Month: August 2022

No Place Like It – The Great Hope Of The Saints


Revelation 21:10-21 NIV

10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 

12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 

14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15 The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 16 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia[a] in length, and as wide and high as it is long. 

17 The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits[b] thick.[c] 18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 

19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.[d] 

21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.

Philippians 3:20 New International Version

20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,

1 Peter 2:11-12 New International Version

Living Godly Lives in a Pagan Society

11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

1 John 2:15-17 New International Version

On Not Loving the World

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father[a] is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

Exodus 28:17-20 New International Version

17 Then mount four rows of precious stones on it. The first row shall be carnelian, chrysolite and beryl; 18 the second row shall be turquoise, lapis lazuli and emerald; 19 the third row shall be jacinth, agate and amethyst; 20 the fourth row shall be topaz, onyx and jasper.[a] Mount them in gold filigree settings.

Scriptures On Repentance


SCRIPTURES ON REPENTANCE

Mar 1:15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Mat 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Act 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Act 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;

Act 8:22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.

Act 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every

Mar 6:12 And they went out, and preached that men should repent.

Act 26:20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.

Rev 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

Rev 2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

Rev 2:21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.

Rev 2:22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

Rev 3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

Rev 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Mat 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

Mar 2:17 When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Luk 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

Luk 5:32 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Luk 15:7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Luk 24:47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Act 5:31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

Act 11:18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

Act 20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

Act 26:20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. Rom 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

2Co 7:9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.

2Co 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

2Ti 2:25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

Heb 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,

Heb 12:17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

2Pe 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

The Only Way To Win It Is To Loose It

Aug 15, 2022 the_title_attributes by Percy Parakh

“The only way to gain your life is to give it up. The only way to win it is to lose it.” | Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth #BrokennessBook

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” | Matthew 16:24-28

No More Tears – The Great Hope Of The Saints

Aug 9, 2022 the_title_attributes by Percy Parakh

Revelation 21:1-9 NIV

A New Heaven and a New Earth

21 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

The New Jerusalem, the Bride of the Lamb

One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”

Matthew 24:8 Amplified Bible

But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs [of the intolerable anguish and the time of unprecedented trouble].

Matthew 24:13 King James Version

13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

2 Timothy 2:8-13 King James Version

8 Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:

9 Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound.

10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

11 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:

12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:

13 If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

Revelation 2:10 King James Version

10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

Revelation 21:4 King James Version

4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Numbers 23:19 King James Version

19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

Revelation 2:11-19 King James Version

11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;

13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.

14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.

15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.

16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;

19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.

Romans 8:20-22 King James Version

20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,

21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

Genesis 3:15 King James Version

15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Revelation 20:10-15 King James Version

10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

2 Peter 3:10-13 King James Version

10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,

12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

Leviticus 26:11-12 King James Version

11 And I set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you.

12 And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.

Exodus 40:34-35 King James Version

34 Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.

35 And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.

1 Kings 8:10-11 King James Version

10 And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord,

11 So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord.

1 John 5:4-5 King James Version

4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

The Characteristics Of The Holy Spirit


Ephesians 4:30 NIV

30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Romans 8:11 NIV

11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of[a] his Spirit who lives in you.

1 Peter 1:2 NIV

who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:

Isaiah 57:15 NIV

15 For this is what the high and exalted One says—
    he who lives forever, whose name is holy:
“I live in a high and holy place,
    but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly
    and to revive the heart of the contrite.

Zechariah 4:6-9 NIV

So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.

“What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘God bless it! God bless it!’”

Then the word of the Lord came to me: “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you.

Galatians 5:22-23 NIV

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Jelly Fish Christianity


It was a rousing mid-sermon rebuke — the kind to make you sit up in your pew.

“Jesus, being made perfect,” the preacher continued, “became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him. And this Jesus, was, of course, designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. . . .”

The congregation doesn’t hide puzzled expressions. He pauses.

Melchize-who? Their sleepy faces wondered.

“Order of Melchizedek. . . .

. . . The King of Salem . . . “King of Righteousness”?

. . . Priest of the Most High who blesses Abram?

. . . In whose line the Messiah will serve as priest forever?

