There’s a classic story about a tightrope walker who rolls a wheelbarrow across the wire. When he asks if people believe he can do it again, they all say, “Yes!” but when he challenges them to get in the wheelbarrow and prove their belief. . .well, I guess it reveals their true belief. If we don’t step out in faith every once in a while, does that reveal our faith too? When we live our lives always always making the “smart” or “safe” choice, or we go after the goal that we’re sure to achieve, what does it reveal about our relationship with Christ? Do people look at our lives and wonder, “Is that all their God has called them to? Is this really all there is to being a Christian?”
What would it be like to have someone look at your life and say the opposite. . .”Whoa! He’s got this insatiable desire to change the world! He’s crazy to attempt that! What is it in a man that compels him to be that way?”
Could it be that our “Christian” lives are lacking the intensity and risky nature that God requires from a people who have been given faith? Is it a lack of exercising the faith we’ve been given or do we blame God and say He didn’t give us enough faith?
Warren Bennis quotes Karl Wallenda saying, “Walking the tightwire is living; everything else is waiting.”
Prayer: Lord, may my life be that of a tightrope artist. I want to honor You with a life of not only walking the wire, but one of enjoying the trip and dancing through the process with You by my side.
PS – My first set of wheels – Here’s a pic of me @ 9 months. (June 1970 – I look like a girl.) As a kid, I had really good balance. Mom said I was walking at an early age. I can remember that learning to ride a bike, skate, walk on stilts, etc. came pretty easily to me. I wonder how good my balance is these days? Of course the “balance” I need now is a little different.
Lordship Salvation is the idea that in order to be saved, one must receive Jesus as both Savior and Lord. Belief in Christ is not enough, but good works are required. The guys who ascribe to this view would describe saving faith as repentance (turning from sin) plus faith (turning to God). They also say that to receive Christ, means to receive His whole person, which includes His roles as both Savior and Lord. John Stott says, “The call of God in the gospel is not just to receive Jesus Christ, but to belong to Him, not just to believe in Him, but to obey Him.”
Now, the guys who oppose this view are called “Free Grace” guys. They point to the Scriptures that speak of salvation as a “gift.” There is nothing one must do to earn it. No “good works” are required. They point to Acts 2:38 which says that we must only “repent” before we can be baptized and brought into the fellowship.
My own opinion actually finds its’ strength in 1 Corinthians 3 where Paul speaks of the “carnal” man. It’s clear that this man is saved, but also that he is not living with Christ as “Lord” of his life. Now, if he is saved but Christ isn’t Lord of his life then, “saving faith” must not require “Lordship.” There is no such thing as a “Carnal Christian” if Lordship Salvation is true.
When we went over this in class, our professor also described a 3rd view which he called “soft Lordship.” This view says that once a man is saved (by repentance alone), the Holy Spirit would begin to work on him and there would be “good works” or fruit to being to appear. It may be as small as a feeling of conviction which he never had before, but it’s still fruit. The idea is that Christ would begin to become “Lord” from that day forward.
Free Grace: Faith = Salvation and works/fruit may or may not follow.
Soft Lordship: Faith = Salvation and works/fruit will follow.
I think I’d have to put myself in the “soft Lordship” category. I believe that a “Carnal Christian” is just one who’s “works” have not had time to start showing up on the outside. In regards to the “Free Grace” view, I have a hard time believing that the Holy Spirit’s presence doesn’t make any difference.
How does this make a difference in my life?
There’s a part of me that is really comforted by knowing that the Holy Spirit’s work in us, might not be very evident to the onlooker. In my years of youth ministry, I
have seen many kids “walk the aisle” to receive Christ and then go for years with no evidence that it made any difference. Sometimes I watch them make decisions which clearly would not honor God. Jesus is definitely not “Lord” for them. It’s comforting to know that faith alone is sufficient. I will continue to teach and encourage His Lordship, but will also seek out the small, subtle things that the Holy Spirit might be doing within them. I think that this understanding of grace, makes me more gracious.
