Sunday, December 30, 2007
Paul in Corinthians, is writing in response to Chloe's people (1.11) who tell Paul of some of their concerns with the church in Corinth and to a letter written to him (7.1) from the Corinth Church.
This is the first part of a three part segment on the grand opening of this book.
As we dive into the text we notice the first word in the letter as being "Paul". To many this isn't strange or even interesting, that is until one look into the history of this "Paul" figure and see that he wasn't always called Paul, but at one time he was known as Saul of Tarsus. The first time he appears in scriptures he's holding the garments of those who dragged Stephen (one of the seven picked in Jerusalem to serve) out of the city and stoned him to death. This Saul went from holding garments and approving of this execution to participation in it. He went house to house dragging people off to prison for their faith in Jesus. This Saul was in the very act of trying to destroy the church when he encounters Jesus on the road to Damascus. This Saul after an encounter with Jesus was forever changed, he started to preach and to build up what he once tried to destroy. After a time Saul was called with a man named Barnabas by the Holy Spirit to do a work for God. It is at this time we are told that his name is no longer Saul But Paul.
Saul is a Hebrew name and it's Greek equivalence is Paul. In the book of Acts once the author mentions that Saul was also called Paul, the author of Acts (Luke) never again refers to his Hebrew name but only his Greek equivalence Paul. This gives us a hint into part of Paul's calling, which was to the Greeks.
"Paul, called by the will of God..."
This statement mirrors the Acts account of Paul's conversion. Jesus calls Paul while Paul is in the very act of persecuting God's people. It's the calling of God that can bring a ville persecutor of the Gospel to saving repentance. The echo of Romans 8.30 is heard here, "...and those whom he called he also justified,...". Without the call of God Paul would have remained Saul, just another one in a long list of men who persecuted the church. Paul wasn't called my mans will, but Paul's calling was by the will of God. This God is the one who "works all things according to the counsel of his will". So we see that it was in God's sovereign will to call Paul, this calling led to Paul's conversion, and not only to his conversion but to his vocational calling as an apostle of Jesus Christ.
The day Paul met Jesus he was forever changed. The prof that Paul met Jesus was the fact that he changed, he went from being Saul the persecutor to Paul the Apostle of Christ Jesus. Paul's life testified to the reality of his encounter with Christ. One of the ways we can know if we really have had an encounter with Jesus is a changed life. Not only a changed life sometime back-when in the good old by and by, but a life that's continually being changed by the ever real presence of the call of God on ones life.
Paul mentions in a later part of this letter as being untimely born, it's in the sense of being spiritually born again. If one is asked how many disciples did Jesus hand chose, one would be wrong if they say 12. Jesus chose Paul on the Road to Damascus, Paul is the 13th hand picked disciple of Jesus. An apostle is a "sent one", one who is sent in the name of another. Paul was called by God to be a sent one, and the Corinthians are a recipient of this calling. Paul's authority behind writing the Corinthians isn't his own, nor is it in some other person, but it's in his calling because it was God who called him, chose him, justified him, and declared him to be an Apostle to the Gentiles, and this is symbolized by the fact we know this man mainly as Paul instead of Saul.
There are a couple of truths we can pull out from this. The first is that salvation is by grace, Paul wasn't looking to be save, yet by Gods grace he came to know Jesus in a saving way. The Second is the sovereignty of God, God is in control. When we look at people and think, "they can never be saved," God says all things are possible through me. God being sovereign over salvation is one of the reasons we can be encourage to pray for the lost. And third, when God calls us to a task, he gives us the abilities to preform it in his strength. Paul wasn't an apostle in his own strength but he relied on Jesus as his source. We are not saved because of what we did, and we cannot stay saved because of what we do, salvation is all of God, from first to end. So in all of this like Paul we can only boast in the cross of Christ.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
My prayer for him is that one day in God's providence he (that is my son) would have the same infatuation with Jesus. That all he thinks about, talks about, gets excited about is God. My prayer for him lately is "Father I thank you for his passion for balls, and some day may that passion be placed on You, and may he serve you and follow hard after you all his days."
My sons passion is a little convicting. I ask myself, "Do I have that kind of vigorous determination to latch on to something and not let it go?" And to often I have to answer with a resounding No!
John Owen when talking about theology and studying God's word mentioned one of the key elements to his method was a "vigorous meditation" on the words of God. Not just reading a passage a couple of times, but meditating on it, thinking about it, letting the truths of scripture sink deep into your soul, and praying for the Holy Spirit to enlighten His truths to your heart and mind.