Maybe if he said, “Order of the Phoenix,” some might have recollected better, but “Melkitsadek” garnered little familiarity.

At this, he departs from his manuscript, walks around his pulpit, and looks them in the eye:

About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food. (Hebrews 5:11–14)

These grown men and women, Christians for some time now, started off well (Hebrews 10:32–34), yet still needed doctrinal milk, and not solid food. Although by now they should have been sharp on how the Christian should read the Old Testament, their dull ears (literally “sluggish”) made them perpetual students taking the same courses over and over. The author of Hebrews expected them to uncover Messianic treasures, pointing irreversibly to Jesus, in the deeps of God’s word; instead, they were still treading water on the surface.

Believers on the Bottle

Do texts like Hebrews 5:11–14 not vindicate for all time the careful study of God’s word, a hearty adherence to the whole counsel of God, a glad obedience to the fullness of its teaching? If the specifics of an enigmatic figure in Genesis 14 and Psalm 110 — one who many today might be tempted to deem obscure or irrelevant — has its proper place in the Christian mind, how much more the more conspicuous points?

Yet how many small groups or Sunday schools or Bible studies around the Western world today know much (if anything) about Psalm 110:4 and the priestly order of Melchizedek? Of its significance compared to the Aaronic order? The question grows sharpest, however, when we ask, How many want to know? How many of us, through disobedience and stagnancy, become “dull of hearing”?

Some modern minds seem to enshrine ignorance of finer points of Christian thought and doctrine as a Christian virtue. Particulars of Christian dogma they see as only useful to fracture, puff up, or make one useless in this world. Seminaries, in their view, are better called “cemeteries,” for higher education is where passion and love go to die.

God’s truth — that stubborn and imperishable reality that shall outlive the stars — has fallen on hard times with them. They do not wish to draw unwelcome lines, and what’s more, they believe this to be a very charitable and beautiful thing in the world. They seem altogether proud of their non-denominational, non-doctrinal, non-distinctive, and non-divisive faith. This, they say, is Christianity at its finest. Death, they cry, to circling round and round in endless debate over texts and theological jargon. Back to what Jesus gave us: a religion of love.

So much fighting exists already; they preach unity. Everywhere they see bitterness and rage; why should they argue? The most expedient thing to do, in a world of conflicting opinions — especially about religion — is to cast particularities of Christian interpretation, and in some cases, religion itself, overboard.

Lovers of First Grade

“Carried away by a fancied liberality and charity,” J.C. Ryle wrote in 1877, “they seem to think everybody is right and nobody is wrong, every clergyman is sound and none are unsound, everybody is going to be saved and nobody going to be lost. Their religion is made up of negatives; and the only positive thing about them is that they dislike distinctness and think all extreme and decided and positive views are very naughty and very wrong!” (Holiness, 278).

What it means that God predestines unto salvation, that Christ is the only way, that you must be born again, that by works of the law none will be justified, that God’s design entails differences between men and women — seem so small from their lofty perch. Faintly they hear the combatant chirping over particular views, but what is that to them? Catholic, Protestant, “spiritual, but not religious” — they see nothing really all that different in the end. Different shades of gray, they might call it.

They love doctrinal milk, love the first grade. Their vague creed of love sends them away from controversy, away from laborious study, away from loving God with “all their mind,” away from such “trivialities” as the order of Melchizedek, indeed, away from the Bible itself, beyond a favorite verse or two. And some take this to be more Christlike because it fosters unity better, or it is thought, than a religion filled with doctrinal detail.

Good Vibes Christianity

Christian teaching does divide. It separates “self-made religion” from heavenly, all other gospels from the true one, the proud from the humble, the false from the true, the goats from the sheep, the unsound from the sound, the passing away from the eternal, the teachings of demons and the teachings of Christ.

“Christian teaching separates the goats from the sheep, the unsound from the sound, the passing away from the eternal.”

