The Worst Kind of Approval

handI have found it true that when you struggle with certain sins, you are more sympathetic with others who struggle with that sin. But if you don’t struggle as much with a certain sin, you will tend to be more impatient with those who do. For example, kids who struggle to obey their parents think it is hilarious when other kids disobey their parents. They get it. But for kids who always follow the rules, their gasps at their friends’ disobedience can be heard for miles. We sadly tend to take the sins of others more seriously than our own. But when we are stuck in a pit of repetitive sin, we more easily give our approval to those who are in the pit with us.

One of the cardinal sins in the current stream of American culture is the sin of non-approval or non-acceptance. People of all lifestyles desire to be accepted for who they are and what they do. The deep desire for approval was a major driving force for the LGBT agenda in the same-sex marriage narrative and it continues through a similar push for the legalization of polygamy from the Sister Wives. It has become increasingly difficult for Christians to navigate the waters of pluralism while having to dodge the bullets of accusations of bigotry and intolerance. Refusing to approve of a particular lifestyle, behavior, or identity is seen as prudish and regressive.

But the worst kind of approval is that which approves of what kills. The Bible teaches that sin in all its expressions leads to death. To approve of what God has condemned serves no one. It is self-condemning. It is the opposite of love. Who in love for his friend refuses to call out to him as he walks blindly toward the edge of a cliff? As easy and comfortable as it is to approve of cultural permissible sins, God’s people must not be found in the position of cheering their neighbors as they march gladly toward eternal death. In the words of Landon Dowden, “Sin should produce tears, not cheers.”

Paul closes his scathing section of Romans 1 by saying, “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them” (Rom. 1:32). Probably the greatest evidence and most serious result of God giving us up to ourselves is when we not only sin, but give our approval of sin in others.

People know that certain actions like the ones listed in Romans 1:29-31 are deserving of death. This moral code is written on the heart of every person under the sun. But they are so lost in their sin that they not only commit those sins anyway, they also give a thumbs up to others who commit these sins and more.

It is dangerous to both human souls and human societies when people begin to approve of sin. When we justify sin in ourselves and in others we are approving of the things God justly pours his wrath against. It may sound obvious to you that it is wrong to approve of sin, but it is very easy to fail in this way. How easy is it to join in gossip? How easy is it to justify your friend’s gossip in a large group? For the sake of perceived unity with friends and family, many Christians have capitulated on many hotbed issues. But it should be remembered that while capitulation on social or sexual issues God condemns may make you friends with men, it will cause you to stand in stark opposition to God.

When you ignore sin in your heart, you will ignore sin in your neighbor’s heart. Only when you confess sin in your own heart will you be able to helpfully confront sin in your neighbor’s heart. Deal seriously with sin in your life. See it as a deadly disease that callouses hearts to goodness and truth and joy. If you truly love your neighbor, you cannot offer your support and approval for their sin.

Only in Jesus do we find life and freedom from the curse and power of sin. Indeed, “those who practice such things deserve to die.” Jesus never practiced such things. He never sinned. Yet, he died the death we deserve, so we can have life with him. Jesus never approves of that which kills. Instead, he died to kill the disease of sin so we can have approval with God.


Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (Westbow Press, 2016). He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.

Morning Mashup 08/26

Morning Mashup

A daily mashup of Kindle deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


KINDLE DEALS

Romans (The Story of God Bible Commentary) | Michael Bird | $7.99

41UBw6wLtiL

How to Read the Bible Book by Book: A Guided Tour | Gordon Fee | $4.99

7158ZhFUq6L

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth: Fourth Edition | Gordon Fee & Douglas Stuart | $4.99

41G5h1eWjEL

ARTICLES

VIDEOS

Morning Mashup 08/25

Morning Mashup

A daily mashup of Kindle deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


KINDLE DEALS

Shaped by the Gospel: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City (Center Church) | Tim Keller | $3.99

41cPs-qQAGL

Relationships: A Mess Worth Making | Tim Lane | $2.99

51KFOq6xhkL

ARTICLES

Purity Culture | Samuel James

 It is often difficult for me to read a blog post that excoriates evangelical purity culture, and discern where the criticism of legalism ends and the criticism of the Bible’s teachings on sex begin. 

