The Weekly Fill (04/02/16)

The weekly fill


Worth Reading 

On My Shelf: Life and Books with Megan Hill

On My Shelf helps you get to know various writers through a behind-the-scenes glimpse into their lives as readers.”

The Non-Partisan Politics of Jesus

“Sometimes a sermon can be polarizing. Once I was preaching to a crowd of New Yorkers about how Christians should respond to the problem of poverty. I’ll never forget two emails I received the following week, both in reference to the same sermon.”

10 Quotes by David Platt

“Here are ten quotes by Platt that are especially thought-provoking.”

Are Conservative Christians ‘Religious Extremists’?

“New data show that most Americans consider the beliefs and practices of traditionalist Christians to be ‘extreme’—but is that warranted?”

Do Not Weep For Jesus

“There were a lot of shocking things said and done on Good Friday.”

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the Reality of the Bible

“The Church does not have mere permission to celebrate the Resurrection, it has a mandate to proclaim the truth that God raised Jesus Christ from the dead.”

What Do Expiation and Propitiation Mean?

“When we talk about the vicarious aspect of the atonement, two rather technical words come up again and again: expiation and propitiation. These words spark all kinds of arguments about which one should be used to translate a particular Greek word, and some versions of the Bible will use one of these words and some will use the other one.”

Paul Dismantles the Prosperity Gospel in 3 Verses

“Many of us have had times in our life where everything seems to go wrong at the same time.”

Three Biblical Practices for Prayer

“According to the Pew Research Center, 55 percent of Americans say that they pray every day. However, their prayers may not be the kind of prayers that Jesus taught the disciples to pray.”

Gay Marriage Isn’t About Justice, It’s About Selma Envy

“My generation willfully ignores the real debate about gay rights and religious freedom because we want halos without sacrifice.”

Stop Trying to Make the Gospel Cool

“Many people today are repackaging the gospel into an acceptable product for the culture around us.  This often happens through slick ministries led by slick ministers who are dedicated to their methods of helping the gospel overcome the perceived sin of old age.  The very word “gospel” has become a marketing phrase rather than a descriptive word meaning good news to fallen sinners.”


Video

The Image of God

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The Holiness of God part 4

Author’s note: This is the fourth, and last, post in a short series of posts dealing with The Holiness of God. You can read the first post herethe second post here, and the third post here.


Holiness of GodNow that we have looked at the holiness of God as it is represented in Scripture, we turn our attention to what this means for a Christian—a follower of Jesus Christ. A Christian has, by definition, asked God for the forgiveness of their sins, and they have made a decision to follow Jesus Christ and His commandments as they are found in the Bible. Martin Loyd-Jones writes:

You will never have a knowledge of sin unless you have a true conception of the holiness of God. And that is perhaps why the modern conception of sin is so inadequate. We do not spend sufficient time with the doctrine of God, and with the holiness of God. That is the way to see sin—not primarily by self-examination but by going into the presence of God.[1]

Jones goes on to write that the way to appreciate your own sinfulness is not to look at your actions, nor your life, but to come into the presence of God.[2] In Isaiah 6:5, Isaiah acknowledges his sin as he comes into the presence of a holy God. Therefore, a Christian comes to the realization that they are sinful and in need of forgiveness. What does this have to do with the holiness of God?

We have established that God is holy and that we come face to face with our sinful behavior when we come into His presence. When we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we become adopted children of God (Rom 8:15). What follows is ignored by many. God calls His children to holiness (Lev 11:44), and Jesus, in Matthew 5:48, tells His disciples to be perfect “as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  In Hebrews 12:14, Christians are told to pursue holiness “without which no one will see the Lord.” God’s perfection is our standard for our moral character, and, as a result of His flawlessness, the same is expected of those things or persons set apart for Him.[3]

God’s holiness is to be seen in His people, because He is holy. Becoming holy involves striving after God. 2 Corinthians 7:1 says, “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

In the Old Testament, God calls His people to Holiness when He delivers them out of Egypt.  God says, “You shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Ex 19:4-6). In the new covenant redeemed believers are called to holiness (Mat 5:48; 1 Pet 1:15), and are told that without holiness we will not see the kingdom of God (He 12:14).  We can rest in the knowledge that God shares His holiness with His redeemed (He 12:10).

The desire to strive for holiness originates with God. This means that with the power of the Holy Spirit, a Christian can strive for holiness. Frederic Howe writes that the energizing power for holiness is from God, and this power is the source for both the motivation (“to will”) and the action (“to do”) for leading a godly life.[4]

According to John Webster, “The ‘You shall be holy,’ which corresponds to ‘I am holy,’ is not simply the indication of a state; it is a life-giving imperative that bids the creature to inhabit and act out the role to which the creature has been appointed by the Father’s purpose.”[5]

We find this theme of living a holy life as a believer in 1 Peter. The Apostle Peter exhorts believers, “As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance” (1 Pet 1:14). Rowe writes, “The words “obedient children” translate τέκνα υπακοής, literally “children of obedience.”[6] For us, this means that the God who called believers is Himself holy; so they are to live as His obedient children.

We have come to the conclusion of this study where all of this information needs to be tied together. It is simple, yet many find it hard to do. God is holy as per Scripture. To be holy means to be set apart. We claim to be followers of Jesus Christ (who is God). God calls us to be holy (set apart from the world). He calls us not to be completely removed from the world but instead to live as different from the world in such a way that all can see the difference in our walk, dress, and speech. God gives us the Holy Spirit to help us live a holy life.

When you look at mainstream Christianity you see couples cohabitating, “Christians” who drink and party, “Christians” who divorce their spouses, “Christians” who watch porn, “Christians” who have profane and corrupt speech. It should be out of character for a “Christian” to behave in these ways, yet they do and they are told that it is ok because they are still sinners and God will forgive them.

When a Christian has been saved they are still a sinner, and this is not refuted by this study in any way. However, after a person claims to be a Christian and they still live like they are of the world and there is very little change in the way that they live, then there definitely is a problem in that person’s heart that is between them and God.

Pastors look at you straight in the face and say that as long as you have said the sinner’s prayer you are saved, regardless of your lifestyle. Now, let us be clear about something, your works will not save you. The Bible is clear on that, but your works do define you and expose what is in your heart. Are we leading our congregations to hell because there is no longer a desire to lead them into holiness?

God has called us to be holy, but if we do not strive to be holy, it will never happen. It is not automatic, but God does give us the power to strive for it. When we are saved, we are regenerated. Regeneration is when we are given the Holy Spirit and can tap into His power to strive for holiness. That is called sanctification, and as we walk in this world as Christians, we grow in holiness and we are continuously sanctified until one day when we will be in heaven and we have reached our perfect state.

Your works do not save you, but you can strive for holiness and lead a life that is glorifying to God with the Holy Spirit’s help. This underlying theme is throughout the whole Bible and supports the thesis of this study. God presents Himself as our standard for holiness, and we can live a life of moral character that glorifies His name, because He not only calls but He empowers.


[1] David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, God the Father, God the Son (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1996), 71.

[2] Ibid., 72.

[3] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2007), 311.

[4] Frederic R. Howe, “The Christian Life In Peter’s Theology,” Bibliotheca Sacra 157 (July-September 200), 308.

[5] John Webster, “The Holiness And Love Of God,” Scottish Journal Of Theology LTD 57 (2004), 262.

[6] Frederic R. Howe, “The Christian Life In Peter’s Theology,” Bibliotheca Sacra 157 (July-September 200), 306.


 

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The Holiness of God part 3

Author’s note: This is the third post in a short series of posts dealing with The Holiness of God. You can read the first post here and the second post here.


Holiness of GodIn the Bible, the picture of God’s holiness is twofold—transcendent and moral separateness. First, we will discuss God’s transcendence before we discuss His moral separateness.

God is transcendent from His creation.  This means that God, being transcendent, is exalted above all of His creation, which positions Him as Creator and Sovereign Lord of the Universe.[1] The Biblical basis for divine transcendence can be found in many different passages, but particularly it can be found in the book of Isaiah. God, in Isaiah 55:8-9, tells us that His thoughts and ways are above our thoughts and ways, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” In 6:1-5 the Lord is “seated on a throne, high and lifted up.” The Seraphim cry out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty, “ also giving us a picture of God’s transcendence.

There will always be a sense of awe and wonder when we have grasped the fact of divine transcendence. God’s transcendence is a cause for our reverence for Him, and it should affect the way that we worship Him.

God’s moral separateness is the second part of His holiness and where we turn our attention next. This part of God’s holiness holds the implications to how a Christian relates to the world, and is the focus of this study. As per the thesis of this paper, it is God’s moral separateness that is the standard for our lives. A.W. Tozer, in his book The Knowledge Of The Holy, writes, “Holy is the way God is. To be holy He does not conform to a standard. He is that standard. He is absolutely holy with an infinite, incomprehensible fullness of purity that is incapable of being other than it is. Because He is holy, all His attributes are holy; that is, whatever we think of as belonging to God must be thought of as holy.”[2]

David Horton, in The Portable Seminary, gives us the foundation that we will build upon, “God is holy (Lev 11:44), He is morally spotless; He is upright, pure, untouched by evil desires, motives, thoughts, words, or acts.  God is free from all evil and loves truth and goodness.  He is our source and standard for what is right.”[3] He goes on to write, “God is holy in essence; it is His nature to be holy.  So when Plato asks the question: ‘Is the good good because God wills it?  Or does God will it because it is good?’  God wills what is in His nature and He wills good because He is good and holy and because of His holiness He hates sin and all evil.”[4]

Wayne Grudem, in his book Bible Doctrine, writes, “God’s holiness means that he is separated from sin and devoted to seeking his own honor.”[5] This quote contains two qualities: a relational quality and a moral quality.  The relational quality is that God is separated from sin relationally in that He does not sin and can in no way be related to sin.  The moral quality is that God is morally separated from sin in that He is completely devoted to the good for His honor and glory.[6]

John Feinberg writes in his book No One Like Him: The Doctrine Of God that God shows His nature by following the rules that He has set even though He does not have to.[7] He is being consistent with His nature. Feinberg, when writing on God’s moral separateness, says, “Because of His holiness, God cannot sin—He hates sin—Scripture shows that God must punish sin; a morally perfect God cannot ignore sin and let it go unpunished.”[8] Habakkuk 1:13 says, “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.” James 1:13 says that God is so pure that He cannot be tempted to sin.

There are many more Scriptures that speak of God’s moral separateness. Joshua 24:19 says that God is a holy God, a jealous God, and He will not forgive the transgressions and sins of His people. In Isaiah 5:16 it says, “But the LORD of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness.” Psalm 145:17, “The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.”

In tomorrow’s post we will look at what all of this means to the Christian and I will give a conclusion to the study.


[1] David Horton, ed., The Portable Seminary. (Minneapolis, Minn.: Bethany House Publishers, 2006), 92.

[2] Aiden W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (New York: Harper & Row Publishers Inc., 1961), 113.

[3] Ibid.,108.

[4] Ibid., 108.

[5] Wayne Grudem, Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith, ed. Jeff Purswell (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1999), 92.

[6] Ibid., 92.

[7] John S. Feinberg, No One Like Him: the Doctrine of God, [Rev. ed. (Wheaton. Ill.: Crossway Books, 2006), 342.

[8] Ibid., 344.

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The Holiness of God part 2

Author’s note: This is the second post in a short series of posts dealing with The Holiness of God. You can read the first post here.

Holiness of GodProper word study is the key to understanding the original meaning of a word the author intended, as well as the original understanding of that word by the recipient. Before we begin our discussion on the holiness of God and the implications that has on His children, we must first determine the proper understanding of the original Hebrew and Greek words used to describe God as being holy.

The original word used for holy in Hebrew is qadosh; it translates as holy, Holy One, sacred, saint, and set apart.[1] In the Old Testament, there are many terms used for holiness in the original Hebrew language. The verb qadas translates to be hallowed, holy, sanctified, consecrate, prepare, and to dedicate.[2] The verb qadas in the Qal implies the state of things that belong to the sacred.[3] In the Piel and Hiphil the verb qadas implies the act of consecration where the distinction is made between sacred and that which is profane.[4]

In addition, from the verb qadas, the Hebrew language gives us the noun qodes which carries with it the notion of apartness, holiness, and sacredness.[5] Lastly, we have the adjective qados, which gives us the description of one who is holy and the words used to describe that being, such as holy, Holy One, and saint.[6]

In the New Testament, the original Greek word is hagiazo, which translates as sanctify, hallow, and be holy.[7] It implies the idea of being separated, purified (externally, internally, and free from the guilt of sin), and dedicated to the service of God. The adjective used in the original Greek for holiness is hagios, which translates as holy, saints, and Holy One.[8] Now that we have determined that the original Hebrew and Greek words used in the Scriptures translate to indicate holiness, we turn our attention to the Bible and how it depicts God as holy.

In the Old Testament God is shown to be a holy God (Josh. 24:19). The Bible says holy is he! (Ps. 99:3; Ps. 99:5); you are holy (Ps. 22:3); the Lord our God is holy (Ps. 99:9); holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts (Isa. 6:3); holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty (Rev. 4:8). The Bible calls God the holy One (Isa. 40:25; 1 John 2:20; Rev. 16:5); the holy One of Israel (2 Kgs. 19:22; Isa. 1:4; Isa. 5:24; Isa. 10:17; Isa. 10:20; Isa. 12:6; Isa. 30:11; Isa. 30:12; Isa. 30:15; Isa. 31:1; Isa. 37:23; Isa. 41:20; Isa. 43:3; Isa. 43:14; Isa. 45:11; Isa. 49:7; Isa. 55:5; Isa. 60:9; Isa. 60:14). The Bible tells the children of Israel that their redeemer is the holy One of Israel (Isa. 41:14; Isa. 47:4; Isa. 54:5); the holy God shows himself holy in righteousness (Isa. 5:16). God says of Himself I am the Lord, your holy One (Isa. 43:15); I am God and not man, the holy One in your midst (Hos. 11:9). Habakkuk explains that God comes from Teman, the holy One from Mount Paran (Hab. 3:3) and then he extols O Lord my God, my holy One (Hab. 1:12).

In the New Testament Jesus is called the holy One of God (Luke 4:34); holy Father (John 17:11); he who is holy and true (Rev. 3:7); O Lord, holy and true (Rev. 6:10); such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled (Heb. 7:26); as he who called you is holy (1 Pet. 1:15). Jesus is unique there is no one holy like the Lord (1 Sam. 2:2); you alone are holy (Rev. 15:4); who is like you, majestic in holiness? (Exod. 15:11). Even His name is holy (Isa. 57:15; Luke 1:49); holy and awesome is his name (Ps. 111:9). The disciples came to believe and to know that Jesus is the holy One of God (John 6:69).

In the Scriptures, God is shown to be perfect in every way. In Deuteronomy 32:4 we are told, “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” In 1 Samuel 2:2 God’s holiness is unique, and in Ezekiel 36:21-23 God’s name is holy. God’s dwelling place is holy, as is the case in Isaiah 57:15. David’s palace was considered holy because of the presence of the ark of the Lord (2 Ch 8:11). The Most Holy place, in the tabernacle, was off limits to all except the high priest and he entered only once a year (Ex 26:33; 1 Kings 6:16).

Everything associated with God is holy as a result of God being holy.  The Sabbath is the “holy Sabbath” (Ex 16:23); the heaven above is God’s “holy heaven” (Ps 20:6); God sits on His “holy throne” (Ps 47:8). We have explored how the Bible depicts God as holy, in tomorrow’s post we will look at two different aspects of this holiness.


[1] Strong, James. Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2001.

[2] Mccomiskey, Thomas E. “1990 קָדַשׁ”. In Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. electronic ed. Chicago: Moody Press, 1999.

[3] John S. Feinberg, No One Like Him: The Doctrine Of God (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2001), 339.

[4] Ibid., p.340

[5] Ibid., 1999.

[6] Ibid., 1999.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.


 

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The Holiness of God part 1

Author’s note: This is the first post in a short series of posts dealing with The Holiness of God.


Holiness of GodIntroduction

We are called to be holy by a holy God, but what does that mean? When Jesus says in Matthew 5:48 to be perfect as our Father who is in heaven is perfect, what does He mean by telling His disciples to be perfect? There is only one who is perfect, and are we not just sinners anyway? There is no way to overcome our sin nature and God will forgive us, correct?

Yes, we are all sinners and will never reach a state of perfection this side of heaven. However, we are called to strive for holiness and we are given the power to continue to carry on that calling. In this post and those that follow it we will make an attempt at understanding God’s holiness, that His holiness is our moral standard, and that we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to live a life of moral character that glorifies God.

God is Holy. In the Bible, this is understood to mean that He is transcendent and that He is separate from all things. God’s nature is holy, His name is holy, His dwelling place is holy, His holiness is revealed in His righteous activity, and His holiness affects the way that we worship Him. God’s holiness makes sin objectionable to Him, and His holiness necessitates dependence upon Him for forgiveness. What will be discussed in these posts is the evidence for the holiness of God from Scripture and what that means for us as God’s adopted children through Christ.

We are purified by the blood of Jesus Christ and made holy. As His adopted children, His holiness is to be seen in us. Becoming holy involves striving after God, but this striving and our holiness originate from God.

It may seem that these things may be advocating a salvation by works theology. Therefore, at the outset in this introduction, it is necessary to explain that this is not the case. The Bible is clear when it says in Ephesians 2:8-9 that salvation comes by faith, and by faith alone.  It is a gift from God so that no one can boast about their own abilities.  So it would be heretical on our part if this very important passage in the Word of God is not considered when the assertion is made that “we can live a life of moral character that glorifies God.”

It is the purpose of this study to return to the proper understanding of what it means to be a Christian by looking at the holiness of God.  Christianity is not just having faith in Jesus Christ—that He died on a cross for our sins and we are now redeemed.  It is much more than that; it is the crucifixion and more.  It is a change in the way that we see the world; it is a changing of the way that we relate to the world.  If the world cannot tell the difference between the world and a child of God, there is something wrong.

The word Christian was first used in the Bible in Acts 11:26 to denote those who were followers of Jesus Christ.  Hence, the title Christian means Christ follower.[1]  There are some who would say that it doesn’t matter if we follow the commands of God because our salvation rests on a personal relationship with Jesus.  They might say that a study like this can lead to legalism which is exactly what Jesus opposed when dealing with the Pharisees.  It is important to understand that Jesus did not have a problem with the Pharisees upholding the law; He had a problem with them telling the people what to do according to the law and then not doing it themselves, and also with their tendency to add their own traditions to the law. In other words, He had a problem with their hypocrisy.

I ask, what is a healthy understanding of who God is in relation to His holiness?  Where do we find the answer to this question?  The answer lies in the Bible to which we shall turn in the posts that follow.

In this short series of posts, we will look at the evidence of God’s transcendence before turning to His moral separateness. We will then briefly point out the implications of what this understanding of the holiness of God means to the Christian, followed by a conclusion. In tomorrow’s post, we will look at the original Hebrew and Greek words used to describe God as holy. Stay tuned!


[1] Wilkins, Michael J. “Christian”. In The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary. New York: Doubleday, 1992.

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The Weekly Fill (03/19/16)

The weekly fill


Worth Reading 

The Spirit in the Old and New Testament

“One of the great questions that has plagued theologians throughout church history is that which concerns the role of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament by way of contrast with His work in the New Testament.”

Preaching Magazine Announces Albert Mohler’s Top 10 Book for Preachers in 2016

“Book lovers rejoice upon the annual announcement of Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr.’s Top Books list in Preaching Magazine. Mohler, whose legendary reading habits are widely known, is a titan book consumer who reads as deeply as he does widely.”

This Video Explains How Stress Breaks Down Your Brain

“Chronic stress from being overworked, sleep deprivation, or relationship drama can have a negative impact on your abilities to learn, concentrate, and remember things.”

Six False Expectations That Diminish Our Happiness

“Most people intuitively know that our expectations profoundly affect our life experiences. Yet even as believers, we simultaneously expect too much and too little.”

Don’t Pray like a Pagan 

“Jesus was saying in Matthew 6:7 that we must not regard prayer as some kind of magical incantation, for that is how pagans pray. They recite certain phrases over and over again, with no understanding of what the words mean.”

Why Did They Hate Jesus?

“It is sometimes said that Jesus was killed on account of his inclusion and tolerance, that the Jews hated him for hanging out with sinners and tax collectors. This is the sort of sentiment which has a bit of truth to it, but only a tiny bit.”

Does Punctuation Really Matter?

“In 2014, I was laboring over the galley stages of my book on sovereignty and free will, called hand in Hand. (The small h in the title is deliberate, as is the capital—our little hand, God’s infinitely big Hand. And while capitalization isn’t exactly punctuation, it can be very significant.)”

Are Millennials Selfish and Entitled?

“The Internet lit up recently with outrage when a twenty-something woman complained about how hard it was to live in San Francisco, because her job didn’t pay her enough. The post, directed toward the woman’s employer, Yelp, caused many to point out that Millennials are, as a generation, lazy, self-obsessed, and entitled.”

A Marathon Mentality for Ministry

“I was always better at sprinting than running long distance–back in the days when I actually ran…back in High School. My wife, by way of contrast, was and is a marathon runner. One of the things that I’ve noticed as I have watched her run over the years is that she knows how to pace herself.”

“I Don’t Feel At Home In the Republican Party Anymore”

“That’s the feeling of a growing number of church-going evangelicals who feel increasingly displaced these days.”


Video

Why is Christianity right?

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The Weekly Fill (03/12/16)

The weekly fill


Worth Reading 

Christians, Voting, and the Lesser of Two Evils

“The apostle Paul taught that the sword of Caesar is given by God to commend good and punish evil (Rom. 13:1-5). The Bible addresses the limits of this role, recounting those who use the sword in unjust ways and are held accountable to judgment (i.e., Revelation 13).”