Christians ought to be Berean, lovers of God’s word, lovers of steak. What is true of the nobler Jew has been true of the noble Christian throughout history: “they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

But what of our unity? It is precious, “good and pleasant” (Psalm 133:1), a gift from above not based on vague spiritualism or good vibes; real unity does not seek to discover how little can be believed. No, we embrace and teach and love the whole counsel of God. Love for others is nourished by doctrinal meat; by Scripture, all of Scripture — without abridgment or apology. As we confess in the Desiring God Affirmation of Faith, “Our aim is to encourage a hearty adherence to the Bible, the fullness of its truth, and the glory of its Author” (15.2). This alone “stabilizes saints in the winds of confusion and strengthens the church in her mission to meet the great systems of false religion and secularism.”

We will not agree to a man on every point; some distinctions will separate some of us from the particulars of weekly fellowship. But even then, as the Church, our superseding oneness in Christ makes our unity stronger than it ever could have been in untruth, error, and apathy, in clawing for the least common denominator, rather than turning our souls to God’s word as supreme, and then finding who are our fellows.

Need of the Hour

Our souls need more than little-truth, little-light, little-belief. Our souls need a feast of pure meat and holy potatoes to gird us up for life’s hardships. Milk-and-water theological minimalism may sustain infants, but not for long.

“Our souls need more than little-truth, little-light, little-belief.”

“We must charge home into the consciences of these men of broad views,” as Ryle put it, “and demand a plain answer to some plain questions. We must ask them to lay their hands on their hearts, and tell us whether their favorite opinions comfort them in the day of sickness, in the hour of death, by the bedside of dying parents, by the grave of beloved wife or child. We must ask them whether a vague earnestness, without definite doctrine, gives them peace at seasons like these” (31).

And our neighbors, coworkers, and family members need to be met with weighty-truths, broad-shouldered beliefs, and a living faith in the living Savior. All of which give us reason to smile, not frown.

What Ryle calls that spiritual “colorblindness” that “fancied liberality,” that “boneless, nerveless, jellyfish condition of soul,” that “pestilence which walks in darkness . . . a destruction that kills at noonday” (328) — cannot be the religion that turned the world upside down.

Mark what I say. If you want to do good in these times, you must throw aside indecision, and take up a distinct, sharply-cut, doctrinal religion. . . . The victories of Christianity, wherever they have been won, have been won by distinct doctrinal theology; by telling men roundly of Christ’s vicarious death and sacrifice; by showing them Christ’s substitution on the cross, and his precious blood; by teaching them justification by faith, and bidding them believe on a crucified Savior; by preaching ruin by sin, redemption by Christ, regeneration by the Spirit; by lifting up the brazen serpent; by telling men to look and live — to believe, repent, and be converted. (328)

Dare then, Christian, to have decided beliefs in this world. Satan and his demons are decided. The world is concrete in its creed. False teachers are bold in their belief. Those attempting to uncreate God’s reality are firmly concluded. Will we not be?

And in such courage, we will not find ourselves alone but flanked — by real fellows, with whom we will then taste true unity.Greg Morse is a staff writer for desiringGod.org and graduate of Bethlehem College & Seminary. He and his wife, Abigail, live in St. Paul with their son and daughter.

A digest from Desiring God

Present Forever – The Word: The Agent Of Creation

Aug 3, 2022 the_title_attributes by Percy Parakh

John 14:15-29 NIV

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[a] in you. 

18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 

21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.

How Much Should Doctrine Divide Us


On the night before he died, as Jesus looked at his twelve men and, beyond them, the billions who one day would follow him, he prayed for a oneness that would make the world take notice: “[I ask] that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you” (John 17:21). Father, take Jews and Gentiles, men and women, old and young, and make them one. Heaven-sent unity was his great prayer for us.

And yet, just moments earlier, he voiced another request that gives Christian unity a tension and a tang: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). Father, take these disciples, and bind them by your word. Spirit-given truth was also his great prayer for us.

Jesus wants his church to be one, and to be wise. He wants us to love all his people, and to treasure all his word. He wants us to offer an earthly illustration of Trinitarian unity, and an earthly witness to Trinitarian truth.

Few Christians and churches naturally maintain a balanced grasp on both prayers; on our own, we tend to drift toward a “unity” that erodes truth, or a “truth” that destroys unity. And so, we often need recalibrating: our inner ecumenist needs more backbone; our inner watchdog needs less bite.

To that end, one ancient tool, rearticulated and clarified in recent decades, may help: theological triage.

What Is Theological Triage?

