Morning Mashup 10/29


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The Royals forced Game 7. The NBA is back. The Cowboys lost to the Redskins. My wife and I are back from the beach. All is right with the world. As I was watching a perfect kickoff to the NBA season in the form of the Spurs vs. Mavs, I compiled for you some excellent articles ranging from the state of theology in America to the World Series to ex-gay therapy to the college football playoff. Take time to engage with each of these articles. I know they will bless you or encourage you or mildly entertain you. Whatever the case, enjoy your Wednesday!


5 Ways to Experience Christian Growth – Phillip Holmes offers five ways to truly experience Christian growth.

The State of Theology – An interesting and informative infographic produced by Ligonier as the result of a survey that has “helped to point out common gaps in theological knowledge and awareness so that Christians might be more effective in the proclamation, teaching, and defense of the essential truths of the Christian faith.”

Marriage and Pre-martial Sex – “Being unable to find a potential spouse who allows for or even agrees with one’s Christian sexual mores is not at all an unknown trial.”

Russell Moore Denounces Ex-Gay Therapy – Moore: “The idea that one is simply the sum of one’s sexual identity is something that is psychologically harmful ultimately…And I think also we have a situation where gay and lesbian people have been treated really, really badly.”

The Unexpected Sacrifices of the Mission Field – Jason Carter: “We have missed our extended family – grandparents, aunt & uncles and cousins. We have experienced attempted break-ins to our house at night. Our car has been vandalized. Malaria has visited our family multiple times. While the joys abound, the challenges are manifold. Yet it has often been the unexpected challenges of the mission field that surprise me the most.”

It’s All About the Fundamentals – Barnabas Piper expresses my exact thoughts and feelings about what it takes to thrive in both the Christian life and sports.

Don’t Be Fooled By the Knicks – Stephen A. Smith breaks down the NBA Eastern Conference and the state of the new-look New York Knicks.

Royals Force Game 7 – Here is a recap of the Royals rout of the Giants in Game 6. What a classic World Series this has been! I’m not crazy about either team, but I would kind of like to see the Royals finish the dream.

College Football Playoff Rankings – The first ever edition of the college football playoff rankings is officially out. And the SEC West dominates it.

So many are looking for special revelation from God while it sits on their shelves gathering dust. –Burk Parsons

A Long Journey Home: Gospel Reflections on ‘The Odyssey’


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Homer brings out a number of themes in his classic work, The Odyssey, but one highly notable theme is the nobility of the desire to be at home. The Odyssey is by and large an account of one man’s desperate effort to return home. Odysseus has been serving faithfully in the Trojan War. For ten years Odysseus besieged the city of Troy. As told by Nestor, Menelaus, and Helen in Books 3-4, Odysseus is portrayed as a clever and valiant hero of the Trojan War. Though Odysseus has been presumed dead by many suitors salivating over the prospect of taking Penelope’s hand in marriage, he is alive and well, striving to return to his country, his wife, and his family.

This theme is first seen in Odysseus’ release from Calypso’s island, though his journey home did not begin there. Nevertheless, with the help of his divine guardian, Athena, Odysseus journeyed through fierce seas where Poseidon tormented him. He then encountered various obstacles that make his return seem bleak. Still yet, through the various roadblocks, Homer communicates the worthiness of not only returning home, but the journey itself. Desiring to be home is a noble desire worthy of fighting for. After fighting for ten years, Odysseus is washed up on the shores of Calypso’s island where he has a lover, but no love, contentment, or joy in his heart. His heart beats for Ithaca and Penelope, though he is estranged from both. The joyful embrace between Odysseus and Telemachus climaxes the journey, and drives Homer’s theme home. The joy of coming home is unlike any other. Even gallant victories of war cannot compare to the simple embrace of a son.

I see a similar theme in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Bilbo Baggins, though nothing quite like the masterful and valiant soldier, Odysseus, has embarked on a journey to help a band of dwarves regain their land from the possession of a dragon. Throughout The Hobbit, Bilbo desires to be at home in his comfortable hobbit hole. He does develop a desire for adventure, and wants to help these dwarves regain their home, but there is an innate desire for his hobbit hole that creeps in from time to time. In fact, it may just be his deep appreciation for home that motivates him in his quest to aid the dwarves in the recovery of their home.

