Visual Missiology in the Bible

The following guest post is penned by Brian Wright. Brian is a senior at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary from Arlington, Massachusetts. He and his wife Lisa spent three years in Manhattan, Kansas before moving to Pittsburgh for seminary. He is a student under care of the Midwest Presbytery of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America.

If Israel was God’s chosen people in the Old Testament era, what about the rest of the world? Did God care about the other nations? Jesus told his disciples to make disciples of all nations, and the missionary efforts of the New Testament era are hard to miss. What does the Old Testament have to say about the nations of the world?

The chart seen to the right (click image to enlarge) is a preliminary attempt at a Biblical theological timeline of God’s concern for the nations. This August, I took part in a week-long Theology and Methods of Missions class at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Three weeks before the class began, the students were split into four groups of four and tasked with constructing a visual representation of God’s interaction with the nations. We were assigned sections of the Bible by group, and […]

Core Foundational Practices of Discipleship

Having laid forth several core foundational beliefs regarding discipleship, or in other words describing what disciples are and the intentionality required in making them, this corresponding post will now address how discipleship is to be practiced according to the Scriptures.

As stated in the previous post, the Great Commission of the risen Christ has been given to the church to fulfill; thus, the life of the church should be structured to obey this assignment. In calling his remaining eleven disciples to a mountain following his resurrection and reminding them of his complete authority both in heaven and on earth, the Lord Jesus commissioned the apostles in a special way. Then, following his ascension into heaven to take his seat at the Father’s right hand, the early church added a new apostle before Pentecost to replace Judas (Acts 1:12-26). These twelve men then stood in Jerusalem on that historic day of the giving of the Holy Spirit and proclaimed the gospel as the new Israel (II Pet. 2:9-10). They, with the other apostles and prophets appointed by Christ at that time, were the foundation of the church (Eph. 2:20). The instructions of Christ, the head of the church, given to and through the apostles recorded […]

Religious Liberty Requires Royal Loyalty to Christ

The following is a guest post by J.K. Wall who is a writer in Indianapolis. His modernized abridgment of William Symington’s work, Messiah the Prince Revisited, was published in 2014 by Crown & Covenant Publications. You can e-mail him at


In America today, freedom of religion is being narrowed to merely freedom of worship.[1]

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights last month explicitly recommended a legal doctrine that “distinguishes between beliefs (which should be protected) and conduct (which should conform to the law).”[2]

In other words, you can sing whatever you want in church, but you can’t come out of church and act on those beliefs—at least not with any special protection from the law. That legal viewpoint—already put into action in recent court and regulatory rulings—threatens public funding and tax breaks that now support Christian colleges, K-12 schools, poverty-fighting organizations and other charities.

Why is this happening?

Ignorance of, insensitivity to and even hostility toward Christianity are certainly factors—and the ones Christians like to cite most. But another big reason is that Christians, in large numbers and for many years, have been telling America that “freedom of worship” is all they really want.

At least, I know I’ve been saying that—in how […]

Safe spaces, Emotions, and Justice: The Cities of Refuge

God made us to be emotional and to love justice. Our emotions motivate us to pursue justice. God also knows that our emotions can cloud our thinking such that vengeance is not based on justice. So, in the Old Testament, the Lord established cities of refuge. There, people who were guilty might find asylum until the truth could be fully known. Only then would retribution be inflicted on those found guilty (Exodus 21:12-14, Numbers 35:10-15, Deuteronomy 19:1-13, Joshua 20).

The undergirding principle of the cities of refuge is that our emotions must be harnessed by the truth as we seek justice. Facts must bridle our feelings. Only then will we love life the way we should.

The Old Testament laws of the cities of refuge deal specifically with manslaughter and murder – the greatest injustice that could be done because it involves taking a person’s life. The principle is to govern the way we deal with all lesser injustices, hurts, and losses. We may endure loss of life in our family, what we perceive to be a harsh word from a friend, or the disappearance of the candy bar we had stashed away to enjoy later. Whatever the case, God’s law is aiming for […]

A Remarkable Outlook

Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. (1 Peter 2:18-21)

Peter’s words are utterly remarkable, if not baffling to many. Peter tells slaves(1) that they are to be subject to their masters with all respect (or fear), even the ones that are harsh and unjust.

