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Jesus and the Promise of the NT Canon

Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary - Tue, 09/30/2014 - 14:22

Among the many promises of John 14–17 are several that anticipate heightened activity by the Holy Spirit in the apostolic era. These have long been a source of both comfort and confusion to NT believers. Assurances that the Spirit would assume new functions of “bringing to remembrance” Christ’s words (14:25–26) and empowering the testimony of the disciples (15:26–27) gave confidence to the early church that Christ had not abandoned his people when he ascended to be with the Father. But they also raise questions about the nature of the Spirit’s work. Are these promises offered generally to all NT believers? And if so, were OT saints summarily denied these benefits as they struggled to bear witness to the superiority of Yahweh? IOW, can we expect the Spirit to do more spectacular things for Christian believers as they witness for him today than he did for earlier generations of God-worshipers?

The answer to this question is complex, and I cannot hope to give a comprehensive answer in a single blog post. But the conundrum is reduced at least in part when we correctly see at least some of the promises of John 14–17 as having a narrower scope than is often assumed. While Christ is surely using these chapters to prepare the whole Christian church generally for his departure, some of the promises he makes in this pericope have a restrictive application. Note, for instance, that some of the promises are limited to those who had been “with Christ from the beginning” (15:27) and who could be “reminded” of things that Christ had personally “spoken to them while still with them” (14:25–26). IOW, some of these promises anticipate what Larry Pettegrew has labeled an “apostolic anointing”—a special dispensation of Spirit activity to be “breathed out” on the Twelve (20:22) as they set out on their peculiar mission as foundation blocks for the brand new Christian community denominated “the Church.”

Of particular interest here are Christ’s oversight and the Spirit’s equipping of the Apostles to produce the New Testament canon. Note the following:

  • As with his ministry to the writing prophets of old (Amos 3:8), some of the Spirit’s promised function is efficacious (15:26–27). The apostles spoke/wrote of necessity what were God’s own words (cf. 1 Cor 2:11–13; 2 Pet 1:19–21). Here is no promise of memory jogs made generally available for Christians at large as they testify humanly for God, but a special promise that the Apostles would testify necessarily and in errantly as authorized spokesmen for God.
  •  The Spirit’s work was also comprehensive in scope (the “all things” of 14:26 and 16:13). We’ve already seen from the context that the “all things” can be restricted to the words that the disciples had personally heard Christ say, but we can probably reduce it still further: They did not necessarily remember Christ’s every word (e.g., “Hi Mom” or “Hey Peter, please pass the salt”), but rather everything in that special category of “things necessary for life and godliness” (2 Pet 1:3–4) that “thoroughly equips” the believer for “every good work” (2 Tim 3:17). The promise reflects one of biblical sufficiency.
  • The Spirit’s work was also derivative in nature (16:14–16). What I mean by this is that he was not offering his independent and original services to the apostles, but was carefully taking divine thoughts expressed first by the Father and thence by Christ and expressing them in spiritual words (cf. 1 Cor 2:10–13) that live on in the divinely inspired and humanly unoriginal words of Scripture (2 Pet 1:19–21).

Some believers hesitate to accept this interpretation, preferring instead the occasional spiritual memory prompts that they hope the Spirit will miraculously bestow as they witness for Christ. But the promise here is much greater than this! Here instead is Christ’s promise that he would, through his Spirit, oversee the inspiration of the NT Scriptures, offering a personal imprimatur on those words as the very Word of God containing everything necessary for life and godliness. This is indeed a grand promise for the Christian Church as it labors faithfully in the physical absence of our Lord Christ. And in this promise we have something far more scintillating than individual and existential experiences of the divine to which many modern expressions of the Christian religion have reduced. We have God’s sufficient Word transmitted, recorded, canonized, and preserved!