After aiding in the defeat of Smaug, Bilbo finally embarks on his journey home. Bilbo faces some distractions on his way home and the journey was most definitely long. Although he was accompanied by treasures of gold on his journey home, the true treasure was when Bilbo returned to Baggend to his hobbit hole, his home.

Homer develops the theme of the worthiness of home throughout The Odyssey. From Odysseus’ desperate desire for home to his wife and son’s longings for the return of their husband, home is seen to be a place worthy of desire. This greatly aids the Christian in his or her pilgrimage home. Currently, Christians live in a foreign land. We are battling the evil one and are united to the One who besieged the kingdom of Satan by ushering in the kingdom of God.

Our great comfort in a life where we battle sin and temptation on a daily basis must be the home that awaits us. Christians are not at home. The desire of our hearts must be for home, where finally our restless hearts will find eternal joy. Homer teaches this through the long journey home of Odysseus. And Jesus came to bear the wrath of God, so that by his wounds we are brought home.


396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.

Morning Mashup 10/27


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This edition of Morning Mashup is coming to you from the Atlantic Coast. It was hard to finish this post with a view like the one above right in front of me. Is there anything more beautiful than a sunrise at the beach? However, there were some really interesting articles and one really fun compilation of maps that were too good to let pass. So, as I go down to enjoy the sun, beach, and ocean, I’ll let you guys peruse the following links at your own discretion. But as my buddy, John Calvin, says below, I will try not to enjoy the gift of this mini vacation above the Author of all that I see.


The Pope and the Precipice – Ross Douthat, a conservative Catholic, writes on the Catholic doctrine of papal infallibility, the future of the Catholic Church under Pope Francis, and the inevitable action weighing on conservative Catholic shoulders.

On Halloween, Don’t Be that Parent – Dan Darling gives some practical advice to Christian parents on Halloween.

When Dad Doesn’t Disciple the Kids – Jen Wilkin with some encouraging words for the wife of the believing father guilty of spiritual absenteeism who desires both to honor her husband and spiritually equip her children. Sadly, this post is very necessary for many wives and mothers.

Pastor, Why Not Visit Their Workplace? – Greg Forster contends, “[Your congregants] visit you in your workplace regularly. Why not visit them in theirs?”

Point People to Christ – San Francisco Giants executive, Bobby Evans, says, “You want your life to point people to Christ.”

Forgotten Providence – After recently teaching this doctrine, I can wholeheartedly agree with the concerns of this writer when she says, “We seem to have moved past needing to talk about God’s providence—we’re quite sophisticated these days.”

ERLC Conference – The 2014 ERLC Conference begins today. It features excellent speakers on many important topics, some absolutely crucial for the church and Southern Baptist life. If you have time, check it out via livestream.

25 Maps that Describe America – This is a really cool compilation of maps that describe America in different ways. Have fun with this one!

For nothing is more preposterous than to enjoy the very remarkable gifts that attest the divine nature within us, yet to overlook the Author who gives them to us at our asking. –John Calvin

A Brief Word on the Gravity of Preaching


In my reading for a preaching class I am currently taking, I am reading John Piper’s The Supremacy of God in Preaching. I have gained immense insight from this book and it has greatly influenced my theology of preaching. There is one particular passage I wanted to share and briefly comment on.

John Piper writes,

Pastors have absorbed this narrow view of gladness and friendliness and now cultivate it across the land with pulpit demeanor and verbal casualness that make the blood-earnestness of Chalmers and the pervading solemnity of Edwards’s mind unthinkable. The result is a preaching atmosphere and a preaching style plagued by triviality, levity, carelessness, flippancy, and a general spirit that nothing of eternal and infinite proportions is being done or said on Sunday morning (The Supremacy of God in Preaching, 51-52).

I wholeheartedly agree with Piper that preachers should strive for gravity in their preaching. This is because the task at hand is enormously serious. There are eternal implications every Sunday morning and the attitude and approach of the preacher should reflect this. The Word of God should never be handled flippantly.

I think this sentiment from Piper is very insightful and highly prophetic of not only preaching in our day, but what preaching will be like if there is not a Reformation-like resurgence of the Word of God. Pastors are often more concerned with pleasing listeners at the cost of losing the thrust of the message of the Bible. The pastor’s demeanor in the pulpit should reflect the task at hand.