This coming year I pray that the Holy Spirit would help me to "Vigorous meditation" on the things of God. To take a passage of scripture and like my son with "balls", think about, talk about and get excited about Gods words. To let it sink deeper and deeper into my heart to the point that it flows out of my life, not only to a lost and dying world, but to my son.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Richard Sibbes was a Puritan pastor in the16th-17th century. Sibbes is known for his extraordinary preaching, and is called the "heavenly Doctor Sibbes." One of the books he wrote is called "The Bruised Read". Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones when referring to this wounder-full little book said, "it, quietened, soothed, comforted, encouraged and healed me." This was a time in Maryn's life when he was in need of Balm for his soul...
In this time of seasonal upheaval do to Christmas, Family, traveling and all the news and political jumble that's going 0n, these words will help bring it all into prospective.
"A Christian is an impregnable person. He is a person that never can be conquered. Emmanuel became man to make the church and every Christian to be one with him. Christ's nature is out of danger of all that is hurtful. The sun shall not shine, the wind shall not blow, to the church's hurt. For the church's Head ruleth over all things and hath all things in subjection. Therefore let all the enemies consult together, this king and that power, there is a counsel in heaven which will disturb and dash all their counsels. Emmanuel in heaven laugheth them to scorn. And as Luther said, 'Shall we weep and cry when God laugheth?'"
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Here are a couple more verses to ponder in our pursuit of the Godhead.
This one is known as the Shema of Israel:
"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the Lord Is One."
This one is and interesting couple of verses out of the book of Daniel.
As I looked, thrones where placed,
and the Ancient of days took his seat;
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of this head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames;
its wheels were burning fire....
...and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man.
and he came to the Ancient of days
and was presented before him.
And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed...
Monday, December 24, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Enjoy. Read.. Grow...
Friday, December 21, 2007
I thought it would be fun to post this. Sam is head of Enjoying God ministries, he's a charismatic Calvinist. One reason I want to post this is do to the fact, even thou I don't know Sam or Sam doesn't know me, we have the same theology. There is just a few differences. I'll point out the main difference know then let you read. 1) I do not believe a Christian can be demon-possessed, or demonized. 2) I believe in a young earth, and both of theses points can be backed up from scriptures, but do to time maybe that'll have to wait for a latter date... enjoy.
(By Sam Storms, or click on heading to bring you to his web page)
On numerous occasions I’ve had people ask me about my theological convictions, most likely because I appear to be an odd mix of views that cannot be found in any one confession of faith or reduced to a single label, system, or denomination.
Others have asked the same question when they see the variety of churches in which I’ve either served as senior pastor, associate pastor, board member, or simply member. This would include Southern Baptist, Presbyterian, independent Bible church (with a Plymouth Brethren orientation), Vineyard, Anglican, and charismatic. By now, I suspect many of you might be inclined to say, “Sam, you’re not so much eclectic in your theology as you are confused!”
So, I’ve decided to yield to the pressure of these repeated inquiries and briefly explain what I believe, with only a brief comment on why and a few references to material either in my books or on my website that will provide support. My aim has always been to be biblical. But, of course, everyone would say that about his or her beliefs. So here goes.
I am a Calvinistic, charismatic, complementarian, Christian hedonist. If that weren’t enough to confuse you, I am also amillennial and baptistic, though I believe in rule by a plurality of Elders and maintain a moderately sacramental perspective on the spiritual presence of Christ in the Eucharist (there’s a word that reflects my four years in an Anglican church!).
Please understand that the issues below are not regarded as fundamental in the sense that one must believe them in order to be a Christian. I have not listed such foundational truths as Trinitarianism, the inspiration and infallibility of Scripture, the virgin conception, sinless life, penal substitutionary sacrifice, and bodily resurrection of Christ, or the doctrine of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
I’m focusing, rather, on issues that differentiate men and women who are all Christians. In other words, I trust you understand that I believe someone who is an Arminian-cessationist-egalitarian-dispensational-presbyterian (I dare say I’ve never heard of anyone being all those!), or some other odd mixture thereof can also be a Christian. I hope those who regard me as an even odder theological mixture will extend the same generosity.
So, let’s look briefly at each of these and a few related sub-points.
