What Lance Armstrong teaches us about the unevangelized heathen?

Two great errors plague our world. First, there is the idea that if we have the Bible, we are safe. That was the Jewish error in New Testament times, the notion that being blessed with the possession of God’s Word would be enough. It’s still with us today and so is Paul’s warning that more light actually brings more responsibility. God may favor some with more light than others, but He doesn’t show favoritism in judgment (Rom. 2:1-11).

Second, there’s the misconception that if people don’t have the Bible, they are safe. God wouldn’t judge anyone who never heard the Gospel, would He? Paul’s answer? “God will never judge people for what they never knew and could not do, but He will judge them for what they did know and didn’t do” (Rom. 2:12).

On the judgment day, God will ask the unevangelized heathen three simple questions:

  1. What did you know? (v.12)
  2. What did you do? (v. 13-14)
  3. What did your conscience say? (v. 15-16)

Unbelievers will be judged by the light that was available to them rather than by what was unavailable. They will not be condemned for sinning against a revelation they never had. They will only be judged by what they knew and didn’t do: “As many as have sinned without law, will also perish without law” (Rom. 2:12).

Notice the hope: God will not judge those who never had the written law as if they did have it. Notice the despair: Though they don’t have the written law, they all still sin against the moral law written in their hearts and will perish for that. In theory, it’s possible for someone to never have heard the Gospel or read the Bible and be saved – if they can live up to the light God has given within them. In reality, no one has ever done even that.

I was once a great fan of Lance Armstrong, the now disgraced seven-time winner of the Tour de France. I admired the way he battled through cancer to win  these titles, one after another after another. As he reflected on the time when it looked as if he was going to die from his disease, he said:

Quite simply, I believed I had a responsibility to be a good person, and that meant fair, honest, hardworking, and honorable. If I did that, if I was good to my family, true to my friends, if I gave back to my community or to some cause, if I wasn’t a liar, a cheat, or a thief, then I believed that should be enough. At the end of the day, if there was indeed some Body or presence standing there to judge me, I hope I would be judged on whether or not I had lived a true life, not on whether I believed in a certain book, or whether I’d been baptized. (It’s not about the bike, 113).

You see, we all have our own standards, our own law, our own morals. And, like Lance, none of us live up even to these rules. None of us! As our own consciences painfully testify (v. 15-16).

BUT! There’s good news for Lance – and for all of us.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:23-24).


Check out

Parenting when you’re continually crushed
Greg Lucas blasted Kara Dedert’s parenting blues away!

Strengths and weaknesses of working on an iPad
I enjoyed reading about how Aaron Armstrong coped when he smashed his laptop.

The power of deep rest
Tim Keller: “Resting, or practicing Sabbath, is also a way to help us get perspective on our work and put it in its proper place. Often we can’t see our work properly until we get some distance from it and reimmerse ourselves in other activities. Then we see that there is more to life than work. With that perspective and rested bodies and minds, we return to do more and better work.”

The war on men
More and more men are deciding not to get married. Why? Most answer, “Because women aren’t women anymore!”

What does it mean to be Reformed?
I liked Jemar Tisby’s big-picture answer.

How Alistair Begg prepares to preach


Can we have a break from homosexuality?

Can we have a voluntary moratorium on writing or speaking about homosexuality in Christian circles. It doesn’t have to be forever, but if we could have just a few weeks or even months without it being written about or preached upon, we would all be the better for it.

I think I was 14 or 15 before I heard of homosexuality (it wasn’t exactly a trending topic in Glasgow city schools!). I was maybe late teens before I heard it mentioned, quite obliquely, in a sermon. That kind of ignorance or denial is probably not healthy today. However, I sometimes wish for these days again rather than the other extreme where we cannot get away from it. The media shove it in our faces every day already. Do Christians need to be similarly obsessed?

Of course the subject needs to be addressed from time to time, especially when the militant gay rights movement is such a force in our society. However, it would be so good if we could get through a week now and again without having to soil our minds with it.

