Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)
Hebrews 12:1 reveals so much about the character of God. This short, pivotal verse tells us about the heavenly realm; the ability of those in that realm to ‘see’ what we are doing; that God has a plan for our lives; that he knows it is not easy; and that he values our striving. The race we are directed to run gives us a purpose and a mission. In context it’s about keeping the faith. Hebrews Chapter 11, often called the Great Faith Chapter, precedes the ‘therefore’. If you pay attention to the ending of Hebrews Chapter 11, you’ll notice that all the saints mentioned “were commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”
God works by processes. He wants us to run a race that he knows will be difficult. Some believe this to be unfair—why doesn’t God just poof everything to be easy for everybody? But God plays by his own rules. That’s what the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is all about. And we have a role in that sacrifice—we’re supposed to keep the faith.
Who wrote the Book of Hebrews? Opinions vary considerably, but my personal hunch is Barnabas. It’s hard to say, but one thing is certain—the apostle Paul knew and appreciated this theology. Continue reading
Thomas Aquinas, by Fra Bartolomeo. During a period of Islamic ascendancy in medieval Europe, Aquinas led the way as a follower of Jesus to transform history.
According to the U.S. Census of 2010, Islam is the fastest growing religious movement in America, increasing 66.7% over the previous ten years, as compared to only a 1.7% increase among evangelical Protestants. How do we best relate the Gospel to Muslims? Here is a nugget from church history on Thomas Aquinas and the influx of Islam into medieval Europe with lessons for today.
So, how did the medieval church respond to the overwhelming cultural influence carried by the Arab Muslims into Christian Europe? Enter in Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas was a young Dominican monk in the 13th century as he thought about the growing influence of Islam throughout the known “Christian” world. But Aquinas knew that the famous ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle, was perhaps the most important thinker enlisted by the Muslims to support Islamic belief. Aquinas began a nearly lifelong study of Aristotle. His magisterial Summa contra Gentiles was written in about 1264 largely as an apologetic treatise for use by Christian missionaries when explaining the faith to Muslim critics. In Summa contra Gentiles, he comments extensively on Aristotle, the great pagan thinker, in an effort to defend the Gospel.
Was Galileo right? Or did he take the Christian church down the path of compromise, eventually leading to the contemporary secularization of traditionally Christian societies, and weakening the witness of the church?
Millions of years. The age of the earth. Established scientific fact based on evidence? Or fatal compromise of biblical inerrancy and the integrity of the Gospel?
Answers in Genesis (AiG) is the premier Young Earth Creationist organization in the world. Their basic mission is to try to help Christians have a restored confidence in the full inerrancy of the Bible, starting at the “very first verse” in Genesis. One of their primary claims is that evangelicalism has allowed apostasy to enter the church by accommodating to the modern scientific idea of a “millions of years” Old Earth. Over time, this gradual movement away from a literal 24-hour day interpretation of the Creation account, with a Creation date of less than 10,000 years ago, has led to all sorts of other confusions of Bible doctrine. Secular critics scoff, church leaders fumble on the questions, and many bewildered young people in our churches go right out the door and leave the faith, according to AiG.