(1) I am a Calvinist (all five points, by the way). I hardly think this needs much explanation, and I refer you to my book, Chosen for Life: The Case for Divine Election (Crossway, 2007). There are several related issues that bear mentioning:
a. On the issue of the order of the divine decrees, I am an Infralapsarian (see Chosen for Life, pp. 213-19).
b. I believe that all those dying in infancy are elect (on my website, http://www.samstorms.com/, a defense can be found in Theological Studies, Controversial Issues).
c. I believe that regeneration, or the new birth, precedes and is the cause/source of saving faith. In other words, we are born again in order that we may believe, not the other way around.
d. In view of the present controversy, it is important that I affirm my belief in the forensic nature of justification in which the righteousness of Christ (often called his active and passive obedience) is imputed to the believer through faith alone.
(2) I am a Charismatic. When asked if I am “charismatic” I typically respond by saying, “Tell me what you mean by the term and I’ll tell you if I’m one.” More times than not, what people have in mind is far and away different from what I believe. So let me simply identify several relevant issues.
a. I believe that all spiritual gifts are valid today and that nothing in Scripture suggests otherwise. My chapter in the book Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? Four Views (Zondervan) is the most extensive answer I’ve given to this question. Also, my book The Beginner’s Guide to Spiritual Gifts (Regal) provides an answer to the question of how such gifts operate in church life today.
b. I believe that baptism in the Spirit occurs at conversion for all Christians (again, check out the two articles on the website in Theological Studies, Controversial Issues). This sets me apart from classical Pentecostalism and much of the contemporary charismatic movement.
c. Although I do pray in tongues (daily), I do not believe that this or any other spiritual gift is designed by God for all Christians. Every Christian has at least one gift while no Christian (at least, none I know) has every gift (nor should they).
d. I believe healing is in the atonement in the same way I believe all spiritual and physical blessings are in the atonement. Were it not for the death and resurrection of Christ we would have nothing but the eternal damnation that we deserve. But not all such blessings are experienced in their fullness until the consummation of all things in the New Heaven and New Earth. This would certainly be true of the healing of the body.
d. Although I do believe God heals today, I do not believe that the so-called “Health and Wealth and/or Prosperity Gospel” is in any sense a “gospel” and I ask all Christians to cease referring to it in such terms. Call it a “movement” or “philosophy” or even a “theology”, but stop calling it a gospel! The same applies to what typically is called “The Word of Faith” movement, in much of which I struggle to find the presence of true, biblical “faith”.
e. I believe in both (1) the finality, sufficiency, and authority of Scripture, on the one hand, and (2) the validity of revelatory gifts such as prophecy and word of knowledge, on the other. And no, the latter (2) is not a threat to the former (1).
(3) I am a Complementarian. I’ve written briefly on this issue at my website. The relevant material can be found in Theological Studies. A few words of clarification are in order.
a. If I am to err, I choose to err on the side of flexibility and freedom. In other words, I hesitate to restrict women from any form of ministry that does not have explicit biblical sanction.
b. As I read the New Testament, it appears that Paul and others restrict women from serving in what I call senior governmental authority, which would include the office of Senior Pastor (i.e., that individual or pastoral office responsible for the regular, authoritative exposition of Scripture) and Elder (or Bishop, depending on which term you prefer). Therefore, I believe a woman can serve as a deacon or worship leader or counselor or any other expression of Christian ministry that does not violate Paul’s injunction against women exercising authority over men (1 Timothy 2:11-15; 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9).
(4) I am a Christian Hedonist. Simply put, I believe it is impossible for us to desire pleasure too much, and that the pleasure we cannot desire too much is pleasure in God and all that he is for us in Jesus. For more on this, I direct you to my books, Pleasures Evermore: The Life-Changing Power of Enjoying God (NavPress) and One Thing: Developing a Passion for the Beauty of God (Christian Focus). If you want a shorter explanation, visit my website and you will see a brief article on the Home page titled, “What is Christian Hedonism?”
(5) I am an Amillennialist. This is a huge topic on which I am currently writing a book. So I’ll limit myself here to only a few specifics.
a. One of the primary reasons I am not a Premillennialist (neither Historic nor Dispensational) is because of what I read in the NT concerning the Second Coming of Christ.
To be a Premillennialist of any sort, you must believe that physical death and the curse on the natural creation will continue to exist beyond the time of Christ’s return. You must believe that the New Heavens and New Earth will not be introduced until 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ. You must believe that unbelieving men and women will still have the opportunity to come to saving faith in Christ for at least 1,000 years subsequent to his return. To be a Premillennialist, you must believe that unbelievers will not be finally resurrected until at least 1,000 years subsequent to Christ’s return and that unbelievers will not be finally judged and cast into eternal punishment until at least 1,000 years subsequent to Christ’s return.