These Are The Long-Term Effects Of Multitasking

“Georgetown Professor Cal Newport thinks uninterrupted, distraction-free deep work is so important that if you’re unable to do this at your current job, you should start looking for another.”

Everything That is Solid Melts Into Air – The New Secular Worldview

“Christians are the intellectual outlaws under the current secular conditions. To believe the truth claims of Christianity is to defy principalities and powers–and to face an intellectual onslaught.”

The Characteristics of Christian Zeal

“In our continuing series on the Puritan vision for Christian zeal (part 1, part 2), we now take up how they described its characteristics.”

We’re Called to Make Disciples, not Simply Converts

“We should take notice of what Jesus did not say in the Great Commission. He did not say, ‘Go therefore and make converts of as many people as possible.’”

The Psalter: Greatest Hits Or Concept Album?

“Are you a shuffle person or an album person? Do you prefer ‘greatest hits’ or the ‘album experience?’ Do you prefer Beatles’ #1 or Sgt Pepper?”

Andy Stanley and Dunbar Dynamics

“The Sunday before last Andy Stanley accused those who attend smaller churches of selfishness: ‘When I hear adults say ‘well I don’t like a big church. I like about 200, I want to be able to know everybody’ I say you are so stinking selfish. You care nothing about the next generation. All you care about is you and your five friends. You don’t care about your kids, anybody else’s kids.'”

The good news about there being nothing new under the sun

“There are few truths about the human condition more profound than what we read in Ecclesiastes 1:9, ‘What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.’”

John the Baptist: The True Meaning of Greatness

“Imagine walking several grueling miles through rough, dry terrain to listen to an outcast from society proclaim a countercultural message that assaulted all your religious beliefs and practices. Not many of us would sign up for such a journey, or sit patiently through such a confronting sermon. And yet large crowds from Jerusalem and Jericho did just that, marching into the wilderness en masse to hear John the Baptist.”

Jesus Redeems a Psalm: What a Difference “Christotelicity” Makes!

“In the Bible, perhaps the most concentrated expression of praise for the faithfulness of God can be found in Psalm 89.”


Video

David Grubbs: Reading the Bible as Literature

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Faith Without Works is Dead: Exegetical Look at James 2:18-26 – Application

Author’s Note: This is the fourth and last post in a series on James 2:18-26. You can read the first post (Introduction) herethe second post (The Context) here and the third post (The Analysis of The Text) here. Thank you for reading!


IMG_8792Application

In verse 26 we come to understand that faith without works is a dead faith. This means that this faith cannot and will not save us; we are not justified by such a faith. But to fully comprehend what James is saying here we take a cue from Dr. Alexander Stewart. In his article James, Soteriology, And Synergism he writes, “James’s understanding of ‘works’ (good conduct; putting away anger, moral impurity, and wickedness; speaking rightly; keeping oneself unstained by the world) is equivalent to obedience to God’s law and can be legitimately linked to modem theological discussions of sanctification.”[1]

According to Dr. Stewart, the definition of ἔργον is given by James in 3:13 and the contrast between hearers and doers in 1:19-27 is the crux of James’ teaching on faith and works.[2] The application for believers is that if there is faith, then our conduct must follow as evidence of that faith. In other words, we must be able to control our anger. We must “put away all moral impurity and wickedness.” We must “speak rightly” and not with a foul mouth or gossiping.  A believer must keep themselves from getting stained by the world. In other words, a believer who lives in constant habitual sin has a faith that is dead and decaying.

The believer must evaluate their life and compare it to the good conduct that James is writing about. If that type of conduct is not present in the believer’s life, then they should ask God for forgiveness and repent of their sins and ask for a true faith that will lead to a true salvation. Preachers must preach the grace of God to a dying, sin filled world, but they must not do it apart from the practical teaching between faith and works that James gives us in his letter.

 God has created us for His glory, as we see in Isaiah 43:7 where He says “everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” Sin entered into the world by one man and fractured man’s relationship with God. That relationship has been restored by one man by His sacrifice on the cross. A believer who accepts Jesus Christ as Savior has been saved to glorify God, as we see in 1 Corinthians 6:20. Here the Apostle Paul writes, “for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

James 2:18-26 gives us the practical argument that faith without works is dead. Believing that we are saved yet not glorifying God by living out that faith in front of the lost people in the world is a dead faith. Believers must be about the work of God to showcase him to the nations so that they will say that truly our God is the one true God, the God of the universe, merciful and kind.


[1] Alexander Stewart “James, soteriology, and synergism.” Tyndale Bulletin (January 1, 2010): 299.

[2] Ibid., 299

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Faith Without Works is Dead: Exegetical Look at James 2:18-26 – The Analysis of the Text

Author’s Note: This is the second post in a series on James 2:18-26. You can read the first post (Introduction) here and the second post (The Context) here.


IMG_8792Analysis of Text

In James 2:18 he writes, “But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works. Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” By this he jumps right into the argument between faith and works. The word used for faith throughout this passage is πίστις (pistis) and it means to have faith that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; the promised Messiah. In the Louw Nida the sense of meaning is to have complete trust and reliance upon someone.[1] In the Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon we find the same sense of meaning.[2]

The word that he uses for works is ἔργον (ergon), which means works in both the Louw Nida and the Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon.[3] What James is saying is that he has works because of his faith. In other words, he lives his life according to God’s will, because he has been saved because of his faith. We will unpack this in the following verses.

In verses 19 and 20, we see the foolishness of someone who thinks contrary to what James is arguing. James writes, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?” James says that a person who believes that there is one God is on an even level as the demons who believe there is a God and shudder. Then he asks the foolish person if they want to be shown that faith without works is dead. The word that he uses for foolish is κενός (kenos). This word actually means empty. The sense of the word in the Louw Nida is that this person is empty of all understanding.[4] In the Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon it means being devoid of truth.[5] In other words, James is saying that the person who says that all that they need is faith to be saved without any evidence of their salvation showing through by their works is empty of understanding and devoid of the truth of the Word of God.

Next James gives an example of faith completed by works in verses 21 through 23. He writes, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness’—and he was called a friend of God.”

James uses three words here that deserve a closer look. The first is justified. In the original Greek language justified is δικαιόω (dikaioo). This word means to be morally right; morally right with God.[6] The second word is active. This word in the original Greek language is συνεργέω (sunergeo). This word means to work together with something or someone.[7] The third and last word is completed. This word in the original Greek is τελειόω (teleioo). This word means to carry through completely; to finish.[8]

What James is saying here is that Abraham was morally right before God, because by obeying God in offering up his son Isaac, his faith was working together with his works (or deeds) to complete his faith. By this the Scripture was fulfilled and Abraham was called “a friend of God.”

The next example that James gives comes from Rahab the prostitute. In this example he proves the point that “a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” In verses 24 and 25 he writes, “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?”

Again James uses the words faith, works, and justified. There is no need to define these words here as they have already been defined in the previous verses. However, he is saying that because Rahab had faith in the one true God of the nation of Israel, she “received the messengers and sent them out by another way” so that they would not be captured and be put to death by the soldiers of her nation. Rahab showed her faith by her works, which was helping the messengers escape.

James concludes with verse 26. He writes, “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” In this verse the word apart in the original Greek language is χωρίς (choris). This word means “without, not with, no relationship to, apart from, independent of.”[9] What James is saying here is that apart from works, faith is dead just like the body cannot be alive without the spirit. This is a strong statement as we know that death results in decay. The implication for application to our lives as believers becomes very clear and that will be the topic in the next post.


[1] Louw, Johannes P., and Eugene Albert Nida. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains. New York: United Bible Societies, 1996.

[2] Strong, James. Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2001.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

 

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Faith Without Works is Dead: Exegetical Look at James 2:18-26 – The Context

Author’s Note: This is the second post in a series on James 2:18-26. You can read the first post here.


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Context

The letter of James was the earliest written epistle in the New Testament. Most scholars agree, although there are some arguments against this consensus, that it was written in the early to middle 40s A.D.[1] James was writing to Jewish believers who were spread across the Diaspora as a result of persecution. It was a time of economic hardship, not only for the church in Jerusalem, but for the whole region.[2] The wealthy took advantage of them (James 5:4-6) and took them to court (James 2:6); and “they scorned their faith (James 2:7).”[3]

James was writing from Jerusalem where he was the leader of the church, and most likely he felt a responsibility to write to these believers in the Diaspora. He wrote to encourage them (James 5:7-11) and to remind them of the importance of “maintaining their piety” in the face of their trials (James 1:2-4,120.[4]

In the midst of this, most importantly, he writes to them about the Christian life on faith and works. It is also considered the most controversial teaching in the New Testament. Some have argued that James teaches “lordship salvation,” or “works based salvation.” Others say that there is a synergism within his teachings on faith and works. In the last two decades there has been a new “paradigm” in Jewish soteriology that is called “covenant nomism.”[5]

Covenant nomism is based upon the Jewish covenant of being the chosen people of God, and as the chosen people they must respond with works; a sort of agreement between God and man. This is obviously contrary to what the rest of the New Testament teaches. So scholars try to harmonize what James teaches, justification at the judgment, and what Paul teaches about justification.[6] Harmonizing the two teachings are not that easy and the final outcome is one that takes into account all of the New Testament on justification. Dr. Moo says it best, “Faith alone brings one into relationship with God in Christ—but true faith inevitably generates the works that God will take into account in his final decision about the fate of men and women.”[7]

James 2:18-26 finds itself nestled within a textual context that is like loosely formulated homilies. Some scholars say that the letter lacks any real theology. This is part of the reason why the letter was not widely accepted by the church in the early centuries. However, James is written for a specific purpose and his lack of mention of certain Christian doctrines is not an indication that the letter lacks any real theology. On theology, regarding the letter of James, Dr. Moo writes:

Furthermore, we must not minimize the contributions that James does make to certain specific topics of Christian theology. In addition to the obvious importance of his teaching about faith and works in their relationship to the believer’s final salvation, James also contributes significantly to our understanding of God, temptation, prayer, the law, wisdom, and eschatology. To be sure, all these arise in a practical context. But it will be a sad day for the church when such “practical divinity” is not considered “theology.” Therefore, while the brevity and specific purposes of the letter prevent us from sketching a “theology of James,” we are able to note briefly the contributions James makes to certain specific theological topics.[8]

The textual context reveals this sentiment. James writes about how to face trials (1:1-18); responding to God’s Word (1:19-27); avoiding partiality (2:1-13); producing good works (2:14-26); controlling the tongue (3:1-12); false and true wisdom (3:13-18); renouncing worldliness (4:1-12); renouncing arrogance (4:13-5:6); and demonstrating endurance (5:7-20).

We will take a look at the analysis of the text in tomorrow’s post.


[1] D A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, ©2005), 627.

[2] Douglas J. Moo The Letter of James. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos, 2000, 23.

[3] Ibid., 23.

[4] Ibid., 23

[5] Ibid., 42.

[6] Ibid., 42.

[7] Ibid., 42.

[8] Ibid., 28.


 

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Faith Without Works is Dead: Intro to an Exegetical Look at James 2:18-26

Author’s Note: This is the first post in a series on James 2:18-26.


IMG_8792Introduction

The letter of James is arguably the most controversial letter of the New Testament. Martin Luther called the letter an “epistle of straw.”[1] However, he did quote it in a more favorable tone from time to time and later on in life he did tone down his disapproval of the letter a little. Most evangelicals Christians do not like the book because of its “Lordship salvation” that it teaches. Many scholars argue that James is contradicting Paul’s teaching on justification by faith.

The intent of this post series is not to bring balance to Paul and James. By reading both positions for oneself there is no mistake that the two men actually build up and support each other’s teachings.  Scholars have determined that the letter of James is the earliest of all of the epistles to be written.[2] Hence, James was unaware of Paul’s teaching on justification by faith at the time that he wrote his letter. In his letter, James puts forth a practical Christianity; a Christianity that takes into consideration whether one is truly saved.

A small detour is in order at this point in this introduction. This letter was written to Jewish believers who are the chosen of God: “[T]o the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad” (James 1:1). Looking back in the Old Testament to Deuteronomy, we see that God redeemed Israel out of slavery in Egypt (the Exodus) not because they were something special, but because of His grace:

The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 7:7-8)

His grace came first and then, as we see in Exodus, came what their response to that grace is to be, a moral response:  “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.”  (Exodus 19:5-6)

They were to be a missional people; a people that would facilitate God’s blessings to the nations. They were to be a priesthood in the midst of the nations; they were to showcase God before the nations. This was necessary in order for the nations to recognize that this nation Israel was truly blessed by the God of Israel. So that the nations would say truly that this is the God of the universe, the one true God, the Creator of heaven and earth.

In the same, way we are created for God’s glory (Isaiah 43:7) and we were saved to showcase his glory in front of the nations (1 Corinthians 6:20). This is the practical Christianity that James is writing about to Jewish believers. James is a practical letter to Christians who need to hear what he has to say about a faith that without works is dead.

This post series will look at James 2:18-26 and what James means between faith and works beginning with the historical and cultural context, moving to the analysis of the text, and then ending with an application and conclusion section. This will be accomplished in a short series of posts. Tomorrow we will look at the context of James 2:18-26.


[1] Thomas D. Lea and David Alan Black, The New Testament: Its Background and Message, 2nd ed. (Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman & Holman Publishers, ©2003), 516.

[2] John MacArthur “Faith according to the apostle James.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (March 1, 1990): 16.

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The Daily Fill (Update: The Last Post)

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The Daily Fill will no longer be a daily post. It is getting harder to find really good theologically solid material. Most bloggers are focused on the news and politics and that is what they end up writing about. The rest of the bloggers are just not writing anything that I consider worthy to share with you.

It is the goal of For His Glory to disciple Christians in the Word of God and that by doing so it is my hope that the Christian will develop a worldview that is biblical and that will guide their thinking as they navigate through life.

It is better to think logically for yourself about a subject and to think it through to it’s logical conclusions then to have someone tell you what to think about the same subject. That’s what critical thinking is all about and a disciple will think critically about the news and politics with a biblical worldview.

There will still be blog posts and articles that I think are good and that I want to share with you so instead I will  do a Weekly Fill postThis will be posted at the end of every week and it will be the same format as The Daily Fill with a quote, good posts to read, and a short video.

There will still periodic blog posts that I have written personally that I will share with you. The only change with those posts is that you will see more of them.

I hope that you enjoy my blog and that you continue reading what I post. Thanks for reading!


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The Daily Fill (03/02/16)

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Quote of the Day

“It was a common saying among the Puritans “Brown bread and the Gospel is good fare.”

Matthew Henry


Worth Reading

A Prayer for Primary Day

“Father we pray for a government that we acknowledge we do not deserve, but we pray this in confidence that it is not we who rule but you, and we commit this to you as your thankful people.”

Online Theological Resources

“When it comes to Bible software, I use Logos more than anything else (though I know BibleWorks and Accordance are excellent too).”

Exegetical Tools Quarterly

“In contrast to other journals, our Exegetical Tools Quarterly is strictly resource-driven. Each issue will contain all of Exegetical Tools’ posts for the last three months.”

 


Video

Russell Moore on Spiritual Warfare

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The Eschatology of Jesus: Kingdom of God in the New Testament and Conclusion

Author’s Note: This is a two-part series. You can read the first post here.


Castle-ClipArt--Graphics-Fairy2Kingdom of God in the New Testament

Jesus spoke of the kingdom of God as having come with His coming to the earth.[1] In Mark 1:15, speaking about repentance, He says that “the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the Gospel.” In Matthew 12:28 He says that if He drives out demons by the “Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” In Luke 4:22 when John the Baptist sent his disciples to inquire of Jesus if He was “the one to come,” He responded by referring to the blind, the lame, and the lepers that He had healed (Matt. 11:5). In so doing, He used language from Isaiah to indicate that the kingdom is present on earth.(29:18; 35:4-6; 61:1).

Yet in Luke 4:43 Jesus told the people that He must go and preach the kingdom of God to the other cities because this was His purpose for coming. Here He implies the future coming of the kingdom of God, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.” In another passage He continues this theme,

Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following,

“Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:10-12).

Eschatological in nature

In response to His disciples’ request, Jesus gives His “great discourse on the end times” in Matthew 24-25.[2]  In this discourse Jesus “promises that He will come again” (v. 24:30).[3] He also mentions the “Son of Man” several times during His discourse (vv. 27, 37, 39, 42, 44).[4] And in verse 24:30 we read, “And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.”  In speaking about the eschatological nature of Jesus’ teachings Travis writes:

Jesus used the language of the two ages. E.g., Mark 10:30 – there is no disciple ‘who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, … and in the age to come eternal life’· His more characteristic phrase, ‘the kingdom of God’ is not a regular apocalyptic phrase· But Jesus does seem to use it as a way of referring to the age to come – an age distinct from this age which can come only by the activity of God (Mt. 6:10)· Between the present age and the age to come, highlighting the discontinuity between them, will be the final judgement (Mt. 19:28)·[5]

Death and Eternal Life

For the believer, the resurrection is an important part of eschatology. Erickson writes, “This is the basis for the believer’s hope in the face of death. Although death is inevitable, the believer anticipates being delivered from its power.”[6]

Jesus taught the resurrection of the believer explicitly in several passages in the New Testament. The fifth chapter of John has an excellent example of Jesus’ resurrection teaching:

Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live…Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment (vv 25, 28-29).

There is also the passage in Mark 12:24-27, in which Jesus tells the Sadducees “who deny the resurrection” that they were incorrect because of their “lack of knowledge of the Scriptures and of the power of God.”[7] The raising of Lazarus also serves as an affirmation of the resurrection (John 11:24-44).[8]

Judgment

For many people, the final judgment is a fearful event that will take place as a part of eschatology. This is especially true for those who are outside of Christ. For believers, the judgment should not be fearful, but rather it should be anticipated because this is when they will be shown to have been justified. The final judgment will not bring to light our “spiritual condition or status,” but instead it will “make our status public.”[9]

Jesus spoke of judgment in the last days and He “pictured Himself as sitting on a glorious throne and judging all nations (Matthew 25:31-33).”[10] Although in Hebrews 12:23 God is the judge, according to Jesus, the Father has given Him “authority to execute judgment” (John 5:26-29).[11]

Although the following set of Scriptures were not spoken by Jesus, they do point to His role in the last days as it is portrayed in the book of Revelation. As a part of the judgment, Jesus is also the “One who restores the fallen creation to the Father (see Psalm 2; Psalm 110; Dan 7:9–14; and 1 Cor 15:24–28).”[12] First, it all starts in Revelation 6 when Jesus opens the seals of judgment. In Revelation 4-5 Jesus is the only one worthy to take the “book from the hand of the father.”[13] As with the seals of judgments, He is the one who opens the book, “unleashing its contents upon the earth.”[14] In Revelation 6:12-16, the “people on the earth realize that they are facing the wrath of the Lamb and the One who sits on the throne.”[15]

Second, He restores the creation to His father with His “rule as Davidic King over the earth.”[16] This is seen when the angel Gabriel tells Mary that her son will be given the throne of David, He will rule over the house of Jacob, and His kingdom will have no end (Luke 1:32-33).”[17]

Conclusion

This was a study on the eschatology of Jesus. To truly understand eschatology and its implications for mankind, there must be an understanding of Jesus’ teachings on eschatology. By turning to the resources available from several different journal articles the point of this study was able to ascertain what the teachings of Jesus were on eschatology.

Eschatology is the study of the end; an end that will usher in the new heaven and earth. Believers who are dead will be bodily resurrected, and those who are raptured will spend eternity worshiping in the presence of God. By understanding what Jesus taught about eschatology, believers know that God is sovereign and in control. History will not just blindly continue; God will bring His purpose to fulfillment.

As a result, as believers we should be watching for the return of our Lord and work with that anticipation in mind. We know that when He returns justice will be poured out and evil will be punished. The opposite is that faith and faithfulness will be rewarded. Our earthly bodies will be transformed into our heavenly bodies. There will be no more pain, sickness, death, or suffering. Knowing what Jesus taught about eschatology gives us the desire to live in accordance with God’s will.


 

[1] Kenneth Heinitz, “Eschatology in the Teachings of Jesus” Concordia Theological Monthly Vol. 41, No. 8 (1970), 451.

[2] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1998), 1193.

[3] Ibid., 1193.

[4] Ibid., 1193.

[5] Stephen H. Travis, “The Value of Apocalyptic” Tyndalle Bulletin Vol. 30, (January 1, 1979), 68.

[6] Ibid., 1200.

[7] Ibid., 1201.

[8] Ibid., 1202.

[9] Ibid., 1207.

[10] Ibid., 1208.

[11] Micheal J. Vlach, “The Trinity and Eschatology” The Master’s Seminary Journal Vol. 24, No. 2 (Fall 2013), 208.

[12] Ibid., 208.

[13] Ibid., 207.

[14] Ibid., 207.

[15] Ibid., 207.

[16] Ibid., 207.

[17] Ibid., 207.

 

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The Daily Fill (03/01/16)

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Quote of the Day

“The reverence for the Scriptures is an element of civilization, for thus has the history of the world been preserved, and is preserved.”

Ralph Wado Emerson


Worth Reading

Recovering an Emphasis on Prayer

“How can we as evangelicals recover the emphasis on prayer in worship that our Reformed forebears understood? Let me mention some ways.”

Why This Election Makes Me Hate the Word “Evangelical”

“Why are many evangelical leaders, including some who pontificate on nearly everything else, scared silent as evangelicalism is associated with everything from authoritarianism and bigotry to violations of religious freedom?”

Mounce Archive 24 – God and Jesus

“’Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord’ (1 Tim 1:2). Paul begins his letter to Timothy with a somewhat normal greeting, and yet sometimes familiarity can hide significant truths from English eyes.”

Word Studies 5 – Using The Fruit pt.2

“Yesterday I offered three suggestions on using the fruit of word studies in our preaching.  I urged us to default to a smooth integration – just let the fruit show through accurate explanation, rather than excessive demonstration of exegetical labour.  There are times to underline and show the process a bit more, but they should be strategically selected.  And I think we should think twice and then again before letting the original languages show.”

