Latest


Heaven Is a World of Love

Jul 15, 2015 | Kevin DeYoung

Most people know Jonathan Edwards as the guy who preached hellfire and brimstone sermons like “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” But fewer realize that the pastor from Northampton, Massachusetts also preached sermons like this one, called “Heaven is a World of Love.”

The Apostle tells us that God is love, 1 John 4:8. And therefore seeing he is an infinite Being, it follows that he is an infinite fountain of love, Seeing he is an all-sufficient Being, it follows that he is a full and overflowing and an inexhaustible fountain of love. Seeing he is an unchangeable and eternal Being, he is an unchangeable and eternal source of love. There even in heaven dwells that God from whom every stream of holy love, yea, every drop that is or ever was proceeds.

There dwells God the Father, and so the Son, who are united in infinitely dear and incomprehensible mutual love. There dwells God the Father, who is the Father of mercies, and so the Father of love, who so loved that world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life [John 3:16].

There dwells Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, the Prince of peace and love, who so loved the world that he shed his blood, and poured out his soul unto death for it. There dwells the Mediator, by whom all God’s love is expressed to the saints, by whom the fruits of it have been purchased, and through whom they are communicated, and through whom love is imparted to the hearts of all the church. There Christ dwells in both his natures, his human and divine, sitting with the Father in the same throne.

There is the Holy Spirit, the spirit of divine love, in whom the very essence of God, as it were, all flows out or is shed abroad in the hearts of all the church [cf. Rom. 5:5].

There in heaven this fountain of love, this eternal three in one, is set open without any obstacle to hinder access to it. There this glorious God is manifested and shines forth in full glory, in beams of love; there the fountain overflows in streams and rivers of love and delight, enough for all to drink at, and to swim in, yea, so as to overflow the world as it were with a deluge of love. (The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards, 245)

Jonathan Edwards was one of those rare persons who saw the terror of hell and the extraordinary beauty and loveliness of heaven.  He understood that we do not worship a cartoon deity.  God is not a one-dimensional character out of  a summer blockbuster.  He’s not some petty, insecure despot with lightning bolts who nurses a grudge against the human race.  But neither is he a souped up version of  American Ninja Warrior’s uber-supportive audience, a feel good god eager to cheer on anyone no matter their failings so long as they have a back story.

These are not biblical images of God.  The God of the Bible is a God of unswerving justice and boundless mercy. And never can the two be divorced from each other.

One of the striking things in reading the excerpt above is to see just how much this depiction of heaven rises out from the most foundational elements of Christian theology. The love in Edwards’ vision of heaven cannot be reduced to sentiment, sympathy, and bumper sticker notions of acceptance and affirmation. The love that awaits the saints in heaven is far different, not because it is something less, but because it is so much more.

The love Edwards extols is rich with theological reflection on the Trinity, the two natures of Christ, substitutionary atonement, Christ as Mediator, the importance of the church, and the immutability of God. Edwards’ heaven is full of a love that only makes sense in the world of thought shaped by the whole counsel of God. Cheap imitations of biblical love never plumb the depths of the Christian tradition. Instead they plunder the booty of Christian vocabulary and employ in such a way so that everyone from Donald Trump to the Dali Lama can nod in agreement. Edwards tells a different story, reminding us that heaven is a world where Trinitarian-wrought, cross-bought, sorrow-easing, wrath-appeasing, Christ-centered, church-focused, overflowing, inexhaustible, incorruptible love wins.

View Comments

Monday Morning Humor

Jul 13, 2015 | Kevin DeYoung

View Comments

Hymns We Should Sing More Often: Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah

Jul 10, 2015 | Kevin DeYoung

This is part of an intermittent series I’ve called “Hymns We Should Sing More Often.” The aim is to remind us (or introduce for the first time) excellent hymns that are probably not included in most church’s musical canon. A few hymns–like Holy, Holy, Holy or Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing—are familiar to many congregations and get sung in conferences and other large gatherings. Unfortunately, for a growing number of churches, there are no hymnals in the pews (or on the chairs), and consequently there is little opportunity to draw from the deep well of Christian hymnody. Most of the hymns in this series are not unfamiliar, just underutilized. I hope you will enjoy learning about these hymns as much as I have and enjoy singing them even more.

