Issue #88

Is Sanctification the Pursuit of Perfection, Every Argument for God Has Not Been Debunked, Should Christians Address Racial Injustice, and more...

Issue #88
Photo by Christina @ / Unsplash

Explore the Scriptures 📖

Is Sanctification the Pursuit of Perfection? | John Piper 🎧 →

The question:

I’ve heard you on many occasions mention the danger of perfectionism as a Christian. I am guilty of this. After thinking a great deal about sanctification and listening to episode 1663 about pursuing holiness, it only gets worse. I recognize that we are not justified by works, but also that the pursuit to live holy lives is the evidence that we are saved. I feel like this makes it very hard for me to come to terms with my own failure.

Instead of running back to Christ when I sin, I spiral down into thoughts like, ‘Maybe I was never truly saved.’ It’s almost as though I condemn myself into depression, even though Christ brings no condemnation, and it often takes days to work through it. How do I find the balance between pursuing holiness and moving past my failure to be holy? Is pursuing holiness the same as pursuing perfection?

And the start of his answer:

What makes that question psychologically complicated is that the New Testament teaches that in this life Christians will not attain sinless perfection, and yet we are commanded to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48). Not perfect just by human standards, but perfect by divine standards, which are God’s standards.

Keep reading or listening to hear his full answer.

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Family Focus 🏡

5 Ways to Raise Bible-Friendly Kids | Mike Nappa 📃 →

Raising kids is the responsibility of every parent. We can’t control whether they ultimately come to Christ, but showing them our love for him is step number one. Mike Nappa shows us another step in this article: raise kids who are more likely to read and understand the story of scripture.

1. Raise Readers

A child who rarely experiences the wonder of the written word is less likely to get excited about reading the Bible than one who has. Go ahead and make reading (anything!) a normal part of your preschooler’s life.

4. Remind kids the whole Bible is about Jesus.

Scripture is more than tales of moralistic intent, more than life lessons meant to make us better people. As Matt Smethurst puts it, “Imagine a single, unfolding, thrilling drama; a story of epic proportions that is more fascinating than your favorite fairy tale because it is true. That’s God’s Word.”

For More:

Church History Corner ⛪️

How the Holy Spirit Can Heal the Church (Again) | Hunter Hindsman 📃 →

This short article takes a look at an old (1700 years old!) classic book of Christianity: "On the Holy Spirit" by Basil of Caesarea.

“You need to get off Twitter,” a pastor friend told me. He was right. We both noticed my feed turning me into a church cynic. Too often, I’ve participated in this perennial problem:

"We attack each other, and are overturned by each other. Even if the enemy did not hit us first, the comrade wounded us; and if someone was hit and fell, his comrade stepped on him. We have in common with each other that we hate our common opponents, but whenever the enemies leave, we then harm each other as enemies." (118–19)

Basil of Caesarea (AD 330–79) wrote those words nearly 1,700 years ago. He was troubled by the intra-Christian squabbles of his day—not unlike our culture of division all these years later. His answer? A better theology of the Holy Spirit, which he laid out in his classic work On the Holy Spirit.

For More:

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Living This Christian Life 🤴👸

A Little Poetry Improves a Life: How Verse Awakens Wonder | Leland Ryken 📃 →

From the early days of my teaching, I have enacted a ritual to introduce poetry into a course. I ask the class, “How do you know that God intends for you to understand and enjoy poetry?” Inevitably, the class stares at me as though I had just arrived from Mars…

It is gratifying to see how quickly someone comes up with the correct answer. That answer is that approximately one-third of the Bible comes to us in poetic form.

My purpose is to convince you that your life will be enriched if you set aside just a little time for poetry. For some, this will be an encouragement to keep a current practice going; for others, it will be a resolve to give poetry a try.

Christianity Is True ✝️

Every Argument for God Has Not Been Debunked | Cameron Bertuzzi and William Lane Craig 📽 →

In this hour-long video, Cameron shows clips of a video posted by “Rationality Rules” (Stephen Woodford), who (somewhat cheekily) claims to debunk every argument for Christianity in 14 minutes.

This video takes an hour, but it ends up being a great primer on answering objections to the faith.

If you've enjoyed reading this letter, please share it with others and help us grow. We exist to help Christians grow in their faith and to make the name of Jesus Messiah glorified in all the earth. We grow thanks to readers like you sharing what we do with others. Thank you!

Consider the Culture 🎨

How to Avoid Misinformation and Disinformation Online | Patrick Miller 📃 →

Why is an article about avoiding misinformation and disinformation in a letter focused on understanding God and the Christian life? The rise of social media has led to groups and governments deliberately attempting to manipulate people.

In one week, I narrowly avoided one case of misinformation and two cases of disinformation. But rather than feeling pride, I asked myself, how many falsehoods slipped past my radar? Probably more than a few.

God’s ninth commandment—do not bear false witness—is being obliterated by social media (Ex. 20:16). Where untruth takes root, social trust declines. Friends begin doubting friends because we increasingly agree, “I can’t tell what’s true anymore.”

Jesus warned his followers, “I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matt. 10:16). In the era of the social internet, this means rejecting the temptation of cynicism while simultaneously growing wise to how falsehood spreads. Currently, two kinds of falsehood thrive on social media: misinformation and disinformation. Understanding both is the first step toward resistance.

Miller not only defines misinformation and disinformation, but he also gives us some tools we can put into our mental toolbox to resist them and be people of the truth.

Best with a Cup of Tea ☕️

How Should Churches Address Racial Injustice? | Brian Davis and Justin Giboney 📽 →

Few issues have divided the church in recent years more than the topic of race and justice. Even if there is agreement that injustice and systemic racism still exist, approaches to address these issues sharply divide many Christians. For churches and Christians who believe silence and apathy are not biblical options on this topic, but who are confused and frustrated about the best way forward, what should they consider? What are the best things Christians and churches can do to help bring necessary change?

These and related questions are addressed in this debate between Brian Davis and Justin Giboney. Davis and Giboney share their respective arguments and engage in a discussion moderated by Jim Davis, teaching pastor at Orlando Grace Church.

Giboney argues that American churches have historically done little to address the injustice that black Americans have faced. In fact, he argues, white American churches have done more than just about any other group to divide black and white people. This requires lament, repenting, and active involvement of churches to find a way forward for unity.

Davis, on the other hand, argues that it is unwise for churches to advocate for particular legal policies that they believe will bring justice because that reduces the focus on the mission of spreading the gospel. Churches should focus on forming Christians to be like Christ and individual Christians can focus on advocating for policies and debating the best methods to pursue justice.

Keep Your Mind on Things Above

I will be praying for you this week.

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
— Hebrews 12:3 (CSB)

Joel Fischer