Your Theological System Should Tell You How to Exegete

“Systematic theology looks at the whole Bible and tries to understand all that God says on a given subject (e.g., sin, heaven, angels, justification).”


Video

Keller, Piper, and Carson on Staying the Course in a Changing Culture

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The Eschatology of Jesus: Introduction and the Kingdom of God in the Old Testament

Author’s Note: This is a two part series. Tommorrow we will wrap things up with the Kingdom of God in the New Tetstament along with a conclusion.


Castle-ClipArt--Graphics-Fairy2Introduction

To truly understand eschatology and its implications for mankind, there must be an understanding of Jesus’ teachings on eschatology. Eschatology is the study of the end times; the last days as it is called in the Bible. In the Bible there are two ways of referring to eschatology used by Jesus. The first way that Jesus refers to eschatology is in the words the “last days” (John 6:39). The original Greek word used for  “last” is ἔσχατος [eschatos /es·khat·os/]. Strong’s Enhanced Lexicon defines it as: “1 extreme. 1a last in time or in place. 1b last in a series of places. 1c last in a temporal succession. 2 the last. 2a last, referring to time. 2b of space, the uttermost part, the end, of the earth. 2c of rank, grade of worth, last i.e. lowest.”[1]

The second way that Jesus refers to eschatology is in the words “the kingdom of God” (Matthew 3:2). The original Greek word used for kingdom is βασιλεία [basileia /bas·il·i·ah/]. Strong’s Enhanced Lexicon defines it as: “1 royal power, kingship, dominion, rule. 1a not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom. 1b of the royal power of Jesus as the triumphant Messiah. 1c of the royal power and dignity conferred on Christians in the Messiah’s kingdom. 2 a kingdom, the territory subject to the rule of a king. 3 used in the N.T. to refer to the reign of the Messiah.”[2]

The “etymology” of the word eschatology in its narrow sense deals with “death, judgment, and the end.”[3] In its wider sense of the word, eschatology deals with “all concerns that one might have in view of the end, death, and judgment.” So as a result, all that deals with life and its values is eschatological. In Mark 2:1-12 Jesus heals a paralytic man and says, “Your sins have been forgiven.” Jesus’ statement to the man, that his sins were forgiven, is eschatological since forgiveness of sin is a concern today as well as the future, on judgment day. The man’s decision to believe in Jesus was made in the present, and at the same time it was a decision that was “valid for the eschaton.”[4]

Jesus is the greatest authority on eschatology because, after all, Jesus is God and eschatology is the study of God bringing an end to the world as we know it and ushering in the kingdom of God. Hence, when undertaking a study of eschatology, it would be intellectually dishonest not to take into account Jesus’ teaching on the subject.

So what did Jesus teach about eschatology? These series of posts are an attempt to answer this all important question by referring to the writings of several different scholars published in various scholarly journals.

In order to accomplish a study like this, the student must start with the Old Testament to gain an understanding of eschatology as viewed by those who lived and worshiped God during that time. One important reason to start with the Old Testament is that it was the Bible that Jesus used and quoted from. Next would be to look at the words of Jesus Himself about the last days and the kingdom of God as it is found in the New Testament.

Kingdom of God in the Old Testament

Many people think that the Old Testament is nothing more than a compilation of stories dealing with the history of the nation of Israel. While this may be in some sense true, it is much more than that. It is the story of a God who has sovereignly worked throughout the history of the world to fulfill His promise that He made to Abraham—a promise that is fulfilled in the New Testament by Jesus.

There was no New Testament when Jesus walked on the earth, so in order to understand Jesus’ understanding of eschatology it is imperitave that this study begin in the Old Testament with the relevant passages that are related to eschatology. It is in this way that the reader can better understand what Jesus’ mission was in relation to eschatology and why He says what He says about the last days.

From the Beginning in chapter three in the book of Genesis, the reader is presented with a problem. Satan tricked Adam and Eve and sin entered into the world. God then tells the serpent that in the end he (the serpent) will lose: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” From that point God puts into place His eschatological plan to save His creation from the effects of sin.

Understood nationally

The resources that help us understand the expectations of the Jewish people at the time when Jesus came into the world are from the intertestamental period.[5] During this period the nation of Israel experienced a time of turbulence that includes being ruled over by other nations and the nation’s uprisings (conflicts of rebellion) against these rulers. So it comes as no surprise that the Jewish people expected that when the kingdom of God finally did arrive, there would be a restoration of the nation of Israel.[6] On this hope of national restoration Wright writes:

So Jewish hopes at the time of Jesus, then, focused primarily on the restoration of Israel, with the closely attached implications for the nations. The restoration of Israel and the ingathering of the nations were seen in eschatological terms as the final great act of God, the Day of the Lord. The two things would be part of the same final event that would usher in the new age, but the restoration of Israel was logically and in a sense chronologically expected first.[7]

In the Old Testament the hope of restoration can be found in “Jeremiah’s ‘Book of Consolation’ (Jeremiah 30-34), in Ezekiel’s vision of the new land and temple (Ezekiel 40-48), in the soaring vistas of new creation and redemption in Isaiah 40-55.”[8] This future restoration would mean “peace and universal rule for the nations (Zechariah 9.9ff).”[9]

The Messianic kingdom

Jesus understood the kingdom of God in the Old Testament differently—as a Messianic kingdom. Jesus consistently referred to Himself as the Son of Man, found in Daniel chapter seven. In this vision Daniel writes that the Son of Man was coming with the clouds and He was presented to the Ancient of Days (v. 13). He continues to write that dominion of a kingdom was given to the Son of Man where all men of all languages will serve Him, His dominion will be everlasting, and it will not be destroyed (v. 14). He also used language found in Isaiah in several places in the New Testament. Heinitz writes:

In His home synagog, after reading from Is. 61:Iff., He said that that Scripture had been fulfilled in their hearing (Luke 4:21). Moreover, when the disciples of John the Baptist came to ask whether Jesus indeed was the One “who is to come,” Jesus responded by referring to the blind, the lame, and the lepers whom He had healed (Matt. 11:5), and He used the language of Isaiah (29:18; 35:4-6; 6l:lff.).[10]

Jesus not only understood the kingdom as Messianic, but He also proclaimed that it was present and yet in the future.


[1] James Strong, Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2001).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Kenneth Heinitz, “Eschatology in the Teachings of Jesus” Concordia Theological Monthly Vol. 41, No. 8 (1970), 451.

[4] Ibid., 451.

[5] Christopher J H. Wright, Knowing Jesus: Through the Old Testament (London: Marshall Pickering, 1992), 137.

[6] Ibid., 139.

[7] Ibid., 140.

[8] Ibid., 139.

[9] Ibid., 139.

[10] Ibid., 453.

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The Daily Fill (02/29/16)

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Quote of the Day

“The existence of the Bible, as a book for the people, is the greatest benefit which the human race has ever experienced. Every attempt to belittle it is a crime against humanity.”

Immanuel Kant


Worth Reading

How a Generation Lost Its Common Culture

“My students are know-nothings. They are exceedingly nice, pleasant, trustworthy, mostly honest, well-intentioned, and utterly decent. But their brains are largely empty, devoid of any substantial knowledge that might be the fruits of an education in an inheritance and a gift of a previous generation. They are the culmination of western civilization, a civilization that has forgotten nearly everything about itself, and as a result, has achieved near-perfect indifference to its own culture.”

Word Studies 4 – Using the Fruit

“This week we have been pondering the importance of word studies.  It is vital that we take the words of Scripture seriously, and thereby make our preaching as accurate and effective as possible.”

God’s Word is most powerful in context

“Yesterday, I shared how words from an old youth fellowship song came back and comforted me when the birth of our twins turned into something of an emergency, and I was unable to articulate any prayer of my own.”

Background in Biblical Interpretation: Part 1

“I am sure all Bible readers are confronted at some stage with those enigmatic passages which either seem incomprehensible or so contradictory, either to other parts of Scripture or to common sense, that we feel we are missing something.”

Do Not Muzzle the Ox: Does Paul Quote Moses Out of Context?

“This command, which appears only once in the Old Testament, would garner little attention except for the fact that the apostle Paul cites it not once but twice (1 Cor. 9:9; 1 Tim. 5:18), making apostolic application to his right to be supported financially as a minister of the gospel. And he does so in such a way that it makes it sound like he is bypassing what the command was originally about.”


Video

Voddie Baucham on Training Elders

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The Daily Fill (02/27/16)

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Quote of the Day

“Don’t give up! Don’t get discouraged! I have read the end of the book! We win!”

Desmond Tutu


Worth Reading

Word Studies 3 – The Process

“Once you have identified a specific term that you want to study, what do you do?  There’s a short answer and a longer one.  The longer one will always feed your soul more, so go there when you can.”

The Power of Slowing Down Your Bible Study

“I enjoyed my Hebrew courses. I like languages. And one of the first big rewards of learning Hebrew is translating a small book like Jonah or Ruth. I say it’s a reward, because it is fun; you get a sense of satisfaction that you’ve actually learned something.”

Questions to Ask the Text

“One of the challenges of Bible reading, and preaching for that matter, is that we often start with the wrong questions. As a result, we often miss the message of the passage. Even more, we miss the central themes of Scripture, and end up with something sub-biblical.”


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The Augustine and Pelagian Controversy: Grace and Conclusion

Authors Note: This is the fourth and last post in a short series on The Augustine and Pelagian Controversy. You can read the first post here, the second post here and the third post here.


National Cathedral interior

Grace

This section is a continuation the yesterday’s post The Augustine and Pelagian Controversy: Augustine

Augustine begins his doctrine of grace with the notion that man is in need of grace because of original sin. Augustine argues that men are partakers of sin in Adam; God created man to be perfect and with free will.[1] Adam was given grace to be able keep his uprightness by choosing good, but instead he used his free will and disobeyed. By this act, all of humanity is guilty of Adam’s sin.

Grace is help from God to be able to obey Him. Grace consists of all external help from God for salvation, such as the law, preaching, and Christ’s example. However, it also includes forgiveness of sin. Above all, grace is the help that God gives the believer by the Holy Spirit working within where we are given the power to obey. Within this help is regeneration, justification, and perseverance. Warfield puts it like this, “[I]n a word, all the divine assistance by which, in being made Christians, we are made to differ from other men.”[2]

At the time of Augustine’s death, he asked to have Psalm 51 written on sheets of paper and hung around his room so that he could read them as he lay dying. In his last days he asked for absolute privacy, and he prayed and wept for ten days before he died. Augustine loved God, and that ability to love God came from the Holy Spirit with His gift of grace.

Conclusion

Out of the Augustine and Pelagian controversy we have received many documents on the different doctrines of the church, but none so important as the doctrine of grace. From Augustine’s theology of grace, Martin Luther, the great reformer, and John Calvin, constructed their doctrines of grace. In many corners of Christianity, the church today subscribes to this doctrine, the doctrine of grace, that was used to argue against the notion that men can choose to be saved or to do good without the help of divine grace.

The author of Ecclesiastics says truthfully that there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastics 1:9). Pelagius was annoyed with a laxity in Christian standards that he saw in the church and communities in Rome. Today in the modern church there is a laxity as Christians seem to be asleep at the wheel.  In the modern church we can very easily see why Pelagius took up his erroneous doctrines. The frustration with laxity to sin is real in the modern church, but the question remains as to where Pelagius found support for his doctrines in Scripture.

Augustine took up the banner of truth and led the way against the Pelagian heresy, although he refused to call it that in the beginning. He argued against Pelagius with a desire for him to repent of his error and to return to the truth of Scripture. Augustine resisted for a long time not to call Pelagius and his followers heretics, but towards the end of the controversy he could not continue to deny the obvious. Pelagius was condemned by the Bishop of Rome and banished from Rome, but his doctrines lived on and morphed into semi-Pelagianism. We can still find traces of semi-Pelagianism in Christianity today.


[1]Aurelius Augustine. “On Rebuke and Grace.” In Nicene And Post-Nicene Fathers, Volume 5: Augustine: Anti-Pelagian Writings, edited by Philip Schaff, 468-493. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2004, 483.

[2] B.B. Warfield. “Introductory Essay On Augustine And The Pelagian Controversy.” In Nicene And Post-Nicene Fathers, Volume 5: Augustine: Anti-Pelagian Writings, edited by Philip Schaff, xiii-lxxi. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2004, lix.

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The Daily Fill (02/26/16)

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Quote of the Day

“This Bible is for the Government of the People, by the People, for the People.”

John Wycliffe


Worth Reading

Will Following Jesus Make You a Liberal?

“Susie Meister has explained how studying religion made her a liberal, with the result that she left the right, stopped voting Republican, and started voting Democrat. I want to provide an accurate summary of her concerns and try to provide the kind of things I would say in response if I knew her: if I was a trusted friend, her brother, or her pastor.”

Where Did v 4 Go in John 5:4?

“My wife Robin came home from a Christian speakers
conference yesterday and told me about a discussion they had. John 5 was the
passage under discussion, and when they arrived at v 4, to their surprise it wasn’t
there. I guess it caused quite a stir.”

Southern Baptists Lose Almost 1000 Missionaries As IMB Cuts Costs

“Six months after announcing plans to cut 600 to 800 missionaries and staff in order to balance its budget, the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) revealed today that it has lost 1,132 workers—almost twice as many as its low-end estimate.”

Word Studies 2 – Identifying Key Terms

“This week we are pondering the specific skill of word study in preaching.  Today I’ll focus on identifying key terms, then tomorrow we can consider the actual processes involved.”

Do You Make These Common Word Study Mistakes?

“You know that dad who veers off the road to the vacation destination to take his family to some random tourist trap? That’s what preachers do when they take their congregation through a bad word study.”


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The Augustine and Pelagian Controversy: Augustine

Authors Note: This is the third post in a short series on The Augustine and Pelagian Controversy. You can read the first post here and the second post here.


National Cathedral interiorAugustine

Augustine heard of Pelagius’ heretic doctrines from others, but wanted to hear it from Pelagius himself before accusing him so that he could not deny it. In his On the Proceedings of Pelagius, Augustine writes,

I first became acquainted with Pelagius’ name, along with praise for him, at a distance, and when he was living at Rome. Afterwards reports began to reach us, that he disputed against the grace of God. This caused me much pain, for I could not refuse to believe the statements of my informants; but yet I was desirous of ascertaining information on the matter either from himself or from some treatise of his, that, in case I should have to discuss the question with him, it should be on grounds he could not disown.[1]

Augustine began his campaign against Pelagianism with sermons that were directed against the errors taught by Pelagius and his supporters. He had not received what he had hoped for pertaining to the heresy from Pelagius or from his writings. Therefore, Augustine decided to proceed with sermons against Pelagius’ doctrines. In these sermons he made the decision not to use names of the perpetrators, but instead he preached against the errors themselves. He did this in the hopes that it would allow the perpetrators to return to the right doctrines of Christianity instead of being punished for their errors.[2]

The first real book that Augustine wrote against Pelagianism was titled On the Merits and Remission of Sins and On the Baptism of Infants; they were written in 412. Augustine wrote these books because Marcellinus, an official presiding over the “conference of the catholics and Donatists,” wrote to Augustine asking questions pertaining to Pelagian doctrine. The questions were related to the connection of death with sin, the transmission of sin, living a sinless life, and infants needing baptism.[3]  The answers to these questions filled the pages of two volumes.

After Augustine had completed these two books he came into possession of a book by Pelagius titled Commentary on Paul’s Epistles. He realized that there were things within those pages that he had not addressed in the two books that he had written for Marcellinus, so Augustine wrote a third volume wherein he says, “Now I confess that I have not refuted this argument in my lengthy treatise, because it did not indeed once occur to me that anybody was capable of thinking such sentiments.”[4] Augustine could not believe anyone could write such things as Pelagius had written in his commentary.

From these books stemmed more questions from Marcellinus that concerned the assertion of man’s ability to live a sinless life. This led to the book titled On the Spirit and the Letter; written in 412 as well. Within the pages of this book Augustine writes on the absolute necessity of God’s grace to live a good life; he argues for original sin, imperfection of man’s righteousness, and the necessity of grace.

The controversy returned to private discourses and sermons for about three years after these books had been written. During that time in 414, Augustine gives us a glimpse into the advancement of Pelagianism in a letter that he had written.  The Pelagians were spreading their error everywhere, and in 414 Augustine received questions written by Hilary from Sicily about strange doctrines being spread in Syracuse by certain Christians.[5]

These strange doctrines were Pelagian doctrines that were being spread by Pelagius’ followers. Augustine answered Hilary in a letter, wherein he revisits the arguments that he had put forth in two of his previous books to Marcellinus; On the Merits and Forgiveness of Sins, and On the Spirit and the Letter.

Two young men who had repented from their error of following the Pelagian doctrines wrote to Augustine, and along with the letter they sent a copy of a book written by Pelagius. In the letter they asked Augustine to answer what was written in Pelagius’ book to exhort Pelagius to repent. The result is the book titled On Nature and Grace; written in 415. Up until this time Augustine had refrained from calling Pelagius a heretic, but that changed after he had read this book.[6] Thus, his attitude towards Pelagius was becoming strained by the error of Pelagius’ doctrines.

Coming out of Sicily in 415, two exiled Spanish Bishops brought out of that country a paper titled Definitions Ascribed to Coelestius, which confirmed Augustine’s assumption that the trouble started in Sicily was grounded in Coelestius. In this paper the Pelagians were trying to logically force the catholics to “admit that man can live in this world without sin.”[7] Augustine answered with his book titled On the Perfection of Man’s Righteousness; written in 415. In these pages he points out that man can live without sin if God wills it, such is what Coelestius writes, but he continues if God gives him His help. This is what he says Coelestius so conveniently leaves out of his argument; that God will give him His help.

At the request of two friends, Pinianus and Melania, husband and wife, Augustine wrote two books against Pelagius titled On the Grace of Christ, and On Original Sin; written in 418. These two friends of Augustine had come to know Pelagius and were being influenced by some of his teachings, so they wanted Augustine to write an answer to what they had learned from Pelagius concerning grace and infant baptism. In the first book, Augustine addressed the doctrine of grace, and in the second infant baptism. In On the Grace of Christ Augustine argues for the necessity of God’s grace to help us towards our justification and that He orchestrates all things to bring out good in our lives. While in the second book, On Original Sin, he argues that sin entered into the world by one man and death entered by sin and that sin has been passed on to all men.[8]

In 419, the Pelagians accused Augustine of condemning marriage because of his defense of original sin. The Pelagians reasoned that if man is born with sin and marriage results in children, then marriage itself is sinful.[9] Augustine answered this accusation with his book titled On Marriage and Concupiscence, wherein Augustine argues that marriage is good and God is the maker of the children that come forth from the marriage.

The Pelagians argued that if the soul was created new at the time of birth, then it would not be fair of God to put Adam’s sin to rest on the soul. To this argument Augustine had a hard time finding an answer and turned to Jerome for an answer. Jerome affirmed the belief that the soul was made new at the time of birth, so it seemed to Augustine that Jerome would be the natural source to seek an answer to this argument presented to the Pelagians. Jerome replied with a letter stating that he was too busy to answer this argument. At the end of 419 Augustine presented an answer in his book titled On the Soul and its Origin.

The Pelagians themselves were busy writing rebuttals to the writings of Augustine, and Augustine wanted to read the complete copies of the letters before writing a defense against them. His answer to these letters from his opponents consists of four volumes titled Against Two Letters of the Pelagians; written in 420.

There was a pause in the back and forth arguing between Augustine and the Pelagians for a period of about five years, at which time a monk came across some of Augustine’s writings and read them out loud to some of the monks in his monastery around 426. The writings caused an outrage among some of the monks who were untrained theologically. They argued that free will was destroyed as a result of Augustine’s arguments found in his writings. This led to Augustine writing his book titled On Grace and Free Will.[10] He argued within these pages that free will and grace must be proclaimed together.

This led to another book titled On Rebuke and Grace, wherein Augustine writes on the relationship of God’s grace to our conduct as humans. Some in the monastery had argued that man could not be held liable for being unable to do good and should seek for God to do the good for him.

By this time pure Pelagianism had faded out and semi-Pelagianism took its place. The essential doctrine of semi-Pelagianism is that faith does not begin with God but with the act of man’s free will. In answer to semi-Pelagianism, Augustine wrote two last books titled On the Predestination of the Saints and The Gift of Perseverence; both written in 428-429.

In between these writings and arguments Augustine wrote many letters to those who were in search of answers against the Pelagian doctrines that seemed strange to them. Augustine spent considerable effort and time refuting the heretics of Pelagianism, but out of all of this the one main point that Augustine was arguing was that of his theology of grace.


[1]Aurelius Augustine. “A Work on the Proceedings of Pelagius.” In Nicene And Post-Nicene Fathers, Volume 5: Augustine: Anti-Pelagian Writings, edited by Philip Schaff, 183-212. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2004, 203.

[2] Ibid., 203.

[3] B.B. Warfield. “Introductory Essay On Augustine And The Pelagian Controversy.” In Nicene And Post-Nicene Fathers, Volume 5: Augustine: Anti-Pelagian Writings, edited by Philip Schaff, xiii-lxxi. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2004, xxiv.

[4]Aurelius Augustine. “On Forgiveness of Sins and Baptism.” In Nicene And Post-Nicene Fathers, Volume 5: Augustine: Anti-Pelagian Writings, edited by Philip Schaff, 15-78. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2004, 69.

[5] Ibid., xxxi.

[6]Ibid., xxxi.

[7]Ibid., xxxv.

[8] Ibid., xlii.

[9] Ibid., li.

[10] Ibid., lix.

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The Daily Fill (02/25/16)

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Quote of the Day

“The Bibl grows more beautiful, as we grow in our understanding of it.”

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe


Worth Reading

Is Worship an Emotional Experience – Or Does It Reveal Our Theology of God?