Remember Their Names | James Faris

You can minister to family members of public figures by following God’s pattern: remember their names. Most are pretty happy to live in the orbit of their more luminous family member; but when you work to know a person’s name and use it, it brings them even greater joy because it shows that you care about them as an individual.

You Are Not the Bride of Christ | Ryan Higginbottom

The image in Scripture is clear: God is preparing and purifying his people for a great gathering at the end of time. The victorious Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, will meet his bride, the church, and there will be a great feast of celebration. Let’s not dilute or distract from this great biblical image. You are not the bride of Christ; we are.

Writing and the Lie of Better-Than | Barnabas Piper

When we worry about which writers are better than us we have taken the infinite game of creating and lowered it to the finite world of win or lose. When we do this we lose ourselves and our unique ability to say or create anything that matters. We become derivative and soulless – precisely the opposite of what makes the most significant writing significant. Our game is not to defeat other writers but to continually grow as writers.

Pastoral Ministry Doesn’t Have to Be Sedentary | Erik Raymond

Pastors spend a lot of time in a chair. Consider a quick list of regular tasks that a pastor attends to: sermon preparation, counseling, reading, prayer, meetings, driving to meet someone, answering emails, working on projects, and a host of other (seated) things. We know that without some degree of intentionality a pastor can slouch into a sedentary lifestyle. We also know that this type of lifestyle is not healthy. In this post I want to highlight a few practices that I have found helpful in my ministry to combat this problem. If calling them “life-hacks” makes them more compelling and inviting then so be it, but I’m content to call them suggestions.

VIDEOS

My 5 Favorite Christian Podcasts

pexels-photo33I used to think I would never enjoy listening to radio shows because I was raised on TV. Who has the stamina, time, or enough coffee to listen to a couple of guys, or even one guy, ramble on and on about anything? Why listen to Mike & Mike on the radio when you can watch their show on ESPN2? Why listen to sermons when you can watch them on Vimeo, Youtube, or a church website?

My addiction to the screen and video came to a screeching halt when I was introduced to the world of podcasts. I’m extremely late to the party, but podcasts have become my new obsession. Other than the occasional The Office binge on Netflix, I really don’t watch that much TV anymore. I have fully entered the world of podcasts, and I’m not going back.

Shows I used to watch regularly, like First TakePTI, and The Herd, I now stream through podcast. I’ve found my sports intake to be much more satisfying without commercials or distracting video footage. Sure, if the hosts of any given sports podcast are talking about an awesome game or play, I’d love to see the highlights. But for the most part, listening to sports debate and discussion has become increasingly enjoyable in the form of podcast.

There is a therapeutic element to podcast listening. Podcasts seem to be more engaging, and people who do it right are in many ways more entertaining than other forms of media. I love listening to The Briefing with Al Mohler on my way to work. I can’t imagine Mondays and Thursdays without listening to Joe and Jimmy with Doctrine and Devotion. Podcasts have become a part of the rhythm of my life. As I listen, I’m able to unwind or pause to engage a particular cultural, biblical, or theological issue.

I also find podcasts to be sanctifying. Solid Christian podcasts are just another means the Lord is using to grow his people into the likeness of Christ. To be sure, there are many bogus and unhelpful Christian podcasts to say the least. But, there are also greatly edifying podcasts that are well worth your time.

If you have not dipped your toes into the pool of podcasts, I would encourage you to jump on in! The water’s fine! In podcasts, I believe you will find superior satisfaction to TV, as well as a therapeutic and edifying listening experience. To help you get started in the world of podcasts, I want to list some of my favorites. This list does not include all of the podcasts I listen to, but instead lists out my absolute favorites. I listen to each of these podcasts every day new episodes are released.

1. Doctrine and Devotion

I would say this is currently my favorite podcast. They deal with biblical, theological, cultural, and ecclesial issues from a Reformed Baptist perspective. Joe Thorn is lead pastor of Redeemer Fellowship in St. Charles, Illinois. He is a gifted preacher, teacher, and author who brings tons of experience, wisdom, and knowledge to D&D. His co-host, Jimmy Fowler, is an elder-candidate at Redeemer Fellowship. Jimmy also brings great insight to the show. I love the way Joe and Jimmy bring together humor, candor, humility, and conviction. I highly recommend giving these guys a listen.