But my reading of what happens at the Second Coming of Christ indicates that then, and not 1,000 years later, physical death is swallowed up in the victory of Christ, never again to exert its power; the natural creation is delivered fully and finally from its bondage to sin; the New Heavens and New Earth are inaugurated; all opportunity for salvation of the lost comes to an end; and both the final resurrection and final judgment of all mankind occur.
b. I find no biblical support for a pre-tribulation rapture, Christian Zionism, a distinction between Israel and the Church, or a future seven year period known as the Great Tribulation.
c. I believe Matthew 24:1-35; Mark 13:1-31; and Luke 21:5-33 (otherwise known as the Olivet Discourse) refer to events that transpired in the first century, beginning with the exaltation of Christ and consummating with the destruction in 70 a.d. of both the city of Jerusalem and its Temple.
As I said, I hope to finish a book on eschatology sometime in 2008, but in the meantime you may read several articles in defense of these beliefs, available on my website under Theological Studies, Eschatology.
(6) I am a Baptist (or, “baptistic”, as some prefer). If you’ve recovered from (5), and I suspect many of you haven’t, let me turn briefly to another broad subject and focus on several important items (rest assured, of course, that being baptistic would entail far more than simply what I mention below).
a. I believe only those who are able to provide a credible testimony of personal faith in Jesus Christ should be baptized (immersed) in water.
b. I believe that a local church should be governed by a plurality of Elders, of which the Senior Pastor is one. I see no biblical basis for a church being led by a single Elder or Pastor. (No, this does not make me a Presbyterian, although I once served as interim pastor for three years in such a church.)
c. I believe that Jesus Christ is spiritually (and therefore, really, but not physically) present in the elements of the Eucharist and that the elements are more than merely a symbol of his body and blood. They are (one of) the sacramental means by which the sanctifying (but not saving) grace of Christ is mediated to the believer. For more on this, check out the two articles titled, “What Happens in the Eucharist?” on my website, Theological Studies, Miscellaneous Topics.
(7) I am a . . . I needed a seventh point to satisfy those who are obsessed with biblical numerology (“6” will never do, or so they tell me), so here is a brief list of other, often contentious, issues. (You can find articles on each of these issues on my website under Theological Studies, Controversial Issues.)
a. I believe that Open Theism is heretical.
b. I believe that eternal punishment in Hell is conscious and unending.
c. I believe that the NT leaves open the possibility for some form of apostolic ministry today (although without the Scripture-writing authority of the original company).
d. I believe Christians can be demonized (note, I did not say demon-possessed).
e. I do not believe the NT mandates that Christians “tithe” 10% of their income but I do believe in generous, sacrificial, proportionate giving that often times, depending on one’s wealth, ought to exceed 10%.
f. While affirming the historicity of Adam and Eve as the first humans and parents of our race, I tentatively embrace the theory of an old earth and old universe. (I’ve not written anything on this, but may have to.)
I think that’s enough to get myself into trouble with just about everyone! I must confess, however, that I’m not in the least bothered by that. My only concern is that these beliefs be grounded in Scripture and not merely experience or personal preference or an emotional wound or ambition or something that I’m required to believe in order to keep my job or because some hero of mine in centuries past happened to believe it. Isn’t that something for which we all should strive?
Thursday, December 20, 2007
The term hypostatic union is much easier than it sounds, but the concept is as profound as anything in theology.
The English adjective hypostatic comes from the Greek word hupostasis. The word only appears four times in the New Testament—maybe most memorably in Hebrews 1:3, where Jesus is said to be “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.” Here the author of Hebrews uses the word in reference to the oneness of God. Both the Father and the Son are of the same “nature.” Jesus is “the exact imprint of his nature.”
However, in early church discussions, as Greek thinkers tried to find agreeable terms with those who spoke in Latin, the word hupostasis came to denote not the sameness in the Godhead (God’s one essence) but the distinctness (the three persons). So it began to be used to refer to something like the English word person.
The Personal Union of Jesus’ Two Natures
So “hypostatic union” may sound fancy in English, but it’s a pretty simple term. Hypostatic means personal. The hypostatic union is the personal union of Jesus’ two natures.
Jesus has two complete natures—one fully human and one fully divine. What the doctrine of the hypostatic union teaches is that these two natures are united in one person in the God-man. Jesus is not two persons. He is one person. The hypostatic union is the joining of the divine and the human in the one person of Jesus.