Theological triage — a term coined by Albert Mohler in 2005 — seeks to organize Christian truth on different tiers, ranging from essential doctrines to more peripheral teachings. In a helpful recent book, for example, Gavin Ortlund offers the following fourfold model:

  • First-rank doctrines are essential to the gospel itself.
  • Second-rank doctrines are urgent for the health and practice of the church such that they frequently cause Christians to separate at the level of local church, denomination, and/or ministry.
  • Third-rank doctrines are important to Christian theology but not enough to justify separation or division among Christians.
  • Fourth-rank doctrines are unimportant to our gospel witness and ministry collaboration. (Finding the Right Hills to Die On, 19)

Rightly handled, theological triage does not justify indifference to doctrines below the first tier. All Scripture carries God’s breath (2 Timothy 3:16), and so, when Jesus prayed that we would be sanctified “in the truth,” he meant all of it — every iota (Matthew 5:18).

Nevertheless, Scripture itself treats some doctrines as more foundational than others, and theological triage seeks to follow suit. As Jesus spoke of “weightier matters of the law” (Matthew 23:23), and as Paul spoke of the gospel as “of first importance” (1 Corinthians 15:3), so theological triage seeks to differentiate the weightiest, most important doctrines from those with less urgency. (Hence Mohler’s triage image: ER doctors treat gunshot wounds differently from sprained ankles.)

The main benefit, as we’ll see, is balance and wisdom in our pursuit of unity. We don’t minimize mountains, and we don’t magnify molehills.

Science and Art

As in a medical context, the process of triage is often complex. We will not always discern immediately whether a doctrine fits on the first tier (dividing Christians from non-Christians), the second tier (dividing local churches, denominations, or ministries), or the third tier (dividing nothing). Triage is both science and art; it requires both intellectual perception and spiritual wisdom; it runs on both careful judgment and godly instinct.

“Triage is both science and art; it runs on both careful judgment and godly instinct.”

The same doctrine, for example, may fit into a different category depending on the situation. As Ortlund observes, the issue of spiritual gifts sometimes fits on the second tier — but not always. Currently, a convinced cessationist gladly worships in the continuationist church where I serve.

Cultural or missiological contexts also influence the practice of triage. New churches on unreached frontiers, along with some missionary teams, may lower some typical second-tier doctrines to the third tier. In America, a church’s elders might limit membership to those who have been baptized as believers; in Afghanistan, the elders might not, or might not yet (and wisely so).

At times, even evaluating first-tier disagreements calls for wisdom. One person may reject justification by faith because he doesn’t understand it; another may reject the doctrine because he understands and hates it. The first situation calls for careful teaching and further evaluation, while the second does not.

More complexities could be mentioned (see Joe Rigney’s article “How to Weigh Doctrines for Christian Unity”), but these suffice to show the need for humility, patience, and collective wisdom rather than individual reflex. We read of a plurality of local-church elders in the New Testament, and for good reason. Theological triage happens best in a group of spiritually discerning pastors, men who have their eyes on the flock and are wise to the needs, dangers, and opportunities of their local context.

Just as ER doctors need more than medical knowledge to practice triage well, a church’s elders need more than scriptural knowledge to do the same. They need to know not only the canon of Scripture, but also the case before them and the context around them. They need to ask, “All things considered, is this doctrine worth dividing over now?”

Three Triage Tests

In his book When Doctrine Divides the People of God, Rhyne Putman offers three tests to aid the discernment process (220–39):

  • The hermeneutical test: the clearer the Bible teaches a doctrine, the more likely it belongs on a higher tier.
  • The gospel test: the more central a doctrine is to the gospel, the more likely it belongs on a higher tier.
  • The praxis test: the more a doctrine affects the practice of a church, the more likely it belongs on a higher tier.

These three tests won’t answer every question, but they do offer a start. Consider where some common doctrines fall after running them through hermeneutics, gospel, and praxis:

  • Doctrines like the deity of Christ and the Trinity (clear hermeneutically and central to the gospel) belong on the first tier.
  • Doctrines related to baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the callings of men and women (less clear hermeneutically, but still near the gospel and shaping a church’s praxis) typically belong on the second tier.
  • Doctrines like the age of the earth or the nature and timing of Christ’s millennial reign (less clear hermeneutically, less connected to the gospel, and less important for a church’s praxis) typically belong on the third tier.

