John McKinley

Is Hell the Enemy of God and the Christian?

By John McKinley Sep. 27, 2017 9:00 a.m. Church Life, Theology

In the fourth verse of the popular modern hymn, “In Christ Alone” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, we hear this line that poses Hell as our enemy: “No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man, Can ever pluck me from His hand.” My ear has been catching a similar idea of Hell as a powerful enemy in several other contemporary worship songs. My guess is that songwriters are (perhaps) unwittingly drawing on Jesus’ statement in Matthew 16:18, “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (NASB[1], NIV, NKJV). Other translations give “the gates of hell” (ESV, NLT, KJV; the Greek text has "Hades" not "Gehenna"). I prefer the RSV and NET that give “the powers of death” by interpreting the usage of Hades in line with Sheol of the OT, referring to the place of the dead, particularly for the wicked. The slip of meaning from “Hades” to “Hell” is understandable, but this causes a problem theologically that we need to pause and consider more closely ...

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Can There Be Forgiveness Without Repentance? Part 2

By John McKinley Jun. 28, 2017 9:00 a.m. Church Life, Marriage and Family, New Testament, Spiritual Formation

In Part 1, I observed that Christian forgiveness includes several conditions leading to reconciliation of a relationship that was violated by one person sinning against another. Jesus’ commands that the person wronged must “show him his fault” (Matt 18:15) as the first condition, to be followed by his repentance, and then we may respond by forgiving him. Common Christian talk about forgiveness tends not to include the necessity of repentance; consequently, many Christians attempt forgiveness and yet fail to live in it. Along with this claim that repentance is necessary to forgiveness, I am aware of the need for at least four caveats ...

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Can There Be Forgiveness Without Repentance? Part 1

By John McKinley Jun. 21, 2017 9:00 a.m. Church Life, Marriage and Family, New Testament, Spiritual Formation

The problem I notice is that many times Christians have ongoing difficulty in forgiving those who have wronged them. The strain may go on for many years even as they keep trying to forgive. They frequently assume that there is something wrong with them as being hardhearted and otherwise unloving. They fault themselves for not being able to forgive others. Perhaps these unforgiving Christians are trying to do something that God has not called them to do. Perhaps one-sided forgiveness is actually impossible in the absence of a necessary condition for forgiveness ...

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Why Crucifixion as a Metaphor of Sanctification?

By John McKinley Apr. 24, 2017 9:00 a.m. Church Life, Spiritual Formation

Romans 6:5-6 has puzzled me by the statement that the believer has in effect already been crucified with Christ.

“For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.” (nasb)

My problem may have been that I viewed the crucifixion of my “old self” as having been accomplished entirely in the past, at my conversion. We are to “consider [ourselves] to be dead to sin” (6:11) so that we respond by denying the impulses and attractions to sin that (unfortunately) continue throughout this life. In practice, I have liked the idea of knowing that I am no longer a slave to sin, that I am not obligated to give in to temptations, and that I have a new capability from the Holy Spirit to live as God calls me to do. Is there importance of crucifixion for understanding my present condition? ...

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No JABS: A Model for Small-Group Connection, Part 2

By John McKinley Apr. 20, 2017 9:00 a.m. Church Life, Ministry and Leadership, Spiritual Formation

As the second part in this post on four protections to create a safe relational space for small groups, here I focus on the fourth condition. This fourth condition has four pieces to it for limiting communication that tends to shut people down. The goal is to be able to accept others as they are, with their true sharing of their real mess in daily life as a Christian. Often we can get in our own way and so fail to love them in this way because we are so busy with the speck of sawdust in their eye. In a sentence, this four-part fourth condition is the log in our eyes that prevents meeting with others.

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No JABS: A Model for Small-Group Connection, Part 1

By John McKinley Apr. 18, 2017 9:00 a.m. Church Life, Ministry and Leadership, Spiritual Formation

Small talk. Bible study talk. Prayer requests. Sports, kids, and work talk. When and how do we get to meaningful fellowship of sharing with other Christians what God is doing in our lives? Are there conditions in small groups that help people to share their lives with others? Are there conditions that cause people to clam up and stick to the safe details of a public persona? ...

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Parable of the Trees

By John McKinley Feb. 8, 2017 9:00 a.m. Church Life, Marriage and Family, Spiritual Formation

The story that follows is a parable of human experience as essentially relational. People are individuals and vitally connected to others. Everyone lives according to relationships. The overemphasis on our individuality is misleading so that we ignore the ways that other people affect us in beneficial and disabling ways. This parable is an illustration of one sort of benefits and damages through being generated in families ...

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