(Info from “Must Christ be Lord to Be Savior” by Everett Harrison and John Stott – also from “How Faith Works” by S. Lewis Johnson Jr., and “A Critique of Lordship Salvation Debate” by Charles E. Powell)
Although there seems to be lots of arguments about this issue in churches today, it seems like a pretty clear-cut case to me when you consider Scripture. The traditional view stresses the woman’s duty to
“submit” to the authority of men and that they should not “teach” men. Scriptures used include:
Ephesians 5:22 – Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.
I Corinthians 14:33-35 – For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.
I Timothy 2:11-14 – A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.
I Corinthians 11:3 – Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
Now, let’s consider the Scriptures that point to women being involved:
Gen 1:27-28 – Women were created in God’s image as well as man
Exodus 38:8 – Women served at the Temple entrance.
Exodus 15:20 – Miriam was a prophetess.
Micah 6:4 – Miriam led alongside Aaron and Moses.
Judges 4-5 – Deborah was a judge.
2 Kings 22:8-20 – Huldah was a prophetess.
I Chronicles 25:5-7 – Women sang in the temple choirs.
Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:16-18 – Women will prophesy.
Luke 2:36-38 – Anna was a prophetess.
John 4:7-26 – Jesus spoke to a Samaritan woman in particular.
Mark 1:29-31; 5:25-34 – Jesus cared equally for the sicknesses of women.
Luke 10:42 – Jesus allowed a woman to sit at His feet.
Matthew 19:9-10; Mark 10:11-12 – Jesus reinterpreted issues which were against women
Mark 16:6-8 – Women carried the news of the resurrection even though a woman’s testimony was not considered valid.
Acts 2:1-4 – Holy Spirit fell on both men and women.
Acts 1:14 – Women prayed with men.
Acts 9:36; 12:12; 16:14-15 – Women served in lots of ministries.
Acts 18:26-28 – Priscilla and Aquila helped Apollos understand his faith.
Acts 21:8-9 – Philip’s 4 daughters were prophetesses.
Galatians 3:28 – In Christ there is no male or female.
Romans 8:9b – Women and men are indwelt equally by the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 11:4-5 – Women have access to God in prayer just as men.
1 Corinthians 11:5; 14:26 – Women are allowed to speak in church.
1 Corinthians 12:7-11; 27-31; Romans 12:3-8; 1 Peter
4:10-11 – Women are given Spiritual gifts just as men.
Philippians 4:2-3 – Euodia and Syntyche were co-workers with Paul.
Romans 16; 1 Corinthians 9:5 – 10 out of 29 people commended for service are women.
Romans 16:1 – Phoebe is called a “deacon.”
Romans 16:7 – Andronicus and Junia are said to be “outstanding among the apostles.”
OK – so here’s my take on it all:
With all of the Scripture that affirms women’s involvement in the church, it seems
pretty clear that God approves. Each of the verses which are used to hinder
their involvement can be explained as problems within specific communities/churches or as issues of order. Voddie Bachaum uses an illustration that may be helpful. – An all-pro lineman submits to the authority of a rookie quarterback because the team is stronger when it’s structure/order is upheld. It’s not that the rookie is more valuable – but it’s an issue of order, not worth.
Now, there’s one catch in my opinion. There is only one role which Scripture has no example of women holding – elder or Sr. Pastor. I believe that women can and should function in all roles in the church except Sr. Pastor. Teaching is a spiritual
gift, not an office and so those roles should be open to anyone (male or female) who has that spiritual gift.
Now as to why I don’t think a woman should be a Sr. Pastor. . . .there are three
reasons. One is valid and others are simply my opinion.
(1) the valid one – because we don’t see a Scriptural example.
(2) my opinion – If we ask men to be the “head of household” and for women “to submit” to them at home, we are sending a mixed messages to our men when it comes to their role at church. Again, it’s not a matter of value or worth, but only of order.
(3) I also think that culturally, here in the Bible belt, it’s difficult for men to respect a woman’s leadership in such a way that a healthy situation can be accomplished. As long as there is a Male Sr. Pastor, you also have a situation where this “order” can still be established and women can exercise their gifts in all areas of ministry.