The context of any given passage should determine not only the content of the sermon, but also the approach and demeanor of the pastor in preaching the sermon. And most if not all matters of God are massively serious. Honestly, the task of preaching is far too important to view and approach casually or carelessly.

The aim of the game of preaching is to exalt the glory of God and proclaim the message that he has already given. Faithful exposition of biblical texts cannot afford flippancy. All pastors can be guilty of viewing the task of preaching too lightly, and all pastors can afford to be more conscious of all that is at stake on Sunday mornings. The result will be increased dependency on God and his Word.


396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.

Morning Mashup 10/24


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Today’s edition of Morning Mashup features a variety of articles from around the web dealing with everything from how Christians should approach Halloween to the biblical legitimacy of multi-site churches. Also, if you find yourself saying “um” or “uh” a lot during prayer, there is an article here especially for you.


Thinking About Halloween in the Schemes – Mez McConnell tells why he and his family do not celebrate Halloween and why his church planting ministry does not participate in Halloween related events. Though McConnell lives in the UK, his perspective is interesting.

Is Multi-Site a Biblically Sound Model? – Pastor J.D. Greear is in the middle of a series of posts on the legitimacy of the multi-site model for churches. I have enjoyed considering his position and his response to recent criticism from guys like Jonathan Leeman. Greear is convincing, yet I am still not convinced.

Pray Without Filler – Don Whitney on the problem with filling prayers with “um” and “uh.”

10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Reformed Theology – Important post on a much-maligned theological system. If you find yourself criticizing Calvinists and Calvinism, check this out.

Leading and Submitting Like Jesus – In marriage, the roles of both husband and wife are to be carried out as the two follow Jesus. Erik Raymond writes, “Jesus is the model and motivation for both leadership and submission.”

Sin is Worse than Hell – “We should not marvel that God burns with wrath against his enemies. Let us marvel, instead, that while we were still enemies, Christ died for us.”

The Danger of an Atheistic Ministry – Casey McCall asks, “What does a ministry look like that submits to the conditions at hand in humble reverence before the all-wise Creator?”

Christ has purchased in his blood that repenting sinners shall be saved. –Thomas Watson

Salvation by Grace Through Faith in Daniel 9


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In his work, The Doctrine of Repentance, Puritan Thomas Watson opens with an epistle to the reader in which he writes, “The two great graces essential to a saint in this life are faith and repentance. These are the two wings by which he flies to heaven.”

Daniel shows the place of repentance and faith in relation to salvation in Daniel 9. Indeed, by God’s great grace and mercy, repentance and faith in Christ are the means to eternal soaring.

Daniel 9 is largely a prayer from Daniel on behalf of his people. Based on Daniel’s prayer, the people of Israel rebelled against God and disobeyed him because of a lack of repentance and faith. “As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the LORD our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth” (Dan. 9:13).

Repentance and faith, along with a reliance on the truth of God’s word is what leads to obedience. In fact, faith in God’s forgiveness expresses itself in obedience to God. Steinmann writes, “The person who has received God’s forgiveness wants to live the way God’s Word teaches us humans to live. Saving faith in God manifests itself in good works prescribed in the Scriptures” (Daniel, 426).

Obedience to God flows naturally from a heart that repents and trusts Christ. A life that is void of obedience is one that also lacks true repentance and saving faith. So, Daniel cries out what Paul would later declare, that salvation comes by grace through faith, and not by works of the law. And at the same time, this salvation expresses itself in works of obedience. Obedience is the fruit of trust in God’s mercy, grace, and forgiveness in Christ. It is never the basis.

In Daniel’s prayer, he admits that Israel had fallen under God’s judgment due to their rejection of God’s mercy and forgiveness. It was a rejection of grace that led to both sin and subsequent judgment.

Daniel then requests God to save his people once again; to forgive his rebellious people for their iniquities (Dan. 9:16). He does this on the basis of the redemptive act of delivering Israel from the hand of Egypt by parting the Red Sea (Dan. 9:15). The act of God in saving Israel from the mightiest army in the world is a perfect example of the way God saves. There is no participation on the part of the people. They do nothing. He does everything. Daniel’s prayer is a demonstration of full reliance on God’s grace and power to forgive. Forgiveness then comes not by the works of Daniel or Israel, but by the grace and will of God.