What Is the Significance?
Why bother with this seemingly fancy term? What good is it to know about this hypostatic union? At the end of the day, the term can go, but the concept behind the term is infinitely precious—and worshipfully mind-stretching.
It is immeasurably sweet—and awe-inspiring—to know that Jesus’ two natures are perfectly united in his one person. Jesus is not divided. He is not two people. He is one person. As the Chalcedonian Creed states, his two natures are without confusion, without change, without division, and without separation. Jesus is one.
This means Jesus is one focal point for our worship. And as Jonathan Edwards preached, in this one-person God-man we find “an admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies.”
Because of this hypostatic, one-person union, Jesus Christ exhibits an unparalleled magnificence. No one person satisfies the complex longings of the human heart like the God-man.
God has made the human heart in such a way that it will never be eternally content with that which is only human. Finitude can’t slake our thirst for the infinite.
And yet, in our finite humanity, we are significantly helped by a point of correspondence with the divine. God was glorious long before he became a man in Jesus. But we are human beings, and unincarnate deity doesn’t connect with us in the same way as the God who became human. The conception of a god who never became man (like Allah) will not satisfy the human soul like the God who did.
One Person, For Us
And beyond just gazing at the spectacular person of Jesus, there is also the amazing gospel-laced revelation that the reason Jesus became the God-man was for us. His fully human nature joined in personal union to his eternally divine nature is permanent proof that Jesus, in perfect harmony with his Father, is undeterrably for us. He has demonstrated his love for us in that while we were still sinners, he took our nature to his one person and died for us.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Dave Hunt is the head of the Berean Call. He's 100% against Calvinistic beliefs, yet it seems he's not against quoting from them and even selling some of their books. Once again the berean call (bc-stand for berean call not before Christ, even thou in this instance the two aren't so far off from eachother) showed up in my mail box. For the last six plus issues or so, it has quoted a Calvinist in it's "Quotable Quotes." Yet all the while bashing those who hold to a Reformed view. This issue was the same as before, he quoted a Puritan Preacher named Samuel Rutherford in his letters from prison in 1637. It seems Dave has a misinformed view of what it means to be Reformed. In his article he sets up a straw man then proceeds to attack it. If anyone has been subdue by his arguments, they should read the book by James White and Dave Hunt as they battle it out page after page. Also in the last in the last page of the BC Dave is selling one of the greats books written in history...Pilgrim's Progress, another Calvinist...? Dave you are confused.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
In the beginning God Created the heavens and the earth... And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters...Then God said, "Let US make man in our image, after our likeness"...So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created Him; male and female He created them.(excepts from Genesis)
Questions to consider:
1) The bible never tries to prove that there is a God, It just assumes that He is. Why?
2) Why is the Hebrew word Elohim, Plural instead of singular?
3) When Moses says the Spirit of God was hovering, what did he mean? Was it God or was it His Spirit, and are these the same or different?
4) Who is the "US & Our" in creating man? Only God creates, not angels. The bible says man was made in the image of God, not in the image of angels?
5) In Hebrew literature if one wants to put emphases on a subject it's mentioned twice. Moses mentions that man was created in God's image twice and three times that man was created...why?
It's helpful to have some kind of grasp on the Godhead in these verses. In the next (Trinity vs. Oneness) post we will look more in-depth into these verse and a hand full of others in the Old Testament before we move of to the New Testament.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Up and coming post will deal with the Godhead. Is it three in one or one in three. Many may wounder why even talk about this since the historic confessions confess that there is one God but within the one God there is three "persons". One reason I'm going to post this is that fact that there is a huge following of what some call a heretical movement of "Oneness People", in which most of my Family would consider them selfs to be apart of, and proud to be so called. The second reason is to just once again take a fresh look at scriptures and see what the Bible has to say about the character of God, and who He is.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
As a follower of Christ I need to guard my heart from the things of the world, and one of the best ways it to not turn on a TV. How can we say we want God to move and after praying for Him to come, then turn around within a couple of hours and start watching things that God Hates? "God please come and change me...while I watch violence, sex, hear blasphemes language, have ungodly impute pumping directly into my mind, hear and soul."
please understand I'm not saying we cant watch TV, but I am say we can't watch most of whats on TV. On way to gauge if we are really Christians I believe, is to evaluate what were watching. If were watching the filth of the world, we either need to repent or its a sign that were not really part of the Family of God.