Again, however, each category admits of complexity, requiring churches to practice triage in light of individual cases and their broader context.

Why Practice Theological Triage?

If theological triage involves such complexity, why practice it? Because, in all likelihood, only a habit like this one will keep our heartbeats in rhythm with Jesus’s John 17 prayer. Only as we distinguish doctrines will we learn to avoid the dangers of theological maximalism, theological minimalism, and what we might call unconscious triage.

THEOLOGICAL MAXIMALISM

Theological maximalists, or theological sectarians, may differentiate doctrine to a degree — they may not equate Christ’s deity and a church’s form of government, for example. But they tend to raise third-tier doctrines to the second tier, and second-tier doctrines to the first tier. And in so doing, they often separate when they should tolerate, divide when they should bear with. Afraid of wolves, they attack other sheep.

Maximalists rightly sense that protecting sound doctrine sometimes calls for strong words; like Jude, they “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” But as Ortlund points out, they do not necessarily share Jude’s eagerness to celebrate “our common salvation” (Jude 3). And so, failing to distinguish the weightiest from the less weighty, they can end up cutting at the limbs of Christ’s body.

THEOLOGICAL MINIMALISM

Theological minimalists also struggle to speak of “weightier matters” — not, however, because they raise so many doctrines to the higher tiers, but because they raise so few there. If pressed, they may agree that an anti-Trinitarian cannot be a Christian, but only if pressed. On their own, minimalists tend to lower first-tier doctrines to the second tier, and second-tier doctrines to the third tier. And in so doing, they often say, “Unity! Unity!” when there is no unity (Jeremiah 6:148:11).

“True unity requires an immovable core of conviction; otherwise, what are we even uniting around?”

Minimalists seek to embody the seventh beatitude — “Blessed are the peacemakers” — but they rarely or never take stands strong enough to embody the eighth: “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Matthew 5:10–11). They struggle to see that true peace, true unity, requires an immovable (and sometimes offensive) core of conviction; otherwise, what are we even uniting around?

UNCONSCIOUS TRIAGE

Perhaps the best reason to practice theological triage, however, is because we already functionally do. We can’t help but treat some doctrines as weightier than others. And unless we have carefully considered which doctrines really are weightier, our approach to triage likely will be shaped less by Scripture and more by a mixture of personality, background, and whim.

Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for “straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel” (Matthew 23:24), and many of us, though less hypocritical, need to hear the same warning. Naturally, we are peculiarly attuned to some gnats and strangely dense to some camels: some vehemently contend for a young or old earth but breeze past justification; some attack complementarians or egalitarians as Athanasius attacked Arius, but dismiss Trinitarian controversies with a wave. We cannot abide the gnat in our stew, but we can stomach the camel in our meatloaf.

Theological triage, then, helps us weigh not only doctrines, but ourselves. It exposes our own besetting tendencies, and it invites us to recalibrate our unconscious models according to Scripture’s own example.

Loving Unity, Treasuring Truth

How will we know if we are growing to weigh doctrines as God himself does?

Those who tend toward theological maximalism will find themselves enduring disagreements when they would have broken fellowship beforehand; those who tend toward theological minimalism will find themselves ruffling more feathers than none. Maximalists will not treat second- and third-tier doctrines as unimportant, but they will learn to lower their voice when they talk about them; minimalists, meanwhile, will not roll their eyes when they see a brother or sister contending for precious truth. Minimalists will learn to fight more; maximalists will learn to fight themselves more.

And all of us, wherever we naturally tend, will hear ourselves praying more often, “Father, make us one” — then, in the next breath, “and bind us by your truth.”Scott Hubbard is an editor for Desiring God, a pastor at All Peoples Church, and a graduate of Bethlehem College & Seminary. He and his wife, Bethany, live with their two sons in Minneapolis.

Dying To Self – For Your Good And His Glory

Aug 3, 2022 the_title_attributes by Percy Parakh

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:23–24).