As Paul would later write to Rome,

What shall we say then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works (Rom. 9:30-32).

Righteousness is credited to sinners by faith in the Christ who became sin for them (2 Cor. 5:21). It is not a product of a life of attempts at obeying God. Obedience doesn’t produce righteousness. Credited righteousness by grace through faith produces obedience.

Daniel teaches us that we fall into sin, rebellion, and disobedience when we fail to repent of our sin, trust God’s forgiveness in Christ, and listen to the word of God (Dan. 9:13). When we pray, we should ask God to save our lost family and friends not because they are worthy and not based on their good deeds or ours, but solely because God’s glory deserves to be praised by all people!

“For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name” (Dan. 9:18-19).

Steinmann sums up the matter well:

God hears the repentant sinner’s prayer because of the merit and atonement of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. God keeps his promises most vividly in the ministry of Christ, who fulfilled them all (2 Cor. 1:20). God has redeemed his people through the work of Christ. Through faith alone in Christ alone, believers are credited with his own divine righteousness (Ibid., 427).


396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.

Precious Duality: Serious Theological Education and Practical Ministry


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One of the things I love about being an online theology student is the opportunity it provides me to serve in my home church. I have been an online student at Boyce College for the past two years. Lord willing, I will graduate next May. Due to a plethora of reasons, my wife and I have been unable to move to Louisville, so my entire degree in biblical and theological studies will have been earned online. The greatest blessing this has provided has been the duality of receiving a substantial and significant theological education and the opportunity to actively serve my local church in kids ministry.

Boyce College provides a theological education in the vein of the desires of its namesake. James P. Boyce believed theological education was “a matter of the first importance to the churches of Christ.” Because of this, he desired ministry that was “convictional, rigorous, and accessible.” Even as a lowly online student, my experience has shown me that this is exactly what Boyce College provides.

However, even though I know the serious theological education I am receiving is fueling my service in kids ministry, there are those who believe studying theology cannot coincide with tangible and practical ministry in the local church.

Many people create an unhealthy false dichotomy when it comes to serious theological education and gospel ministry. They say that if one studies theology too deeply or thinks too much about biblical truths, it will cause one to stay locked away in an ivory tower while the people suffer spiritually and physically in the gutter below. I have heard people say, “I don’t see the point in theological education when there is so much ministry to be done.” What do Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, and other theologians have to do with kids ministry, for example? Those who condescend serious theological education simply cannot see how practical ministry can benefit from keeping one’s head in the clouds.

This separation of theological education and practical ministry is not new. German theologian, pastor, and conspirator in an attempt to kill Adolf Hitler, Deitrich Bonhoeffer, was educated at one of the most prominent seminaries of his day; Berlin University. Though he disagreed with many of his liberal and critical professors, he honored their commitment to serious theological study. Bonhoeffer was a deeply serious theology student, who was not content to speak without thinking or allow issues to simply fall to the wayside unsolved. Bonhoeffer was also a loving and faithful pastor. Nearly as soon as he was handed his diploma, he was on a train to Barcelona to pastor. His deep love for theology fueled a deep love for God (or vice versa). This love expressed itself in practical pastoral ministry.

However, when Bonhoeffer decided to travel to America in 1930, he saw something quite different in one theological seminary and many churches. Serious theological education had been abandoned in favor of social involvement. While studying at Union Theological Seminary for recreational purposes (not for a degree), and while attending various American churches, Bonhoeffer observed the unhealthy disconnect between theology and ministry.

There is no theology here…They talk a blue streak without the slightest substantive foundation and with no evidence of any criteria. The students…are completely clueless with respect to what dogmatics is really about. They are unfamiliar with even the most basic questions. They become intoxicated with liberal and humanistic phrases, laugh at the fundamentalists, and yet basically are not even up to their level (quoted in Erica Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet,Spy, 101).

However, despite the lack of theology present at Union and in many of the churches, there was still much ministry going on.

At the instigation of this group, the student body of Union Theological seminary has, over the winter, continually provided food and lodging for thirty unemployed–among them three Germans–and has advised them as well as possible. This has led to considerable personal sacrifice of time and money. It must not, however, be left unmentioned that the theological education of this group is virtually nil, and the self-assurance which lightly makes mock of any specifically theological question is unwarranted and naive (Ibid., 105).