“Can we truly worship God apart from our emotions? The debate over what “worship” in churches should and should not be like confronts us with the idea of whether it is possible to be divorced from our emotions and truly worship.”

Are Our Hymns Too Warlike?

“Brian McLaren, the liberal ’emergent’ evangelical activist, reemerged last week to announce that he is re-writing the hymn ‘Onward, Christian Soldiers.’ The hymn is too warlike, he writes, as is much of evangelical hymnody in his view. Our hymnody should be, he writes, ‘refocusing on the teaching of Jesus about peacemaking,” steering clear of warlike imagery. He’s wrong.'”

The Spiritual Disease Ravaging Our World

“‘Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these,’ Jesus said as He recalled the beauty of a common lily (Luke 12:27). And I suspect that even Solomon in all his splendor could not have imagined the sheer affluence that you and I enjoy today.”

7 Ways to Do a BAD Word Study

“My guess is, you’ve encountered some sort of word study in the last couple of months: a Bible study, a sermon, a commentary, a quip about agape love or a defense of a biblical viewpoint you’re not sure of. But sometimes it’s hard to wade through the muck and know when you’re being short-changed.”

Preaching and Word Studies

“These things tend to go in cycles.  For preachers trained in one era, preaching almost amounted to communicating the fruit of word studies.  Some years later and there is almost no evidence of skill in this area.  Let’s ponder some issues of methodology and implementation.”


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The Daily Fill (02/24/16)

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Quote of the Day

“Ours is an undisciplined age. The old disciplines are breaking down…Above all, the discipline of divine grace is derided as legalism or is entirely unknown to a generation that is largely illiterate in the Scriptures. We need the rugged strength of Christian character that can come only from discipline.”

V. Raymond Edman


Worth Reading

Can The Church Disengage From Politics?

“I often hear from some Christians who argue that we should disengage from social or political issues. Particularly around election season, these Christians will reason that we shouldn’t be speaking to political or cultural topics, since the New Testament seems not to.”

Criminals Need God’s Mercy and Love, Too

Amber Yoder is a Master’s Level Counselor, who works with teens dealing with sexual behavioral issues. She never intended to work with juvenile sexual offenders, but through a job transition she was encouraged by a professional mentor to take a position at Insight Counseling—and has loved the position.”

Don’t Make Important Decisions Late in the Day

“You arrive at the office and, as usual, face a long list of tasks to accomplish: getting back to your colleagues about joint projects, sending those time-sensitive e-mails, finishing up that important performance review, making progress on one project, deciding on next steps for another. What’s the best way to tackle your to-do list?”

7 Ways Being Direct Makes You More Productive

“You procrastinate. You avoid the work. You put things off.”

How to Slay the Dragon of Pornography

“Pornography raises many questions, but two of the most simple are also the most important. “


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The Augustine and Pelagian Controversy

Authors Note: This is the second post in a short series on The Augustine and Pelagian Controversy. You can read the first post here.


 

National Cathedral interiorBeginnings

Pelagius did not care for controversy, and at first he spread his doctrines privately and was careful to avoid any opposition.[1] While in Rome he gained a convert named Coelestius, who was not as quiet and private as Pelagius. During the raid on Rome in 411 by Alaric, Pelagius and Coelestius fled to Africa.[2] Pelagius moved on to Palestine, but Coelestius attempted to be ordained while in Africa. Because of his teachings that he had learned from Pelagius, the Milanese deacon named Paulinus accused Coelestius of heresy, which brought Pelagius’ doctrines out into the public. Coelestius was brought in front of a synod and condemned and excommunicated.

Soon after, in 415, Pelagius was brought in front of a synod and questioned about his doctrines.[3] Communications between the parties of the synod was difficult due to language barriers, and there was nothing done to Pelagius; the controversy was referred to the Bishop of Rome. Pelagius was brought in front of another synod not long after the first synod, but was acquitted of any wrong doing.

The synod was a waste due to the illness of the accusers and because they were not able to attend the proceedings. Their letters of accusation to the synod were written in Latin and could not be translated correctly by those in attendance. Pelagius was able to defend himself against his accusers in person at the synod, and he even had a positive letter in his favor from Augustine that he read out loud.

There were two more synods in 416 after Pelagius’ acquittal that condemned him and his doctrines, but the Bishop of Rome had yet to get involved in the controversy, and Pelagius’ supporters, as well as those opposed to him, sent letters supporting each of their arguments to the Bishop.[4] The Bishop of Rome was Innocent I, and although he sided with the opponents of Pelagius and condemned Pelagius and his supporters, he died six weeks after his decision. Coelestius showed up at the front door of Innocent I’s successor, Zosimus.

Coelestius was able to convince Zosimus to rule in his favor, and the Bishop declared both him and Pelagius as orthodox and called for their opponents to come argue their case in Rome. In 418, Pelagius’ opponents protested heavily and were able to reverse the decision made by Zosimus. Again in 418, Zosimus banished Pelagius and Coelestius from Rome and all who supported Pelagianism.[5] The supporters of Pelagianism did not abandon their doctrines, and Pelagianism lived on.


[1] B.B. Warfield. “Introductory Essay On Augustine And The Pelagian Controversy.” In Nicene And Post-Nicene Fathers, Volume 5: Augustine: Anti-Pelagian Writings, edited by Philip Schaff, xiii-lxxi. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2004, xvii.

[2] Ibid., xviii.

[3] Ibid., xviii.

[4] Ibid., xviii.

[5] Ibid., xx.

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The Daily Fill (02/23/16)

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Quote of the Day

“I never saw a fruit-bearing Christian who was not a student of the Bible.”

D. L. Moody


Worth Reading

Socialism Is Evil

“In a recent blog post I urged the biblical basis for the spirituality of the church.  One of the points I made is that while the church does not meddle in civil government, it most certainly may speak against social evils.”

More Thoughts on Christians and Sex in Movies

“Last week I jotted down some thoughts on why I’ve come to the conclusion that Christians are better off avoiding movies with sexual nudity. The majority of the feedback I’ve gotten from that article has been positive and affirming, and I’m grateful for any help its been able to give. But I’ve also gotten some thoughtful, friendly pushback and questions.”

What Happened Between the Old and New Testaments? 4 Things You Need to Know to Read the New Testament Well

“Have you ever wondered what happened between the Old and New Testaments?”

Turning From Idols to Find True Happiness in God

“In the first chapters of Genesis, God had no competition for the affection of His creatures. Humanity found its meaning, purpose, and happiness in God. God was God; everything else wasn’t. And everyone knew it. The fall tragically changed that.”

The Secularization of the West and the Rise of a New Morality

“The claim that humanity can only come into its own and overcome various forms of discrimination by secular liberation is not new, but it is now mainstream. It is now so common to the cultures of Western societies that it need not be announced, and often is not noticed.”


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The Daily Fill (02/22/16)

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Quote of the Day

“I must confess to you that the majesty of the Scriptures astonishes me…”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau


Worth Reading

What Is Zeal?

“We all have some idea of what zeal is, for to a certain degree we are all zealots. The question is not whether we are zealous but what we are zealous for.”

Some Thoughts On Christians, Movies, and Nudity

“To be honest, I had no idea what (or who?) Deadpool was by the time everyone was watching the trailers for the new movie. I’d never heard of that character and had no special interest in learning more (I’m fatigued of superhero movies at this point anyway). But it turns out that Deadpool is a pretty interesting guy (thing?) and has a lot of fans.”

She Who Shall Not Be Named

“You never know where your Bible study will take you. You never understand how perfectly God has woven his Word until you follow a single thread from author to author, culture to culture, millennium to millennium, and see how God’s revelation of himself and his purposes is so perfectly consistent.”

Taking Note: An Introduction to the Value of Notes & Notetaking

“Notes are everywhere.”

Is the Pope Right About the Death Penalty?

“Pope Francis called on Sunday for the abolition of the death penalty worldwide. In a speech to those gathered in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican he said that the mandate to oppose the death penalty comes from the Ten Commandments. ‘The commandment ‘You shall not kill’ has absolute value and applies to both the innocent and the guilty,’ he said.”


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The Daily Fill (02/20/16)

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Quote of the Day

“In the Old Testament the New is concealed, in the New Testament the Old is revealed.”

St. Augustine of Hippo


Worth Reading

My Advice to Students–Van Pelt Shares Solid Languages Advice He Got and Wished He Got

“When it comes to advice for students trying to master, let alone study and grasp, the biblical languages there is no small amount of solid, reliable advice for students.”

Top 10 Productivity Tools for Pastors

“Must be nice to work only one day a week, eh Pastor?”

There Is A Proven Link Between Effective Leadership and Getting Enough Sleep

“In our hyper-connected, 24/7 world, many of us are losing sleep — literally. Our own survey of more than 180 business leaders found that four out of 10 (43%) say they do not get enough sleep at least four nights a week. Such sleep deficiencies can undermine important forms of leadership behavior and eventually hurt financial performance.”

The First Four Things You Should Do Every Work Day

I would add to this time with God, reading the Bible, and communicating with Him in prayer.

Sanctification By Faith

“Several years ago a controversy erupted concerning the doctrine of sanctification. One of the key participants emphasized that Christian obedience is “faith-fueled.” This important point, of course, was not in itself controversial and was wholeheartedly affirmed by everyone involved as far as I know.”


Video

Read Scripture: Deuteronomy

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The Daily Fill (02/19/16)

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Quote of the Day

“It is a great thing, this reading of Scriptures! For it is not possible to ever exhaust the mind of the Scriptures. It is a well that has no bottom.”

John Chrysostom


Worth Reading

Why It Is Beneficial To Learn Greek And Hebrew Even If You Lose It

“The pressures of the higher education bubble continue to expand as administrative costs swell, and a new generation is wondering how practical overly expensive tuition is. Because of these reasons, and many more, seminaries are rethinking their curriculum and taking a critical look at certain subjects.”

Tools For Studying The Hebrew Bible

“This site aims to teach students how to use a set of specialized tools for the study of the Hebrew text of the Hebrew Bible (henceforth, the Bible).”

Is Scheduling A Spiritual Discipline?

“Could your calendar app be part of faithfulness in the Christian life?”

Why Are So Many Christians Biblically Illiterate?

“Emblematic of the Bible’s declining influence is what Harper Lee penned in her 1960 novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ in which the character Miss Maudie says, ‘Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whiskey bottle in the hand of [another].’”

Is Religion The Cause Of Most Wars?

“On Sunday, I returned home from another Berkeley Mission trip, where I intentionally exposed high school students to some of my atheist friends in the Bay Area. For the last six months, we’ve taught apologetics to these high schoolers from Upland Christian Academy. Now it was time for them to “get off the sidelines and into the game” and engage non-Christians with the truth.”


Video

The Gospel Of The Kingdom

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The Augustine and Pelagian Controversy

Author’s Note: This is the first post in a short series on the Augustine and Pelagian Controversy.


National Cathedral interiorIntroduction to the Augustine and Pelagian Controversy

In the first four centuries of its existence, the church had to spend a considerable amount of time battling heresies such as those dealing with the nature of God and the person of Christ.[1] Those heresies were squashed, and the church now had to turn its attention to a new heresy: the Pelagian heresy. Augustine took up the banner of truth and led the way against the Pelagian heresy, although he refused to call it that in the beginning. B.B. Warfield writes that not only was this heresy “new in Christianity; it was even anti-Christian[.]”[2] He goes on to say that the “struggle with Pelagianism was thus in reality a struggle for the very foundations of Christianity[.]”[3]

Pelagius was British and a moralist who, according to the Venerable Bede, “spread far and near the infection of his perfidious doctrine.”[4] He was born in 350 to a father who was a doctor and a mother who was a Celt. Both of his parents were Christians. Pelagius had studied law in Rome and was well grounded in Scripture. Pelagius’ doctrine denied original sin, affirmed man’s ability to live sinless lives by their own works, and limited the work of grace.

Pelagius had a reputation for his zeal to direct others to live a good life as a moral reformer. He was tired of the excuses men used in order to explain their weak nature when they gave in to the temptation to sin. Pelagius believed that God had made man with the ability to obey what He commanded, or else He would not require of us what we could not obey. In other words, God would not ask us to obey something that we could not obey.[5]

According to Pelagius, we have the ability to live sinless lives if we chose to live that way. Pelagius denied the need of divine grace as an inward help to help man with his weakness. He denied original sin and argued that only Adam was affected by his sin. Man is born with free will, and universal sin is the result of bad examples of those who have committed sin in the past. For Pelagius, it is possible for man to gain salvation on his own, by living a moral life without divine grace.

The one to lead the argument against Pelagius’ doctrines was a man named Aurelius Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo. Augustine did not, however, attack Pelagius and cut him down with theological arguments. Instead, Augustine tried to persuade Pelagius of his error by mentoring him and addressing him as his brother in his letters to Pelagius. Augustine showed grace to Pelagius when he wrote, “May the Lord recompense you with those blessings by the possession of which you may be good for ever, and may live eternally with Him who is eternal, my lord greatly beloved, and brother greatly longed for.”[6] However, Augustine did put up a formidable argument against Pelagius and his teachings. Augustine wrote multiple letters and books arguing against the doctrines of Pelagius.

Pelagius became angry with what Augustine once wrote: “Give what Thou commandest, and command what Thou willest.”[7] He would be so annoyed with this statement that any time he heard it read out loud he would be angered and sometimes violent towards it.[8] Although this was written before the Pelagian controversy, it still created a problem for Pelagius. Pelagius believed that the powers that man had were gifts from God and that this statement by Augustine was an insult to God; as if God had made something defective.

Augustine was ordained as the co-Bishop of Hippo in 395; he later took over as the Bishop of Hippo in 396. Augustine was born in 354 to a Christian mother and a pagan father, who was baptized before his death. Augustine grew up with his mother’s Christian teaching, but the pull of the world on his life was stronger and he began to get involved in the worldly philosophies of his day. Augustine had a concubine who had given him a son, and he was a professor of rhetoric at Milan in 384.

Augustine began following Manichaeism, but before long he began to have doubts about this form of heretic Christianity. Manichaeism was seen as Christianity for intellectuals; it taught that salvation was possible through knowledge. Having doubts about this form of Christianity, Augustine turned to astrology and magic.

Augustine heard Ambrose preach and heard from him a more intellectual interpretation of Scripture than what he had heard before while growing up in Africa. There were many people and writings that influenced Augustine’s conversion, but up until this time he had yet to be converted.

Augustine struggled most of all with sexual immorality, and in 386, while convicted of his sinful life, Augustine was in his garden when he heard the voice of a little child say over and over “pick up and read.” Augustine picked up the book that he had lying on the bench next to him that was filled with Paul’s letters. He read Romans 13:13-14, “Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” He was then baptized in 386.


[1] B.B. Warfield. “Introductory Essay On Augustine And The Pelagian Controversy.” In Nicene And Post-Nicene Fathers, Volume 5: Augustine: Anti-Pelagian Writings, edited by Philip Schaff, xiii-lxxi. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2004, xiii.

[2] Ibid., xiii.

[3] Ibid., xiii.

[4] Christian Classics Ethereal Library, “Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of England,” http://www.ccel.org/ccel/bede/history ( accessed June 29, 2013)

[5]Christopher A. Hall, Learning Theology with the Church Fathers (Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2002), 134.

[6] New Advent, “Letter 146 (A.D. 413),” http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1102146.htm. (accessed June 30, 2013)

[7] Aurelius Augustine. “Confessions of St. Augustin.” In Nicene And Post-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1: The Confessions and Letters of Augustin, with a Sketch of His Life and Work, edited by Philip Schaff, 45-207. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2004.

[8] B.B. Warfield. “Introductory Essay On Augustine And The Pelagian Controversy.” In Nicene And Post-Nicene Fathers, Volume 5: Augustine: Anti-Pelagian Writings, edited by Philip Schaff, xiii-lxxi. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2004, xv.

 

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The Daily Fill (02/18/16)

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Quote of the Day

“The Pastor ought to have two voices: one, for gathering the sheep; and another, for warding off and driving away wolves and thieves. The Scripture supplies him with the means of doing both.”

John Calvin


Worth Reading

On My Shelf: Life and Books with Marvin Olasky

“On My Shelf helps you get to know various writers through a behind-the-scenes glimpse into their lives as readers.”

Chiasms On The Brain

“I was recently asked some questions about chiasms: Are biblical scholars just bored and seeing things? Would ancient audiences have picked up on them? Is this a widely attested ancient Near Eastern device? Do lay Bible readers have any hope of seeing them or must they consult commentaries?”

Do You Break These Rules for Greek and Hebrew Study?

“I am a member of OLSHA, the Original Languages Safely Handled Association. Our mission—well, okay, my mission (nobody else has yet joined the association)—is to help people who love Scripture but don’t know Greek and Hebrew to use the original languages safely in their Bible study.”

How To Be Conformed to the World

“Romans 12:2 is consistently one of the most quoted verses in the Bible. In that little passage we are warned that there are forces competing for our attention and loyalty and that even Christians are at times torn between the two.”

Is It a Waste of Time for Seminary Students (and Pastors) to Learn the Biblical Languages?

“In another month or so, a new crop of seminary students will begin the grueling month-long experience of Summer Greek.   And, like all seminary students before them, they will begin to ask the question of why studying these ancient languages even matters.”


Video

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The Daily Fill (02/16/16)

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Quote of the Day

“When a denomination begins to consider doctrine divisive, theology troublesome, and convictions inconvenient, consider that denomination on its way to a well-deserved death.”

Albert Mohler


Worth Reading

Greek words with no English equivalent

“I am currently reading through the New Testament focusing on just one thing: discipleship. Specifically, why should we care about spiritual growth? We’ve gone through the gate; why should we worry about the path? (The answer, of course, is that, according to Jesus, life is at the end of the path, not the other side of the gate.)”

Our Pro-Woman, Complementarian Jesus

We often hear that those who don’t affirm modern feminism are “anti-woman.” Christians are no exception. We sometimes get tagged with this epithet, and once the label sticks we’re either total sellouts (the women) or knuckle-dragging Neanderthals (the men).

Sex on the Silver Screen

“What would it take for you? What would it take for you, husband, to be okay with your wife baring her breasts and body in front of a movie camera?”

How We Work, 2016: Andy Orin’s Gear and Productivity Tips

“Time sure flies when you’re hacking fun, doesn’t it? It’s once again that special time of year in which the Lifehacker staff tells you about our work habits and favorite tools that we use to get things done. I’m Andy, and this is how I work.”

That Part of Gospel-Centeredness We Avoid

“The resurgence of a gospel-centered paradigm of life and ministry in our time has the makings of historic revival. Clearly, God is doing great things, and we are glad (Psalm 126).”


Video

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The Daily Fill (02/15/16)

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Quote of the Day

“So few grow, because so few study.”

D. L. Moody


Worth Reading

2 Minute Theology

“There was a community service requirement for my high school, designed to make us well-rounded individuals, padding our college applications, and ensuring that local community organization didn’t think too poorly of “kids these days.” As a soon-to-graduate senior I quickly discovered that serving as a docent at a local marine science museum counted under the criteria for community service.”

A Stunning Symbol of Christ

“If you could choose a symbol of your life from nature, something that would describe and define you, what would you choose?”

A Giant has Fallen–The Feath of Justice Antonin Scalia and the Future of Constitutional Government

“Justice Scalia firmly believed in the right of the people to establish a constitutional government that would recognize the ultimate authority of the people, not an elite of unelected judges, to establish laws.”

Five Myths about the New Testament You Should Re-Examine

“David Croteau has written a unique book with a sneaky purpose: to teach good hermeneutics. Many hermeneutics textbooks spend hundreds of pages on theory with some examples here and there. But not many books have been written with only examples of good exegesis for the purpose of teaching good exegesis.”

Death, The Prosperity Gospel and Me

“ON a Thursday morning a few months ago, I got a call from my doctor’s assistant telling me that I have Stage 4 cancer. The stomach cramps I was suffering from were not caused by a faulty gallbladder, but by a massive tumor.”


Video

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The Daily Fill (02/13/16)

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Quote of the Day

“Most Christians stay within the sound of church and chapel bell, I would rather run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.”

C. T. Studd


Worth Reading

What is Objectivity and Why is it Important for Bible Study?

“What is objectivity when it comes to studying the Bible? Objectivity in Bible study means that it is possible to know what the text of the Bible actually means; to have a correct interpretation of the Bible.”

When America Put Pastors in Prison

“In 1774, James Madison wrote to a friend in Pennsylvania about troubling developments in Virginia. There were reasons to worry about oppressive British taxes, of course, but that was not Madison’s primary concern in this letter. The “worst” news he had to deliver was that the “diabolical Hell conceived principle of persecution” was raging in the colony.”

Is Bedroom Photography Empowering for Christian Women

“A few years ago a pastor contacted me about a man in his church who took “boudoir” photos—intimate, lingerie catalog-like imagery—for married couples. The man said that the business was a service to help married couples, including those in the church, to recover intimacy and romance in their relationships, and insisted his pictures were not in any way pornographic. The elders were uncomfortable with this, but weren’t sure how to proceed.”

Exegetical Fallacies: The Word Study Fallacy

“When it comes to studying Scripture, word studies are popular, easily obtained from available resources and an easy way to procure sermon content. However, word studies are also subject to radical extrapolations and erroneous applications.”

Chief of Sinners

“I am an inerrantist. I believe that the Bible is truthful and without error in every part. But there are two verses that challenge my inerrantist views.”


Video

Read Scripture: Song of Songs

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The Daily Fill (02/12/16)

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Quote of the Day

“‘Abraham believed God’ (Rom. 4:3), and said to his eyes, ‘Stand back!’ and to the laws of nature, ‘Hold your peace!’ and to an unbelieving heart, ‘Silence, you lying tempter!’ He simply ‘believed God.'”

Joseph Parker


Worth Reading

What Ivy League Students Are Reading That You Aren’t

“If you want an Ivy League education, you could fork over $200 grand or so and go to Cornell or Harvard for four years. Alternatively, you could save a ton of cash by simply reading the same books Ivy League students are assigned.”

