Doctrine Class — Milwaukee Rescue Mission

On Wednesday mornings I volunteer at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission and teach a basic doctrine class in their New Journey rehabilitation program, as well as preach chapel. Attached is a zip file to the full slides and handouts I use for the class, as well as other resources. There are 24 lessons total (originally composed Spring of 2018).

MRM Doctrine Class (zip file)


Course Overview

Doctrine of Revelation & Scripture
  • Revelation (1)
  • Scripture (2)
Doctrine of God
  • God’s Attributes & Works (3)
  • The Trinity (4)
Doctrines of Humanity & Sin
  • Humanity & Sin (5)
  • The Effects & Consequences of Sin (6)
Doctrine of Christ
  • The Person of Christ (7)
  • The Work of Christ (8-9)
Doctrine of Salvation
  • Grace (10)
  • Election & Predestination (11)
  • Calling & Regeneration (12)
  • Conversion: Faith & Repentance (13)
  • Justification (14)
  • Sanctification & Good Works (15)
  • Perseverance & Eternal Security (16)
  • Resurrection & Glorification (17)
  • Union with Christ (18)
Doctrine of the Holy Spirit (19)
Doctrine of the Church
  • Nature, Origin, & Mission (20)
  • Organization: Members & Officers (21)
  • Life & Ministry (22)
  • Ordinances: Baptism & Lord’s Supper (23)
Doctrine of the End (24)

Can We Connect to God Through Nature?

A friend of mine recently contacted me asking for help with the following the question:

Hey Kirk! I’m in the beginning phase of researching if nature can connect people to God. Do you have any thoughts or good references?

This is a pretty common sentiment today — i.e., that we can connect to God through nature — especially as “spirituality” (but not religion) grows increasingly popular.

My response is to my friend is below. I thought I would share it here as well in case it can be of help to anyone else.


Hey [friend]!

The short summary version of the historic orthodox Christian view on this is this:

God is incomprehensible, and is only knowable to us because he himself has chosen to make himself known (what is called “divine revelation,” i.e., him revealing himself). Revelation in other words is an act of God’s grace. He does this self-revealing through special or supernatural revelation (like scripture) and general or natural revelation (like nature).

God is made known through his creation, yet distinct from his creation (so not pantheism or panentheism — most claims that we can “connect” with God though nature hold to these ideas). Creation itself is not God. It merely gives witness to God. And so we don’t “connect to God through nature” in the sense of nature itself being an experience of God himself. It only mediates knowledge of God.

Furthermore, scripture teaches that general revelation (like nature) proves insufficient for us to come to know God as he truly is and enable us to respond properly (worship). Why? Not because God hasn’t sufficiently made himself known through nature. He has, even enough to make us culpable for our disobedience to him. It proves insufficient because our sin blinds us, and we refuse to believe nature’s testimony to God. We are willfully blind, and hence responsible, not excused. Our hearts bend us to turn to idols, and instead we take the truth in nature and distort it.

Natural revelation, in short, is enough knowledge about God to make us condemnable and responsible for our rebellion—we know there’s a God who deserves our worshipful obedience, but we don’t give it to him as we ought—but not enough knowledge to save us (there’s no gospel message in nature) and “(re)connect us to God” as we properly should.

So the answer is yes and no.

If I were to direct you to some subjects of study on this, I’d suggest finding some good systematic theology books and looking up the sections on “general revelation.” The other subjects I’d look up are maybe God’s immanence (God’s transcendence refers to the fact that God is so far above us; his immanence refers to the fact that he is still yet near to us), and his providence — that he oversees all of history and creation, such as nature, and can be known through this oversight.

Key biblical passages are Psalm 19 and Romans 1.

Greg Gilbert, What is the Gospel? (Study Guide)

GilbertGospelThe following is a study guide I composed in ministry at South City Church for Greg Gilbert’s What is the Gospel?


Download Study Guide for What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert.

Greg Gilbert, What is the Gospel? – Surveys the basics of the Gospel—the good news about how we can be saved due to what Jesus has done through his cross and resurrection; valuable for both outreach as well as gaining personal clarity on the gospel. We recommend at least working through chapters 2-5.

Thoughts on Engaging the Creation Debate

Introductory remarks

You should keep in mind that as I write this post, I am not taking a specific position on issues such as evolution, God and science, nor the meaning of Genesis 1-2. In this post I simply seek to share some thoughts I have on these matters. At times and in various circles, creation debates can be very heated. I understand that. But sometimes I think the result is that things get a little blown out of proportion. I’m not suggesting we compromise on vital truth. But I guess I’m calling us to examine what constitutes as that vital truth. In class last year, Dr. Carson reminded us of the words of Francis Schaeffer: something like, “what is the least Genesis 1-2 must be saying for the rest of the Bible to be true.” Secondary truths are not by nature unimportant truths. And I don’t want to downplay their importance. But they must be distinguished from primary doctrines. And either way, no context excludes the necessity of charitableness.

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