‘American Gospel: Christ Alone’ Takes on Joel Osteen and the Prosperity Gospel


joel osteen

by John Ellis

When you read the Bible, are you the hero? Do you see yourself as Joshua? As David? As Daniel?

If you answered “yes” to those questions, you should meet Katherine Berger who gently smiles into the camera as she says, “I have so much more happiness now than I ever did before.”

You see, as a wife and mother of two, Katherine is a modern-day Job, suffering immeasurable physical pain from a failing body racked by numerous diseases. And, yet, Katherine, who once prided herself on her physical strength and abilities, now confesses that she loves her current life more than her past life because when she wakes up in the morning, she now realizes that she needs God.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Love = Obedience

John-14-15-In-You-Love-Me-You-Will-Keep-My-Commandments-gold-copy

by John Ellis

As a child, obedience was a pragmatic activity for me. Navigating the tension between my desires and the possible punishment if I got caught fulfilling my desires, my decision to obey or not was rooted in a cost/benefit analysis. If the reward from my desire was greater than the risk of the punishment, obedience was jettisoned. On the other hand, if the reward was less than the risk, I was an obedient child. Not to mention the many times in which obedience enabled me to do what I wanted. As an example of how my pragmatic obedience worked, refusing to sing Patch the Pirate’s song “Obedience” with the rest of the students brought with it punishment not worth the reward of not singing. So, I dutifully sang the lyrics “obedience is the very best way to show that you believe” many times throughout my childhood.

It’s only as an adult that I get the irony.

My childhood’s pragmatic hypocrisy aside, is the song correct? Is it true that “obedience is the very best way to show that [we] believe?”

Continue reading

Weekend Reading: 9/22


coffee-computer-expat-working(pp_w639_h426)

by John Ellis

The weekend has already descended, but that doesn’t mean that at some point over the next day and a half you won’t be longing for something interesting to read. And that’s the purpose of this post. Over the last week, I’ve compiled some of the most interesting and/or edifying posts and articles that I’ve read. Not all of them were published this past week, but I was first introduced to them this past week. Hopefully, you’ll be introduced to an article or two that you find interesting.

Continue reading

Faith Will Move a Mountain


mount-of-olives-n-19th-century

by John Ellis

Several weeks into my new life as a follower of Jesus, something went wrong with my car’s brakes. Over the previous decade or so, I had changed the brake pads and rotors on cars many times. But whatever was wrong this time eluded my limited capabilities as a mechanic. I also didn’t have any money. I did have Matthew 17:20, though.

Matthew 17:20 is the famous and oft-quoted passage in which Jesus tells his disciples, “For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”[1]

Continue reading

Christian Apologetics: Presuppositionalism

apologeticsby Jed Kampen

A few years ago I heard about a man who was convinced he was dead. His wife was obviously very concerned about him, so she took him to see many friends, counselors, psychologists, even pastors, and no one could convince him he was dead. Finally, in desperation, she took him to see a medical doctor. The doctor asked the man, “Do you believe that dead men bleed?” The man thought about it and answered, “Well, I suppose their heart isn’t beating so, no, dead men don’t bleed.” The doctor then took a needle and pricked the man on the finger. The man stared at his bleeding finger, and the lights in his eyes came on, and he exclaimed “Well would you look at that. Dead men do bleed.”

(Read the first post in this series “Christian Apologetics: What’s the Point?”)

Continue reading

Christian Apologetics: What’s the Point?

apologeticsby John Ellis

Last week, the news that Jesus’ burial place had been “discovered” began popping up all over my social media newsfeeds[1]. At first, I ignored the shared articles and the accompanying declamations of “Praise, God! The Bible is true!” because I tend to be skeptical of the validity, much less the use, of “major archeological finds that prove the Bible to be true.” But then The Gospel Coalition posted an article defending the claim.

Since TGC is an organization that I have great respect for and an organization that the Holy Spirit has used to bless me, I read Justin Taylor’s article. The article’s arguments make sense and are far afield from the sensationalism that is often the Achille’s heel of American Evangelicalism. Don’t misunderstand, I still have questions and some doubts. Regardless, I found the TGC article compelling and forwarded it to several friends.

Continue reading

Going Back to Greenville

 

greenvilleby John Ellis

Three years ago this past August, Danita, the kids, and I woke up early one morning and headed north to our new home in Arlington, VA. After eight years in Greenville, SC, we knew that it would be hard leaving friends we loved and a place that had become home. More than anything, we knew that leaving our church family would be painful.

The Sunday before we left, I stood up in our church’s morning prayer service and delivered a tearful goodbye. After briefly recounting some of the ways in which the Holy Spirit had used Emmanuel Bible Church to teach us about God the Father and to grow our faith, I asked for prayer. Specifically, I asked the church to pray for the Holy Spirit to knit our hearts to our new church family as we were sure to be lonely and homesick. At the time, I had no idea how prescience my prayer request was.

Continue reading