Familiarity with these verses can often cloud their obvious meaning: to follow Jesus is to die. And though we may plaster them on our Facebook walls or quote them in our email signatures, our experience is rarely aligned with the daily dying prescribed in Jesus’ words.

The cross Jesus speaks of is not a piece of jewelry or home décor; it is an instrument of brutal death. And we are asked to take up this lethal tool daily. Every single day. To follow Jesus is to die daily.

An Unexpected Death

I had been following Jesus for many years when I married Jimmy. But my aversion to dying to self would have convinced you I had just begun. Jimmy’s budding career as a Christian recording artist held a knife to the throat of my own self-importance. As his fame grew, mine faded into his shadow. No longer recognized for my own spirituality or accomplishments, I was simply the lucky wife of a very gifted and spiritually mature man. His sidekick. His tagalong.

For the first time, I felt the sting of death closing in . . . and I wasn’t ready for it. I thought I knew how to lose my life for Jesus, but clearly any dying I had done hadn’t been that painful. And now I was surrounded by the inevitable death of my reputation and self-sufficient habits, and there was no way out. The significance I found in being a good Christian girl, the delight I had in being looked up to, and all the perks of my old life of ministry as a single person were being put to death. And it felt like it.

Getting married was the first of many seasons of death, losing my life for the sake of Christ. Though confused and angry in the moment, I now realize that God was giving me the best gift I would ever receive: freedom from myself. Because the subtleties of my sinful flesh usually manifested in “good Christian behavior,” pride and self-love had been impossible for me to detect. Since I was unaware of this growing stronghold in my life, God took the initiative to set me free. I’ve never been so grateful.

Most of us are surprised when taking up our cross actually hurts. We mistakenly assume that our fleshly desires will die easily and quickly. After all, we are new creations with the Spirit of God residing in us. But old loves and old habits still writhe in their last breaths. Physical death is messy, grievous, and terrifying. And in my experience, the losing of my life for the sake of Christ has often felt the same.

Death Is Messy

I didn’t see it coming. Since our relationship, through dating and engagement, had been like a dream, I assumed being married would be nothing less. That initial trip to Nashville, two weeks after I walked the aisle, ushered me into the most confusing year of my life. I had been hit by a wave bigger than I could handle and flailed around underwater, unsure which way was up or down.

The crucifying of my flesh in those initial moments was messy, raw, and confusing. I was convinced that what God sought to destroy was a good thing, a help and asset to my life. But the flesh, however noble it may seem to us, cannot please God nor bring about anything good. Unable to see that clearly at the time, I was left wondering and confused.

It took a couple of years and some counseling, but I was eventually able to communicate with some accuracy the good work God had been doing in my life. But until then, it was just messy.

Death Is Grievous

Dying is painful because something dearly loved is being lost forever. In the case of the Christ-follower, we are losing the self-sufficient and self-important ways that we have grown accustomed to, the pet sins we keep to comfort us on rainy days, and the worldly habits we enjoy that help us fit in on this earth. These things, though harmful to our relationship with God, don’t die without a fight. I can still feel the painful writhing in my soul as old ways and old loves take their last breath. Sorrow accompanies my internal pain as old, familiar paths are forever destroyed.

Death Is Terrifying

Death throws us into an unknown territory with no way back. What will life be like on the other side? There’s no test driving, no thirty-day return policy. Something dies and a completely new life begins. Yes, the new life promised is good, but what is a life dependent on God like? we wonder. How will we survive without our well-worn path of self-sufficiency? How treacherous is this new path? How painful? How will God’s help manifest? The challenge is that we won’t really know until self-sufficiency is six feet under and we have both feet on the rock of Christ.

Death Is a Good Thing

Yes, death is messy. Yes, death is grievous. Yes, death is terrifying. But death, for the Christ-follower, is a good thing. It ensures the demise of all that keeps us from God. It promises that sin and the flesh can be conquered with the finality of a grave.

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin (Rom. 6:3–7, emphasis mine).

The invitation to die—to take up our cross and lose our lives for Jesus—is truly an invitation to newness of life, to union with Christ, and to ultimate freedom from sin. For the one who has died has been set free from sin!

May we choose daily to die to self that we might be united with Jesus, knowing that He alone has the power to save our lives as we entrust ourselves to Him!