**********

William Williams (1717-1791) came to Christ through the evangelistic preaching of a man named Howell Harris in Wales at the same time that John Wesley and George Whitefield were leading revivals in England. After serving two local parishes in the Anglican church, Williams himself felt the call to become a traveling evangelist. He devoted the next 43 years of his life to minister to his home country of Wales on horseback (traveling almost 100,000 miles) preaching and singing Christ. He wrote approximately 800 hymns in Welsh, and was known as the “sweet singer of Wales.”

“Guide Me, O My Great Jehovah” is Williams’ most famous hymn. It compares the life of the believer with that of the Israelites during their 40 year wilderness wanderings in the “barren land”, and makes illusions to manna (“bread of heaven”), the crystal fountain, the fire and cloudy pillar, the Jordan River, and crossing over to Canaan’s side.

The most familiar musical setting of “Guide Me” was written by the Welsh composer John Hughes in 1907. The tune (known as CWM RHONDDA) was written for a Baptist singing festival at Capel Rhondda, in Pontypridd, Wales. The English translation of the Welsh text was done by Peter Williams in 1771.

Guide me, O thou great Jehovah, pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty; hold me with thy pow’rful hand;
Bread of heaven, Bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more, feed me till I want no more.

Open now the crystal fountain, whence the healing stream doth flow;
let the fire and cloudy pillar lead me all my journey through;
strong Deliv’rer, strong Deliv’rer, be thou still my strength and shield, be thou still my strength and shield.

When I tread the verge of Jordan, bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of death, and hell’s Destruction, land me safe on Canaan’s side;
songs of praises, songs of praises I will ever give to thee, I will ever give to thee.

View Comments

Love Incorruptible

Jul 08, 2015 | Kevin DeYoung

Paul concludes his letter to the Ephesians with four precious gospel words: “Peace to the brothers, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible” (Eph. 6:23-24). Those are four of the most important words you’ll ever hear: peace, love, faith, grace. And what about the last sentence? Absolutely beautiful. How fitting that Ephesians would end with the phrase “love incorruptible.”

And what does undying love look like?

It looks like Ephesians 4-6.

We love Jesus enough to obey his commands. We abide in Christ by letting his words abide in us. We live a life worthy of the calling we have received. “Love incorruptible” is an elegant phrase, but it’s hard work. It means no longer living as the pagans do. It means taking off the old clothes of greed, sensuality, and impurity and putting on the new garments of truth, righteousness, and holiness.

It’s very easy to talk about love. What the world needs now is love, sweet love. But few people bother to define love any more. Except that Paul does, all over the place in Ephesians. If we truly love, we will be changed people. We will put off falsehood, unrighteous anger, stealing, unwholesome talk, and bitterness. And we will put on truth-telling, righteous anger, hard work, edifying conversation, and compassion. We will be imitators of Christ. There is no real love for Christ if we do not long to be like him in his perfect righteousness and justice, his perfect truth and grace.

If we love our Lord Jesus with undying love we will live as children of light, exposing the shameful deeds of darkness. We will be careful how we live, making the most of every opportunity, understanding the Lord’s will, and being filled with the Spirit. Out of love for Christ, wives will submit to their husbands, children honor their parents, and workers obey their bosses. And out of love for Christ, husbands will lay down their lives for their wives, parents will instruct their children in the Lord, and bosses will treat their workers as they themselves wish to be treated.

If we love our Lord Jesus Christ, we not give up in our fight against the flesh and the devil, but we will stand our ground and resist the schemes of the evil one. And above all, and under all, we will pray–at all times, with all kinds of prayers, for all the saints, in all perseverance.

That’s a lot for God to ask of us in the name of love. But, do not forget, all that he asks he provides. We love our Lord Jesus Christ with undying love because in him we know God’s own immortal, imperishable, incorruptible love for us.

That’s Ephesians 1-3.

In Christ we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. We were chosen in him to be holy and blameless. Through Jesus, we have been adopted as God’s children. In him, we have redemption through his blood. And in him, God is bringing the entire universe to its fulfillment–to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. In him, we were also chosen, predestined according to God’s sovereign plan. In Christ we have been sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, marked out as God’s own possession to the praise of his glory.

In our Lord Jesus Christ, God is right now working his mighty power for us who believe. And in Christ we have already been made alive with him, even when we were dead in transgressions. And in him we have been seated in the heavenly realms, in order that in the coming ages God might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

In him we have been created for good works. In him we who were far away have been brought near. In him, Jews and Gentiles, blacks and whites, Croats and Serbs can come together in one body. In him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. In him is a love that is wide and long and high and deep and surpasses knowledge.

