Archive for June, 2012


Is the church today on the edge of encouraging people to slid down a slippery slope? I came across an article written for Christianity Today, through the Society of Evangelical Arminians website, that looks at how the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has put together a document that “aims to more carefully express what is generally believed by Southern Baptists about salvation.”

As Baptists Prepare to Meet,

Calvinism Debate Shifts to Heresy Accusation

The Statement that has caused debate:

We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned. While no sinner is remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.

Pelagius – via Wikipedia

The Objection: Olson, a classical Arminian and author of the book Against Calvinism, is unaffiliated with the SBC, but has long asserted that most evangelicals—not just Southern Baptists—adhere to a sort of semi-Pelagian “folk religion,” whose origins can be traced to the Second Great Awakening and revivalists in the mold of Charles Finney. He believes the new document proves his thesis. “Traditional Christian doctrine, since Augustine anyway, has always been that people need a special infusion of God’s grace to be able to respond to the gospel—both Calvinists and classical Arminians agree on that,” he said. “They haven’t addressed that here at all.”

SBC Reply: Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, denies the charge. “We are obviously not semi-Pelagians,” Patterson said. “We do believe that the entire human race is badly affected by the fall of Adam. However, we don’t follow the Reformed view that man is so crippled by the fall that he has no choice.”

Primary Author’s reply:  Eric Hankins, the primary author of the statement, said he expected backlash when he posted it to the SBC Today website. “The statement’s language displeases our Calvinist and Arminian friends not because it is heterodox, but because their terminology and categories are not employed,” he said. “That’s all the charge of semi-Pelagianism really means: ‘You aren’t following our rules. You have to pick.’”

“Well,” Hankins said, “we beg to differ.”

Hankins said his formulation, which was an adaptation of a paper he wrote for the Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry earlier this year, “Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism: Toward a Baptist Soteriology,” was an attempt to make a complex topic more accessible to pastors and laymen.

An Associate Pastors response: “I don’t necessarily think the floor of the convention would be the best place for the cool-headed, rational debate that this issue deserves,” he said. “Even if doesn’t come up, this has already created a sense of unease in the SBC.”

Public Domain Images from The Story of the Bible by Charles Foster

What’s the big deal?

Denying “that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation [to deprive of capacity or natural power] of any person’s free will” opens doors to paths that lead us away from the Gospel. They follow it up with “While no sinner is remotely capable…” Of course no sinner is capable of saving themselves, but following this logic until they are a sinner they are capable to save themselves. At what point are you a sinner? How you understand the idea of original sin and our guilt lays the foundation for our reliance on Christ’s work and the need for a savior. Our sin is more than what we do, Christ made this clear in Matthew 5, therefore anytime we entertain sinful ideas we sinned long before we act on it. Sinfully ideas are also more than just bad things. Anything that takes glory from God and puts it on something else is sinful. Our innocence was lost with Adam and Eve. Sin replaced that innocence and it is built into us so that we need to be born again, recreated, and sanctified. Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” (John.3.3). God must stripe us bare and rebuild us because sin has affected us to the very core. The price Christ paid covers an infant as much as it covers an adult (how this happens is a different discussion than original sin). That is what it means when it is said that we are totally depraved and that is what Christ has come to save us from. It lays the foundation of how we view our walk with God, his role over us, and our complete and total depravity. That foundation is what defines our everyday actions and our reliance on Christ.

 
This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners.
1 Timothy 1.15-16

Do you agree with the SBC statement or are they on the top of the slippery slope?

“When they say morals are all relative that’s fine until someone steals your wallet. And then they say that’s not right…People are only relativist when it suits them to be relativists. We shouldn’t surrender to that.”

R.C. Sproul on the May 26, 2012 White Horse Inn radio program - WHI-1103 | Growing in Grace & Knowledge


The Abyss of Hell
By: Sandro Botticelli
Status: Public Domain in the USA*

Hell seems to be a hot topic this year. Sorry I couldn’t resist. If one minimizes hell it can minimize the impact of our sin to our relationship with God and the necessity for Christ’s redeeming work on the cross. When we dig deeper into what hell is our view of it affects our understanding of the role of the high priest, the need for salvation, the idea of faith, and the urgency for spreading the Gospel. All these things can also be achieved by over emphasizing its role over the work of Christ. You better be careful with your view of hell or you can find yourself in hot water. Ok I’ll stop, here is a quote from the Explicit Gospel  with Matthew 18 as the preface:

 
So if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand or one foot than to be thrown into eternal fire with both of your hands and feet. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
Matthew 18.8-9
 

With these words of Jesus in mind, I can now know that it is better never to hold my children, it is better never to run my fingers through my wife’s hair, it is better not to be able to brush my own teeth, it is better never to be able to drive a car, it is better to be paralyzed and never feel anything from the neck down, and it is better to have stage III anaplastic oligodendroglioma [a form of brain cancer which Matt Chandler survived] than to find myself outside the kingdom of God.

The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler, Page 46

The meaning of life is more than 42 and more than random chance. After my post on time a friend pointed me to William Craig Lane who looked at the PBS show I mentioned in the post. I have since listened to a few of his Reasonable Faith podcasts and on my drive home today I listened to his thoughts on The New Philosophy of Cosmology. He has an amazing gift of dissecting complex ideas, making it easy to see the issues, misconceptions, and positives about different views.

Cosmology, a branch of astronomy that deals with the origin, structure, and space-time relationships of the universe (Merriam-Webster), Dr. Craig explains why probability denies the idea that we are just the lucky winners of existence. More than that he is really looking at a struggle going on about whether science can determine meaning and Stephen Hawking’s proclamation that philosophy is dead.