A Social Media Heart Check

“Before social media, life seemed simpler, uncluttered.”

Puritan Zeal

“Many churches today are looking less like armies engaged in war and more like people taking a nap. Who among us hasn’t seen this decay?”

5 Tips for Young Apologists

“It seems strange to be writing a blog with advice for young apologists. After all, I still think of myself as young!”

The Triumph of Trans Lysenkoism

“The Narrative says that only right-wing nuts are against Science.”


Video

Lent Re-Orients Us To The Gospel

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God: Our Stronghold

Castle-ClipArt--Graphics-Fairy2Imagine you are traveling during biblical times, or you are a warrior in David’s army, you notice an overwhelming force coming at you. You see the army of your enemy coming down on you right where you are with such anger, hate, and violence. You are all alone—you look around and see that you stand in the path of this terrible force—you have no chance of survival. What can you do except stand and fight and be surely killed?

During biblical times there were fortresses, castles, or strongholds where the king and his army would, if necessary, retreat and be able to defend from within the walls of their refuge. When a king received news that an opposing army was marching to attack and plunder his kingdom, he would send out word for all of his subjects to retreat to within the walls of the fortress. When the word spread of this oncoming attack, the people would then pack all of their valuables and hightail it to the fortress in the hopes of making it on time, before being overtaken by the aggressing army, to take refuge within its walls.

Some strongholds had a fortress within a fortress. It was a place where the king and his army would make their last stand if the outside walls of the stronghold had been breached. These strongholds served to give people hope that they would be able to withstand an attack on their kingdom. It gave them a sense of security to know that they could always retreat within the walls of the fortress. All through the land fortresses could be seen from great distances because of their immense size.

Some of these fortresses were carved into a mountain or sometimes they were a cave where the king would hide, such as in the case of David when he was hiding from King Saul. Saul was seeking to kill David, so David would hide by day and travel at night to stay out of sight.[1] David hid in the caves of the mountain ranges in the En-gedi, such as Wady Charitun, which at one time sheltered thirty thousand warriors from their enemy.[2] Fortresses served as places of protection and hope.

Now imagine you are going about your day in your normal life and your phone rings. It’s your wife; she tells you that the bank has sent notice that they are going to foreclose on your home because you have missed a few payments. We all know that the economy is taking its toll on our finances. Imagine your wife tells you that the doctor said that you two will never be able to have a baby and start a family of your own.

Imagine that your car has broken down and you have no money to fix it; it is your only transportation. You ask your friend for a ride every morning to work but he is unreliable and sometimes you are late, or you just do not have a way into work. Your boss is tired of this problem and he lets you go, he fires you. Now you cannot pay your bills because you do not have a job, and you cannot fix your car to go look for a job. This is not really too big of a deal for those of us who live in a city where there is a public transportation system, but it could spell real trouble for someone in a rural area.

You are being overwhelmed and you do not know if you can take it anymore. You need somewhere that you can retreat and call your stronghold to help you face your problems head on. So today we are going to be looking at Psalm 62, more specifically verses 5-6, to see what we can learn that will help us in our daily struggles.

It is important for us to understand the type of literature that the verses we are studying come from. We read a newspaper differently than we do a novel. When we read a history book, we do not approach it as if we were reading a poem. So we must first present what type of literature Psalm 62 is.

The Psalms in general are poetic writings, or hymns. They represent the way that the Hebrews worshiped God. They can be seen today as a modern hymnal.[3] Knowing this aids us in understanding what the author is presenting to the reader.

So now we know not to approach the psalms as a history book, for example, because the author does not intend for us to discover historical facts within the verses, but instead worship that is given to God. In general the psalms can be broken down into psalms of lament and psalms of praise.[4]

This particular psalm would fall under the lament category of psalms, but to do it justice this psalm is served better by calling it a psalm of confidence. This psalm was written at the time when Absalom, David’s son, had rebelled against his father the King and had taken Jerusalem from his father and driven David out of the city.[5] In this psalm David is speaking metaphorically when he calls God his rock, his stronghold, and his refuge. We will be focusing on God as a stronghold in this study, because at times in our lives we need to know that we have hope and protection.

What does David mean when he calls God his stronghold? From the beginning of his rule as the King of Israel, from the time that Samuel had anointed David as the King, he has had to be on the run from King Saul. Saul wanted to kill David out of jealousy. However, at the time that David is writing this psalm, Psalm 62, he is running from his oldest son, Absalom. David calls God his stronghold for a very good reason. When we look in the Bible at the word “stronghold” as it is used here in Psalm 62 we begin to see what David means by this metaphor.

In second Samuel, David wrote a psalm of deliverance wherein he says that God is his rock, his fortress, his deliverer in who he takes refuge (2Sam 22:2-3a). He goes on to say that God is his shield, the horn of his salvation, his stronghold, and his refuge (2Sam 22:3b). He ends verse three by calling God his savior, who saved him from violence (2Sam 22:3c). In verse one of this same chapter of second Samuel, it is explained that David wrote this psalm the day that the Lord saved him from all of his enemies including King Saul. Here we see the acknowledgement that God is in control and He delivers those that are His from all of their enemies.

David also says that God is a stronghold for those who are oppressed, and in times of trouble He delivers His people (Psalm 9:9). In Psalm 9 David is thankful for God’s judgment against his enemies and he writes that God can be trusted because He is a stronghold for the oppressed and He is a stronghold in times of trouble.

Furthermore, David writes that God is a stronghold and a refuge in the day of his distress (Psalm 59:16). In Psalm 59 David is asking for deliverance from his enemies and concludes the psalm with the proclamation that he will sing praises to God for being his stronghold. In Psalm 144 David says that God is his lovingkindness, his fortress, his stronghold, his deliverer, his shield, and the one in who he takes refuge (Psalm 144:2).

We get the idea that God is where we should turn in times of trouble and distress. Times where we do not know what to do and have no clue how we are going to make it through any of our problems. God is the stronghold we can run to when attacked. He is the fortress that the army seeks shelter in during a war, so to speak.

In Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary the definition for stronghold is: a fortified place, a place of security or survival.[6] From our study here we come up with a similar definition, except our stronghold is not a place; our stronghold is God. God provides us with security and the means of survival in the world by His constant watch over us. God as our stronghold sustains us from all kinds of evil and attacks that can be hurled at us by the world. His high impregnable walls surround us day and night. We can find safety inside of His walls, safety from the arrows that are launched at us by the enemy.

In applying what we have learned to our lives, we need to remember three things. The first thing to remember is that God is in control. In other words God is sovereign. This means that God is King; He is the supreme ruler and lawgiver of the entire universe. Nothing happens without God’s knowledge.  The Bible says that God is the ruler over the kingdoms of men and that He does with it as He pleases (Dan 4:17). Knowing this, we can be assured that whatever happens to us, God knows it and sees it.

The second thing to remember is that God is merciful. This means that although we do not deserve His mercy, God has compassion on us and extends His mercy towards us anyway. Because God is merciful, He will ensure that there will be justice for those that are His; for the oppressed and the persecuted.

The third and last thing to remember is that God loves us. This one goes kind of hand in hand with merciful. Because God loves us He has compassion to extend His mercy towards us. God will not deny us protection or provision if we are His children. John writes in the New Testament that God’s love made it possible for God to present His son as an atoning sacrifice for us (1John 4:10). If God’s love for us allowed Him to do that for us, then we can be sure that He will be our stronghold.

Remembering these three things aids us in applying our lesson, for it is because of these three things that we make God our stronghold and why David can metaphorically call Him his stronghold. God is God and there is no other; He is in control and nothing can harm Him. He is the fortress of all fortresses that stands in the way of the arrows that the enemy throws at us; a fortress that is an impregnable force in which we can hide and seek security when attacked by the enemy.

This does not mean that nothing will happen to you when you turn to God for protection. The Bible never says that we will not be harmed by the enemy, but actually it tells us to expect to be harmed. When we obey God’s Word and dedicate our lives to Him, the enemy attacks full force. The fiery arrows that the enemy throws our way come fast and are many.

In ancient times when armies attacked a fortress and the people poured into the gates of the fortress for safety (due to the tall, strong walls), there were still some that were wounded and even died. In the same sense, we can expect to be wounded by the enemy. However, God always stands as our stronghold; He has His plan that we all must live by. Although we may get wounded, He is always there to heal us and protect us according to His plan.

When the King sent out word for the people to retreat to the fortress to prepare for the oncoming attack by an aggressing army, the people ran for safety inside of the fortress. In the same way we must turn to God and trust Him for our protection when we come under attack.

When your wife calls you and tells you that the bank is going to foreclose on your home, remember that God will work it out according to His plan and provide the safety that you need from this problem in your life. When the doctor tells you and your wife that you two will never have a baby of your own, remember that your stronghold, which is God, will provide the security that you need. This is not to say that God will stop these things from happening, but He will provide you with the strength to overcome these things and to bounce back from them.

When you pray it would be right to acknowledge God as your stronghold in your prayers. God was David’s stronghold in David’s time and He is our stronghold in our time. So acknowledging that He is our stronghold is the right thing to do. God does not leave you alone to handle troubled times on your own. He is there providing you with the strength to overcome by being your stronghold who you can retreat into for security. Pray to God and acknowledge Him as your stronghold, because He is.

In ancient days as armies retreated into their fortress they had trust and confidence that they would survive the onslaught that the aggressing army was about to unleash. Today as we go through our daily struggles of disappointments, temptations, and attacks, we can retreat into our fortress (God) because He sustains us and keeps us secure from harm according to His plan.

David, in this same psalm, also writes in verse eight to trust in God at all times and that God is a refuge for us. The word refuge means shelter; similar to stronghold. So whatever ails us, whatever is happening in our lives, no matter the attack coming from the enemy, we have a stronghold that we can retreat into. God our stronghold is always there, Amen.


 

[1] William Sanford LaSor, David Allan Hubbard and Frederic William Bush, Old Testament Survey: the Message, Form, and Background of the Old Testament, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: William. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996), 177.

[2] Alfred Edersheim, Bible History: Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1876), 126.

[3] John H. Tullock, The Old Testament Story, 8th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ.: Prentice Hall, 2009), 357.

[4] Ibid, 356.

[5]Psalms: Willem A. VanGemeren, Proverbs: Allen P. Ross, Ecclesiastes: J. Stafford Wright and Song of Songs: Dennis F. Kinlaw, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (Volume 5), ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991), 420.

[6] Merriam-Webster, Inc. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Eleventh ed. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003.

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The Daily Fill (02/11/16)

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Quote of the Day

“May my cry be always, Only Jesus! only Jesus!”

Valley of Vision


Worth Reading

Albert Mohler’s lectures on Charles Spurgeon

“The Spurgeon Center, led by Christian George, is a great resource for biblical preaching. Today and tomorrow we want to draw your attention to their annual lectures. The first set of lectures was given by Albert Mohler.”

Debunking Silly Statements About the Bible

“No television preacher has ever read the Bible. Neither has any evangelical politician. Neither has the pope. Neither have I. And neither have you. At best, we’ve all read a bad translation—a translation of translations of translations of hand-copied copies of copies of copies of copies, and on and on, hundreds of times.”

5 Things You Can Give to God Every Day

“We hear endless talk about productivity. It is the major focus of many of the most popular blogs out there. The bestseller lists may as well have a category dedicated to it.”

You Won’t Be So Passionate When You’re 40

“Wait ’til you’re 40, things will be different.”

Why I Don’t Share The Gospel

“The question was simple enough: Why don’t you share the gospel?”


Video

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The Daily Fill (02/10/16)

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Quote of the Day

“The messenger of Christ, though he speaks from God, must also, as the Quakers used to say, ‘speak to the condition’ of his hearers; otherwise he will speak a language known only to himself.”

A. W. Tozer


Worth Reading

Women at War & the GOP

“The question of whether to integrate women into direct combat ground units is difficult; not because I lack confidence in my answer but because any answer is perilous.”

Is Social Media Making Us Dumb?

“It’s 2016, and Skynet doesn’t need to send Terminators to wipe us out. A new gaming app ought to do the trick.”

Catherine Rampell: Why Socialism Isn’t A Bugaboo For Millennials

“Both nationwide, and in the early primary states, Bernie Sanders is thoroughly trouncing Clinton among the under-30 set.”

On My Shelf: Life and Books with David Wells

“On My Shelf helps you get to know various writers through a behind-the-scenes glimpse into their lives as readers.”

3 Ways Our Culture Is Different than Every Other Culture in History

“We live in a turbulent cultural moment. The world around us is rapidly changing, and we face many challenges unprecedented in the history of the church.”


Video

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The Daily Fill (02/09/16)

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Quote of the Day

The best commentary on the Bible is the life you lead.”

Church Sign at the Chapel by the Sea


Worth Reading

On Defending the Unpopular

“A few weeks ago, I found myself in Washington DC with my son, Gus. We have a family tradition to take each child on a trip for their 10th birthday so Gus decided it would be fun to take in the White House, monuments, museums, and most importantly, room service.”

What a Super Bowl Ad Reveals About Our Abortion Culture

“Social media lit up during this year’s Super Bowl over the abortion lobby’s outrage about a chip commercial. Doritos aired an advertisement depicting a husband and wife proudly looking at an ultrasound of their unborn baby.”

New Recommended Reading Page

“Long-time readers of my blogs will know that my old site(s) had topically-arranged recommended reading lists. Those went away with the site re-do a couple years ago. I’ve now created a new ‘Recommended Reading’ page that covers the broad range of topics I blog about.”

Capturing Weak Women

“It can be a dangerous thing to walk into a Christian bookstore. It can be a dangerous thing to listen to Christian radio or watch Christian television or attend that big conference. It can be dangerous because the Christian world is polluted by so much bad teaching.”

A Simple Plan to Start Reading More

“I love the physical nature of having books up there on the bookshelves, waiting to be looked at, admired, and remembered. I used to really enjoyed the library and I still do. But when I look at my shelves I realize that I own so many books that I haven’t read.”


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The Daily Fill (02/08/16)

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Quote of the Day

The best commentary on the Bible is the life you lead.”

Church Sign at the Chapel by the Sea


Worth Reading

Is Paul’s apostolic call for God’s sake? (Rom 1:5)

“One of the difficult tasks in translation is how to order phrases. In English, we use proximity to connect ideas. Consider the NIV on Rom 1:5.”

We Will Never Let Our Daughters Die for Us

“This past week, Grant Castleberry reminded us that the Christian worldview stands in direct opposition to women in the draft.”

The Deep Ditches of Doubt

“The ditches of doubt are often deep and painful.  When a person falls into one of those ditches, it often takes a great deal of time and work to climb back out onto the road of peace.  How does one fall into the these troublesome ditches?”


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The Daily Fill (02/06/16)

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Quote of the Day

“The New Testament is the very best book that ever was or will be known in the world.”

Charles Dickens


Worth Reading

Enjoy Your Prayer Life

“This is not a new revelation but most of us are not good at prayer. Now I stress strongly that I’m speaking as one failure to another.”

John Calvin’s 4 Rules of Prayer

“For John Calvin, prayer cannot be accomplished without discipline. He writes, ‘Unless we fix certain hours in the day for prayer, it easily slips from our memory.’”


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Read Scripture: Numbers

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Mercy: God’s Definition

1 Chronicles 16.34This post is an attempt at a word study for the Hebrew word chesed, or sometimes spelled hesed. In English language Bible translations the word is mercy, lovingkindness, or love, among many. This is an attempt to discover the meaning of the word chesed using only the Bible and the context that the word is used in.

What must be addressed from the start is the secular world’s understanding of this word chesed (from here on will be referred to as “mercy”) as it is taught from the secular point of view. Mercy is defined as having compassion on those who do not deserve forgiveness for a crime committed, whether that crime be against an individual or the state (paraphrase with additions). As we will see, the Biblical meaning of mercy, as it is in its context, does not differ from the secular definition all that much. However, how it is related to the God of the universe is intrinsic to the meaning that we derive from the Bible.

Mercy in the Biblical sense is related to the covenant of God with His people and His choice to show mercy on them. As we will find, God has mercy on those who do not deserve it, but because of His love for His people he decides to show compassion to them. As this word is a Hebrew word and found in the Old Testament, the covenant that is mentioned in this post is the covenant of the Old Testament. God in His infinite wisdom sees fit to have mercy on His creatures that otherwise do not deserve it.

Lot, in Genesis 19:19, acknowledges that God has shown him favor by having mercy on him and saving his life from the coming judgment that stared down Sodom and Gomorrah. The men in the two cities, Sodom and Gomorrah, were living in great sin. The angels, sent by God, were going to destroy the two cities, but God showed Lot favor and allowed him to collect his family and escape the coming judgment.

In Genesis 32:10 Jacob, during his journey back to his brother Esau, says to God, “I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; …” Jacob summarizes the point nicely, unbeknownst to him, that none of the recipients of God’s mercy that have been discussed so far in this post were deserving of it.

What was special about Lot or Jacob that God should show them mercy? It all goes back to Abraham. Abraham was called by God for no reason known to us and God made a covenant with Abraham. It was God who initiated the covenant between him and Abraham when He passed between the animal parts for the sacrifice that was prepared by Abraham. This meant that, because it came from God and not man, it could not be broken. So God shows favor to His covenant people by having undeserved mercy on them.

However, in Exodus 34:6 God tells Moses that He has mercy for thousands and “forgives iniquity, transgression, and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.” God will have mercy for those that do not deserve it, but the consequences of their sins will be dealt with. In other words, God has mercy on the sinner, but the sinner still has to pay for his sins.

In Deuteronomy 5:10 God explains that He gives mercy to those who love Him and keep His commandments. God has mercy on His people—those who love Him—but only if they obey Him. All throughout the Old Testament we see the rollercoaster ride that the Israelites are on. They follow God’s commandments and they prosper, they do not follow His commandments and He disciplines them by multiple means.

In 1 Chronicles 16:34, 41 it says that God’s mercy is everlasting. In other words, there is no end to His mercy. There are many more verses in the Old Testament that speak of God’s mercy. All follow the same basic idea—God’s mercy is everlasting and He gives it to those who keep His commandments—He has mercy on those who do not deserve His mercy, and this includes us.

The secular idea of mercy is that it is undeserved; the biblical idea of mercy is that it too is undeserved. So God has mercy on those who do not deserve His mercy. He has mercy on those who love Him and keep His commandments. His mercy is everlasting. So what is the meaning of mercy (chesed) based upon the biblical context?

From the context we see that the word mercy, in the Bible, means that God looks over His creation; He sees the rebellion against Him and His commandments; He understands that this deserves death; yet if His creation asks to be pardoned of their iniquity, God will not completely forget all sins, but, instead of death, His creation has to deal with the consequences of their sins and He pardons their iniquities according to His Word.

How can this be applied to our lives? God made a covenant with Abraham a long time ago. God did this for no apparent reason but that He wanted to set apart for Himself a chosen people that would glorify His name. This covenant is known as the old covenant from the Old Testament. God loves His people, and as a result of His love He has mercy on them whenever they turn from their iniquities.

God has made a new covenant with us known as the new covenant in the New Testament. God sought out His people many times in the Old Testament; He sent His prophets to turn the people back to Him—to stop rebelling against His commandments. Now He has sent His son to draw His people to Him.

God sent Jesus to die on the cross as an offering; a sacrifice for those who will believe on Him and follow His teachings. God has provided a way for us to be redeemed from our sin, to be justified before God our judge. That way is Jesus Christ. We do not deserve to be forgiven, yet God has given us the way to receive mercy and live forever with Him in heaven.

What keeps God from wiping us from the face of the earth? We deserve this treatment, yet God has not done so. After the great flood God told Noah that never again will He destroy all of mankind in a flood, and as a symbol of this promise whenever it rains we will see rainbows in the sky to remind us of the promise that God made to Noah. God in His wrath destroyed all of humanity minus Noah and his family. Afterward, God regretted what He had done and showed mercy upon mercy to His people since then.

God could destroy us again, but because of His love, His compassion, and His kindness, He chooses to have mercy on us. As we look at the world today—wars, crime, violence, destruction, poverty, corruption, disease, pollution, all of the ingredients of a fallen world—we see what God sees, and by the definition that we concluded from our study we can understand why we have not been taken out by the God of the universe. God has mercy because he loves those who love Him and follow His commandments. To receive God’s mercy we should do what the Bible says, and that is to love God with all our heart and follow His commandments; ask for forgiveness for your sins and God will have mercy on you and forgive you, and instead of death you will receive eternal life.

The definition of mercy in the Bible is not all that different from the secular definition of mercy, except for one thing. The definition of mercy in the Bible carries with it the promise of eternal life.

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The Daily Fill (02/05/16)

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Quote of the Day

“The divorce revolution has done far more damage to marriage than same-sex marriage will ever do.”

Albert Mohler


Worth Reading

Why 10 Translations May Be Better Than 1 Greek (or Hebrew) Bible

“A clever and provocative author wrote something clever and provocative recently about Bible translation…”

“Gay Christian” explains why she now accepts same-sex marriage

“I just read another public account of someone who is walking away from what the Bible teaches about marriage. Former Wheaton employee and self-identified ‘gay Christian’ Julie Rodgers explains why she has embraced gay marriage.”

The Creed Includes Weed For These Colorado Christians

“As snow began to fall outside, Deb Button snuggled up on her couch, fired up a joint and spoke of the nature of Christ.”

What Can Kentucky Do About Revenge Porn

“One man printed a nude image of his former partner on T-shirts. Another handed out naked photos of his ex on fliers. Many simply upload explicit pictures of their former wives or girlfriends to pornographic websites – all to humiliate them with ‘revenge porn.’…”


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The Daily Fill (02/04/16)

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Quote of the Day

“As a shoemaker makes a shoe, and a tailor makes a coat, so ought a Christian to pray. Prayer is the daily business of a Christian.”

