November 7, 2012
What do you think about the “other” side? Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35). The Psalmist writes:“Do I not hate. . . I hate them with a perfect hatred” (Psalm 139:21-22).
Though this Psalm is not considered one of the Psalms of malediction, or curse, or imprecation, it expresses a strong sentiment regarding hatred, which reflects some of the responses in a society that has just watched a contentious election. How should the believer now pray in response to what he or she might consider an “evil” outcome in the election, or against the “evil” people who sought to stymie the good outcome of the election? Shall the believer pray, “let an accuser [Hb. Satan] stand at his right hand. . . let his prayer be accounted as sin. . . Let his children be fatherless. . . Let curses come upon him” (Psalm 109:6, 7, 8, 9, 17)?
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October 12, 2012
What do you think about the idea of ordination, in pastoral (or other) church ministries? How would you go about thinking about the idea? What do you thing about the ordination of women, in pastoral (or other) church ministries? How would you go about investigating this idea.
Readers of this blog should know that the contributors are convinced “that the Bible constitutes the only infallible rule of faith and practice (Matthew 5:18; 24:35; John 10:35; 16:12-13; 17:17; 1 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 4:12; 2 Peter 1:20-21). ” That means that the answers to this question have to boil down, in the last analysis, to discovering how the Bible answers this question. read more »
October 9, 2012
Anyone who reads the book of Acts comes away with the realization that Paul lived to evangelize the world. This is especially true, because Jesus himself appointed him to this task. When the risen Jesus appeared to Paul on the Damascus road, his life was forever changed. The Book of Acts recounts this event three times, with each retelling highlighting Jesus’ commissioning of Paul to evangelize the Gentiles (Acts 9:15, 22:21, 26:16–18). Because of Paul’s apostolic mission, his greatest desire was to go Rome to preach the Gospel, and then use Rome as a home base his missionary work in Spain (Rom 1:13; 15:24, 28).
This is why it so surprising that he chooses to strengthen the church in Jerusalem instead of taking advantage of evangelistic opportunities in Rome and beyond. Listen to what Paul says in 15:25–27.
At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings.
Paul chooses to go to Jerusalem, help the poor there, and to strengthen the unity between the Gentile church in Macedonia and Achaia and the Jewish church in Jerusalem. For a man controlled by his evangelistic mission this seems contrary to his life’s purpose. However, the reason Paul delayed evangelistic opportunities was because he knew that it is through a healthy and united church that the Gospel is made known to the nations (cf. Eph 3:10). read more »
October 2, 2012
When you think about business, political and church leaders, what comes immediately to mind? Is is humility? Is it service? Is it integrity?
The Harvard Business Review, describes today’s world as being in a leadership crises: “People clamor for direction, while you are faced with a way forward that isn’t at all obvious. Twists and turns are the only certainty” (link).
John MacArthur has written: “The world is crying out for leaders–great heroic, noble, trustworthy leaders. We need leaders at every level of social order–from political leaders in the international realm to spiritual leaders in the church and the family” (The Book on Leadership, 4).
Where can this desperate need be answered? There are hundreds and hundreds of books on leadership available today. Many of them aptly define the problems we face. But if any of them actually provided the solution, people would not be having this discussion any longer. read more »
September 27, 2012
All (wo)men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain (in)alienable rights, as we all know… or are they?
One of the great principles in Scripture was penned by Thomas Jefferson, when he wrote: “All men are created equal” (Genesis 1:27). To the modern ear this archaic phrase (and likely even some of the sentiment behind it) will not fully be appreciated. In the context of the times the “it is clear that ‘all men’ was a euphemism for ‘humanity’” (Library of Congress “official commentary on the declaration of independence”: link).
If humanity is indeed created equally in the image of God, “male and female”, then is it not an inalienable right of every woman to share with men in the privilege and responsibility of Kingdom work? How could an equal be debarred from a position of leadership with her male counterpart?