A clever devil
The devil is not stupid. He knows that the more people talk about homosexuality, the more it is normalized and becomes just another part of “ordinary” sinful society. The more we talk and write about it, the less shocking and the more “whatever” it becomes.

I imagine most homosexuals are delighted with the way Christians are helping to normalize conversations and discussions about this sin, especially without regard for the ages, innocence, and vulnerability of those who are present. I’ve lost count of the number of times Christian adults have talked about homosexuality in front of my little girls. It makes me so angry, because I want them to hear about healthy and beautiful sexual relations, long before being exposed to the most perverse and twisted – and I want them to hear it from me.

The Apostle Paul said of the unfruitful works of darkness, “For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret” (Eph. 5:12). If that verse doesn’t apply to some extent to this evil, I don’t know what it does cover.

Lost innocence
The devil also knows that by exposing younger and younger children to the vocabulary and idea of homosexuality, that precious innocence is lost and curiosity is dangerously aroused. There are appropriate ages to introduce these things to children, and we should respect parents discretion on this. Can we not find euphemistic ways of talking about some sins, protecting young innocent minds among us, while the rest of us know what’s being talked about?

We’re going to have to fight some fearful battles on this front in the coming years. Homosexuals will not rest with the acceptance of gay marriage. They want to eliminate all criticism and disapproval of their sin, and they will not stop until they are not only tolerated or accepted but approved by all. However, do we really need to constantly fill the blogosphere, Christian magazines, Christian schools, our pulpits, and our family dinner tables with this?

I feel I’ve failed in this area too, and therefore I’ve now resolved to neither talk nor write about this subject more than is absolutely necessary, and always in appropriate forums and ways.

Why don’t you join me?

Christian bloggers, writers, editors, teachers, and preachers, can I appeal to you? Please give us a break from mentioning homosexuality. Even for a month. Give us something positive and wholesome to think about. Give us Jesus.


Check out

Obama could show leadership on the state of black families
“Speaking honestly about the state of the black family is politically explosive, even when done with the best of intentions. But if there is one person in America with the moral and political standing to have a transformative and beneficial impact on that conversation, it’s Barack Obama, a dedicated father and the most successful black man in American history.”

The Psalms in the Christian life
Joel Miller has a great short piece on the Psalms: “It is in the use of the Psalter, in fact, that modern Christians worship most like their faithful forebears, those earliest followers of Christ. Says Underhill, “there are few parts of our ordinary public worship which can more surely claim an unbroken descent from the practices of the Apostolic Church.”

Download November’s Tabletalk for free
You don’t need to be a subscriber. You just need an iPad.

Overcome Procrastination
Steven Pressfield’s top 12 tips.

Jury-rigged mobile office
Doing a bit more than texting and driving, I suspect.

What’s life like for someone with autism or Asperger’s?

Sensory Overload (Interacting with Autism Project) from Miguel Jiron on Vimeo.


Children’s Bible Reading Plan

This week’s morning and evening reading plan in Word and pdf.

This week’s single reading plan for morning or evening in Word and pdf.

If you want to start at the beginning, this is the first 12 months of the children’s Morning and Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

And here’s the first 12 months of the Morning or Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

And here’s an explanation of the plan.


8 reasons I’ve started a new Tumblr Blog

Seven reasons I’ve started a new Tumblr micro-blog:

  • It’s one central place where I can keep edifying quotes and other nuggets I come across in the course of my daily ministry.
  • It’s a place I can return to and prayerfully meditate on some of the things I’ve learned in the course of my spiritual pilgrimage.
  • It reminds me of people I’ve met and should be praying for.
  • It prevents my main blog – and your RSS and email subscriptions to HeadHeartHand (!) – being clogged up with too many mini-posts.
  • It enables others to benefit from some of the things God is teaching me.
  • It allows me to auto-post material greater than 140 characters to Twitter via a headline and link.
  • It directs readers to good books and other helpful resources.
  • It’s not Facebook!

You can find A Disciple’s Diary here.