While serious theological study was lost, ministry to the poor was not. So, it would seem that these liberal theologians in the first half of the 20th century and those today who see serious theological education as unnecessary for ministry to exist and even thrive are right. Do I really need to spend hours upon hours studying, watching lectures, reading books written by guys who have long since died in order to minister to kids each Wednesday night? The answer lies in what is lost when theology is forgotten.

When theology is forgotten, the gospel is lost. The gospel of Christ has been passed down to us, essentially because Christian men and women throughout history have seriously studied theology, both formally and informally. This is not to say that if you do not attend seminary or receive some form of formal theological training that you will lose the gospel. However, this is to say that you will lose sight of the gospel if you refuse to think often about its implications. This is why Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand (1 Cor. 15:1, emphasis added). Theology sharpens our understanding of the gospel and all of its implications. This means that theology should always overflow into practical ministry that is gospel-centered.

Clearly, this leads me to conclude two things about the relationship between theology and ministry:

(1) Theology that does not naturally overflow into practical ministry is useless, groundless, and Christless.

(2) Ministry that does not flow from gospel-centered, God-centered, and Bible-centered theology is in vain.

When theology is ignored in favor of ministry, this false dichotomy shows it has no place for the cross. Bonhoeffer wrote of American churches in 1930,

Things are not much different in the church. The sermon has been reduced to parenthetical church remarks about newspaper events. As long as I’ve been here, I have heard only one sermon in which you could hear something like a genuine proclamation, and that was delivered by a negro (indeed, in general I’m increasingly discovering greater religious power and originality in Negroes). One big question continually attracting my attention in view of these facts is whether one here really can still speak about Christianity…There’s no sense to expect the fruit where the Word really is no longer being preached. But then what becomes of Christianity per se?

In New York they preach about virtually everything; only one thing is not addressed, or is addressed so rarely that I have as yet been unable to hear it, namely the gospel of Jesus Christ, the cross, sin and forgiveness, death and life (Ibid., 106).

What a shame. A theological seminary and local churches both speaking much about spirituality and social issues, yet neither proclaiming the cross. Where serious theological education is ignored, the gospel is lost in the muck of “ministry” concerns. Notice how Bonhoeffer characterized these churches:

All these things of course, take place with varying degrees of tactfulness, taste, and seriousness; some churches are basically “charitable” churches; others have primarily a social identity. One cannot avoid the impression, however, that in both cases they have forgotten what the real point is (Ibid., 107).

I am eternally thankful for the existence of Boyce College and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Because of these institutions, the world is being filled with pastors and leaders who are preaching Christ and nothing else! The men and women at Boyce and Southern are ardently raising up men and women to go forth into the world to faithfully serve local churches with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am confident that my time at Boyce has driven me to desire a significant and impactful ministry that never forgets what the real point is.

So, as I grow weary in writing papers, taking tests, and memorizing Hebrew vocabulary, instead of calling it quits to “practically minister” due to the poisonous false dichotomy created by some, I will pour one more cup of coffee and journey into great theological depths in order to never lose sight of the gospel and for the purpose of ministering to God’s people in grace and truth. Because I deeply love Jesus, I study theology and minister to boys and girls. My love for the one fuels my love for the other. And may this precious duality between serious theological study and practical ministry never be severed, so the gospel may go forth.


396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.

Morning Mashup 10/22


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In this edition, I have provided a true “mashup.” This is because there is quite a bit of randomness floating around on the web today. Below is everything from tips for better sleep, responding to the unjust subpoenas in Houston, the conversion of an epic theologian, millennials and marriage, reasons you may be neglecting your church, some uncomfortable questions, and much more.


 70 Years Ago Today – On October 22, 1944, J.I. Packer, one of the most influential and important theologians of the 20th century, became a Christian.

Is the Bible Too Complicated for Those Who Struggle to Read? – In ministering to children, I ask and am asked this question often. I found this answer to be helpful.

A Line Has Been Crossed – Eric Metaxas along with the ERLC are calling American pastors to send Bibles and sermons to the Houston Mayor’s office. This is an effort to show that trampling on religious liberty will not be tolerated by the American people. In the words of Metaxas, “If we don’t act on this, we can’t complain when we lose further liberties and eventually we aren’t able to act at all. This is our chance. Whatever voice and liberties we have now, we must use.”