2. Word Matters

Hosted by Brandon Smith and Trevin Wax, Word Matters deals with biblical and theological dilemmas. I’ve never come away from a Word Matters podcast without learning something. It is an incredibly insightful and practical podcast. At times it can be a little heady, but it’s solid content. If you love tough questions, Word Matters is for you!

3. The Briefing

Al Mohler is one of the most important evangelical voices of the 21st century. His podcast is a daily commentary on news and events from a Christian worldview. Mohler can at times soar high above our heads, but his comments on current events helps Christians better funnel what is happening in the world through a Christian worldview.

4. Ask Pastor John

Questions answered by John Piper. It doesn’t get better than this. What I love about the way Piper responds to each question is the way he processes. Even if I end up disagreeing with his conclusion, I always learn something along the way. The clarity and intentionality with which he speaks is edifying and refreshing in itself.

5. Renewing Your Mind

R.C. Sproul’s Renewing Your Mind examines biblical and theological issues. Sproul is always exegetically careful and theologically insightful.

I listen to many other podcasts, especially sports podcasts and Serial. But among the Christian podcasts I listen to, these five stand out from the pack.

Do you listen to podcasts? If so, what are your favorites? How have they helped you learn and grow?


Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (Westbow Press, 2016). He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.

Morning Mashup 08/24

Morning Mashup

A daily mashup of Kindle deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


KINDLE DEALS

A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Loving the Old Testament | Alec Motyer | $1.99

81ioJVkzxqL

What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done | Matt Perman | $3.99

71Ela9W8+gL

ARTICLES

The Secret Jews of The Hobbit | Meir Soloveichik

The dwarves of Middle Earth, the central characters of one of the most beloved books of all time, are indeed based on the Jews.

Not Two Kingdoms, But Two Ages | Jonathan Leeman

A doctrine of two ages or inaugurated eschatology is a popular way among New Testament theologians for characterizing how creation history and redemptive history bifurcated when Christ’s kingdom was inaugurated but not consummated through the giving of the new covenant. The history of new creation began even while the history of the old creation continued.

The Long Defeat and the Long Loneliness | Wesley Hill

One of the primary ways I’ve thought about my own life as a gay, celibate believer and also about my larger project of trying to make the church more of a nurturing haven for other gay/SSA/queer believers is in terms of what J. R. R. Tolkien called “the long defeat.”

How Donald Trump Divided and Conquered the Religious Right | Trevin Wax

Many evangelical voters have grown to love the Donald’s roller coaster. Just as Trump divided and conquered the Republican Party, so also he has divided and conquered the religious right, the voting bloc of white conservative Christians that has been a cornerstone of the Republican Party’s outreach for decades.

Why You Need a Church (Not Just a Campus Ministry) | Russell Moore

A campus ministry can be unmatched in helping students connect with other likeminded believers, especially in an ideologically hostile academic or social setting. A good one will help equip Christian students to defend the faith, serve the poor, and be held accountable to each other. A good campus ministry is a gift from God. But it is no church.

A Lament for Louisiana After the Floods | Jessica Mesman Griffith

As I watch my homeland, my family, my friends experience the heartaches and rewards of endurance, I feel challenged in my own commitment to bloom wherever I’m planted. In moments like these, I want more than ever to go home and take my place among them. But at this point, I’d be alien there too. I sit here 1,000 miles north, and read their stories and see their pictures and feel the absence of family, history, heritage, and attachment.

Wait to Date Until You Can Marry | Marshall Segal

Wait to date until you can marry each other. My advice — take it or leave it — is wait until you can reasonably marry him or her in the next eighteen months. It doesn’t mean you have to marry that quickly. The important part is that you could, if God made it clear this was his will and his timing for you. You won’t find eighteen months anywhere in the Bible, and so you should not treat it as God’s law. But you can test — with the Lord, your parents, and close Christian friends — whether that seems wise and safe for you and your heart.

VIDEOS

The Root of Sin: Usurpation, Not Imitation

wood-nature-sunny-forestLast Wednesday night, a student asked, “What is sin?” The question sounds simple, but the idea and reality of sin is anything but simple. It is much more and much worse than just doing bad things. Sin is an enemy, a condition, a slave driver, and a poison that causes us to rot from the inside out. When we only view sin in terms of bad things we do, we will never be able to see the root of the problem and then fully appreciate the only solution to sin—the gospel.