How will this impact my life? I hope to be involved in a church plant one day, so this will have a very direct impact on how it all comes together.
According to Chafer, Systematic Theology is the “collecting, scientifically arranging, comparing, exhibiting, and defending all the facts from any and every source concerning God and His works.” Hodge would agree, but would limit these facts to those coming from the Bible alone. Erickson says that a theology must be (1) Biblical, (2) Systematic, (3) Relevant, (4) Contemporary, and (4) Practical.
While Biblical theology starts with the Scriptures and determines what they say about God, Systematic theology stars with a topic and try to figure out what all of Scripture has to say about it. This method helps to arrange all the Scriptural truths in a way that enables us to have a clear understanding of the emphasis of the entire Bible. It also helps us when it comes to defending our beliefs in a logical way. Our understanding of the truths of Scripture reflect our maturity in Christ.
As far as how this will change my life – I’m thinking I might need to be more intentional about the teaching that I give our students in our youth ministry. I need to make sure that there are certain doctrinal ideas that get covered during their time in our group. In reading Hebrews the other day, I noticed certain doctrines which Paul considered foundational.
Check it out: Hebrews 6:1-3 Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.
I plan on making sure that these concepts are taught to our students.
By the way, I also think that this series of journal entries is helping me to systematize my own theological ideas.
(Info from “The Moody Handbook of Theology” by Paul Enns, pg
I hope I don’t offend any of my Catholic friends, but I just read about some of their beliefs and it jut seems crazy. It seems like their view of Scripture has just kind of watered down things and confused them over the years. Here are some of the things they believe:
1. Authority comes from the Scriptures (which include some extra Apocryphal books), but tradition is also considered authoritative as well as the popes. The Popes are able to interpret the Scriptures however they’d like and the people are to obey – the difficult thing is that one pope may interpret things one way, and then a few years later, another pope can come and and say that he was wrong. To me it just doesn’t seem like that represents the unchanging God very well.
2. Salvation can only come to those who are members of the Roman Catholic Church. According to Paul Enns, it is considered the “only ark of salvation and anyone who does not enter it must sink in the flood.”
So salvation is – to believe in Jesus Christ and join their church? I guess Jesus’ death and resurrection wasn’t enough to save me? His grace isn’t enough according to them.
3. Mary – Jesus’ mother is worshipped by Catholics. She is considered to have “perpetual virginity” and to be “sinless.” (How did she have any other children and still be a “perpetual virgin?) According to Enns, they also believe that no one can come to Jesus unless he/she goes through the Mother. This is why they pray to her. Another interesting point is that they believe her body did not decompose when she died, but that she was resurrected with her same earthly body. I guess that she could keep that body in heaven since it was sinless.
4. Purgatory – When you die, you go to heaven, hell, or purgatory. Purgatory is like a jail for people who have sin which has not been paid for. (Since Jesus’ death wasn’t enough.) You can stay there for varying amounts of time depending on your degree of sinfulness. But the good news is that your living relatives can pray and do good works to shorten your stay. None of this is Scriptural by our standards, but by using their extra books, they find validation.
5. Communion – Catholics believe in a concept called “transubstantiation” in which the bread and wine actually become Jesus’ flesh and blood when the priest blesses them. Yuck!!! I don’t know about you, but I don’t wanna eat anybody’s flesh – even Jesus’. I also don’t think He asked us to do anything but remember His sacrifice symbolically. At the Lord’s supper, Jesus used bread and wine.
Well, these are just a few of the ideas from Catholic Theology. It’s sad to me that so many people could be led astray simply because the Scriptures have not been upheld. By putting man’s (popes) opinions in as high a position as the Scriptures, they have confused their theology. God’s word has been mixed with man’s opinion and it has hurt them tremendously whether they realize it or not.
How does this change my life? With this understanding, I find myself with a bit more compassion for my Catholic friends. I understand what to pray for a bit more now, and if given the opportunity, I know what kinds of questions to ask to lead them into conversations about faith.
