Faith and Works

Over at A Servant’s Thoughts, Frank Ritchie has a solid post about modern evangelism’s limp wristed approach to salvation. Do yourself a favor and go give it a read. Then come back here and let me know whether or not you’ve ever heard a sermon that was officially sanctioned by the Just-Say-A-Prayer Fairy from someone that you had always thought of as a fairly conservative Christian.

God, Grammar, and the Precision of Scripture

I don’t have time to go into it in depth right now, but the following passages should be read and their implications considered anytime we wonder about the precision of Scripture and how seriously and literally that we should take it. First read this:

Master, Moses wrote unto us, If a man’s brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and dying left no seed. And the second took her, and died, neither left he any seed: and the third likewise. And the seven had her, and left no seed: last of all the woman died also. In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife. And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God? For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven. And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.
(Mark 12:19-27)

Then read this:

Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
(Galatians 3:15-17)

In these passages, Jesus and then Paul expound on doctrine based on what would (at first) seem to be insignificant details. In the first example, Jesus establishes the fact (before the unbelieving Sadducees) that there is a resurrection by pointing out that God said to Moses, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”. Then, in the second example, Paul reveals that in Genesis 22:18, God was referring to Jesus Christ and not to Isaac and his descendants because the singular Hebrew word for seed was used and not the plural.

So think about this the next time you hear someone questioning the precision of the Word of God. And also tell your children that, yes, grammar is important.

The First Type of Evangelism

Our church’s verse for the year is “He that winneth souls is wise”, and while I have no problem with Scripture or focusing on winning souls, I’m a little underwhelmed with the modern concept of “soul winning”. And no, I’m not talking about my frustration with the concept of door-to-door evangelism, though before all is said and done, it might sound like it. You see, my understanding of the foundation of soul winning is found in the Shema Yisrael.
Continue reading “The First Type of Evangelism”

Questions about Mega Churches

I’ve always been skeptical of mega churches. It was built into me growing up: the idea that things get unwieldy when they get too big, that the head can no longer know what the whole body is doing. Without really thinking about it, it became a truistic concept, an unquestioned axiom that flavored a great deal of my thinking.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that there are many “truism’s” that are unscriptural, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, all’s well that ends well, etc… And so I’ve reexamined a lot of things that I thought I had down pat. But mega churches still bother me. I think it’s verses like Hebrews 13:17

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

The word used for account there is logos. It suggests that the question posed will be, something like, “Tell me, how did the church come to be in this state. Give me an account for the state of this man’s soul.” Not the pastor will be held accountable for the faults of the people, but he will be asked what he did to prevent them and then to deal with them when they occurred. With that sort of responsibility, I guess I don’t see how someone can give an account for the souls of 1000+ people. So, I’m asking it as a question. What do you think about mega-churches? What do you think about the responsibilities of an elder? Am I putting too much responsibility there?

Marriage, Children, Love, and Responsibility

I’ve always been interested in the nature of responsibility, and in what makes a man or a woman finally pick up its mantle and seriously begin the journey toward true manhood or womanhood. I think for a lot of people, the catalyst is their first child or children. I used to think it was marriage, but after getting married, I realized that it is quite easy to have a pleasant marriage and remain quite selfish. There’s still plenty of time in a day for two reasonable people to basically do what they both want to do. Tonight we’ll eat at your restaurant and tomorrow night we’ll eat at mine; Friday night, the mall, Saturday morning, the golf course; etc…

A child changes that. Free time suddenly dwindles, days and night inexplicably become both longer and shorter, typically expanding or contracting as necessary to most effectively limit your perceived freedom. Everyone becomes more stressed out. Throw a little sickness or depression into the mix and you’ve got a custom designed crash-course entitled The Selfish You: Learning How To Defeat the Me-Monster. For those of you who don’t have children yet, I am not joking.

To be fair, the reason that a child can be so shocking to the system is that the experience challenges our beliefs regarding the purpose of our lives. Someone who is already living a life based on sacrifice, humility, and unselfishness, will notice only the blessings that a child brings: the first smile, the first laugh, the feel of the tiny head resting on their shoulder. To the selfish man, these things seem like such consolation prizes. Look at all that I gave up,” screams the selfish soul, “and all I get is laughs and smiles? I could have rented About a Boy or My Life and saved myself the trouble”.

Where am I going with all this? That’s a fair question. It’s partly a confessional on my part, an admission of my own failures, and an attempt to be more transparent, but it’s also an attempt to frame a question. Does this resonate with other first and second time parents? I have two children now, Gavin will be two near the end of May and Petra is going on eleven weeks. In many ways, the second child was harder than the first, but the first taught us so much that it’s hard to really compare them. God says that the fruit of the womb is his reward, and his blessings tend to be things that go against our nature (Matthew 5:11-12, Isaiah 55:8) How does this thinking compare with what others have experienced? Has God used children or marriage to move you toward responsibility and away from selfishness?

America, Evangelism, and the State of the Church

Kevin Bauder of Central Baptist Theological Seminary has sounded off on the state of the American church and the sore need for the re-evangelization of America. Here’s an excerpt:

I have some reason to know. In 1990, I moved my family to a city in the Bible Belt (not Atlanta) and commenced the search for a church. Of course, I did not expect to find an ideal church, but I did expect to find a church that shared some understanding of what the ideal should be. I was sorely disappointed. Visiting congregation after congregation led to the amazing conclusion that doctrinal aberration, toleration of sin, and corrupted worship were widespread among the supposedly fundamental churches of that city. In the end, I found myself planting a church in order to provide for the spiritual wellbeing of my own family.

Read the full text here.

Reformed?

From a recent conversation with a Reformed friend:

When people would ask me what sort of church I went to or what sort of religion I was and I would say, “Oh, I’m Reformed”, they would smile and then frown and then look puzzled and ask, “Reformed from what?!?”

Does anyone else have any interesting stories about confusion caused by your faith, or about your own confusion regarding issues of faith?

Antinomianism

Over at Greensboro NC Christian Joel Gillespie has written a couple of interesting posts on Antinomianism[1][2]. Do yourself a favor and check them out, then do me a favor and come back here and leave a comment about it.

Just FYI, I found the second post to be more informative.

The Quality and Expression of Love

Over at Bittersweet Life, my friend Ariel has pointed us all to an article (on the Touchstone magazine blog) that dares to compare modern American pop culture lyrics on love to stuff written by dead people (they probably couldn’t even speak English… Ewww!!). The nerve of some people!!

While there has been a clear decline in quality over the years, you could almost argue that the first poem and the last poem on the page are the same poem minus some measure of intelligence. Are we seeing a decay that should not be, or are we merely seeing the natural decay that occurs when God is “removed” from the mix, when love is made an end unto itself, and pleasure, not obedience, becomes the true measure of love?

Does anyone have thoughts on this? As always lively discussion is encouraged, nay, expected!! Let’s show those dead people a thing or two…