What Millennials Misunderstand About Marriage – Aaron Earls: “Millennials, perhaps more than any other generation, grew up with the reality of broken homes and divorced parents. But in their efforts to avoid those mistakes, they often go in the wrong direction and end up in the same situation.”

Why You May Be Tempted to Neglect Your Church – Tim Challies writes there are two primary reasons you may neglect your church: (1) You forget what you bring, and (2) You forget what you need.

How Should Pastors Deal with Politics in the Pulpit? – Drs. David Prince and Russell Moore discuss how to properly deal with controversial issues and politics in the pulpit.

C.S. Lewis, Public Intellectual – Thomas Kidd of Baylor University reviews Alister McGrath’s biography of C.S. Lewis: “McGrath’s book is a judicious and accessible treatment of Lewis’s remarkable but controversial career.”

The Kingdom of Christ as the Theological Center of Scripture – David Prince: “The theme of the kingdom of God is a good starting point for thinking about the theological center of Scripture. Nevertheless, more can be said for clarity.”

How Can You Really Reach Millennials? – I read a lot about reaching millennials. Most that I read is superficial at best. This is one of the best articles I have read on the subject.

22 Ways to Get a Better Night’s Sleep – Okay, this list is not too shabby.

Some Uncomfortable Questions – Kevin DeYoung: “Have mercy on stupid and sinful people. You and I will be one of them soon enough.”

Grateful joy is a motive that will lead to much more endurance in obedience than fearful compliance. –Tim Keller

Hope and Comfort in the Midst of Persecution


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I have recently been considering how I would respond to intense persecution. In light of the rapid change in the shape of American society and culture, and the public’s view of Christianity, it is likely that persecution of Christians in America will increase before it will decrease. What will this look like? I do not know. But it is entirely within the realm of possibility that Christian churches and leaders will face fines, imprisonments, and maybe more in the future. From time to time I ask myself, “Will I be willing to boldly face increasingly harsher persecution?” Or maybe a better question, “Is there any hope and comfort in the present and future for those facing persecution?”

Reflecting on Daniel’s vision of the goat and the ram in Daniel 8, Lutheran scholar Andrew Steinmann states,

The little horn in Daniel 8, representing Antiochus, who would persecute God’s people during the Greek era, is a foretaste of the greater persecution by the little horn in Daniel 7, representing the Antichrist, who wages war against the saints throughout the church age until Christ returns. By demonstrating how God would deliver his people form Antiochus Epiphanes, the vision in Daniel 8 offers hope to Christians throughout the church age, who must face the Antichrist’s persecution and corruption of the Gospel (Daniel, 390).

With all eschatological (end times) prophecies in Scripture come confusion, debate, and disagreement. However, there are two clear and primary things to draw from the visions found in Daniel 7 and 8.

(1) God’s people will face persecution

In Daniel 7-8, there are visions of harsh persecution that will afflict God’s people. There are mild forms of persecution that all of us experience in one way or another. You may be ridiculed for your faith at work. You may be shunned in various ways in your family. However, some Christians abroad face harsher forms of persecution. People are actually put to death for their faith in many countries. Daniel 8 foretells of a figure who would persecute God’s people during the Greek era. Most conservative scholars see this figure as being fulfilled in Antiochus Epiphranes. And this figure prefigures the Antichrist who will come to persecute God’s people until Christ returns. Persecution is clearly part and parcel of the establishing and fulfilling of the eternal kingdom of God.

(2) God is in control of persecution

The theological truths that communicate hope and comfort to those being persecuted in the vision of Daniel 8 appear to be that, although this passage communicates times of persecution and corruption, God is all knowing and in control of all things, including the persecution of his people.

How does the reality of persecution and the sovereignty of God provide comfort to those who are being persecuted?

Specifically regarding comfort and seeing Daniel as a whole, I think its important to look at the overarching themes of Daniel when communicating the truths in Daniel 8 to those in difficult situations. Mainly, we see that no matter what happens, God is in control and ultimately those who who belong to him will persevere. In Daniel this is portrayed in the fiery furnace and the lion’s den, as well as in the various prophecies about coming persecution from antichrist figures. God sovereignly rescued his people from persecution. Another theme of comfort is that God sets and removes rulers and will ultimately dethrone all earthly rulers to rule his eternal kingdom.