Martin Luther


Worth Reading

The Big List of Notable Church Technology, Ministry Tools & Christian Apps

“There’s no shortage of Christian leaders thinking about what the intersection of faith and technology should be. Some charge ahead embracing the latest tech trends to create the next era of church technology and ministry tools. And others cautiously wait and consider what might be lost by so boldly embracing the unknown.”

10 Benefits of Being a Church Volunteer

“During the summer of 1986, I was working in a grocery store while attending college.  This job came with the unbelievable benefit of one unpaid week of vacation per year.  So when July came I had a decision to make.  Should I go to the beach for sun, fun and relaxation or should I make the strategic decision to teach 2nd graders in Vacation Bible School?”

Secularization and the Sexual Revolution: Evangelical Theology and the Cultural Crisis (Part 1)

“This post is the first in a four part series on Secularization and the Sexual Revolution.”

How to do Bible Word Studies:A Fool Proof Guide

“Word studies are a treasure trove . . . and a mine field. Somehow you have to weave through the dangers to get the treasures. Think for a moment: if you were about to enter such a field, what would you want to know about first? The gold or the bombs?”


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The Daily Fill (02/03/16)

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Quote of the Day

“I think the Psalms are like a mirror, in which one can see oneself and the movements of one’s own heart.”

Athanasius


Worth Reading

Common Sense to the Rescue (James 3:7)

“I came across an interesting Greek conundrum in small group tonight. James is talking about the tongue and its power to destroy.”

New Research on Gospel Contradictions

“Michael Licona is one of the world’s leading experts on the historical evidence for resurrection. I use his book The Resurrection of Jesus in my Master’s Level course at Biola.”

Are you ready for your teenage daughter to be drafted into a combat role?

“I said that this would happen, and now it has. The Army and Marine Corps chiefs are calling for women to register for the draft.”

Don’t Have Time to Read Books? Try This One Weird Trick

“Sorry for the clickbait headline. I’ll keep this short.”

When A Christian Sins

“Every Christian sins. Every child of light stumbles into momentary darkness. Every prince or princess acts like a rebel at times. As Christians in this world, we are sinners and saints.”


Video

The Divided Kingdom of Israel

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The Daily Fill (02/02/16)

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Quote of the Day

“Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the book widens and deepens with our years.”

C. H. Spurgeon


Worth Reading

What R. C. Sproul Said To Me That Changed My Life

“I don’t talk to my favorite theologian everyday. But I did chat with R.C. Sproul last Spring. Not in person, unfortunately, but online. Ligionier Ministries held a Twitter Q&A with Sproul for one hour. So I asked a question — and he actually replied.”

Is C.S. Lewis’s Liar-Lord-or-Lunatic Argument Unsound?

“C. S. Lewis popularized the argument that Jesus was either a liar or a lunatic or the Lord. But, as Kyle Barton has shown, he didn’t invent it.”

Run! Run Away!

“Maybe you’ve seen that hilarious news footage of a man unexpectedly coming face to face with a bear. He is on his own property, distracted by his phone, when he looks up right into the face of a marauding bear. The man’s reaction is exactly what we would expect—he turns tail and runs away as quickly as he can.”

5 Books You Should Read This Election Year

“It is Election Year in the United States, and many Christians are heavily engaged in supporting candidates in their race to the White House. Naturally, on talk shows and in interviews, political pundits are pontificating about the role evangelicals will play in the political process this year.”

Can you be a Christian if you don’t believe in the resurrection?

“God’s Word is very clear on this.  Salvation is by the grace of God through faith (Ephesians 2:8).  That faith is believing in the Person and works of the Lord Jesus Christ—believing that He is God and that He came to earth and lived, died, was buried and rose from the dead to conquer sin and death and give eternal life.”


Video

Must Every Church Be Multiethnic?

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The Daily Fill (02/01/16)

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Quote of the Day

“I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws.”

Psalm 119:30


Worth Reading

The Most Dangerous Place On Earth by Steven Lawson

“There is no more dangerous place to be than where the direct, straightforward teaching of the Word of God confronts dead religion. As long as dead religion is allowed to sleep the sleep of death, all continues placidly and peaceably. But when the truth of Scripture challenges empty religion, a cataclysmic collision is sure to result.”

How To Be A Prolific Writer

“One of the questions I often get from emerging writers is this one: How do you create a lot of good content at a regular pace.”

The One Ingredient Essential to Biblical Manhood

“Curtis burst into my office, pushing past my administrative assistant, leaving in his wake papers fluttering from her desk. ‘I can’t take this anymore! I’m done!’”

Helping One Another Forsake Sin and Follow Jesus

“The most commonly quoted (and often misunderstood) verse in churches is no longer John 3:16 but Matthew 7:1, ‘Judge not.’ Ironically, people who routinely violate what the verse is really saying quote the verse to justify their own failure to assist other people in following Jesus. Hence, they interpret ‘Judge not’ as if it were ‘Care not’ and ‘Help not.’”


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The Daily Fill (01/30/16)

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Quote of the Day

“The Holy Scriptures given by inspiration of God are of themselves sufficient to the discovery of the truth.”

Athanasius


Worth Reading

Knowing Bible Verses Isn’t the Same As Knowing Your Bible.

“I spoke a couple of months ago with my wife and a friend about this article in the NY Times. It’s about a woman who grew up in Westboro Baptist Church – the church that pickets funerals of soldiers and homosexuals carrying signs that promote God’s “’hatred’”.

D. A. Carson on Whether Acts 17:23 Can Be Used in the Muslim-Christian Same-God Discussion

“When the Apostle Paul visited Athens and addressed their pagan philosophers in the Areopagus (‘Mars Hill’), he said: “For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.’”


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The Daily Fill (01/29/16)

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Quote of the Day

“When we ‘believe in the Bible,’ we mean that it is more than just intellectually true. We proclaim that it’s truth has life-changing implications.”

R. C. Sproul


Worth Reading

A Prayer and a Plea

“This will be short, I promise. There are only two parts to this post: a prayer and plea.”

Slow Discipleship and the End of Christendom

“The thesis of this brief essay is twofold: In post-Christendom America, Reformed and evangelical Christians need to (1) rethink their current understandings of the Great Commission and associated notions of the ‘lordship of Christ over all of culture,’ and (2) rediscover the concept of slow discipleship from the early pre-Constantinian church.”


Video

Leviticus

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The History of Women in Missions

Author’s Note: This is the last post in a short series on The History of the Modern Missions Movement. You can read the other two posts here and here. Thank you for reading.


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In the Bible we are told Priscilla and Aquila accompanied Paul on one of his missionary journeys. From that time until now women have played an integral role in missions.

Early on, male missionaries realized that “contact with women in most non-Western societies was impossible for them,” so they brought their wives with them to the field in order to reach these women.[1] These missionary wives “received little recognition for the heavy load they carried, managing the home and children as well as developing programs to reach local women and girls.”[2]

Single women could go to the field to help take care of missionary children or to minister alongside missionary families.[3] However, that all began to change and single women gained opportunities such as supervising “women’s schools.”[4] These single women became leaders on the mission field.[5]  Kraft and Crossman write “Leaders such as Annie Armstrong and Helen Barret Montgomery dedicated themselves to developing missionary prayer groups, raising funds, and mobilizing Christians to support fieldwork of all kinds.”[6]

During the Civil War so many men lost their lives that a large amount of women were widowed or did not marry.[7] As a result, they took on many other responsibilities of men.[8] According to Kraft and Crossman, the women “ran businesses, banks, farms, formed colleges, and for the next 50 years inherited a larger role then men as the major muscle of the mission movement.”[9]

Missionary boards declined sending women to the field, so instead the women “organized their own boards.”[10] The first of such boards was the “Women’s Union Missionary Society.”[11] By 1900, 100,000 women societies existed in “over 40 denominational societies for women, with over 3 million active women raising funds to build hospitals and schools around the world, paying the salaries of indigenous female evangelist and sending single women as missionary doctors, teachers, and evangelist.”[12]

Kraft and Crossman point out that women were more willing to take the dangerous assignments than men were.[13] However, by the 20th century the women missionary boards combined their efforts with their respective denominational boards, and “in the 1920s and 1930s, women gradually lost their opportunity to direct the work.”[14] Nevertheless, according to Kraft and Crossman, “two-thirds of the missionary field has been and currently is female.”[15]

Men and women with conviction in their hearts set the standard for the modern missionary movement. Their passion to reach the lost proves to be contagious as more and more missionaries go forth to spread the Gospel. Hudson Taylor launched missions into mainland China in obedience to that call that God had placed in his life. William Carey similarly set out to evangelize India because of what he considered that God had shown him through His Word. Many more men and women gave their lives on the mission field for the furtherance of the Gospel, as was noted in the deaths of missionaries going to Africa.

The mission of the church is found in Matthew 28 and is the primary task at which the church is to engage itself. Secondary to this mission is the spiritual growth of the Christian and the response to the needs of the poor. The nature and mission of the church is intertwined in such a way that the church owes its existence to its mission. These men and women who set out to evangelize the world in the 19th century to the present understood this fact. As a result, the birth of the modern missions movement came out of a Spirit-led desire to see the lost saved.


[1] Kraft, Marguerite and Crossman, Meg “Women in Mission.” Perspectives: On The World Christian Movement, edited by Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorn, 269-274. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 1999, 270.

[2] Ibid., 270.

[3] Ibid., 270.

[4] Ibid., 270.

[5] Ibid., 270.

[6] Ibid., 270.

[7] Ibid., 271.

[8] Ibid., 271.

[9] Ibid., 271.

[10] Ibid., 271.

[11] Ibid., 271.

[12] Ibid., 271.

[13] Ibid. 271.

[14] Ibid., 271.

[15] Ibid., 271.

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The Daily Fill (01/28/16)

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Quote of the Day

“First, we can know the Bible is reliable because Jesus said it was reliable.”

Norman Geisler


Worth Reading

Lloyd-Jones: Believer or Unbeliever Is Not the Point of Romans 7

“Martyn Lloyd-Jones began his sermons on Romans 7 with a warning: ‘This chapter is one of the most controversial in the Bible.’ This was unfortunate, he argued, because the controversy misses the main point of the passage.”

How to Spot a False Teacher

“False teachers come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from the most deranged cult leader to the most winsome television preacher. Too many professing Christians are duped into embracing heretical ideas or endorsing spiritually dangerous movements. Some of these movements even pass themselves off as evangelical.”

The problem with Trump’s change of heart on abortion

“In 1999, Donald Trump claimed to be ‘pro-choice in every respect’, to the point he would have opposed a ban on late-term and partial-birth abortions.”

Colton Dixon and the “Craziness” of Saving Sex for Marriage

“People magazine recently published a brief story about Christian singer Colton Dixon. The interview included honeymoon pictures of Colton and his wife, Annie, and explained why the two chose not to have sex until after their wedding.”


Video

Don Carson on the Ground of Our Assurance

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History of Modern Missions Strategy

Author’s Note: This is the second post in a short series on The History of the Modern Missions Movement (read first post here).


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American Missions Societies began forming in 1787, but it wasn’t until 1810 that these societies launched out into overseas missions.[1] The reason for the lack of overseas missions was because the focus in America from 1787 until 1810 had been to evangelize American Indians.[2]

As part of their strategy, missionaries stressed the need to civilize the culture where they served, because these cultures were seen as degenerate and as a roadblock to Christianity growing within that culture.[3] In their infancy, missions directors thought that they could best decide the policies that were to be followed by the missionaries in the field from afar. However, it soon became evident that missionaries on the ground were in the best position to create policies that, in turn, were then approved by the mission society boards.[4]

Not much has changed since the start of the modern missions movement relating to the strategies used by missionaries then and now. The strategies used by missionaries today are very similar to the strategies used throughout the history of the modern mission movement. The basic outline is to plant churches that are lead by local laity and pastors. Then train the laity and pastors to repeat the process.

At first, India received the most attention by missionaries and the societies that sent them. Much of the tactics that came from the early missionaries to India have been copied by later missionaries in other geographic regions.[5]

Known as the “Serampore Trio,” missionaries Carrie, Marshman, and Ward were “especially influential” during this time.[6] Carey “sought individual conversions” but “he wanted to foster the growth of a church that would be independent, well sustained by a literate and Bible-reading laity, and administered and shepherded by an educated native minister.”[7] Carey founded a Bible College in India and he spent a vast amount of time translating the Bible into the local languages, which he printed and distributed along with other literature that he and his companions wrote.[8]

The “Serampore Trio” “worked for the transformation of society under the impact of the Gospel, and they became a mighty force for social reform, bringing pressure on the colonial government and leading Hindus to enlightened view on old wrongs and their elimination.”[9] They were able to abolish “widow burning, temple prostitution, and other dehumanizing customs.”[10]

In the 19th century Henry Venn and Rufus Anderson came up with the “three self” strategy for missions. This strategy was used from the “middle of the 19th century until World War II.”[11] The “three self” mission strategy goal “is to plant and foster the development of churches which will be self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating.[12]

Missionaries set out to plant churches and staff them with locals, and these churches would adopt a similar missions program to duplicate the strategies by the missionaries.[13] In this mission strategy, missionaries operated as a sort of big brother in an advisory role.[14]

Another strategy that was birthed during this time came from John L. Nevius, a “Presbyterian missionary in Shantung.”[15]  His strategy simply taught the layman to be an evangelist “in his own craft.”[16] In other words, wherever the layman worked he was to share the Gospel with those that he worked with.[17]

He also advocated for “constant Bible study and rigorous stewardship in combination with voluntary service and proposed a simple and flexible church government.”[18] Other missionaries that he served with in China rejected his strategy. However, missionaries in Korea used it successfully.[19]

After World War II, the strategy of missions was adopted by missionaries originated from Roland Allen. Allen wrote two books titled Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s Or Ours? and The Spontaneous Expansion Of The Church. In these books is found the strategy followed by missionaries of World War II.[20] On Allen’s strategy Beaver writes:

In barest essentials this is his strategy: the missionary communicates the gospel and transmits to the new community of converts the simple statement of faith, the Bible, the sacraments, and a principle of ministry. He then stands by as a counseling elder brother while the Holy Spirit leads the new church, self-governing and self-supporting, to develop its own forms of polity, ministry, worship, and life. Such a church is spontaneously missionary.[21]


[1] Beaver, R. Pierce “The History of Mission Strategy.” Perspectives: On The World Christian Movement, edited by Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorn, 241-253. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 1999, 247.

[2] Ibid., 247.

[3] Ibid., 247.

[4] Ibid., 247.

[5] Ibid., 247.

[6] Ibid., 247.

[7] Ibid., 247.

[8] Ibid., 247.

[9] Ibid., 247.

[10] Ibid., 247.

[11] Ibid., 248.

[12] Ibid., 248.

[13] Ibid., 248.

[14] Ibid., 248.

[15] Ibid., 249.

[16] Ibid., 249.

[17] Ibid., 249.

[18] Ibid., 249.

[19] Ibid., 249.

[20] Ibid., 251.

[21] Ibid., 251.

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The Daily Fill (01/27/16)

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Quote of the Day

“Ignorance of Scripture is Ignorance of Christ.”

St. Jerome


Worth Reading

The Great Ebook Battle of 2016

“Tim Challies is selling his library and ‘going all-in’ with Ebooks. Meanwhile, Michael Hyatt has announced he is shelving his Kindle and returning to print books. What’s going on?”

7 Ways to Fight Distraction During Prayer

“I’ve been trying to pray more this year. But prayer does not always come easily to me. I often find (can you relate?) that I sit down to pray with the best of intentions, only to suddenly catch myself, a few moments later, daydreaming about yesterday’s conversation, tomorrow’s meeting, or next week’s vacation.”

Prayer Societies

“Encouraging God’s people to pray is one of the pastor’s most trying jobs. Three reasons exist for why this is so.”

Here’s Why Writing Things Out makes You Smarter

“Typing is fast. Handwriting is slow. Weirdly, that’s precisely why handwriting is better suited to learning.”


Video

The Wesleyan Band Meeting

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History of the Modern Missions Movement

Author’s Note: This is the first post in a short series about the History of the Modern Missions Movement.


IMG_3063Missions during the 18th century and the enlightenment period faced opposition in many corners of the world. Missionary effort was opposed by those who saw religion as a crutch due to the “powerful philosophical movement” known as the enlightenment.[1]

With this opposition came also foreign opposition to missions from Western civilization. China resisted allowing western missionaries from entering their country, as did India, until they were pressured by “British Parliament” in 1813.[2] These two countries were joined by Japan in the resistance to western influence.[3]

The birth of the modern missions movement came out of a Spirit-led desire to see the lost saved. Christ’s mandate to His disciples was to go out into the world and to make disciples, teaching them all that they have learned from Him, and to baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Ever since He gave His disciples His mandate, missionaries throughout history have been spreading all over the world in obedience to the call of the Great Commission.

The “modern missionary movement” began with the creation of the Baptist Missionary Society in England in 1792.[4] In England, Baptist churches grew to 300 churches under persecution, but by 1750 that number declined by 50% because Europe had grown tired of 150 years of religious battles. In turn, “[s]ocial, economic, and political matters took center stage. Religious indifference enveloped the nation.”[5]

By 1750 hyper-Calvinism had infiltrated many of the particular Baptist churches. Hyper-Calvinists believed that since God has ordained who will be saved, then there is no need to evangelize. The most famous hyper-Calvinist during this time was John Gill. John Gill “was a learned scholarly man who served as pastor of the Particular Baptist Church at Horsley-Down for sixty-two years.”[6]

Andrew Fuller at age 22 became the pastor of a Particular Baptist Church at Soham, England where he served for seven years. After this, he became the pastor of a “Particular Baptist Church at Kettering where he served for over thirty-three years,” and he served during this time as the secretary of the Baptist Missionary Society.[7]

Andrew Fuller studied hyper-Calvinism, and when he compared what he had learned to what he read in the Bible, he came to a much different conclusion than Gill. Fuller remained a Calvinist, but came to understand, “Man does not know upon whom God will bestow the gift of faith, so he is to invite all men to faith and be assured that all who will believe will be saved.”[8]

“Fuller’s ‘new’ theology won wide circulation among English Christians. In fact, the new theological movement emphasizing the preaching of the gospel to all men and the duty of all men to believe was called ‘Fullerism’ and undoubtedly laid the theological foundation for a renewed endeavor in evangelism and missions.”[9]

The famous missionary William Carey was influenced by Fuller and his new theology. Carey pushed and pushed for the formation of a missionary society to take the Gospel to the heathen. After much convincing, the Baptist Missionary Society was formed in 1792. This marked the beginning of the modern mission movement. January 10, 1793, “John Thomas and William Carey were appointed missionaries. On June 13, 1793, they sailed for India. As Fuller noted the great ‘adventure’ was underway.” [10]

William Carey’s tract An Inquiry Into The Obligation Of Christians To Use Means For The Conversion Of The Heathens was published in 1792 and is seen as somewhat of a “symbolic significance and furnishes a convenient starting point for a movement and an era.”[11]

Carey wrote that God’s plan is “the establishment of His kingdom through humankind,” which is still unfulfilled.[12]According to Carey, “Christians are to pray for the coming of Christ’s kingdom to the conclusion that its establishment should be expedited through missionary outreach” by those who are saved in the church.[13]

Carey further wrote that the delay in the establishment of God’s kingdom is the result of a lack of zeal by the saints in “promoting the kingdom through evangelistic endeavor.”[14] Carey argued that although small efforts were being made by missionaries, a bigger impact can be realized if every Christian would commit themselves to the Great Commission.[15]

From 1792 to 1910 the world saw the publication of William Carey’s book Enquiry, the formation of the Baptist Missionary Society in 1793, the haystack prayer meeting in America, and the founding of The China Inland Mission in 1865 by Hudson Taylor.[16]

The haystack prayer meeting gave birth to the “American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions” and “a student mission movement which became the example and forerunner of other student movements in missions to this day.”[17]

Along with these transitions, unfortunately, up until 1775 “all missions outreach to Africa had failed.”[18] Nearly all missionaries that went to Africa died within two years of arriving on the field from various reasons.[19] It is hard to imagine that missionaries today would go to such a mission field knowing that they would die in two years.

The Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions had 100,000 volunteers, of which 20,000 went overseas for missions because it seems that the remainder “had to stay home to rebuild the foundations of the missions endeavor.”[20] By 1925, “the largest missions movement in history was in full swing.”[21]

From 1865 to present the world saw missions transition from reaching the inland areas with Hudson Taylor, to missions to unreached people groups, with Cameron Townsend and Donald McGravan.[22]

Townsend went on to found Wycliffe Bible Translators in order to translate the Bible into the language of indigenous Indian tribes, after other mission societies ignored his call for them to make efforts to reach these people.[23]


[1] Shenk, Wilbert R. “Reflections on the modern missionary movement : 1792-1992.” Mission Studies 9 no 1 1992, 63.

[2] Ibid., 64.

[3] Ibid., 64.

[4] Young, Doyle L. “Andrew Fuller and the modern mission movement.” Baptist History and Heritage 17 no 4 O 1982, 17.

[5] Ibid., 17.

[6] Ibid., 17.

[7] Ibid., 17.

[8] Ibid., 18.

[9] Ibid., 18.

[10] Ibid., 19.

[11] Ibid., 62.

[12] Alban, Donald, Jr; Woods, Robert H, Jr; Daigle-Williamson, Marsha “The writings of William Carey: journalism as mission in a modern age.” Mission Studies 22 no 1 2005, 91.

[13] Ibid., 91.

[14] Ibid., 91.

[15] Ibid., 91.

[16] Winter, Ralph D. “Four Men, Three Eras, Two Transitions: Modern Missions.” Perspectives: On The World Christian Movement, edited by Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorn, 253-262. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 1999, 259.

[17] Ibid., 255.

[18] Ibid., 255.

[19] Ibid., 255.

[20] Ibid., 258.

[21] Ibid., 258.

[22] Ibid., 260.

[23] Ibid., 260.