To this Jesus Christ, whom we love with undying love, be glory throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

View Comments

Monday Morning Humor

Jul 06, 2015 | Kevin DeYoung

I hope your holiday weekend was at least this good.

View Comments

A Republic of Laws, Not Men

Jul 03, 2015 | Kevin DeYoung

John Adams speaking in favor of American independence:

Objects of the most stupendous magnitude. Measures which will effect the lives of millions–born and unborn–are now before us. We must expect a great expense of blood to obtain them, but we must always remember that a free constitution of civil government cannot be purchased at too dear a rate as there is nothing on this side of Jerusalem of greater importance to mankind.

My worthy colleague from Pennsylvania has spoken with great ingenuity and eloquence. He has given you a grim prognostication of our national future. But where he foresees apocalypse, I see hope. I see a new nation ready to take its place in the world, not an empire, but a republic. And a republic of laws, not men!

Gentlemen, we are in the very midst of revolution; the most complete, unexpected and remarkable of any in the history of the world. How few of the human race have ever had an opportunity of choosing a system of government for themselves and their children?  I am not without apprehensions, gentlemen. But the end we have in sight is more than worth all the means.

My belief says that the hour has come. My judgment approves this measure and my whole heart is in it.

All that I have, all that I am, and all I that I hope in this life I am now ready to stake upon it.  While I live, let me have a country. A free country!

Watch the moving speech from the excellent John Adams miniseries here.

View Comments

40 Questions for Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags

Jul 01, 2015 | Kevin DeYoung

OrdinanceAgainstRainbowFlagDraftedinLouisianna070713For evangelicals who lament last Friday’s Supreme Court decision, it’s been a hard few days. We aren’t asking for emotional pity, nor do I suspect many people are eager to give us any. Our pain is not sacred. Making legal and theological decisions based on what makes people feel better is part of what got us into this mess in the first place. Nevertheless, it still hurts.

There are many reasons for our lamentation, from fear that religious liberties will be taken away to worries about social ostracism and cultural marginalization. But of all the things that grieve us, perhaps what’s been most difficult is seeing some of our friends, some of our family members, and some of the folks we’ve sat next to in church giving their hearty “Amen” to a practice we still think is a sin and a decision we think is bad for our country. It’s one thing for the whole nation to throw a party we can’t in good conscience attend. It’s quite another to look around for friendly faces to remind us we’re not alone and then find that they are out there jamming on the dance floor. We thought the rainbow was God’s sign (Gen. 9:8-17).

If you consider yourself a Bible-believing Christian, a follower of Jesus whose chief aim is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, there are important questions I hope you will consider before picking up your flag and cheering on the sexual revolution. These questions aren’t meant to be snarky or merely rhetorical. They are sincere, if pointed, questions that I hope will cause my brothers and sisters with the new rainbow themed avatars to slow down and think about the flag you’re flying.

1. How long have you believed that gay marriage is something to be celebrated?

2. What Bible verses led you to change your mind?

3. How would you make a positive case from Scripture that sexual activity between two persons of the same sex is a blessing to be celebrated?

4. What verses would you use to show that a marriage between two persons of the same sex can adequately depict Christ and the church?

5. Do you think Jesus would have been okay with homosexual behavior between consenting adults in a committed relationship?

6. If so, why did he reassert the Genesis definition of marriage as being one man and one woman?

7. When Jesus spoke against porneia what sins do you think he was forbidding?

8. If some homosexual behavior is acceptable, how do you understand the sinful “exchange” Paul highlights in Romans 1?

9. Do you believe that passages like 1 Corinthians 6:9 and Revelation 21:8 teach that sexual immorality can keep you out of heaven?

10. What sexual sins do you think they were referring to?

11. As you think about the long history of the church and the near universal disapproval of same-sex sexual activity, what do you think you understand about the Bible that Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, and Luther failed to grasp?

12. What arguments would you use to explain to Christians in Africa, Asia, and South America that their understanding of homosexuality is biblically incorrect and your new understanding of homosexuality is not culturally conditioned?

13. Do you think Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were motivated by personal animus and bigotry when they, for almost all of their lives, defined marriage as a covenant relationship between one man and one woman?

14. Do you think children do best with a mother and a father?

15. If not, what research would you point to in support of that conclusion?

16. If yes, does the church or the state have any role to play in promoting or privileging the arrangement that puts children with a mom and a dad?