Nevertheless, the message of Daniel 8, and all of Scripture for that matter, is to persevere. Those who endure to the end will be saved (Matt. 24:13). The response of God’s people in the face of persecution must be perseverance. This means that in and through all persecution, we must place our trust and faith in the One who knows all, sees all, and who works all things in his sovereign grace for the good of his people. This sovereign God will one day righteously judge all.

No amount of persecution will stop God’s purposes from coming to pass. God plans all things and he always fulfills what he plans. The persecution led by Antiochus Epiphanes did not prevent the Messiah from coming to redeem humanity. Likewise, the antichrist’s persecution will not be able to stamp out the gospel. His people will persevere through faith. God’s sovereign goodness is our only true hope and comfort in the midst of persecution. Take hope in the fact that God will never leave his people in the midst of the harshest persecution. Take comfort in the fact that God sovereignly works all things, including persecution, for the good of his people and the renown of his name.

In the words of Steinmann, “God’s salvific plans cannot be thwarted” (390).


396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.

Morning Mashup 10/20


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Sunday nights provide me with a unique opportunity. I will without fail be doing four things simultaneously: (1) Shaping up a paper due for class at 11:55 pm, (2) Watching both The Walking Dead and Sunday Night Football, (3) Watching my wife and our dog take a long, long nap, and, finally, (4) Work on the Morning Mashup post for Monday.

This all made for an exceptionally interesting night, especially when Gareth was gnawing on Bob’s leg at the end of TWD. Not sure I have recovered from that yet. But as intrigued as I was throughout the night, I kept this in mind as I prepared this edition of Morning Mashup. I hope you find these articles interesting, encouraging, challenging, informing, edifying, or all the above. But seriously…those Terminus folks are MESSED UP!


Peyton Manning Breaks Brett Favre’s All-Time TD Record – Last night, Peyton Manning set the NFL record for career touchdown passes. He threw four TD passes against the 49ers in an all out shellacking. So, here’s to the greatest quarterback in NFL history. Yeah, I said it.

Hillsong Shifts on Homosexuality – When asked to clarify their stance on homosexuality and gay marriage, Hillsong pastor, Brian Houston, was anything but clear. He essentially gave a non-answer and this article from Andrew Walker shows why evangelicals should be concerned.

Hillsong (kind of) Clarifies Statement on Gay Marriage – While Houston affirms traditionally held Christian views on homosexuality, he remains unclear. I don’t see this statement as invalidating Walker’s above article.

How Boko Haram’s Murders and Kidnappings are Changing Nigeria’s Churches – “Leading Nigerian evangelical says Christians won’t abandon the North.”

Why I’m Not Afraid of Ebola – Inspiring words from a doctor who is a Christian.

One of the Oldest Known Synagogues Seized by ISIS – “Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists not only threaten the current Middle East according to antiquities officials in Iraq and Syria, the terror group threatens to erase 5,000 years of history and relics in upper Mesopotamia, including one of the earliest Jewish synagogues.”

The Better Half: SEC Wives – This brief feature on the lives of the wives of SEC football coaches is unique and interesting. However, there is a saddening effect inherent with their lifestyles.

The Mid-Degree Crisis and Value of Work During Seminary – This was timely in my life. I am a theology student who works. I received much-needed encouragement from Phillip Bethancourt in this post.

Book Review of “The Bible Tells Me So” – Don’t miss this important review of Peter Enns’ controversial book.

Marriage on the Edge of Eternity – Francis Chan: “Eternity changes how we enjoy marriage and everything else in this life. Eternity changes how we love. It would be unloving to get my wife and kids so focused on this life that they are unprepared for the next.”

5 Bad Substitutes for Discipline – Tim Challies: “There is nothing easy about parenting, and nothing easy about the responsibility of training our children in obedience through discipline. Because discipline is unpopular and unpleasant, parents often find themselves looking for substitutes.”

The One Key Component to Good Writing – Barnabas Piper with some helpful advice for all of my fellow writers out there.

As long as we let the Word be our only armor we can look confidently into the future. –Deitrich Bonhoeffer