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Category Archives: Theology

August Newsletter Article

You may have read through the Gospel of John in the past and noticed that his story of Jesus is a little different. In contrast to the other Gospels, John takes Jesus all the way back—to the beginning of Creation! This startling introduction presents Jesus as part of the Godhead. In words reminiscent of the Creation story, John begins his book: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (1:1). Word is from the Greek term logos, which means different things to different people. The Jews think of it as the power of God, for all God has to do is speak the words, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3) and there is light. The Greeks think of it as cosmic reason, the well-designed frame on which the universe is built. Jesus is both of these—the power of God, and the one whose signature is stamped on the universe. But John takes the term still further. Just as a word reveals a thought, Jesus is the expression of God, physically revealing the invisible, spiritual presence of God. Jesus is God who “became flesh and dwelt among us” (1:14).

John also leaves out some things. Where are the parables?  What about Jesus’ birth, His baptism, temptation, the Last Supper? What about His agonizing prayer on the night of his arrest, or His ascension into the sky? John, probably written last of the four Gospels, does not repeat most of stories that may have been circulating for decades. Instead, he focuses on Jesus’ deity, using carefully selected miracles and teachings that propel this theme.

John focuses on seven “signs” whose purpose is to reveal “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (20:31).  John selected the signs he used with the apologetic purpose of creating intellectual (“that you may believe”) and spiritual (“that believing you may have life”) conviction about the Son of God.  But there is also great depth for believers in this Gospel as well. John reveals that Jesus used seven “I am” statements to describe His ministry, each revealing something else about His ministry and each rich with symbolism and meaning. If the action-packed Gospel of Mark was written for shorter attention spans, John has the opposite end of the spectrum in mind: people who enjoy peeling off layer upon layer of dramatic, insightful symbolism, and people who want nothing more than extensive, detailed teaching sessions led by the Master Teacher.

I hope that you will continue with us on this exciting journey as we look at the Gospel of John over these next few months!

 

Can I trust the reliability of the New Testament?

I’m going to incorporate some of this information into my Sunday sermon, but thought that you might like to see it in greater detail (https://carm.org/manuscript-evidence).

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2016 in Bible Study, Theology

 

Theological Triage

We are going to look at “Post Reformation Growing Pains” this week during Bible Study on Sunday morning.  A few weeks back I introduced the idea of “Theological Triage” by sharing an article that Al Mohler wrote in 2004.  Here is chart and a good summary of the concept that I’m going to share in class tomorrow.

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2016 in Issues, Theology

 

Can I really do all things through Jesus Christ?

Here is a wonderful explanation of a familiar passage.  It may surprise you!

 

God’s Sovereignty — February newsletter article

Why did God allow the Packers to lose???

I’ll admit, it seems a little trite.  Perhaps it is a strange question, but maybe not so strange considering the reaction of so many Packer fans!  But it leads us to a larger question: why does God allow some things and not allow others?  I mean, if God is really sovereign, why doesn’t he…have the Packers win the Superbowl? (Or insert your favorite theological dilemma.  Many would say “end suffering.”)

There are various terms that people use to describe the will of God.  Some may say sovereign will, while others say ultimate will.  Some may say revealed rather than intentional.  Almost everyone uses permissive, even though we have to define what it means.  Some have more categories, some may have less.  Here is my understanding of the will of God:

1) God has a sovereign will.  There are some things that are going to happen.  God has decreed it.

2) God has a revealed will.  This is what we find in the Bible.  This is how he wants us to live.

3) God has a permissive will.  Now, don’t misunderstand this.  This doesn’t mean He gives tacit approval to everything that happens.  But He does allow things to happen – some good and some bad.  He allows us to make choices, and some of our choices break His heart.

What is amazing about God and His sovereignty is that somehow, in the midst of all of this mess, and our decisions to go against His revealed will, He works it all out to accomplish His ultimate purpose.  Oh sure, He gives a nudge here and there when He needs to (Exodus 4:21), but when you think of all the infinite possibilities that come from human beings making decisions on this earth, God is pretty incredible!

