It is fitting that the little drummer boy recognizes his own poverty. What’s interesting is that it is a play on words. While the drummer boy is recognizing that Jesus was literally a poor baby, he is using a play on words to recognize that he himself is spiritually poor.


3. I have no gift to bring that’s fit to bring our king. Like the little drummer boy, once we consider our spiritual brokenness we realize that we have no gifts to bring that are fit for a king. That even our very finest are just like filthy rags.


~ Here’s the KEY ~


4. I played my drum for him; I played my best for him. The Bible teaches that in our brokenness that if we would become like children than we would be welcomed into the kingdom of God. Therefore, in humility, the little drummer boy plays a simple song on his drum for the king. Moreover, he played his best song. God is not concerned with our finest gifts, but he is concerned with our best (Genesis 4:1-16). Just as children want to please their parents with things that are so simple, the little drummer boy sought to please the king with his very best.


5. He smiled at me; me and my drum. Wow. The simple act of faith caused the King to smile. Not the drummer boy’s shiny uniform, but a simple song.


The Little Drummer Boy is just a song, but it is a song that communicates a great biblical truth: When a person gets an accurate look at themselves in the presence of the King it causes them to worship the King with their very best in humility.


Here is my favorite cover for the song:


Merry Christmas!



Several times a year major cultural norms jolt many Christians , particularly parents, into a frenzy. One of those times is the Christmas season. Jesus is the “reason for the season,” right? So, “What do we tell our kids about Santa?”


I think that the answer to that question is going to be different for different family contexts. Therefore, I am just wanting to give you some helpful resources that are my favorites as you consider what you will tell your kids about Santa and how to do Christmas as a Christian.


1. What We Tell Our Kids About Santa   by Mark Driscoll

2. Santa, Strategically   by Jen Wilkin

3. Marley and His Message to Scrooge   by R.C. Sproul

4. What Are We to Do With Santa? by Bruce Frank


Also, here is a helpful link on the dangers of taking part in the Santa tradition from a non-dogmatic viewpoint.


1. Thinking About Santa by Noel Piper


God’s best for you this Christmas!

What Will You Do With HALLOWEEN?


Whatever you do on this day, don’t go against your personal convictions and conscience. Here are 15 random things to consider if you’re still trying to decide what to do with Halloween.

1. Be a Missionary – Become all things to all men, so that some might be saved.

2. Connect with people that you might otherwise never connect with by them coming to your door or your church

3. Teach you kids about the historical theory of Halloween along with how Christ redeems stuff like this, including our hearts

4. Serve your city by donating candy or buying costumes for families that can’t afford them

5. Throw a party with good food and drinks

6. Have some hotdogs and a cold drink for families that come by to pick up candy

7. Set up a table with free Gospel-Centered books to give out for free instead of candy

8. Offer to pray for those who God sends your way (don’t be weird about it)

9. Just have fun with your kids

10. Use it as a way to help encourage your kids imagination for dressing up

11. Be considerate

12. Be safe

13. Use it as an opportunity to talk about Reformation Day

14. Focus your teaching (e.g. small group, sermon series, Sunday school, family devotions, personal devotion) on the reformation and the doctrines of grace.

15. Pray

Other Great Articles on Halloween:

6 Tips for Halloween

12 Simple Ways to Be On Mission This Halloween

3 Tips For Discipling Your Kids On Halloween

Pat Robertson Calls Halloween Satan’s Night

Schools Cancel Halloween