How does this apply to me?

For one, it shows that the debate between science and God is not as cut and dry as both sides like to claim. This kind of debate also shows that the secular community is also at odds about where exactly we came from. The Bible is not a scientific textbook, but the details of origin, structure, and time are in there and their place under God.

 
In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.
John 1.1-5

I enjoy listening to this kind of thing as it really shows the inextinguishable glory of God and the complexity of all creation. Humanity is just a part of that complexity.

 

I can’t comprehend / You’re infinitely beautiful

After All (Holy) By David Crowder Band
 

As I started out on this discipleship journey of posts I thought it would be quick. God had a different idea and led me down a path that took a little more time. I have had the chance to listen to several great podcasts, read a couple of books on discipleship, and spent time with seasoned friends learning more about the importance of being a disciple. Several of my posts over the last few months touched on this topic, but this post is a continuation of True Discipleship - Part 1 .

How do we get from a church full of infants to having a church filled with people digging deep into the Word and discovering who Christ is and who they are? How do we become true disciples, someone becoming more like Christ? What does true discipleship even look like?

Three Options for Discipleship

In Larry Olson’s book Sticky Church he states that there are 3 kinds of discipleship models. There is a mentoring model, an education model, and an apprenticeship model. Mentoring is one on one and relational. It is best over time and is not effective in a fast paced changing environment. Education is long-term and requires a large commitment. It works best with linear goal-orientated personalities and is highly structured. Apprenticeship lets people do a task and be the leader is there to help them pick up the pieces. The nature and dynamics of life demands that we really need to use a combination of the three as they all have strong advantages but fall short in other areas. For example, I love going to school and loved learning about the history, traditions, and methods of the church. Yet when I started applying the things I learned they always needed tweaking to fit the ministry of where I was at. At this point the apprenticeship model kicked in and a seasoned leader was able to help guide me through the issues in a way that stayed true to biblical principles and was able to respond to the human factor of the situation. The mentoring model is also part of my life and it keeps me in check with my motives and my own issues. These three discipleship models when in sync with each other can propel us to grow deep and stretch us in growing wide.

Building a Church Culture of Discipleship

Discipleship requires commitment from both the disciple and from the mentor. This means we must be intentional and open about how we disciple. The C&MA has put together a few examples of different discipleship plans by its member churches called Discipleship Pathways. If we want to get out of the pastor-do culture that is prevalent in the North American church today we must present and implement an alternative culture. A culture that raises Christian adults, mature followers of Christ, true disciples. As Paul says in Hebrews 5.14 “Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.” If we desire to grow deep we must allow ourselves to be held accountable and learn the difference between what is right and what is wrong.

Held Accountable

My wife and I love giving our kids gifts, but we also love watching them grow as they become caring, compassionate, and God centered. This is not developed by simple showering them with gifts, but also, when needed, to give correction and discipline. Too often in the church today we resist giving and receiving discipline. The Father loves giving good gifts (Matthew 7), but He also disciplines out of love so that we can grow and share in His holiness (Hebrews 12). In a blog post by Jared Wilson, he says “In discipling relationships, we are always disciplining one another, not chiefly or only in the fight against sin but largely in our encouragement of each other, edifying one another, teaching one another, and sharing one another’s burdens. In short, disciples know each other. And so Matthew 18:15 might be happening all the time, perhaps weekly within loving relationships where there is no imminent danger of somebody being kicked out of the church but rather a constant iron sharpening of iron” (5 Ways to Keep Church Discipline from Seeming Weird). To be discipled we must allow others to call us on our sin so we are held accountable for what we do, otherwise we will stay as infants and our paths will remain crooked and broken.

Why?

Discipleship gives us the tools and skills to take the Gospel out into the world. As we go we will be able to share His great name. Faith in Christ is not meant to be kept to ourselves, but shared with fellow believers and shared with non-believers as a testimony of God’s glory. Why do we attend church? Why do we go to small groups? Why do we serve the poor? Evangelism and discipleship are not the same thing however they do work intertwined with each other. “If you think your heart is growing in love for God, but your heart is not growing in love for lost people, you  are deceived.” (Chip Ingram- High Impact Church Law 8).

Are you being discipled?

Here are a few resources I found:

 How to Build a High Impact Church – Chip Ingram

 & the post 5 Ways to Keep Church Discipline from Seeming Weird

 C&MA Discipleship Pathways & Southview Alliance’s Aspen Strategy

If you think your heart is growing in love for God, but your heart is not growing in love for lost people, you  are deceived.

Chip Ingram - Law 8 – The Law of Focus

 

Download the series for free from Walk Through The Bible

 

 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

Matthew 6.24

Randomly during the worship time at church today during the song God With Us I thought of the above verse which led to thinking about why we have money and its purpose. Money is really just a standardization of desire. Say I have 10 chickens, but I desire to have 5 cows. Without money we work under the barter system, but what if the guy with the cows doesn’t want chickens? I have to then find someone who desires my chickens and is willing to give me something that the guy who has the cows desires. And what happens when I can’t find a guy who desires chickens and has something the cow guy desires? Money allows me to simplify that process to sell chickens and buy cows. So now I desire money above all else because it allows me to fulfill any material desire I may have. Money becomes our master. God, however, calls us to desire Him above all else, we are to make God our master. Why? Because to God money is meaningless. He who made the universe is not contained by our need for money nor does my lack of money limit his ability to fulfill the needs in my life.

 
And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? 

Matthew 6.28-30

He will certainly care for you!

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