So, what about the Packers?  I suspect that God let the game play out.  It’s nice that Russell Wilson gave God the glory, but I’m not sure that God chose his team to win!  Win or lose, our testimony should be the same.  We serve an amazing and awesome God, and that God gives us guidance but He also lets us make both good and bad choices in this life.  In the midst of all that, He still accomplishes His will and His purpose on the earth, and that is truly breathtaking!

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2015 in Newsletter, Theology

 

December Newsletter Article

Labels can be extremely important.  If you don’t think so, go ask a diabetic!  But many people are uncomfortable when it comes to labels and Christianity.  There is concerted effort to redefine or change the terminology these days.  It used to be enough to say that there was a difference between being religious and being Christian.  Now you can’t even be a Christian anymore, but you need to be a “Christ-follower.” We’re told that this is not only hip and trendy, but necessary to reach a people that don’t like Christianity or the church anymore.  Some even say that they don’t have a problem with Jesus, just the church!  We’re too judgmental.  We’re too hateful.  We’re too opinionated.

What I find is that most people have a caricature of Jesus, Christianity and the church that they are responding to.  Let’s take Jesus for a minute.  Yes, he is loving and kind.  Yes, he died for us.  But he called out sin.  He even called people names.  He made a whip of cords and drove people out of the temple, probably not once but twice!  Do you have a full picture of who Jesus is?  Does society?

Many people look at the Church or the concept of Christianity and feel physically sick.  They see a constant picture of abuse and neglect.  They think about the people that have harmed them in the past.  They can’t get beyond any of that.  But, from my understanding, most Red Cross meals that are served after a natural disaster are served by Christian organizations.  Food banks are provided by churches.  Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian organization, is on the forefront of the fight against Ebola in Africa.  Churches offer counseling.  They house community events.  They reach out.  They help provide a sense of belonging and caring that can be so difficult to find in today’s world.

I believe that one of our basic problems today is that we don’t have a real sense of who God is and how he works in the world.  We don’t really believe that the Holy Spirit convinces, that God calls, or that the Bible convicts.  We think that it’s all up to clever marketing, high pressure sales, and a watered down message.  Blame my rant on my current sermon series.  God is Sovereign!  God is in control!

Does that mean we don’t try?  Does that mean we don’t present the gospel?  Does that mean we don’t reach out to people? Of course not!  “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace.”  We are called to proclaim.  We’re called to be faithful.  We’re called to follow.  But we have to make sure that we understand that God is doing the work, God is doing the calling, God is doing the convincing, and that, try as we might to have an effect through our own power and reasoning, we probably just end up convincing ourselves how clever we are instead of pleasing God.

So, after all is said and done, what am I?  Sure I’m a Christian, but I’m also a protestant, evangelical, Baptist pastor, and I’m not ashamed to say it.  I believe that if we follow God it doesn’t matter what we’re called or what we call ourselves.  I believe that theology is important.  I believe that the gospel is important.  I believe that God is on his throne.  And I think that all of that it important this Christmas.

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2014 in Culture, Issues, Theology

 

A question of theology…

My recent trip to Bethel University prompted some people to ask me what I thought of the school and the seminary, particularly with regard to their theological leanings.  I haven’t spent a lot of time researching the issue, but I do have two comments:

1) I do take issue with the school for its handling of the open theism of Greg Boyd.  I do not believe that open theism is compatible with Biblical Christianity.  If you are interested in reading a Biblical refutation of open thesim, I would point you to issue 46 of the Founders Journal.  For a philosophical refutation, try The Case Against Open Theism.  Incidentally, if you are interested in furthering your Biblical knowledge, I highly recommend the free online courses at http://www.biblicaltraining.org.  Their apologetics course also has a lecture on open theism.

2) This is more of an anecdotal incident.  Many of you know my friend Dr. Maurice Robinson, professor of Greek and New Testament at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.  While he was working on his PhD (back in the 70’s), one of his professors decided that he could not affirm the Southern Baptist’s new emphasis on Biblical inerrancy. Where did he end up?  At Bethel!

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2014 in Issues, Theology