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September 6, 2012
Baptism. Jesus did it. Should you? What does it mean if you do? What happens when you do an inductive study of Baptism in the New Testament? Does it stimulate you to take a more robust view of the ordinance? Does it cause you to see it as less important than it has been in for you? Does it affirm or challenge your default position?
Augustine called baptism sacramentum Fidei (sacrament of faith). This became the standard definition for over a thousand years. The Latin word sacramentum speaks of an oath of fidelity, such as is given by a soldier when inducted into the military, or a legal pledge.
Baptism was seen in early in Church history as the pledge of a clean conscience toward God, and an oath to submit to the Lord Jesus and follow him in the fellowship of his Church. read more »
July 31, 2012
Ryan Lochte is a top swimmer from the US and a favorite to win multiple medals at this London 2012 Olympic games. When he lost the 200M Freestyle event, the commentators tried to explain what went wrong. One concluded: “maybe his head just wasn’t in the game”.
Thought and Action: Christianity has been on the decline in the West recently. Several people have attempted to “right the ship” as it were. It has become very popular to argue that the issue is “dead orthodoxy”. The idea is we have all kinds of people who tow the party line and believe the right things, but it has no impact on their lives and the hypocrisy has been the driving force behind the decline of the faith. It is said that orthopraxy (right living) is more important than orthodoxy (right believing). This sort of statement presupposes that the two orthos can in fact be separated. But perhaps the Olympics can stimulate us to look at this issue once again.
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July 19, 2012
While some have critiqued N. T. Wright’s clarity and writing style in the past, How God Became King reads as a clear and articulate work. This is partly because he asks such intriguing and specific questions. For example, the central concern in How God Became King is to demonstrate the importance of Jesus’ life. For most believers, the stories of Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection make up the fabric of our day to day lives. Buts sadly, we know little about that middle bit where Jesus goes around healing, casting out demons and teaching. It’s this portion of Jesus’ life that Wright wants to uncover for us. And this is precisely what makes How God Became King so interesting.
Wright argues that four speakers influence our reading of the Gospels. Each speaker has its volume controls set incorrectly. One speaker is too loud, while, perhaps, the others are too quiet. According to Wright, when we read the Gospels, we need to keep these four speakers in balance. These four speakers or influences on our reading the Gospels include the following: (1) The Gospels are an organic fulfillment of the story of Israel (The Old Testament), and not simply Genesis 1–3; (2) The story of Jesus is the story of Yahweh visiting his people, and this means that his deity is assumed; (3) Jesus comes to launch God’s renewed people into the kingdom or into kingdom life. This is what eternal life is all about; (4) The kingdom of God conflicts with the kingdom of this world, because it subverts the expectations of worldly kingdoms. It many ways, this means the Christians are called to live out this new life that Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension inaugurated. read more »
July 13, 2012
This is concluding post to our series on spiritual warfare.
Spiritual warfare should concern the life of every true believer because every true believer is in engaged in this war. To deny this reality or to ignore this truth sets one up for tragic consequences. As believers we must be mindful that Satan and demons exist and they are out to harm Christians. However, this should be no cause for worry to the faithful believer because God has provided detailed intelligence of the enemies’ plans, and his given us his own armor and weapons. More than that, God promises to fight to battle for us, having secured ultimate victory at the cross.
There are a number of areas where understanding spiritual warfare translates into some practical steps and applications to a believer’s life. read more »
July 11, 2012
Continuing the series on demon battling, we consider the believer’s Divine Weapon.
As stated earlier, the battle against Satan is primarily a defensive one, yet there is an avenue for the Christian to attack. However, as Chuck Lowe cautions, “There is a battle to be fought, but our role is neither to win some spectacular victory, nor even to launch an all-out offensive. Our function is primarily – if not exclusively – defensive.”
Paul exhorts the Ephesians, who have put on their armor, to take up “the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (17). These last two instruments of war constitute the final piece of the warriors equipment (i.e. the helm) and the offensive weapon. The sword spoken of here is a short sword, much like a dagger which was used to strike hard and fast at close range. The picture Paul paints is one where the battle is fought at close range with viciousness. read more »