(Info from “The Moody Handbook of Theology” by Paul Enns, pg 527-539)
OK – So dispensationalism is the method of theology that I would subscribe to. Here are some the basics for this ideaology:
1. A consistently literal interpretation of the Scriptures.
2. A definite difference between Israel and the church. (Covenant theologians say that the church replaced Israel as God’s chosen people.)
3. The main theme of the Bible is God’s glory. (Covenant theologians say it’s salvation of man.) I don’t understand how anyone could really think the world revolves around man instead of it being about God. I mean, does the watchmaker make the watch for Himself or for the sake of the watch?
Here’s how it works:
From the beginning of history God has been showing off His glory. One way He has done that is by saving man. That salvation has always been by grace through faith, but it has looked a little different throughout the ages. Each of these eras is called a dispensation. This is the most popular way of dividing up the dispensations:
1. Innocence – Before Adam’s fall. (Gen 1:28-3:6)
2. Conscience – Roman’s 2:15 shows that God dealt with man through his conscience after the fall. Man was to respond in faith based upon the convictions of his conscience. (Gen 4:1-8:14)
3. Government – Noahic covenant comes in here. God dealt with man by a government which included animals’ fear of man and capital punishment. (Gen 8:15-11:9)
4. Promise – God dealt with man (the patriarchs) by making promises to them and expecting them to respond in faith (Gen 11:10 – Ex 18:27)
5. Mosaic Law – God dealt with man by instituting the sacrificial system in which man was to respond in faith to God through the sacrifice. (Ex 19:1 – Acts 1:26)
6. Grace – This current dispensation is sometimes called the “church age.” God has dealt with man through a special grace offered to him through Jesus Christ. Man expresses faith by responding appropriately to the substitutionary death of Christ. (Acts 2:1 – Rev 19:21)
7. Millennium – God will deal more directly with man during the Millennial reign of Christ on the earth. (Rev 20:4-6)
Notice that man is asked to express faith in each dispensation. (It just may be a different way of expressing it from one dispensation to the next.) Salvation is always by grace through faith.
Just because a dispensation is over, does not mean that everything has changed. Some requirements found in an older dispensation may still be in effect – others may be abandoned or modified.
It’s also interesting to note that history of the dispensations is pretty cyclical. First, God sets up a dispensation and tests man’s obedience to it. Second, man fails. Third, God judges man, and eventually He arranges for a new plan/dispensation. The picture is one of stewardship. God (in His authority) gives man a duty which he is responsible for carrying it out. When and if he fails, the Master has the right to judge man and hold him accountable for his actions.
Anyway, there you have it – Dispensationalism all rolled up into one page.
My life will be lived differently in regards to how I relate to Israel. I can maintain a genuine respect and love for them as God’s chosen people. I will continue to share the gospel with them, but knowing that God has a plan for them beyond this dispensation helps me to be more appreciative of their stance in holding on to the promises of God.
This one is a really a tough argument because both sides can be argued with integrity from the Scriptures. My best guess is that this particular issue is much like Brian McLaren describes in “A New Kind of Christian.” (I don’t agree with him all the time, but I like this illustration.) In his book, one of the characters was describing how men pick differing points on a line to argue their stances/viewpoints. He then wondered if God was not on the line at all, but hovering somewhere over the line in another dimension. I think that must be the way it is with this particular argument. The truth (God) is not on our line of predestination or freewill at all, but hovering somewhere over our imaginations – beyond our understanding. As the Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways, my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Here are the differences:
1. Total Depravity – Before they are saved, men are completely dead in their sins and unable to even come to God without His intervention.