At the heart of every sin is a desire to be God. This is completely different than wanting to be like God. When we desire to be like God, we honor him as supreme and superior. God is glorified by a desire to be like him in the same way Michael Jordan was glorified when every kid in America wanted to “Be Like Mike.” But a desire to be God is the sinister root of every sin.

Every act of disobedience and distrust begins with a desire for personal glory in the place of God. We naturally want to call the shots, set the rules, and make the plans. We think we know what is best and if what God says is best is different from that we reject God and his ways.

In its most basic form, sin is idolatry. It is worshiping the created things in the place of the creator. Sin is a foolish exchange of glory and a refusal to be grateful. Even though all people receive general knowledge about God through creation, many do not “honor him as God or give thanks to him” (Rom. 1:21). A failure to give thanks to God results from a prideful heart that desires glory and honor for itself.

In order to give thanks to God, we must look to God as an abundant fountain of goodness and grace. But this means we must look to ourselves as debased, depraved, and dependent on him for life and blessing. Left to ourselves, we will try to be God. We will seek our own glory in the place of his. We will exchange truth about God for a lie. We will claim to be wise and become fools.

The worst thing that can happen to a person is for God to look at him and say, “Your will be done.” We cannot be God, so our desire to take his place will only result in a downward spiral until we look more like animals than God. We desperately need God in the gospel. We need him to change our hearts and give us a desire to be like him, to honor him as God and to give thanks to him. We need him to replace our hearts, so the only exchange we experience is Christ’s righteousness for our sin, instead of God’s glory for idolatry.


Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (Westbow Press, 2016). He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.

Morning Mashup 08/23

Morning Mashup

A mashup of Kindle deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


KINDLE DEALS

7 Truths That Changed the World (Reasons to Believe): Discovering Christianity’s Most Dangerous Ideas | Kenneth Samples | $1.99

51td5r8VCjL

God’s Love: How the Infinite God Cares for His Children (Classic Theology) | R.C. Sproul | $1.99

41pZ+487PUL

ARTICLES

Does Your Pastor Love You? | Erik Raymond

How can you tell that your pastor loves you? This could get tricky. We might be tempted to exegete his facial expressions, evaluate his manners, or consider whether or not he sends you a birthday card. However, the Bible actually gives several ways that demonstrate this love.

Ministry: A Haven for the Lazy and the Workaholic | Eric Geiger

We sin differently, but all of us sin. Some are more prone to drift to laziness, to a life without intentionality, to wasting time instead of investing it. Some are more prone toward being a workaholic, to finding identity in a job or activity, to measuring one’s worth by the results. Ministry can be a haven for both expressions of sin.

Pandering to Millennials | Samuel James

Millennials are not the only young adults in history to want to hear how much smarter they are than their parents. But they very well may be the first generation to actually be pandered to in this way by institutional Christianity.

If Women Can’t Have It All, Can Men? | Courtney Reissig

The prevailing idea that women are the ones who have to deal with the question of having it all is a false one. Of course, there is no denying that women are uniquely in a position where they must deal with the limits of their biology (like having babies and all that goes along with that) in a way that men are not, but even men will eventually come up against their desires and their season of life at some point.

Pastoring People Who Are Smarter Than You | Donny Friederichsen

I don’t measure up to the academic achievements of many of my parishioners. Simply put, I pastor a congregation of people, many of whom are much smarter than me. So, how does one pastor people smarter than him? This is an honest question and one with which I often wrestle. Here are a few things that I try to remember…

Almost Everything the Media Tell You About Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Is Wrong | Ryan Anderson

A major new report, published today in the journal The New Atlantis, challenges the leading narratives that the media has pushed regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.