17. Does the end and purpose of marriage point to something more than an adult’s emotional and sexual fulfillment?

18. How would you define marriage?

19. Do you think close family members should be allowed to get married?

20. Should marriage be limited to only two people?

21. On what basis, if any, would you prevent consenting adults of any relation and of any number from getting married?

22. Should there be an age requirement in this country for obtaining a marriage license?

23. Does equality entail that anyone wanting to be married should be able to have any meaningful relationship defined as marriage?

24. If not, why not?

25. Should your brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with homosexual practice be allowed to exercise their religious beliefs without fear of punishment, retribution, or coercion?

26. Will you speak up for your fellow Christians when their jobs, their accreditation, their reputation, and their freedoms are threatened because of this issue?

27. Will you speak out against shaming and bullying of all kinds, whether against gays and lesbians or against Evangelicals and Catholics?

28. Since the evangelical church has often failed to take unbiblical divorces and other sexual sins seriously, what steps will you take to ensure that gay marriages are healthy and accord with Scriptural principles?

29. Should gay couples in open relationships be subject to church discipline?

30. Is it a sin for LGBT persons to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage?

31. What will open and affirming churches do to speak prophetically against divorce, fornication, pornography, and adultery wherever they are found?

32. If “love wins,” how would you define love?

33. What verses would you use to establish that definition?

34. How should obedience to God’s commands shape our understanding of love?

35. Do you believe it is possible to love someone and disagree with important decisions they make?

36. If supporting gay marriage is a change for you, has anything else changed in your understanding of faith?

37. As an evangelical, how has your support for gay marriage helped you become more passionate about traditional evangelical distinctives like a focus on being born again, the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the total trustworthiness of the Bible, and the urgent need to evangelize the lost?

38. What open and affirming churches would you point to where people are being converted to orthodox Christianity, sinners are being warned of judgment and called to repentance, and missionaries are being sent out to plant churches among unreached peoples?

39. Do you hope to be more committed to the church, more committed to Christ, and more committed to the Scriptures in the years ahead?

40. When Paul at the end of Romans 1 rebukes “those who practice such things” and those who “give approval to those who practice them,” what sins do you think he has in mind?

Food for thought, I hope. At the very least, something to chew on before swallowing everything the world and Facebook put on our plate.

Note: An earlier version of this post had the questions in paragraph format rather than enumerated. The content is still the same. Readers interested in studying what the Bible teaches about homosexuality may be interested in checking out my new book on that theme.

View Comments

Monday Morning Humor

Jun 29, 2015 | Kevin DeYoung

There’s been a lot going on in the past two weeks, much of it hard and sad. Here’s a very cute baby singing Elvis.

View Comments

But What Does the Bible Say?

Jun 26, 2015 | Kevin DeYoung

bible2-620x403Now that the Supreme Court has issued its sweeping ruling in favor of same-sex marriage, we can expect an avalanche of commentary, analysis, and punditry. I’m not a law professor, a politician, a talk show host, or a public intellectual (whatever that is). I’m a pastor. I study and teach the Bible for a living. Which means, among all the things I may not be an expert on, I may be able to say something meaningful from the Scriptures. So as we pour over legal opinions and internet commentary, let us not forget what the Bible says.

The Bible says the Lord alone is God and we should have no other gods before him (Ex. 20:2-3). Not the state, not the Supreme Court, not our families, not our friends, not our favorite authors, not our cultural cache. No gods but God.

The Bible says we should love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt. 22:39). And who is your neighbor deserving of such love? Wrong question, just worry about being the neighbor you’d want for yourself (Luke 10:25-37).

The Bible says love is not the same as unconditional affirmation (James 5:19-20). Love is patient and kind. It does not envy or boast. It does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Cor. 13:4-7).

The Bible says that disciples of Jesus will be hated as Jesus was hated (John 15:18-25; 2 Tim. 3:12). If the world loves us, it is not a sign of our brilliance, but that we belong to the world.

The Bible says that when reviled we should not revile in return (1 Peter 2:21-25). We should love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matt. 5:44).

The Bible says Jesus came into the world to save sinners, especially the worst of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). That means people like me, like you, and like the Apostle Paul who at one time opposed everyone and everything he later came to love and defend.

The Bible says marriage is between a man and a woman (Gen. 1:27-28; 2:18-25; Mal. 2:15; Matt. 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-9) and that homosexual practice is sin (Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Rom. 1:18-32; 1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:10; Jude 7), but a sin from which we can be washed clean (1 Cor. 6:9-11).

