To answer the question “What is the gospel?” is rather simple. The gospel is Jesus, the person and work of Christ—who Jesus is and what He did. The gospel also describes how the benefits of His ministry are subjectively appropriated.
Religion and violence is a difficult topic, especially at the moment with the rise of Islamic terrorism. But violent extremism isn’t solely a problem in Islam. Many thoughtful skeptics of Christianity ask, Doesn’t your Bible — especially the Old Testament book of Joshua — endorse violence on a dramatic scale? Some might say there’s no difference between what the Bible prescribes and other forms of violent religious fundamentalism.
The collected works of Jonathan Edwards, the 18th-century preacher and one of America’s most famous theologians, are now available for download from Logos Bible Software. But if you don’t want to cough up $1,289.95 to purchase them, The Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale Divinity School lets you view them online for free. “Edwards is widely recognized as one of the most important American thinkers and religious figures and as a major figure in the history of Christian thought,” said Kenneth Minkema, executive director of Yale’s Jonathan Edwards Center.
Let me say that I believe that the Trinity is “biblical” in that it is thoroughly rooted and authorized in Scripture. That said, there is no single text that you can cite to prove that God exists as three persons in one “substance, power, and eternity” as the 39 articles say. In fact, some of the biblical materials could, if viewed in isolation, lead to decidedly non-trinitarian views.
If you were to ask the average Christian, “How can you become more self-controlled, more upright—essentially, more in line with God’s will?” what would the answer be? Greater will power, perhaps. Or maybe more theological knowledge. What if you asked the Apostle Paul? His answer would be clear: you change when you experience the grace of God. How does God’s grace do this? By focusing our attention in three directions:
To rightly answer the question we first must ask whom we mean by “us.” It is true enough that us can include all men everywhere. God does have a universal love for all mankind. Why? I would suggest it is because of the remains of His image in us. In ourselves, apart from His grace in bestowing on us His image, we are but dust and rebellion.
The words that we hear every Sunday in most of our churches and that we use in our prayers are no longer part of the everyday language of our society. People simply do not talk about justification or sanctification, nor about redemption, salvation, or sin. Language that is precious to the Christian is an unfamiliar dialect to most people around us.
If you believe in biblical infallibility, one of the most common objections you'll hear is that it's not the best word to use. Calling the Bible "infallible", or (heaven forbid) "inerrant", or even Unbreakable, is clunky. It unwittingly elevates an incidental property of Scripture to the highest place, and thereby demotes words with a far stronger biblical basis (like "true", "inspired" or whatever). But sometimes, clarity requires clunkiness.
It is tantalizing to try to imagine what life will be like in the new heavens and the new earth, where every evil, misery, sorrow, and danger “will be no more.” Will there still be waterfalls and waves, puddles and ponds, lakes and even oceans?
It’s obvious that when Christians contemplate hell, we’ve got a problem. Hell is awful, in all of its manifestations. This is especially true of eternal conscious torment. Suffering for eternity for deeds done in one lifetime–this is a hard pill to swallow. I don’t think it is the biblical view, but that’s a point for another time. Suffice it to say that a growing number of Christians no longer believe in the so-called “traditional” view of hell.