VIDEOS

No Moody Deity: Why the Wrath of God is Unlike the Wrath of Man

fire-orange-emergency-burningIf you’ve ever seen the movie The Lion King, then you’ll surely remember the scene where Mufasa, king of the lion tribe, gazes out at his entire kingdom with his young son, Simba. Mufasa is trying to help Simba see that one day he will be gone and the kingdom will belong to him. The royal lions are gazing out into their dominion of the African safari, which is marked by a glorious and booming sun shining down. Mufasa’s words are, “Look, Simba. Everything the light touches is our kingdom.” Then, little Simba notices another part of the kingdom that is untouched by the sun. He curiously asks his father, “But what about the shadowy place?” Mufasa responds, “That’s beyond our borders. You must never go there, Simba.”

Romans 1 is much like this scene from The Lion King. The first 17 verses shine with the glorious light of the gospel. However, picking up in verse 18 until the end of the chapter, Paul goes to a very dark place. The first half of Romans 1 is the domain of light we not only want to walk in, but all we want to talk about. The second half of Romans 1 is the domain of darkness we would rather ignore. Indeed, we stay away from this shadowy place in thought and action. But as New Testament scholar Douglas Moo has said, “Only when we have really come to grips with the extent of the human dilemma will we be able to respond as we should to the answer to that dilemma found in the good news about Jesus.”

Romans 1:18-32 really is a shadowy place filled with the wrath of God, the power and curse of sin, idolatry, depravity, and judgment. Paul seems to move from the light of the gospel to the darkness of sin and judgment to answer one question: “Why do we need the gospel, which is the power of God for salvation?”

There are few topics or truths in the Bible that ruffle feathers quite like the wrath of God. Even saying, the wrath of God, sounds scary. It’s not something we like to talk about much. In fact, I’ve heard non-Christians say they could easily believe in a God of love, but they could never believe in a God of wrath. In other words, they can believe in a John 3:16 God, but not a Romans 1:18 God.

The problem with this concern is that the John 3:16 God is also the Romans 1:18 God. There aren’t multiple gods revealed in Scripture. There is only one true and living God revealed in Scripture, and he is both loving and holy. Actually, because he is loving and holy, he pours out his wrath against unrighteousness and the unrighteous. But an important question for us to ask is, “What is the wrath of God?”

Wrath is just an intense word that basically means anger. God is angry at unrighteousness and ungodliness. But it is important to remember that God’s anger is not like our anger. It is possible for us to be angry in a righteous or holy way. For example, it is good to be angry at murder, injustice, and evil of all kinds. But most of the time we are angry in sinful ways. Our motivations and actions fueled by anger are usually sinful.

God is never angry in an unrighteous or sinful way. His anger is pure, holy, and right. It is also wrong to think about God’s wrath as the attitude and action of a moody deity. God doesn’t have mood swings or a temper. Instead, in the words of John Stott, “God’s wrath is his holy hostility to evil, his refusal to condone it or come to terms with it, his just judgment upon it.”

God’s righteousness is the origin of his wrath. If he did not hate and destroy that which is unrighteous, he would rob himself of glory and his people of joy. It is amazing news that God opposes unrighteousness and sin because he also absorbs the very wrath the unrighteous deserve. God’s wrath and God’s love are not enemies. The enemy of God’s wrath is neutrality. If God just ignored our sin, he could not save us from our sin. Instead, God’s wrath is against sin and sinners. And in God’s love he sent Jesus to fully bear his wrath in our place. In the finished work of Christ, God saves us from himself, to himself, and for himself.


Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (Westbow Press, 2016). He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.

Morning Mashup 08/22

Morning Mashup

A daily mashup of Kindle deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


KINDLE DEALS

Look and Live: Behold the Soul-Thrilling, Sin-Destroying Glory of Christ | Matt Papa | $2.99

51XuO2mextL

Decision Making and the Will of God: A Biblical Alternative to the Traditional View | Garry Friesen | $1.99

51hjNo2pcSL

ARTICLES

Six Things a Godly Dad Does | Scott Slayton

Our oldest daughter just celebrated her eleventh birthday, so I have now been a parent for over a quarter of my life. There have been sins, mistakes, wins and growth as we seek to raise our four children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. I have ransacked the Bible, read books, watched other godly men, and asked them lots of questions as I have sought to discover the answer to the question, “what does a godly dad do?”

Leadership in the Church | Doctrine and Devotion

Joe and Jimmy talk about the realities and responsibilities of church leadership. Very helpful for anyone considering a call to ministry.