Any Christian who really believes the Bible must believe all of the Bible. You can’t applaud what Jesus says about loving your neighbor from Leviticus 19, if Leviticus 18 and 20 are throwaway chapters. You can’t unpack the good news of Romans 8, if Romans 1 is overstuffed with cultural baggage. You can’t marvel at the goodness of God’s creation, if there is no good design in how he created things. Either the Bible is God’s Word or we are sufficiently godlike to determine which words stay and which words go.

The cultural breezes are blowing against us. The worldly winds are stiff in our faces. But the hard parts of the Bible are no less true for being less popular. The Bible says what it says, so let us be honest enough to say whether we think what the Bible says is right or wrong. Diarmaid MacCulloch, a decorated church historian and gay man who left the church over the issue of homosexuality, has stated the issue with refreshing candor:

This is an issue of biblical authority. Despite much well-intentioned theological fancy footwork to the contrary, it is difficult to see the Bible as expressing anything else but disapproval of homosexual activity, let alone having any conception of homosexual identity. The only alternatives are either to cleave to patterns of life and assumptions set out in the Bible, or say that in this, as in much else, the Bible is simply wrong. (The Reformation: A History, 705).

Yes, those are the only alternatives. I know books are right now being written by the dozens trying to make the case that the Bible is really keen on gay marriage, but it can’t be done. Not with exegetical and historical integrity.

Not with gospel integrity either.

A holy God sends his holy Son to die as an atoning sacrifice for unholy people so that by the power of the Holy Spirit they can live holy lives and enjoy God forever in the holy place that is the new heaven and new earth. Is this the story celebrated and sermonized in open and affirming churches? What about twenty years from now? And what if we flesh out the gospel story and include the tough bits about the exclusivity of Christ and the reality of hell?  What if the story centers on Calvary, not as a generic example that love (defined in whatever we choose) wins, but as beautifully scandalous picture of a love so costly that God sent his Son into the world to be the wrath-bearing propitiation for our sins? What if the story summons us to faith and repentance? What if the story calls us to lay down everything–our ease, our desires, our family, our preferences, our sexuality, our stuff, our very selves–for the sake of the Storyteller? What if part of the story is believing that every jot and tittle in the Storybook is completely true?

I’d rather not talk about homosexuality again. But the world hasn’t stopped talking about it. And the Bible hasn’t stopped saying what it has always said. So let’s not be shrill and let’s not be silent. If you already know what the Bible says about homosexuality, don’t forget what the Bible says about all of life and godliness. We can be right about marriage and still wrong about everything else that matters. And if you like most everything else the Bible says, why would you on this matter of homosexuality decide the Bible suddenly can’t be trusted? If you won’t count the cost here, what else will you be willing to sell? The support for homosexual behavior almost always goes hand in hand with the diluting of robust, 100-proof orthodoxy, either as the cause or the effect. The spirits which cause one to go wobbly on biblical sexuality are the same spirits which befog the head and heart when it comes to the doctrine of creation, the historical accuracy of the Old Testament, the virgin birth, the miracles of Jesus, the resurrection, the second coming, the reality of hell, the plight of those who do not know Christ, the necessity of the new birth, the full inspiration and authority of the Bible, and the centrality of a bloody cross.

If Jesus is right and the Scriptures were spoken by God himself (Matt. 19:4-5) and utterly unbreakable (John 10:35), then the place to start when it comes to something as fundamental as marriage is also the place to end, and that’s by asking the question “But what does the Bible say?” As Christians living in the midst of controversy, we must keep three things open: our heads, our hearts, and our Bibles. Don’t settle for slogans and put-downs. Don’t look to bumper stickers and Facebook avatars for ethical direction. And don’t give up on the idea that God has a clear word and a good word on this issue. God has already spoken, and he specializes in gracious reminders, so long as we stay humble, honest, and hungry for the truth. After all, man does not live by bread alone (or sex alone), but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Deut. 8:3; Matt. 4:4).

View Comments

10 Reasons Racism is Offensive to God

Jun 25, 2015 | Kevin DeYoung

Private rental racismHow could one not be moved by the events in Charleston last week? Indeed “moved” is hardly a sufficient verb. We need words like heartbroken, appalled, grieved, outraged, and disgusted. Nine brothers and sisters murdered, and after being so kind to the killer that he almost didn’t go through with his wicked machinations. How can this happen? In America? In 2015? In a church? And inspired by the kind of racist beliefs we’d like to think don’t exist anymore?

