Issue #58

Made to Love Your Neighbor, Eternal Life, a Theology of Infertility, and more...

Issue #58
Photo by Jonathan Borba / Unsplash

Living This Christian Life 🤴👸

You Were Made to Love Your Neighbor | Francis Schaeffer 📃 →

As a Christian I say, “Who am I?” Am I only the hydrogen atom, the energy particle extended? No, I am made in the image of God. I know who I am. Yet, on the other hand, when I turn around and I face nature, I face something that is like myself. I, too, am created, just as the animal and the plant and the atom are created.

There is a parallel here to our call to love. The Christian is told to love as brothers in Christ other Christians only. All men are not our brothers in Christ, as the liberal theologian would have us believe. From the Biblical point of view, brothers have the same father. Only when a man comes and casts himself upon the prophesied Messiah of the Old Testament as the Savior (for Christ has come in His substitutionary work) does God become his Father. This is clear from the teaching of Jesus. Therefore, not all men are our brothers in Christ.

However, just because the Bible says that not all men are our brothers, it does not follow that we are not to love all men as our neighbors. So one has the tremendous impact of the teaching of Jesus about the good Samaritan: I am to love on the basis of my neighborliness all that which is one blood with myself. And the New Testament uses that expression, “one blood,” to indicate the unity of all people by God’s creation. We are people who know we have one common origin with all races, all languages, and all people.

For More:

Explore the Scriptures 📖

Does Romans 7 Describe a Christian? | John Piper 🎧 →

Romans 7 is a passage famous for describing Paul’s own struggles with sin. Here’s a short excerpt:

For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. Now if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one that does it, but it is the sin that lives in me. So I discover this law: When I want to do what is good, evil is present with me. For in my inner self I delight in God’s law, but I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?
— Romans 7:15–24 (CSB)

The majority of scholars view this passage as Paul’s struggles with sin as a regenerated Christian, but a significant minority believe that Paul is describing his pre-Christian days. Piper follows the majority view and explains why with typical pastoral care.

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Consider Another Perspective 🤔

Debate: Biblical Manhood and Womanhood | Denny Burk, Ron Pierce, and Sean McDowell 📽 →

The debate between the “Egalitarian” and “Complementarian” camps in Conservative Christianity has been growing in the last few years. This debate between prominent Complementarian Denny Burk and Egalitarian Ron Pierce, moderated by Sean McDowell is a good entry point to the discussion. Because of the length (about an hour), it is only a short overview of two basic topics: God’s design for male / female relationships pre-fall and a few of Paul’s most well-known passages used by Complementarians.

Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Dialogue with Denny Burk and Ron Pierce

Challenge Your Brain 🧠

How Human Is the Mind of Christ? | Donald Macleod 📃 →

The truly divine yet truly human nature of the God-man Jesus of Nazareth is one of the thorniest theological problems in Christianity. Often people lean too hard in the direction of Jesus’ humanity overwhelming his divine nature, while others lean on Jesus’ divinity while pushing his humanity to the side. It’s no surprise that this question was an important and hotly debated topic in early Christianity, eventually leading to the Chalcedonian Creed which declared Jesus as truly God and truly human:

…Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable soul and body…

MacLeod guides us through the history of this question in 15 minutes.

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Watch and Wonder 📽

Eternal Life | Tim Mackie, Jon Collins, and BibleProject 📽 →

Jesus offered people eternal life. But what does that mean? Explore the meaning of a phrase that invites us into God’s life now and in the age to come.

I don’t want to say anything that would spoil this 5 minute animated video. A common conception of eternal life is that it's something that will start when we "go to heaven." Dr. Mackie and Jon Collins give us a more expansive and beautiful view of what Jesus meant when he talked about eternal life.

Eternal Life | BibleProject

Listen and Learn 🎧

Sexual Identity and Loving Our Neighbor | Sam Allberry, Rebecca McLaughlin, and Jackie Hill Perry 🎧 →

Sam Allberry, Rebecca McLaughlin, and Jackie Hill Perry participated in a panel discussion during TGCW21 titled “Sexual Identity and Loving Our Neighbor.” Having experienced same-sex attraction and taught extensively on issues of sexuality, each participant in the panel spoke from their own experiences—both being confronted personally by the gospel and engaging in conversations with others around the confrontational and controversial topics of sexuality. They encouraged their listeners to engage honestly, with open ears and a humble posture, recognizing that every image bearer has a story that is worthy of our careful attention.
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Best with a Cup of Tea ☕️

A Theology of Infertility | Bill Melone 📃 →

Infertility is one of the most difficult things for a couple to walk through, and one in four women will experience it at some point.

The experience of infertility and miscarriage for my wife and I was deeply painful to the point where words mostly fail. But deep feelings also have a way of demanding some articulation, and there are two words that are true of our experience more than others: shame and isolation. We had many people in our lives who were supportive and sympathetic, but none of them could take away our sense that there was something deeply wrong with us. We felt cursed, like God was withholding a blessing from us, and those feelings seemed to have a biblical basis: fertility is a blessing from God (Ex. 23:36; Dt. 7:14; 28:4) and infertility is promised as a curse for disobedience (Dt. 28:18; Lev. 20:20-21). The sense of shame and isolation we felt was spiritual as much as social, and that spiritual battle of feeling cursed is a battle for many people today.

Melone shares their story and struggles with how scripture speaks about healing, wholeness, and infertility.

When we were still in the hospital after losing the twins, my wife and I were grasping for anything to maintain some level of sanity, and I asked her if she wanted me to read a story from the gospels. She said no, because Jesus always healed the sick and helped everyone he met. I didn’t have an answer for her; Jesus hadn’t saved our boys, even though I had prayed that he would every night.

The fact that Jesus healed everyone who came to him with humble faith (and not those who didn’t; Matt. 13:58) can have the appearance of validating the prosperity gospel. And in a similar way, the fact that all seven of the infertile couples whose stories are told in the Bible received a son seems to reinforce the inferiority of anyone who lacks health and wealth (and fertility).

Wrestling with Jesus’ liberal approach to healing in the gospels, and his apparent reticence to save our two boys wasn’t just a struggle for us in the hospital. Anyone who suffers in this life while following Jesus will have to face the question of how a loving God allows his people to suffer. Ours is also the faith of Job, Jeremiah and the Psalmists who ask ‘How long, O Lord?’

Melone shows us how churches have traditionally handled this in “isolating” ways and walks us through a holistic account of how the Bible speaks about barrenness. There are stories, especially among the patriarchs of Genesis of barren women longing for a child, but scripture goes deeper than that. The world itself longs for wholeness like a barren woman longing for a child.

Our hope in our suffering in this life is ultimately a hope that looks beyond this life. The seven sons given to seven infertile couples do not make us demand what we want here and now, nor do they press us to give up our desires for a stoic peace. They call us to wrestle with God, pouring our heart out to him like Hannah did. In our suffering, God himself is asking us, ‘Am I not more to you than ten sons?’, and our response, like Hannah, should be to remember that what we really want is not health, wealth and prosperity, but God.

This topic is so painful for many, and Christians, whether or not they struggle with infertility themselves, should be ready with empathy and to weep with those who weep.

Keep Your Mind on Things Above

I will be praying for you this week.

Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
— Matthew 7:12 (CSB)

Joel Fischer