The 3 Minor Prophets Who Wrecked Me | Trevin Wax

In my time as editor, however, I’ve grown to love the Minor Prophets, all sandwiched together at the end of the Old Testament. There are three in particular who, I would say, have “wrecked me” – in a good way, in a powerful way in which I felt the refreshing shower of God’s grace.

Do You Pray Like a Non-Believer? | John Piper

It is possible that nominal Christians learn the language of true, Christ-exalting, God-centered, sin-confessing, Spirit-dependent, promise-trusting, holiness-pursuing prayer. But I have found that it is rare for those with little love to Christ to pray as though they love him and his kingdom.

Learning to Do Less So Parents in Your Church Can Do More | Timothy Paul Jones

When it comes to our children, we might ask a similar question: What does it profit your child to gain a baseball scholarship and yet never experience consistent prayer and devotional times with his parents? What will it profit my child to succeed as a ballet dancer and yet never know the rhythms of a home where we are willing to release any dream at any moment if we become too busy to disciple one another? What will it profit the children all around us in our churches to be accepted into the finest colleges and yet never leverage their lives for the sake of proclaiming the gospel to the nations? What will it profit pastors to lead the largest churches with the greatest discipleship programs if they don’t disciple their own households?

With Love, Your Single Daughter | Rachel Dinkledine

At first I thought of writing you a letter of apology–an apology for not fulfilling your dreams, for not giving you a son-in-law, and for leaving you grandchildless. However, an apology implies I have the ability to change the story. And, at this moment, I don’t. So instead, I want to say “thank you.”

VIDEOS

Achilles, Troy, and Solus Christus

 

 

019-troy-theredlistOne of my favorite movie scenes comes from the movie, Troy. Early in the movie, we are introduced to the ruthless warrior, Achilles, when he goes to battle for the Greek warlord Agamemnon against the army of Thessaly. Agamemnon was trying to conquer all of Greece. He was marching from city to city to conquer armies and become the king of all Greece.

Instead of fighting with their armies, Agamemnon and the king of Thessaly decided to settle their battle the old-fashioned way. They called on their best warriors to fight one another on behalf of the armies. The king of Thessaly shouted, “Boagrius!” When he did, a massive warrior stepped out from the army to fight for the Thessalonians.

Agamemnon shouted, “Achilles!” But Achilles wasn’t with the army. He had stayed back in the village. Quickly, the king sent a messenger to bring Achilles to the battle, because he knew that they were doomed without him. I love what happens next. Even though Achilles hated Agamemnon, he loved his people and wanted to fight for them. So, with just a few quick steps and one swift lunge with his sword, Achilles killed the giant warrior from Thessaly without breaking a sweat.

The students at Trace Crossing are walking through The Lighthouse Catechism, which is a hybrid catechism adapted from the Westminster Shorter, Heidelberg, and Baptist catechisms. The question we are memorizing this week reminds me of a desperate call for a valiant warrior.

Q 24. Who is the Redeemer of God’s people?
A. The only redeemer of God’s people is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Last week, we learned the good news that God has made a way of escape from his own wrath against sin when we asked,

Q 23. Is there any way to escape punishment and be brought back into God’s favor?
A. Yes. God reconciles us to himself by a Redeemer.

That way of escape is through a redeemer, someone who would go to battle for God’s people against their most dreaded enemies, sin and death. The question, “Who is the Redeemer of God’s people?” is more of a battle cry. Who will go for us to fight? On our own we are helpless. Our enemies are too big. They are too strong. They will kill us.

Who will fight for us? The answer is Jesus. Jesus Christ, much like Achilles, will go fight for his people. But unlike Achilles, Jesus willingly goes to fight for us. And he kills sin and death by dying. He absorbed the full wrath of God in our place, so we can be forgiven and reconciled to God. He died so we may live.

There is only one warrior who is able to fight for us in this way, and he is Christ the Lord. Only Achilles could have defeated Boagrius. And only Jesus can defeat our enemies of sin and death. Solus Christus is our cry and our only hope for salvation from the penalty, power, and presence of sin. Only Jesus can bear the wrath of God in our place. Only Jesus can bring us life through his death. There is only one redeemer of God’s people. And his name is Jesus.


Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (Westbow Press, 2016). He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.