Category Archives: Theology

Easter, The Ultimate Answer To, “What Would Jesus Do?”


With this year’s Resurrection Sunday celebration approaching, I’ve been reflecting on a really good related discussion I had with a friend, around this time of year, about five years ago. What was then a new relationship seemed to be one where we quickly recognized that we liked each other regardless of our differing views on some pretty important topics. I say “really good discussion” because it was an open exchange with both of us genuinely interested in hearing the other’s points of view and wanting to learn from that. Candidly, I have to give my friend more credit than I can take myself, in that regard. Although this “really good discussion” mostly involved the two forbidden topics typically warned against for peaceful relationships … Politics and Religion … as I strongly suspected, this was just our first “really good discussion” of many to come.

One of the results of that conversation was for me to be reminded that, while I was clear in my understanding of my positions on the issues we discussed, I wanted to be able to clearly express my views to others. The question that was raised that confronted me with this most significantly was the question, “Do you believe there’s only one way to Heaven?” Although I think my response to this was adequate, it seemed to me that I should be prepared to offer more than an answer that’s just OK to such an important question. In fact, in 1 Peter 3:15, the Bible compels Christians to do this, saying, “[be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you”.

Expressing the “reason of the hope that is in (me)” is what I wanted to be better prepared to do but, before I delve into that, I should give you my initial answer to that question. My answer is:

I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. I, also, believe that every person can have salvation through accepting Christ’s sacrifice for their sin. And, I believe that salvation, through accepting Christ’s sacrifice, is the one and only path to Heaven.

Since my friend didn’t state his position on this question, I won’t presume to give you his answer. I will say his question was accompanied with several related questions and comments that I took into account as I considered how to best express the “reason of the hope that is in (me)”. One related question was, “Do you think Mother Teresa went to Heaven?” and one related comment was, “I make it a daily habit, when considering certain choices, to ask myself, ‘What would Jesus do?'” I’m paraphrasing rather than quoting here but, to me, this combination of questions and comments had certain implications. One was that while my friend had some high regard for Jesus, he didn’t necessarily accept Him as being the only way to Heaven. Another was that “good works”/”being a good person” should get you to Heaven.

So, in order to respond to this and more adequately express the “reason of the hope that is in (me)”, the two questions to answer are:

  1. Who is Jesus
  2. Can “good works” alone be a path to Heaven?

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Filed under Christianity, faith, Jesus, Salvation, Theology

The Blessing Of Boxing With God

Your_Arms_Too_Short_to_Box_with_GodAre you familiar with the saying, “Your arm’s too short to box with God”? I guess I first heard that phrase sometime in the 1970s or 1980s but I wasn’t sure of its origin. When I looked into it, I was a bit surprised to learn that it came from a sermon, entitled The Prodigal Son, by civil rights activist James Weldon Johnson. It was published in 1927 in his book of sermons, entitled God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse. Regardless of where it came from, its core message always seemed apparent to me … It’s ridiculous to disagree with God; you should just accept His will and get on with life. As a result of a Bible teaching I got to take in recently, from Exodus 32 and Exodus 33, I now see that my thinking this way has been off-the-mark and that it’s been very limiting to me in truly getting to know God.


The Bible teaching I mentioned was from Pastor Dave Rolph, of Calvary Chapel Pacific Hills. His lesson on Exodus 32-33 is from a series he is doing on Bible stories. This one is called The Heart of Moses. The story starts when Moses is up on Mt.Sinai receiving the law from God while Aaron and the people are below worshipping a golden calf they’ve made. When that happens, God switches from giving the law to Moses, to telling him he has a problem. The rest of the story covers what happened from that point forward and it focuses on the related interaction between God and Moses. Continue reading

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Filed under Bible, God, Love, Theology

A Deeper Look at the Most Popular Worship Song of 2013

By: Trevin Wax


The first time I heard Matt Redman’s “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)” on the radio, I knew I was listening to a song that would soon be sung in churches across the United States. The plaintive melody perfectly suits Redman’s paraphrase of Psalm 103, and the chorus was singing in my head the rest of the day.

According to CCLI’s biannual list of 25 songsreported by churches across the country, “10,000 Reasons” is now the most-often sung contemporary worship song in America.

Since Redman’s song is so popular, I thought it may be helpful to take a deeper look at the main themes of the song, in comparison to the themes of the psalm on which it is based. I enlisted a hymnwriter and student at Belmont University (Bryan Loomis) to analyze the song’s message, and the two of us had a lunch conversation recently about its strengths and weaknesses.

The Chorus

The song begins with the chorus, a paraphrase of the beginning of Psalm 103:

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy Name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy Name

Redman’s chorus is close to Psalm 103, with its focus on the holy name of God and the need to tell our souls to praise the Lord for who He is. Some may wonder if the line “Sing like never before” implies that every worship experience should be utterly unique, unlike anything we’ve ever been through before. I think that interpretation is doubtful. More than likely, this line is a paraphrase of “all that is within me” from the psalm. In other words, like the psalmist, Redman is summoning his soul to fully engage as he blesses the Lord. Going through the motions is not enough.

Verse 1

The first verse is about a new day in which we are summoned to bless the Lord:

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes.

There isn’t any specific parallel from this verse to Psalm 103, although the psalmist does speak of God redeeming our life from the pit (which may be implied in Redman’s desire to be resolute in his worship, no matter the circumstances). There’s something to be said for worship being one of the ways we fortify ourselves for the trials and struggles of life. Before entering a trial, we pray that God will keep us faithful, so that we will continue to praise the Lord when the hard day is over.

Verse 2

The second verse is most reflective of Psalm 103, and it’s here that the title’s “10,000 reasons” is first used:

You’re rich in love, and You’re slow to anger
Your Name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

Psalm 103 focuses on the Lord as merciful, rich in love, and slow to anger (verses 8-9). The goodness and kindness of the Lord is also a theme of the psalm. The biggest difference between Redman’s song and Psalm 103 is that the psalmist specifically spells out the actions of the Lord that show His kindness and mercy, whereas Redman focuses primarily on the character of God.

I like the 10,000 reasons line because it implies that we are on a deepening journey of discovering different facets of God’s love. Our praise will never end because we will never come to the bottom of God’s goodness toward us. We continue to discover more and more things about God that are worthy of our praise.

Verse 3

The third verse paraphrases the theme of human frailty and mortality in Psalm 103:14-17:

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore

This is one of only a handful of contemporary worship songs that bring us face to face with our mortality.


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Filed under Church Issues, Theology