Categories: Seminary Blog

A Woman's Worth

Talbot School of Theology - Tue, 09/30/2014 - 13:45

... The culture was restless in the ‘60s. And that restlessness was present in the church, too. Women lined up on both sides of the raging debates about the identity and purpose and worth of a woman—debate issues such as, a woman should be in the home rearing her children or a woman should be educated and in the work force; or, a woman is different from a man or a woman is just like a man.

Categories: Seminary Blog

This Chivalry Thing

Criswell College: For Christ and Culture - Tue, 09/30/2014 - 10:37

by Kirk Spencer

Whoopi said “You have to teach women, do not live with this idea that men have this chivalry thing still with them… Don’t assume that’s still in place. So don’t be surprised if you hit a man, and he hits you back! You hit somebody. They hit you back. Don’t be surprised.”[1] The “chivalry thing,” of which Whoopi speaks, is a Christian thing. It is the marriage of the pagan virtue of ruthless strength with the Christian virtue of humble submission. The “vir” in “virtue” is “man.” And, originally, in classical times, the Latin term “virtus” meant the active and somewhat ruthless strength of “manliness.” The classical mind tried to control virtus with “disciplina” (ordering through preparation). However, this rarely worked. That brute strength of man as a brute let loose and “took care of business.” In chivalry, this brutish ruthless strength was submitted to God’s control to direct strength in order to protect the weak. So the “chivalry thing” is strength submitted and the submission was to God. Christianity made virtus into virtue and disciplina into discipleship.[2] It was a reflection of the meekness of Christ in Christian men—with the understanding that meekness is not weakness; it is strength under control, strength that protects. Chivalry was Christian meekness in defense of the defenseless.

Now if we have a culture that moves away from God and its men no longer seek to place their strength under God control, we should not be surprised that “this chivalry thing,” even in its vestigial form, is no longer with us. We should not be surprised if, when the elevator doors closes, giving us supposed privacy, there will be fighting. The bell rings and the next round begins. We should not be surprised if there is fighting when the doors of our homes close… And, if this “chivalry thing” in not still with men, if it is not still in place, the weaker vessels will suffer, rather than being protected. In the midst of all the fighting, however, God’s Good News, is still “with us.” It is still the same. The same transforming grace that inspired the ideal knight is still available to men (and women). God’s love is still unconditional. We can still be forgiven. No matter what kind of monsters we have been, God can make us new creatures. And one of the marks of a new creature is the ability to forgive, even as we have been forgiven.

[1] http://www.mediaite.com/tv/whoopi-defends-stephen-a-smith-if-you-hit-a-man-dont-be-surprised-if-he-hits-back/

[2] I, in no way, want to imply that every knight (especially crusaders) were ideal in following the ideal of chivalry.


Categories: Seminary Blog

Worthy of Double Honor

Southwestern Seminary - Tue, 09/30/2014 - 07:00

With all due respect to Chuck Swindoll and Charles Stanley, whose works I highly recommend to you, there are three guys named Charles whose writings every Minister should know: Charles Spurgeon, Charles Jefferson, and Charles Bridges.  Along with Pope Gregory’s Pastoral Rule and Richard Baxter’s Reformed Pastor, Charles Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students, Charles Jefferson’s The Minister as Shepherd, and Charles Bridges The Christian Ministry constitute some of if not the most significant works in Pastoral Ministry outside of Scripture ever written.  Of course, each of these men had other significant works that I highly recommend, but these stand out because of their content and impact.  The standard they set for the role of the Pastor remains a relevant call to our churches today.

Among the many great lessons these giant works of our faith affirm is the value of the role of the Pastor.  It is a lesson needed today as emphatically as ever.

I’ve read a lot of people who’ve said that the role of the minister isn’t respected today as much as it once was.  I even read one author (Clement Rogers in his Pastoral Theology) who said that in 1912!  Which makes one wonder when was the role of the Pastor respected?  I suspect, the role of the minister has never been as respected as it should be.  I’d like to see us change that.