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The Daily Fill (01/26/16)

Psalm 8.9


Quote of the Day

“In the Old Testament, we have Jesus predicted. In the Gospels we have Jesus revealed. In the Acts, we have Jesus preached. In the Epistles, we have Jesus explained. In the revelation we have Jesus expected.”

Alistair Begg


Worth Reading

When is an Adjective not an Adjective?

“Wouldn’t it be nice if grammar rules were absolute. What if nouns were always nouns, adjectives were always adjectives and nothing else, and adverbs were adverbs and not particles?”

Desiring Knowledge and Maturity

“All else being equal, I’d rather have a mature Christian with simple theological knowledge than an extremely knowledgeable, well-read Christian without a lot of maturity. But, of course, neither situation is desirable. Let me explain.”

Why You Should Read 50 Books This Year (And How You Should Do It)

“If you want to get ahead in business, sit down and pick up a book. Warren Buffett spends 80% of his day reading. Bill Gates reads for an hour each night before going to bed. And Mark Cuban credits part of his success to the fact that he is willing to read more than anyone else.”

The FAQs: Grand Jury Indicts Filmmakers Who Secretly Recorded Planned Parenthood

“A grand jury in Harris County, Texas (the county where Houston is located) has indicted two of the undercover videographers associated with the Center for Medical Progress, the group of citizen journalists who filmed undercover meetings with Planned Parenthood (PP) discussing the sale of fetal body parts.”


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The Daily Fill (01/25/16)

IMG_8244


Quote of the Day

“The Bible sanctifies and molds the mind into the image of Christ.”

C. H. Spurgeon


Worth Reading


What Shall We Call the Unborn?

“If the entity is a living thing, is it not a life? If your person began as a single cell, how can that fertilized egg be something other than a human being? Isn’t it more accurate to say you were an embryo than that you simply came from one?”

8 Ways to Grow in the Fear of God

“In his book The Forgotten Fear, Albert Martin lists eight ‘specific directives for maintaining and increasing the fear of God in our hearts.’”

My Ethic of Blogging

“N.T. Wright, in his book Justification, states (parenthetically) that “it is really high time we developed a Christian ethic of blogging.” Who wouldn’t agree? But reality thwarts this notion. Even if one could create an ethical code for social media it would be naive to think that such an ethic could have any more practical influence than the League of Nations did following World War I. It simply won’t happen, not on this side of heaven.”


Video

Should a Bible Translator Use Gender-Inclusive Language?

Dr. R. Wayne Stacy

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The Daily Fill (01/23/16)

IMG_8497


Quote of the Day

“Every word of the Bible rings with Christ.”

Martin Luther


Worth Reading

The Religious Problem with American Politics

“The year 2015, as much as any other in recent memory, has put on full display the dysfunctional, rancorous, and mephitic travesty that is American politics and public life.”

Hallelujah College

“LAST fall, as student activists around the country protested racism on their campuses, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas dismissed secular universities as havens for ‘leftist, coddled kids.’ The protests proved that these schools teem with ‘psychotic Marxists,’ declared ‘The Daily Caller,’ a conservative website.”

Benefits of Praying the Psalms

“I’m sure such folks are out there, but I’ve not personally met any Christian who hasn’t struggled with saying the same old things about the same old things in prayer. Before long, such repetitive prayer is boring. And when prayer is boring, it’s hard to pray—at least with any joy and fervency.”

What Are The Most Up To Date Stats On Pornography?

“Over the years, that question has brought hundreds of people to the Covenant Eyes website, looking for pornography statistics. But because of the sensitive nature of the topic, in-depth studies are rare, and many are old.”

 


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The Daily Fill (01/22/16)

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Quote of the Day

“As we spend time reading, applying, and obeying our Bibles, the Spirit of Truth Who is also the Spirit of Jesus increasingly reveals Jesus to us.”

Anne Graham Lotz


Worth Reading

How a 29-Year-Old G. K. Chesterton Flipped 4 Arguments Against Christianity Upside-Down

“Many of the sharpest and most influential thinkers in England during the first years of the 20th century were outspoken in their skepticism toward the central claims of Christianity. Men such as Robert Blatchford (1851-1943) leveled a number of forceful arguments against Christian doctrine, relying on historical, scientific, and sociological research to bolster their perspectives.”

Take Hold Of That Which Is Truly Life

“For the last few months I have been sharing pastoral reflections from twenty-two years with the same congregation. In previous posts we have discussed Gospel centrality; the priority of prayer; spiritual leadership; spiritual sweat; and healthy relationships in church life. Each of these posts mirrored the Apostle Paul’s instruction in the pastoral letter of I Timothy.”

Husbands, It’s Time to Start Leading Family Worship

“The worthiness of God to receive your family’s worship each day is reason enough to start practicing family worship today.”

The Spirit of the Red Letters and “Progressive Evangelicalism”

“Daniel Kirk has moved to the Progressive Channel at Patheos. And that’s great for him. Really, I’m happy. It seems like it will be a good fit for him.”

4 Cultural Characteristics That Make Discipleship An Uphill Battle

“One of the primary terms the Bible uses to describe our relationship with Jesus is the word ‘walk.’ It’s a good word; it has the connotation of a forward progression. We aren’t meant to have a stagnant relationship with our Lord; instead, we are making forward progress in intimacy and obedience.”


Video

Exodus Pt. 2

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The Daily Fill (01/21/16)

Kindle Books

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Quote of the Day

“…God’s Word, which is all about Jesus Christ, can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. We are sinful and unable to remedy our condition, but from God comes the incredible, limitless power that can transform our lives.”

John MacArthur


Worth Reading

 

Hi, I’m a digital junkie, and I suffer from infomania

“I was recently described, to my face, as a ‘modern digital junkie.’”

Why We Should Read Books

“I read a disturbing article the other day that wasn’t really all that shocking, but rather a sad reaffirmation of the signs that are all around me. Fewer and fewer people read books these days.”

Going All-in With Ebooks

“I am selling my library. At least, I think I am. I’ve made the decision. Almost. It feels just a little too final to actually say it like that. But I’ve got a big library and a small house and something has got to give.”

A Simple Way To Spend 45 Minutes A day With The Lord

“I have to have my devotions first thing in the day or I get too distracted. Find a time that works best for you and try to establish a consistent habit. Give this little system (or some variation of it) a try and you will find you can easily spend 45 minutes with the Lord.”

Why Your Church Should Support Fewer Missionaries

“Like many families, churches are perennially trying to balance their monthly budgets and make those valuable dollars stretch in a way that best honors God. They want to make an impact in global outreach and be good stewards of God’s resources.”


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The Daily Fill (01/20/16)

Kindle Books

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1 John 3.16


Quote of the Day

“Our Lord Jesus Christ, the word of God, of his boundless love, became what we are that he might make us what he himself is.”

Iranaeus


Worth Reading

0.0% of Icelanders 25 years or younger believe God created the world, new poll reveals

“Iceland seems to be on its way to becoming an even more secular nation, according to a new poll. Less than half of Icelanders claim they are religious and more than 40% of young Icelanders identify as atheist.”

There But for the Grace of God Go I

“It is a common phrase, and I am sure you have heard it many times over: There but for the grace of God go I.”

Would Donald Trump Be a Pro-Abortion President?

“When Ben Carson was rising in the polls, Donald Trump was quick to attack the former neurosurgeon for being ‘pro-abortion not so long ago.'”

The Scandal of Biblical Illiteracy: It’s Our Problem

“While America’s evangelical Christians are rightly concerned about the secular worldview’s rejection of biblical Christianity, we ought to give some urgent attention to a problem much closer to home–biblical illiteracy in the church. This scandalous problem is our own, and it’s up to us to fix it.”

The Christian Reader’s Resource Guide

“You get about halfway through a book and realize it’s not worth your time. But not only time, you also spent money and energy that you’ll never get back.”


Video

The Pattern of Discipleship


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The Daily Fill (01/19/16)

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Psalm 150.6


Quote of the Day

“We must hear Jesus speak if we expect him to hear us speak.”

C. H. Spurgeon


Worth Reading

How Diverse Was Early Christianity? Clearing Up a Few Misconceptions

“For some critical scholars, the most important fact about early Christianity was its radical theological diversity. Christians couldn’t agree on much of anything, we are told. All we have in the early centuries were a variety of Christian factions all claiming to be original and all claiming to be apostolic.”

Sodom, Gomorrah, and Pornography (Jude 7)

“I was asked the other day about the present tense of ‘undergoing’ in Jude 7. ‘What is the likelihood that Jude believes the inhabitants of Sodom are presently experiencing eternal fire (in Hades for example) — as opposed to having undergone the penalty when fire and brimstone came upon them?’”

Hearing and Doing (James 1:23-24)

“Anyone involved in translation knows that it is almost impossible to hit the nail directly on the head, so to speak. We either say too little, not conveying all the information of the Greek, or we say a little too much, being too interpretive at conveying the full meaning of a sentence.”

Anglican Church Disciplines U.S. Episcopals Over Gay Marriages

“After 13 years of rancor over conflicting views on homosexuality, the archbishops of the Anglican Communion have voted to impose sanctions for three years on the Episcopal Church, the American branch of the Communion, for its decision last summer to allow clergy to perform same-sex marriages, church officials said Thursday.”


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The Church’s Mission in the Social Gospel

Author’s Note: This is the last post in a short series on the Nature and Mission of the Church. You can read the other two posts of the series here and here. Thank you for reading!


National Cathedral interiorThe social gospel came about in the 1900s as a response to the poor living and working conditions in cities that resulted from the industrialization of these cities and the migration of immigrants. On top of immigration, those who lived in rural and suburban areas of the country also came to these same cities to find employment. This led to overcrowding in the neighborhoods and in the wealthy business owners taking advantage of the less fortunate.

Those who advocated the social gospel saw a need to change society in order that the poor and less fortunate would be taken care of. Haight, in discussing the tasks of the church, as explained  in the theology of social Gospel, writes that the church must be concerned in making new members for itself. By focusing on new members, the church can bring about change in the lives of these individual members. The individual members of the church will then carry that change into their social lives outside of the church. They will then get involved in public policymaking and will change society in that way. In other words, change the individuals who make up society and you change society itself.[1]

In this view, the mission of the church is “to help in the change and reform of society where it is destructive of human life.”[2] Whatever “is destructive of human life” stands opposed to Jesus Christ and must be destroyed.[3] Haight writes that the “mission of the church is to transform society and to Christianize it, to inject Christian values into social institutions as such.”[4]

A somewhat similar view in the social gospel movement is that the church is a social entity and should be concerned with social justice–taking care of the poor. If the church finds itself in and among the poor, it should stop spiritualizing and instead attend to the social needs around it.[5]

After considering a biblical view on the nature and mission of the church (you can read it here) and the views of liberation theology (read it here) plus the social gospel we can formulate our own argument as follows:

Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the redeemed. God’s love for humanity led to the sacrifice on the cross by His Son (John 3:16). After His resurrection, Jesus gave His disciples a commandment to go and teach all of the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). His commandment was to make disciples and to teach them everything that they learned from Him.

To be baptized a person must have come to believe in Jesus as their Savior. Baptism does not save, but is an outward expression of our faith in Christ, being buried and risen with Him as we are submerged under water to emerge victorious. This implies that there must be a Gospel message that is heard for the transformation of the heart. The weaknesses of the Social Gospel and Liberation theology is that they focus upon the physical needs and disregard the Gospel message that brings any lasting change.

The nature and mission of the church are directly related and it is evident beyond doubt that the mission and nature of the church are intertwined. Given this assertion it is also clear that all Christians are missionaries sent by God to join Him in His work in the world of redeeming the lost and reconciling mankind to Him. This is the primary focus of the church–sharing the Gospel with the lost. However, in the Bible we also see the concern that God has for the poor.

In Matthew 25 Jesus describes a scene where He is separating the righteous from the unrighteous, and he tells those who are righteous that when He was hungry they gave Him something to eat, when He was thirsty they gave Him something drink, when He was naked they gave Him clothes to wear, and when He was sick and in prison they visited Him. The righteous asked Him when it was that they did these things for Him and He told them that when they did these things for “the least of these,” they did it to Him. He was not speaking literally, but He was setting forth a model for ministry to the poor and less fortunate.

Also consider what God says in Isaiah 58. Here He tells the nation of Israel about their sin and that they fast as if nothing is wrong. He exposes that they are fasting for the wrong reasons, for their own pleasure. God then explains that the fast that He wants is to take care of the poor and homeless. Therefore, we can say without any doubt that secondary to the proclamation of the Gospel is the response to the social needs of our fellow human beings.

I will end by asserting that understanding the mission and nature of the church is not a clean argument since there is a little bit of conservative Christianity as well as a little bit of social gospel and liberation theology intertwined in this understanding.


[1] Roger Haight “The mission of the church in the theology of the social gospel.” Theological Studies 49 no 3 September 1988, p 490-491.

[2] Ibid., 491.

[3] Ibid., 491.

[4] Ibid., 491.

[5] Ibid., 493.

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Daily Fill (01/16/16)

Kindle Books

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Christianaudio.com free audio book of the month is Common English Bible

Logos Bible Software free book of the month is The JPS Torah Commentary: Exodus


Psalm 145.3


Quote of the Day

“All that I am I owe to Jesus Christ, revealed to me in His divine book.”

David Livingstone


Worth Reading

Why Do Millennials Consider the Church a Negative Influence on Society?

The Story: A new Pew Research Center analysis of survey data shows that when it comes to institutions that play a significant role in American society, younger generations tend to have more-positive views about them than their elders. The exception: churches and religious organizations.”

When transgenderism hurts children

“Many people treat gender identity conflicts and sexual orientation as if they are the same. If a sexual orientation is something you are born with and is thus immutable (a claim I would contest as a Christian), then gender identity must work the same way. It’s something you’re born with and can’t be changed.”

Leader Nancy Pelosi is not morally serious

Melinda Henneberger published an interview with Leader Nancy Pelosi two days ago in which Henneberger actually presses Pelosi about funding for Planned Parenthood. In response, Pelosi committs a number of howlers.”


Video

Stages of Worship, part 2


Personal Library Selection

Original Intent

ISBN: 0-925279-75-7

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The Church’s Mission in Liberation Theology

Author’s Note: This is the second post in a short series on The Nature and Mission of the Church. You can read the first post in this series by clicking here.


 

National Cathedral interiorIn liberation theology the focus is not on sins of commission, but rather on sins of omission—standing by and not doing anything about the state of the poor is considered sin.[1] Liberation theology also puts focus (rightly so) on the resurrection of Christ and in conquering the “ultimate enemy” of man: death.[2]

By understanding and overcoming sins of omission and death, the believer is liberated, not to dream of a future life in heaven, but in order to actually do something right now for that future life by taking care of the poor.[3] In liberation theology God liberates humans to join him in fighting oppression in the world; oppression by the rich and by governments of the poor.[4]

In this context, liberation theology puts the church’s mission into the camp of socialism.[5] In citing Moltmann, Rueteler writes:

The presence of human greed temps political and liberation theology to support ideologies which would disastrously affect political freedom. Succumbing to this temptation, they exchange one demon for another. In its support of socialism, the church must be careful not to yield to this temptation. If socialism is the best way to achieve economic justice, then democracy is the best path to political freedom.[6]

He is in no doubt speaking of the dangers of socialism leading to communism, which the history books of the world can testify to. We all know from history the destruction and death that comes with such a political system.

As part of liberation theology, the mission of the church is political, and the church cannot remain apolitical because liberation theology affirms democracy as the right political system to advance the kingdom of God. However, liberation theology recognizes that such a political system is not found in the New Testament, nor is there any political system that is advocated for in the New Testament. Nevertheless, liberation theologists do recognize socialism in the New Testament, and as has already been stated, a democracy is the current political system that is right for socialism to advance.

The church’s mission, in liberation theology, is to be involved in political institutions to bring about taking care of the poor. However, Rueteler acknowledges that the reason the church does this “is that it is fearful that the Gospel does not have the power it once had to attract people on its own and therefore stands in need of these political and social alliances to carry on its evangelical task.”[7] He goes on to say that the reason for the church to be involved with social institutions has come under much criticism because the church “frequently supports the wrong side—the elite and those in power who are oppressing others.”[8] In liberation theology the church leaves behind the Gospel in order to focus on taking care of the poor.

In contrast, conservative Christians see in the Scriptures the more important issue that exists in the world—the reconciliation of the sinner to his or her God. Eternity takes precedence over temporary material things. Taking care of the poor is a natural outworking of being reconciled with a God who cares for the “least of these.” However, ultimately the Gospel is front and center while working to take care of the poor and should never be set aside or left behind.


[1] James T. Reuteler “Reformulating the mission of the Church.” Missiology 8 no 4 October 1980, p 418.

[2] Ibid., 418.

[3] Ibid., 418.

[4] Ibid., 419.

[5] Ibid., 419.

[6] Ibid., 419.

[7] Ibid., 421.

[8] Ibid., 421.

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Daily Fill (01/16/16)

Kindle Books

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Christianaudio.com free audio book of the month is Common English Bible

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Psalm 139.14


Quote of the Day

“This reciprocal testimony between the Living Word and the written Word is the clue to our Christian understanding of the Bible. For his testimony to it assures us of its authority, and its testimony to him of its relevance. The authority and the relevance are his.”

John R. W. Stott


Worth Reading

How to Read an Entire Book in a Single Day

“Chances are that you’ve said to yourself, at least once, that you need to read more. Whether you’re too busy to read a book or you just have trouble getting attached to one, we have a few tips to help you schedule in your reading so you actually get it done and enjoy it.”

Evangelicals and Hollywood Muck

“I grew up in a fundamentalist environment. The church I was baptized in believed it was inappropriate for Christians to go to a movie theater. To this day, my grandparents maintain this standard as a bulwark against worldliness.”

Books I’m Looking Forward To In 2016–Theology and Life

“Yesterday I shared a list of the upcoming books on politics and culture that I’m looking forward to reading in 2016. Below is a list of theological and spiritual/reflective books that I’ll be reading this year.”

Professional Atheist Dawkins Says Christianity ‘Bulwark Against Something Worse’

“In a text that is coursing about on social media, professional God-slayer Richard Dawkins begrudgingly admitted that Christianity may actually be our best defense against aberrant forms of religion that threaten the world.”


Video

Read Scripture: Exodus Ch. 1-18


Personal Library Selection

NT Times

ISBN: 978-0-8010-1265-1

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Daily Fill (01/14/16)

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Proverbs 3.5_6


Quote of the Day

“Other books were given for our information, the Bible was given for our transformation.”

T. H. Darlow


Worth Reading

2 Chronicles 7:14 Isn’t About American Politics

“Sometime around the Fourth of July or Memorial Day, you might see a sign advertising a ‘God and country’ rally or prayer breakfast. I can almost guarantee that, if you attend, you will hear, at least once, 2 Chronicles 7:14.”

Answering the Abortion Question that Is Sure to Come

“You are a staunch opponent of abortion rights. Many have argued, even members your own party, that your position is too extreme for most Americans and could hurt your chances in the General Election. Would you really tell a rape victim that she must carry to term a child that was forced upon her by an act of such cruelty?”

What If You Showed Up At Church Sunday Morning and Heard This?

“Suppose you went to church on Sunday morning to hear God’s Word and listen to a sermon or lesson intended to help grow you spiritually. You’re eager to know how God’s Word applies to your life today and how you can look through a biblical lens at the issues that permeate our culture. You sit eagerly waiting to hear the message God has given your pastor when the pastor begins by say he/she wants to discuss the biblical support for abortion!”

On My Shelf: Life and Books with Rod Dreher

“On My Shelf is a series that helps you get to know various writers through a behind-the-scences glimpse into their lives as readers.”

What I’ve Learned About the Bible

“Western society used to be basically divided between people who (1) respected the Bible as “the truth” but didn’t follow it, (2) believed and followed it devotedly, or (3) rejected it as simply a book of legends and myths.”


Video

Is Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit the Unforgivable Sin?


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Using OT Hebrew in Preaching

ISBN: 978-0-8254-3936-0

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The Nature and Mission of the Church


Author’s Note:
This is the first post in a small series on the nature and mission of the church.


IntroductionNational Cathedral interior

The nature of the church and its mission are directly related to each other. Its nature influences its mission. However, the church’s mission is not only for those who are called to be missionaries—all Christians are called as missionaries. If the children of God deny this to be true, then it can be said that the church ceases to be the church.

In search of the definition of the nature of the church, the question that must be answered is “who is Christ?” In the answer to this question we will find the answer to the question “what is the nature of the church?” Karl Barth says that the church is the body of Christ that exists in Him externally.[1]

The nature and mission of the church

The New Testament speaks of the relationship between Jesus and the church in various ways: “the church is the body—Christ is the head; the church is the bride—Christ is the bridegroom; the church is a servant—Christ is the Lord; the church is the company of the redeemed—Christ is the redeemer.”[2]

According to Volf, “It is the presence of Christ that makes the church to be the church. If Christ is not present, a group of people may look like a church, sing like a church, preach like a church, even heal the sick like a church, but is not going to be a church. But if Christ is present among the people, you’ve got the church.”[3]

Also what must be taken into consideration is the role of the Holy Spirit in the nature of the church. Jesus Christ was “annointed by the Spirit” and empowered by Him, “who Christ was and what Christ did were shaped by the Spirit.”[4]

On top of this, we know that Jesus poured out the Spirit on His disciples and as a result, “the church was born out of the womb of the Spirit.”[5] Hence Volf defines the church as follows: “The church is the continuation of Christ’s anointing by the spirit.”[6]

Understanding the definition of the church in this way helps us with the understanding of its mission, because the nature of the church and its mission become “intertwined.”[7] According to Volf, Jesus empowered by the Spirit preached the kingdom of God. Jesus poured out the Spirit on the disciples and they, empowered, continued preaching the kingdom of God; the church continues this mission today.[8]

Dodds gives six considerations when thinking about the nature of the church and its mission. First, the church’s mission is related to the fact that salvation has been made accessible to all nations.[9]

Second, he cites Bosch in saying that the church exists because of its mission. In other words, the church does not come before the mission, but rather the other way around–mission before the church.[10] He goes on to write that the church owes its existence to the work of Christ on the cross and the continued work of the Holy Spirit in the reconciliation of man to God.[11]

Third, according to Dodds, the church reflects the nature of God by its members living in a community of love with each other and God. This puts the church at the very center of God’s mission by representing the relationship between man and God. Dodds writes that the church “reveals authentic humanity and points towards humanity’s origin, purpose, and destiny.”[12]

Fourth, Dodds writes that the “church exists for God and for the world because Christ lived and lives for his father and for the world.”[13] Dodds cites Karl Barth when he says that only when the church reaches out to the world “beyond itself” is the church the true church of Jesus Christ.[14]

Fifth, the church has moved forward in history and continues to move forward, advancing the Gospel “to the ends of the earth.[15]

Sixth, mission is the natural response of the church because of what Christ has done on the cross. Christ died to redeem the lost; those who have been redeemed make up the church, which is the body of Christ. Christ is the head of the church (the body).