2. Unconditional Election – God chooses who he will save.
3. Limited Atonement – Jesus died to save the elect.
4. Irresistible Grace – God gives a special saving grace to the elect that they will not be able to reject.
5. Preservation of the Saints – Once saved, always saved.
1. Depraved – Before they are saved, men are depraved in every area of their lives, but still able to choose good/God.
2. Conditional Election – God chooses who He will save based upon his foreknowledge of their choices.
3. Unlimited Atonement – Jesus died to save everyone/the world.
4. Resistible Grace – God offers a special saving grace to all men, but he can resist.
5. No preservation – Man can lose his salvation.
I would consider myself a 4 point Moderate Calvinist: Here what I mean:
I agree with points 1, 2, 4, and 5 of Calvinism, but completely disagree with 3 (Limited atonement) and number 1 needs an explanation. Let me explain each one for me:
1. Total Depravity – If one is completely dead, he cannot even choose God. This would mean that the work of salvation is completely God’s work. This is called “monergism.” Scripture seems clear that it is a complete work of God, but it’s also pretty clear that man’s decision matters somehow. This view is called a “synergism” of God’s work with man’s decision. This is the difference in a Dutch Calvinist (hardcore) and a Moderate/Princeton Calvinist who believes that man does still have some responsibility in it all. The moderate would say that “God woos men” to Himself, but that man still chooses. Here’s the summary of the depravity issue:
Arminian – Man chooses God.
Moderate Calvinist – God woos man.
Dutch Calvinist – God rapes man. (God chooses man in spite of his decision or opinion.)
I’m a moderate.
2. Unconditional Election – It is completely God’s choice who he will save. There are no conditions or works that man must accomplish.
3. Unlimited Atonement – This is where I completely disagree with the Calvinist view. This is also the most popular point in which people disagree. Scripture seems clear that Jesus died for everyone.
4. Irresistible Grace – This is not to say that God doesn’t give grace to everyone – He clearly does – Rain falls on the crops of the saved and the unsaved. All are given breath, and life, etc. This is speaking only of the saving grace which God chooses to give to the elect. They may reject it for a while, but since God’s plan can not be frustrated, he will eventually respond properly to His offer. If God could be resisted, then he must not be sovereign, because he couldn’t accomplish His own plan.
5. Preservation of the Saints – This is the once saved, always saved idea. You cannot lose your salvation, because that would mean that salvation was not God’s work. Your works/lifestyle can not make you lose your salvation, because they had nothing to do with it in the first place. You were saved because God chose to save you, and He doesn’t change his mind. He knew what He was doing when He chose to save you.
There you go. I’m sure there are all kinds of flaws in my logic and understanding ’cause I just don’t have a really good grasp on it all, but this is just where I find myself at this point in my life.
How is my life different because of this concept? I’m not sure. It certainly affects my view of Christianity and also of the world, but in trying to live out my faith, it doesn’t change much on a daily basis. My wife and I disagree on this issue and have chosen not to speak of it, because it just causes division between us. I hope that sometime we can really work to come to a solution, but the truth is that it really doesn’t come up very often, and it hasn’t affected our relationship too much. I do believe it’s gonna be an issue as we raise Kasen. (He’s due Oct 30th). By the time he starts asking those kinds of question, it’s my prayer that we can have a united common view regarding this issue.
(Info from “Man’s Destiny:Free or Forced” by Norman Geisler, also from “The Potter’s Freedom” by James White, Also from “Arminianism or Calvinism” by Steele and Thomas)
All Christians proudly affirm the statement that we are created in the image of God, but what does it mean? What kind of impact does our understanding of this concept have on the way we live? or on our theology?
It’s from Genesis 1:26 – “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness; let him have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
There are about 5 major lines of thinking about what it means to be created in the image of God:
1. Content – We reflect God’s image in our personalities, intellect, emotions, ability to make judgments, etc.
2. Dominion – We reflect God’s image by the simple fact that we have been given dominion over the earth. The idea of stewardship is big with this one – because we are to take care of that which is His. (Notice the “dominion” context within the verse.)
3. Community – We reflect God’s image because we are social beings. This one focuses on the “our” part of the verse. Let “us” make man in “our” image. Since God is a communal God – three in one – a relational God – we are in His image as we relate to one another.
4. Representation – Now this one is a bit different and you’ve gotta understand something about the Bible. In the original language (Hebrew), the word translated “in” is the same preposition which can be also translated “as.” Usually the context of the passage makes it clear which is the proper translation. In this case however, it works both ways. The interpretation could just as well be “Let us make man as our image. . .” So anyway, the idea is that we are supposed to represent God to the world. We are literally the image of God as we reflect what He is like to everyone around us.