Think about that. All respect. Even unto those that abuse you.

Core Foundational Beliefs of Discipleship

In stressing discipleship in my pastoral and professorial roles, there are core foundational beliefs that have been impressed upon me by my mentors and the study of Scripture. Here are the top five that guide me as I work with others.

The authoritative command of the risen Christ is for the church to be engaged in the work of making disciples. This truth is made most clear in the Great Commission that the Lord Jesus Christ gave his disciples on the mountain following his resurrection. “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’” (Matt. 28:18-20 ESV). The church must seek to glorify God and the work his Son did in redeeming his people by actively working with people to shape them in becoming true disciples of the Lord.

The making of disciples must be seen as an intentional work, not an incidental one. Though the Great Commission is seemingly clear, commentators debate over the […]

No Bucket List Required

“20 Places To See Before You Die: The Ultimate Travel Bucket List”, “The Irish Bucket List: things to do in Ireland before you pass”, “The Foodies Bucket list: 42 dishes to try before you die” and the slightly less doom-laden ““Top 10 places to see in Donegal”—these sorts of lists enliven my Facebook feed with increasing regularity.

The phrase ‘bucket list’, popularized by the 2007 film, is your list of places you want to go and things you want to do before you ‘kick the bucket’. The thinking is that since our days on this planet are short, pick out what you really want to do, and go do it, see it, visit it, eat it.

I have no great interest in a bucket list. Don’t get me wrong—I love this world, find it endlessly fascinating, and would love to go and see many of the far-flung places and sample the culinary delights highlighted in these lists. And I see nothing wrong with doing these things. So why no bucket list?

Bucket-lists make sense—if you believe this world is all there is. Cram it all in before you exit stage left. They also make sense if your view of the afterlife is some […]

Confessional Boundary Stones

Do not move the ancient boundary which your fathers have set.” -Proverbs 22:28

Around western Pennsylvania where I live, it is common to see yards and farmlands with stone walls taken from the the abundant flagstone found in this region. As you walk or drive by one of these walls, they convey a sense of boundary, antiquity, and definition. The walls almost seem to give off an aura of peace and permanence.

In recent weeks the Lord has given me a number of experiences where I have had that same feeling when it comes to the historic confessions and creeds of the church.

At the beginning of the academic year our seminary faculty treated the subject of providence from the Westminster Confession of Faith, and there was a sense of security in standing with these men reviewing and rediscovering the beautiful and comforting truths of this doctrine.

In a class on preaching I teach, we are discussing each week a portion of the statement on preaching found in the Westminster Directory of Publick Worship.

During the recent internet firestorm regarding the errant teaching on the eternal submission of the Son, it has been comforting to […]

A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest

Looking for great new read-aloud books for the family? My brother and sister-in-law who serve as missionaries in East Africa recently gave us a glimpse into their world and beyond with a short children’s novel titled A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest (Greensboro, N.C.; New Growth Press, 2015). This little 150 page story echoes part Pilgrim’s Progress and part The Lord of the Rings.

The ten year old boy, Mu, awakens in a mud hut on his uncle’s compound as a mistreated orphan. As he fetches water at dawn, he is met, to his great surprise, by a talking chameleon named Tita. Tita latches onto Mu’s collar and directs him on the adventure of a lifetime across the African landscape. Readers are vividly led with Mu on his quest down pothole covered roads, through mission compounds, up mountain trails, and over rivers and streams. Where is he going? And whom can he trust amid the family members, missionaries, and others he encounters, including the strange realm of talking animals?

The African adventure amid many perils opens new vistas for Mu, but most of all, the quest probes Mu’s inner self. Who is he, really? What is life all about? What are […]