Dodds writes that “mission is the natural result of the church’s passion and love for Christ. If Christ means everything to the church (cf. Phil. 3:7-11), then it is reasonable to conclude that evangelism (one aspect of mission) is inevitable, for out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45).”[16]

So far it has been established that the church’s nature is missionary. However, the church cannot be reduced to only missions. The church also exists to worship God and to fellowship with Him. Not everything that the church does is missions.

Inside the church there is preaching and teaching of the Word of God, praying, counseling and worshipping. None of these things are expressly missionary in nature.[17] Instead, they serve as ways to fellowship with God and to grow as Christians.

A Christian is to be fruitful and as a result, because the church is made up of those who have been redeemed, it too must be fruitful.[18] A church that intentionally ceases to be missional separates themselves from God and from eternal life.[19] Dodds argues that “God is love” and ”if a church forsakes its vocation to love, then it is in real danger of breaking fellowship with the God who is carrying out his mission of love to the world.”[20]

He goes on to write that the “church’s missionary nature determines the nature of its members. All Christians are missionaries because all have been called and sent by God to express his love for the world.”[21] Crum, in his article, cites Michael Green when he writes that missionaries in the early church were ordinary people, and missions was done by all: ministers, missionaries, philosophers, theologians, and by men and women who chatted with friends and family about the Gospel.[22]


[1] Maurice B. Schepers “The work of the Holy Spirit : Karl Barth on the nature of the Church.” Theological Studies 23 no 4 December 1962, p 629.

[2] Miroslav Volf “The nature of the church.” Evangelical Review of Theology 26 no 1 January 2002, p 68-75.

[3] Ibid., 68.

[4] Ibid., 69.

[5] Ibid., 69.

[6] Ibid., 69.

[7] Ibid., 69.

[8] Ibid., 71.

[9] Adam Dodds “The centrality of the church’s missionary nature: theological reflections and practical implications.” Missiology 40 no 4 October 2012, p 394.

[10] Ibid., 394.

[11] Ibid., 394.

[12] Ibid., 394.

[13] Ibid., 395.

[14] Ibid., 394.

[15] Ibid., 395.

[16] Ibid., 395

[17] Ibid., 396.

[18] Ibid., 402.

[19] Ibid., 399.

[20] Ibid., 399.

[21] Ibid., 400.

[22] Winston F. Crum “The mission of the church in the New Testament and patristic writings.” Missiology 12 no 1 January 1984, p 82.

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IMG_8792 “We should never be content to rest in the mists of the valley when the summit of Mount Tabor awaits us. How pure is the dew of the hills, how fresh is the mountain air, how rich the food and drink of those who dwell above, whose windows look into the New Jerusalem! Many saints are content to live like people in coal mines, who never see the sun. Tears sadden their faces when they could be anointed with heavenly oil. I am convinced that many believers suffer in a dungeon when they could walk on a palace roof, viewing the lush landscape and Lebanon. Wake up, believers, from your lowly condition! Throw away your laziness, sluggishness, coldness, or whatever is interfering with your pure love for Christ. Make Him the Source, the Center, and the One who encompasses every delight of your soul. Refuse to be satisfied any longer with your meager accomplishments. Aspire to a higher, a nobler, and a fuller life. Upward to heaven! Nearer to God!”  –  Charles H. Spurgeon

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Daily Fill (01/02/16)

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14 Reasons to Memorize an Entire Book of the Bible

“I recently spent about 16 months memorizing 1 Corinthians and then recited it as a sermon to my church. I want that text in my blood. Here are some lessons I’ve learned along the way regarding both why and how to memorize an entire book of the Bible. Today I unpack the rationale for memorizing Scripture, and tomorrow I’ll provide a method I’ve found helpful for memorizing God’s Word.”

Wheaton College Suspends Hijab-Wearing Professor After ‘Same God’ Comment

“A tenured Wheaton College political science professor who pledged to wear a hijab during Advent in support of her Muslim neighbors has been placed on administrative leave. Not for donning the Islamic head covering, but over “significant questions regarding the theological implications” of her explanation of why she was doing so.”

Should Evangelicals Evolve on Homosexuality?

“It was a beautiful day in Minneapolis. The sky was blanketed with grey clouds while weak rays of a sallow sun beamed through its cracks and crevices. I sat at the coffee shop waiting for Rosaria Butterfield. Her schedule was packed that day, but once she arrived you would have thought this was her first appointment.”

Bible Translations and the Democracy of the Dead

“Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.”-G. K. Chesterton

Two Ways to Watch a Film Version of the Entire Gospel of John, Word-for-Word

“In 2003, Scottish-Peruvian actor Henry Ian Cusick starred as Jesus in the three-hour film, The Gospel of JohnThe script was an unabridged word-for-word use of the Gospel of John, using the Good News Translation.”


Video

Russell Moore on How the Loss of Cultural Christianity Is a Sign of God’s Favor


Personal Library Selection

Culture Shift

ISBN: 978-1-59052-974-4

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Daily Fill (12/30/15)

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Christianaudio.com has a free audio book that you can download from Matt Chandler Recovering Redemption.


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Quote of the Day

“The universe shudders in horror that we have this infinitely valuable, infinitely deep, infinitely rich, infinitely wise, infinitely loving God, and instead of pursuing him with steadfast passion and enthralled fury — instead of loving him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; instead of attributing to him glory and honor and praise and power and wisdom and strength — we just try to take his toys and run. It is still idolatry to want God for his benefits but not for himself.”

Matt Chandler


Worth Reading

A wary start to Syrian refugees’ new life in Kentucky

“America’s newest family of Syrian refugees flew in late at night, and Sarhan Aldobai, 36, looked down from the plane at the distant lights of his new home. His wife was nursing their baby in the next seat. His five other children had fallen asleep. Sarhan took out the small world map he had carried since leaving Syria in 2012 and tried to trace the plane’s path.”

A Plan To Read through the Bible in 2016

“In years past, my customary mode for reading the Bible through every year involved starting in Genesis and reading right through to Revelation. I estimated that about four chapters per day would get me through in under a year’s time. The method worked reasonably well, but it wasn’t without its problems. Sometimes I would miss a day (or days) and get behind, and I had no way to keep up with my progress. I needed a schedule so that I could keep myself accountable for finishing in a year.”

When You Unchain the Earth from the Sun

“The case of Stefonknee Wolscht, the Canadian man who has decided that he is not simply a woman trapped in a man’s body but actually a six year old girl trapped in the same, has attracted some web attention.”

Just Another Day in America: On Location with the Latest Spectacle in the Global Village

“On December 3, 2015, Matt Lauer opened the Today Show in California, when only several hours earlier he had been sitting comfortably in his New York studio. While we were all sleeping NBC flew him and a camera crew across the country so we could watch events of the latest mass killings unfold on location.”

‘I Am Called a Cult Leader. I Really Don’t Care.’

“For the past decade, ‘How Great Is Our God’ has been one of the most popular worship songs in the United States.”


Video

Will You Be Bored In Heaven?


Personal Library Selection

Biblical Inerrancy

ISBN: 978-0-310-33136-0

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Setting The Record Straight

Author’s Note: This is the fourth and last post in a short series on Fundamentalism.


John 8.31-32

In 1925, John Thomas Scope, a biology teacher, was brought to trial in Dayton, Tennessee, for teaching evolution in his classroom. The trial was to determine whether Scope had broken the state law which prohibits the teaching of evolution in any public classroom. But for many others it became a question of the authority of the Bible, and by extension, the authority of the church.

The trial was not a defeat for the fundamentalists as it is portrayed today. The law was upheld. However, this proved to be a small victory for the fundamentalists, because, in the national media, the town of Dayton was portrayed as backwoods, and “fundamentalism as a know-nothing absurdity, and the trial itself as part carnival and part farce.”[1] Plus the liberals maintained their control of “denominational seminaries and colleges, most publishing boards, most prestigious pulpits, and most endowed funds.”[2]

In a survey of thirteen textbooks written between 1986 through 1993, it is found that eleven of the textbooks devote major space to the 1925 Scopes trial. Almost all of the textbooks surveyed portrayed fundamentalism “as either unscientific or anti-intellectual in nature.”[3] The survey also found that the views of fundamentalism as “rural-urban” and “anti-intellectual” are the two top views held in American history textbooks.

Views such as, “fundamentalists were anti-intellectuals whose lack of education and stubborn resistance to modernity merit their treatment as ‘extremists’ out of touch with mainstream America”[4] dominate American history textbooks. Part of the reason for this is because of the treatment that the famous Scopes trial received by the media some thirty years after the trial that put evolution against the authority of the Bible.

In 1955 there was a play which later became a film in 1960 called Inherit the Wind. This film was the most influential media production that shaped popular conception of the Scopes trial.

In this film, the town of Dayton was portrayed as “half circus, half revival meeting.”[5] A scene in the film showed the townspeople marching through the city en-route to the jail where Mr. Scopes was being held singing a song set to the tune of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” with lyrics that said that they were going to hang Mr. Scopes. The truth is that Mr. Scopes was never held in jail and the townspeople offered their homes to visitors who came to town for the trial because all of the hotels were full; a generous gesture far removed from the scene portrayed by the film.

Second, the film portrayed the prosecuting lawyer first as a buffoon and then as a wicked manipulator. In the film he is shown making an argument wherein he “claims that sex is the original sin and that the world was created in October 4000 B.C.”[6] After being defeated in court, he is ignored by the people in the courtroom as he attempts to give a summation speech. In the play he is shown as a defeated idiot and he is being rocked by his wife while she is cooing and holding his head to her breasts. The truth is that the real prosecuting attorney was not feeling defeated and he was ramping up his efforts in a crusade to defeat evolution in future court room battles when he died of a stroke six days after the trial ended.

Third, the defense attorney, Clarence Darrow, was portrayed as a “genial, wise, and likeable modernist” and the “hero of open-mindedness, a tolerant liberal Christian who values freedom and free will above all else.”[7] The truth is that he was none of these things.

He was a “behavioral determinist who did not believe in free will.”[8] He came to Dayton to defeat religion and not defend freedom at all. The ACLU lawyers tried to keep him out of the courtroom, because he was a liability and they wanted to focus on “academic freedom and freedom of speech” more than anything else.[9]

Well known historian, Ronald Numbers, did a study of the news coverage during the trial and found that not one metropolitan newspaper, out of five studied, portrayed the trial as a defeat for the fundamentalists.[10] However, today fundamentalists are portrayed as “backwoods” and “anti-intellectual,” mostly because of the false portrayal of fundamentalism in modern textbooks and a film made thirty years after the trial took place.


 

 

[1] Edwin S. Gaustad and Leigh E. Schmidt, The Religious History of America, rev. ed. (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2004), 298.

[2] Ibid., 298.

[3] John Fea. “An Analysis of the Treatment of American Fundamentalism in United States History Survey Texts.”

The History Teacher. 28 (1995): 207.

[4] Ibid., 208.

[5] Barry Hankins. “The (Worst) Year Of The Evangelical: 1926 And The Demise Of American Fundamentalism.” Fides et Historia 43 (Winter 2011): 4.

[6] Ibid., 4.

[7] Ibid., 5.

[8] Ibid., 5.

[9] Ibid., 5.

[10] Ibid., 5.

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Daily Fill (12/29/15)

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Christianaudio.com has a free audio book that you can download from Matt Chandler Recovering Redemption.


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Quote of the Day

“The Scriptures were not given to increase our knowledge but to change our lives.”

Dwight L. Moody


Worth Reading

Five Trends Among The Unchurched

“With the aid of more than two decades of tracking research—a sort of cultural time-lapse photography—Barna Group has discovered real and significant shifts in unchurched attitudes, assumptions, allegiances and behaviors. We’ve identified five trends in our research that are contributing to this increase in the churchless of America.”

Why I Disagree With John Piper On Christians And Concealed Weapons

“I wish to offer a rejoinder to John Piper’s assertion that Christians should not carry concealed weapons. In a recent post at Desiring God, Piper wrote: ‘Exhorting the lambs to carry concealed weapons with which to shoot the wolves does not advance the counter-cultural, self-sacrificing, soul-saving cause of Christ.’”

The Only Decision That Matters

“I am excited. While I would not choose this direction for our country or our culture, and though I lament the very real harm that this Supreme Court decision will do in millions of lives, I also believe that a sovereign God rules supreme in human affairs and He is at work making of the nations a heritage for His Son. The Triune God has not called an emergency session and will not be announcing a strategy of response to the latest development. He is working all things—even and especially this—to His glory for our good.”

Nine Possible Reasons For Your Spiritual Drought

“Need some refreshment in your season of spiritual drought?”

5 Best Books On Apologetics

“Trying to come up with 5 of my favorite apologetics books is like asking me to name my 5 favorite moments as a University of Kentucky sports fan. 1998 National Championship? Yes, but 1996 was a lot fun too. 2012 Title team? Ok, but beating #1 LSU in football was right at the top as well (yes, I’m one of those strange folks thatloves Kentucky football). Mardi Gras Miracle? That was amazing. 1992 against Duke? GET BEHIND ME SATAN!”


Video

Is Man Born Sinful?


Personal Library Selection

Desire and Deceit

ISBN: 978-1-60142-080-0

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Good Soldiers Of Faith

Author’s Note: This is the third post in a short series on Fundamentalism.


John 8.31-32

The war on the Bible and the “faith of our fathers”[1] came on the shoulders of worldly forces that included “humanism, critical theology, and new studies in philosophy, science, and comparative religions.”[2] Christianity was under attack and the attackers demanded that Christianity needed to be “’progressive,’ ‘forward-looking,’ ‘tolerant,’ and ‘open-minded.’”[3]

Men were raised up by God to answer the attackers of the Christian faith. These men were Fundamentalists that were resolved to stand against the attackers of the faith, and they were men who were highly trained and dedicated to the Word of God. These men were giants of the faith, and they belong in fundamentalism’s hall of fame. They were men like A.J. Gordon, I.M. Haldeman, James H. Brookes, A.J. Frost, R.A. Torrey, W.J. Erdman, D.L. Moody, George W. Needham, Charles A. Blanchard, and L.W. Marshall. George W. Dollar writes, “They were mighty men, able pulpiteers, careful exegetes, persuasive Bible teachers, and unmovable defenders of the faith . Their pulpits became spiritual beehives and their disciples became sincere Christian workers, many of them becoming faithful preachers of the Word.”[4] These men were considered the fathers of fundamentalism.

The second generation of fundamentalists had impressive men of the faith as part of their roll call as well. Men like W.B Riley, C.I. Scofield, who published the famous Scofield study system Bible, James M. Gray, J.C. Massee, J.R. Straton, A.T. Pierson, Oliver Van Osdel, Cortland Myers, and J. Frank Norris. Of these men Dollar writes, “How much better America would have been had it listened to these giants of God’s grace instead of Darwin and Dewey.”[5]

These men took the Bible literally and believed that God’s plans for Israel and the church are separate plans. These men are thus considered to be dispensationalists, believing in seven dispensations. They believed in the rapture of the church, the seven years of tribulation, and the return of Christ in His millennial reign. These men were militant in their attitudes; they attacked every error that was discovered in the church.

They were sickened by the weakening and decay of the Christian doctrines taught in churches and schools. They fought for every literal meaning of the words in the Bible. To them, the truths that they were teaching were given by God and worthy to be defended. Consider what Dollar writes about the attitude of these men.

They could have been silent and have allowed the decline to go unquestioned and unchecked. They could have compromised and engaged in dialogue with the critics, the humanists, and the evolutionists. They could have refused to be involved, stay sound themselves, and ignore the erosion around them. But these were not the paths of stout fundamentalists, then or now. They were set for the defense of the faith. They were good soldiers of Jesus Christ, not good sports of church picnics.[6]

If this does not get your blood flowing, then there is not much hope for the church.


 

 

[1] Calibri W. Dollar. “The Early Days of American Fundamentalism.” Bibliotheca Sacra. (April 1966):115.

[2] Ibid., 116.

[3] Ibid., 116.

[4] Ibid., 116.

[5] Ibid., 117.

[6] Ibid., 120.

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Dear Disciple, (12/28/15)

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Christianaudio.com has a free audio book that you can download from Matt Chandler Recovering Redemption.


Ecclesiastes 3.11


Quote of the Day

“Leave it all in the hands that were wounded for you.”

Elisabeth Elliot


Worth Reading

How to Love God by Getting More Sleep

“When people would ask if I had any hobbies, I used to reply, ‘Just one: Napping.’ But this year that turned out not to be a joke.”

A Note on Romans 4.20: Paul and the ordo sanctificationis

“In Romans 4, the apostle Paul gave a midrash on Genesis 15.6, showing that Abraham’s faith preceded his good deeds, and thus God’s declaration of Abraham as ‘righteous’ was not based on works. In this way, Abraham becomes the father of both Jews and Gentiles who place their faith in Christ.”

Staying Godly in a Godless Workplace

“Very few, if any, awake one morning and decide all of a sudden, ‘Today is the day I’m going rogue. Enough with all that honesty stuff. From now on, I’m all about corruption.’”

8 Essential Components For Discerning Gods Will

“I know that some people maintain that God doesn’t have a will for our lives beyond our sanctification, but He does. No, we cannot sit down and pray to know it until He reveals a fully developed life plan, but He has put us in the places we are, the times in which we live, the background we have, and given us the personality and preferences we have in order to guide us in right choices.”

Is Your Marriage A Picture Of The Gospel

“When we volunteered to help a couple in our church move, the wife looked appreciative, but a bit worried. ‘I need to tell you,’ she said in a low tone as she leaned forward, ‘My sister, Debi, will be there helping us, too, and she’s a … a stripper.’”


Video

How to use the Lord’s prayer to pray in the Lord’s way.

John Piper


Personal Library Selection

Then Sings My Soul

ISBN: 978-0-7852-4939-9

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Dear Disciple, (12/26/15)

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Logos Bible Software is giving away their free book of November The New Testament Library Series: Ephesians all month long, and a free book everyday during advent.  Click to Reveal Today’s Free Resource for Advent!.

Christianaudio.com has a free audio book that you can download from Matt Chandler Recovering Redemption.


Joy To The World


Quote of the Day

“Every Christian ought to be a Bible reader. It is the One Habit, which, if done in the right spirit, more than any other one habit, will make a Christian what he ought to be in every way.”

Halley’s Bible Handbook 1965


Worth Reading

What Is the Separation of Church and State?

“The separation of church and state does not directly appear in the Constitution of the United States. Rather, the phrase represents an understanding of the First Amendment, popularized (but not invented) by a correspondence between a Baptist church and President Thomas Jefferson.”

Healthy Relationships in Church Life

“Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp  have written a helpful book entitled Relationships: A Mess Worth Making.  In one of their chapters, they ask the question, ‘Why bother?’ Of course, they are asking “why bother” with relationships at all in light of how they are often painful and troubling. Lane and Tripp argue strongly, and biblically, that instead of calling for a détente on all relationships, we should see them from this perspective:

God wants to bring us to the end of ourselves so that we would see our need for a relationship with him as well as with others. Every painful thing we experience in relationships is meant to remind us of our need for him. And every good thing we experience is meant to be a metaphor of what we can only find in him. “

Hold On

“I am a quitter. In some ways I am, at least. There are parts and places in life where I will maintain a stubborn determination to the end (like, say, this whole blog every day thing I’ve been doing). But there are others where I give up, where I can too easily quit. And one of those places is in the battle against sin. Certain sins, anyway.”

How I Work: An Interview with Thomas Kidd
“A key component of TGC’s view of gospel-centered ministry is the integration of faith and work. We seek to help Christians work with distinctiveness, excellence, and accountability in their trades and professions. To aid in this effort we’re launching a new series, ‘How I Work,’ in which we ask people to share their shortcuts, tools, and routines that help them do their jobs or fulfill their vocational roles. (The concept and format are borrowed from the excellent Lifehacker series on work.)”

 


Video

The Gospel According To Mark

The Bible Project


Personal Library Selection

The Brothers Karamozov

ISBN: 978-0-553-21216-7

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For His Glory Update

IMG_8792The Leadership Principles from the Bible posts have been discontinued. I may pick it up again in the future but for now I have to stop this series. The same goes for the Sermonette posts.

It looks like next year will be a busy year for me and my family since I have decided on which direction to take the blog. My goal with blogging is to disciple Christians—those who have repented from sin, turned to Jesus as Savior and Lord, and have committed to follow what the Bible teaches—and hopefully teach others what I have learned in seminary.

You see, I believe that the Bible is the ultimate authoritative guide for the Christian life—how one grows as a Christian and how one conducts himself or herself as a Christian—and I believe that “a disciple is created in the image of God yet fallen and willing to learn.” The last part of the sentence needs explanation.

First, let me just say that the phrase in quotation marks in the prior sentence comes from a class on discipleship that I took in seminary.