5. Holism – This one is a combination of all of the ideas presented here. Representation is the foundational idea and Content, Dominion, and Community are the ways that we represent Him.
Pretty cool stuff huh? I guess I’d be a Holist if I were asked to pick a position.
How will this change my life? Well, first of all I plan on making a video (link below) similar to the Nooma videos for the youth in my church covering this topic. I think it’s a cool way to teach these verses and also relate it to the issue of self-esteem which so many of them are struggling with. I’ll probably post it on here on my website once I get it finished. I also think this understanding will be an encouragement to “represent” Christ more fully.
Here’s the link to the video I put together to explain this idea: Image
This is the idea that those who die without Christ, will not suffer an eternity in hell, but instead they will be “burned up” and “destroyed” sometime after death. It’s kind of a more humane concept than an eternal torment. Those who ascribe to this view, say things like,”How can a loving God torture someone forever/infinitely when their sin was only temporary/finite?”
Here’s my answer:
God is infinitely holy, and therefore any sin we have (big or small) is infinitely punishable. That’s why He sent Jesus – He is the only infinite payment. He is the only one who could endure an infinite punishment. This is also why His gift is so amazing.
The annihilationists also like to use the image which Jesus Himself used of fire (Matthew 3:10, 12) or Gehenna (Matthew 5:22). This was the dump of Jesus day and there was a constant fire burning up the waste of Jerusalem. They argue that the waste was consumed and destroyed by this fire, but is that really true?
I’d say, “No, it was changed into ash and smoke, but still not completely gone.” The matter still exists – it has only been changed. Also, how do they answer the rest of scripture? What about Mark 9:48 and the “fire that is not quenched” or Revelation 20:10 which says, “They will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” What about all the “weeping and gnashing teeth” verses (Matthew 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51) where there clearly is a conscious torment? or Daniel 12:2 which speaks of “everlasting shame and contempt.”
It seems clear to me that the whole of Scripture affirms the orthodox/normal view that there is a conscious eternal hell rather than this annihilationist view. Therefore, I will live as a man who has a healthy fear of an eternal hell and I will seek to save the lost from it. In light of this argument, I also recognize that seeking the whole counsel of the Word of God is vital in gaining a proper understanding of God and His ways. I’m amazed at how different verses can be used to support the craziest of ideas.
OK – for those of you who don’t know, let me first explain what universalism is. Basically, it’s the idea that everyone will be saved. There are quite a few really smart people who adhere to this position, and it’s gaining popularity in the world today because everyone simply “likes” the idea. I “like” the idea of the Bluebell (ice cream) weight loss program too – that doesn’t make it true. As a matter of fact, if I were to live my life by this idea, it would be pretty harmful. (I’d be even fatter.) Universalism is similar.
The universalists use Scriptures like:
John 3:16 – “God so loved the world . . .”
and Romans 5:18 – “. . .one act of righteousness that brings life for all men.”
But they like to skip over the verses like:
John 10:11,15 – “The good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” It doesn’t say “everyone.”
and 2 Thes 1:9 – “They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord.” If universalism was true, who is this verse talking about?
Anyway, here’s the bottom line for me. If universalism is true, then Jesus death and resurrection was pointless. Why would He have chosen that kind of suffering, if people could be saved any other way? And what kind of Father would allow His Son to endure the cross, for no reason at all? I wouldn’t want to worship the kind of God that universalism requires.
It’s important to live our lives worshiping the God of the Bible. He clearly loves all people enough to have sent His Son to provide a way for us to be saved, but if we reject Him, He is a gentleman God who allows our rejection. I once heard someone (Scott Crenshaw) say, “Sin is our way of saying to God, ‘I don’t need you.’ and hell is His way of saying,’OK, have it your way.'” If we choose universalism, we also render Jesus’ command to “Go and make disciples. . .” pointless. Therefore, I will live my life telling others about Jesus so that they can come to know Him, follow Him, and be saved.