Is evil universal?

There is no one righteous, not even one, there is no one who understands, there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, not even one. Their throats are open graves, they deceive with their tongues, the poison of asps is under their lips, their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood, ruin and misery are in their paths, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:10-18, NET).

During decades of travel in many parts of the world, I have frequently been shocked at the amount and intensity of corruption and violence which prevails in places I have visited. I have been tempted to rate locations as to which was most corrupt, or most dangerous. However I have come to the realization that those qualities exist everywhere I have been, and am now convinced that they are truly universal. Wherever people live there are bad people with evil intent. Continue reading “Is evil universal?”

Born for this

Moments of great consequence summon the best out of us. It is at this moment that some might claim, “I was born for this.”

Never had a moment been as consequential, nor the need as great, as when God’s plan to save man approached its consummation.

Never had a person entered the world with more expectation, nor greater burden than when God clothed himself in flesh.

Never had one so perfect for the task met it with such perfection. Truly Jesus was born for this. Continue reading “Born for this”

Exactly who or what does God love?

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16-17, NKJV).

God’s love for the world is stated unequivocally in this much loved passage, often termed “The Golden Text of the Bible.” But what exactly does the key phrase mean? How is the word “world” to be understood?

A reader of the Bible will soon discover other passages which disapprove of loving the world, such as: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). How can it be that God can love the world, but humans cannot? Continue reading “Exactly who or what does God love?”

What it means to be truly human, or the whole duty of man

Hands pointed toward heaven. Man's duty.

In our Urbanova congregation, we memorize a Bible verse each week. For this twenty-fourth week of 2019, our verse is Ecclesiastes 12.13. I also used it as the text for my message June 9.

This month at Forthright Magazine, we highlight the theme of duty. So I’d like to share the points I mentioned in my message yesterday from Solomon’s great conclusion to his book.

He wrote in verses 13-14: Continue reading “What it means to be truly human, or the whole duty of man”

Jesus knows me

To hide his evil, man invented the theory of evolution. He claims he is improving. He believes in human goodness. He thinks social problems are solved by education. Man has great faith in man.

For from within, out of the human heart, come evil ideas, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, evil, deceit, debauchery, envy, slander, pride, and folly. Mark 7.21-22.

Continue reading “Jesus knows me”

Joyful no longer gay

broken humanityby Barry Newton

As the years have unfolded, two truths have repeatedly been impressed upon me: the goodness of our Lord and the brokenness of humanity. Rising up on one side is Christ’s indescribable, undeserved gift saturated with hope that transforms, nourishes, and sustains our souls. Crashing at the other end is the aftermath of a life twisted by sin.

I have beheld the lifeless expressions of chronic liars, the pathetic, blind drivenness of the greedy, as well as the glutton engaged in gorging. Yes, the prism of sin, which has at one point enveloped all of our lives, has many faces.

But today, I am recalling the self-confessed pain experienced in crossing a sexual line, whether that be the transvestite or the homosexual.

For perhaps a variety of reasons known only to them, a series of people have shared with me their depression and pain associated with their lifestyles. As I write, one story stands out in particular. I’ll call him Tom.

When Tom and I first began studying the Bible together, he seemed to be like a blinker oscillating between being engaged and disinterested. Rather than discontinue the study, I trudged on knowing that, if the seed was being sown, God was capable of making it grow. Finally, a prolonged illness brought our studies to an end, or so it seemed.

Nearly a year after our studies had ended, the phone rang with Tom requesting to resume our classes. But now Tom was genuinely thirsty to learn. This new-found desire to delve into scripture was soon accompanied by confessing both an active homosexual lifestyle along with painful feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing.

For Tom, what the Bible really taught was more important to him than what he wanted it to say. Candor displaced denial. And so, when he grasped what Paul meant for someone to be washed, made holy and justified before God, and furthermore this was available to him, tears flowed. He wanted this new life that Jesus makes possible for all of us.

Following his baptism, Tom’s decisions revealed the fruits of repentance while his questions were gritty about how to live daily for Christ. Whenever he would periodically acknowledge temptation, invariably this would be accompanied by affirming his resolve to press on because of the joy he was experiencing in his new life in Christ. Tom had tasted that the Lord was good.

When I think of Tom, I recall someone expressing joy over leaving his former life behind. I remember his determination to persevere.

If only everyone responding to Christ would likewise rejoice over their new freedom and determine to abandon the routines of their former life!