But they do exist, even if (thankfully) not like the used to.

Charleston is a beautiful city and there have been beautiful gospel scenes broadcast from that city in these last days. But obviously all is not beautiful in South Carolina, just like all is not beautiful in Michigan, and all is not beautiful in the human heart.

I’ve grown up my whole life hearing that racism was wrong, that “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior” (to use one of the first definitions that popped up on my phone) is sinful. I’ve heard it from my parents, from my public school, from my church, from my college, and from my seminary. The vast majority of Americans know that racism is wrong. It’s one of the few things almost everyone agrees on. And yet, I wonder if we (I?) have spent much time considering why it’s wrong. We can easily make our “I hate racism” opinions known (and loudly), but perhaps we are just looking for moral high ground, or for pats on the back, or to win friends and influence people, or to prove we’re not like those people, or maybe we are just saying what we’ve always heard everyone say. As Christians we must think and feel deeply not just the what of the Bible but the why. If racism is so bad, why is it so bad?

Here are ten biblical reasons why racism is a sin and offensive to God.

1. We are all made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27). Most Christians know this and believe it, but the implications are more staggering than we might realize. The sign pictured above is not just mean, it is dehumanizing. It tried to rob Irish and Blacks of their exalted status as divine image bearers. It tried to make them no different than animals. But of course, as a white man I am no more like God in my being, no more capable of worship, no more made with a divine purpose, no more possessing of worth and deserving of dignity than any other human of any other gender, color, or ethnicity. We are more alike than we are different.

2. We are all sinners corrupted by the fall (Rom. 3:10-20; 5:12-21). Everyone made in the image of God has also had that image tainted and marred by original sin. Our anthropology is as identical as our ontology. Same image, same problem. We are more alike than we are different.

3. We are all, if believers in Jesus, one in Christ (Gal. 3:28). We see from the rest of the New Testament that justification by faith does not eradicate our gender, our vocation, or our ethnicity, but it does relativize all these things. Our first and most important identity is not male or female, American or Russian, black or white, Spanish speaker or French speaker, rich or poor, influential or obscure, but Christian. We are more alike than we are different.

4. Separating peoples was a curse from Babel (Gen. 11:7-9); bringing peoples together was a gift from Pentecost (Acts 2:5-11). The reality of Pentecost may not be possible in every community–after all, Jerusalem had all those people there because of the holy day–but if our inclination is to move in the direction of the punishment of Genesis 11 instead of the blessing of Acts 2 something is wrong.

5. Partiality is a sin (James 2:1). When we treat people unfairly, when we assume the worst about persons and peoples, when we favor one group over another, we do not reflect the God of justice nor do we honor the Christ who came to save all men.

6. Real love loves as we hope to be loved (Matt. 22:39-40). No one can honestly say that racism treats our neighbor as we would like to be treated.

7. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer (1 John 3:15). Sadly, we can hate without realizing we hate. Hatred does not always manifest itself as implacable rage, and it does not always–or, because of God’s restraining mercy, often–translate into physical murder. But hatred is murder of the heart, because hatred looks at someone else or some other group and thinks, “I wish you weren’t around. You are what’s wrong with this world, and the world would be better without people like you.” That’s hate, which sounds an awful lot like murder.

8. Love rejoices in what is true and looks for what is best (1 Cor. 13:4-7). You can’t believe all things and hope all things when you assume the worst about people and live your life fueled by prejudice, misguided convictions, and plain old animosity.

9. Christ came to tear down walls between peoples not build them up (Eph. 2:14). This is not a saccharine promise about everyone setting doctrine aside and getting along for Jesus’s sake. Ephesians 2 and 3 are about something much deeper, much more glorious, and much more cruciform. If we who have been made in the same image, born into the world with the same problem, find the same redemption through the same faith in the same Lord, how can we not draw near to each other as members of the same family?

10. Heaven has no room for racism (Rev. 5:9-10; 7:9-12; 22:1-5). Woe to us if our vision of the good life here on earth will be completely undone by the reality of new heavens and new earth yet to come. Antagonism toward people of another color, language, or ethnic background is antagonism toward God himself and his design for eternity. Christians ought to reject racism, and do what they can to expose it and bring the gospel to bear upon it, not because we love pats on the back for our moral outrage or are desperate for restored moral authority, but because we love God and submit ourselves to the authority of his word.

View Comments
1 2 3 4 210