October is Pastor Appreciation Month.  I want to challenge every church and every church member to find appropriate ways to honor God by honoring the man He has provided to be your shepherd.  I submit you to that your Pastor is worthy of appreciation.  Here are just a few reasons why:

  • Your Pastor is worthy of appreciation because of the enormity of the task to which God has called him.  The Church is a complex organization with multifaceted needs.  Today, a Pastor is expected to be good at so many things.  Here are just a few:

Your Pastor is expected to:

  • Preach, teach, pray, equip, cast vision, counsel, lead the staff, lead his family, study, conduct weddings and funerals, dedicate babies, baptize, serve the Lord’s Supper, moderate business meetings, attend denominational functions, advise committees, manage the public relations of the church, lead the community in social reform, visit the sick and the bereaved and the lost and the prospects and the problematic, provide leadership, and give direction.

Not only that, your Pastor is expected to be knowledgeable (maybe even an expert) in:

  • Theology, hermeneutics, rhetoric, logic, music, architecture, administration, leadership, management, finance, education, conflict resolution, worship, counseling, medicine, legal matters, ethics, politics, secular culture, engineering, acoustics, aesthetics, gerontology, child-rearing, apologetics, evangelism, etiquette, prayer, Bible, current events, history, religions, and denominations.
  • Your Pastor is worthy of appreciation because of the weight of the spiritual battle he fights on your behalf.  Every day, a Pastor goes into battle against an enemy he cannot see, who’s not flesh and blood, and who desires to sift him like wheat.  You need to pray for him even as he intercedes on your behalf.
  • Your Pastor is worthy of appreciation because the magnitude of sin and the burden of lost souls.  The challenge of his call and the need of the hour touches the nerve of a God-called man who knows he is faced with an impossible task in his own strength.
  • Your Pastor is worthy of appreciation because of the enormous volume of bad theology he must oppose.  You’ve heard them.  The noise of their empty platitudes clutters our Facebook pages with the sappy and dangerous sentiment of their under-fed theology.  The attractiveness of their anemic and me-focused messages fills auditoriums with people whose appetites have been whetted by false promises of a happy life, but only leaves them hungry and disillusioned!

Who will stand against the noise of this pandemic of powerless preaching with the   unpopular truth if God’s Word?  I’ll tell you who it is; he is your Pastor!

  • Finally, I suggest to you that your Pastor is worthy of respect because your church called him.  It is a commitment that you have made to him before God.  You owe him that.  It’s a calling that he takes seriously and you should to.

So, stand with him; stand by him; stand before him; stand under him.  He’s your Pastor.  And when he is attacked or under-appreciated, don’t stand for that!

Let’s make this October the beginning of something we’ve maybe never seen before.  Show your Pastor the respect and appreciation he deserves.  Maybe then, history will look back and remember a time when Pastor’s weren’t respected.

Categories: Seminary Blog

No coasting into Christlikeness

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 14:03

 

When it comes to discipline in the Christian life, many believers question its importance. Devotion to prayer declines into drudgery. The real-life usefulness of meditation on Scripture seems uncertain. The purpose of a discipline like fasting is a mystery. Why not leave spiritual discipline to those who seem to more disciplined by nature and let the rest of us “live by grace”?

First, we must understand what we shall become. The Bible says of God’s elect, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29). God’s eternal plan ensures that every Christian will ultimately conform to Christlikeness. We will be changed “when he appears” so that “we shall be like him” (1 John 3:2). If you are born again (John 3:3-8), this is you, Christian, as soon as “he appears.”

So why talk about discipline? If God has predestined our conformity to Christlikeness, where does discipline fit in? Why not just coast into the promised Christlikeness and forget about discipline?

Although God will grant Christlikeness to us when Jesus returns, until then He intends for us to grow toward it. We aren’t merely to wait for holiness, we’re to pursue it. “Strive for peace with everyone,” we’re commanded in Hebrews 12:14, “and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” Notice carefully what that says: without holiness—that is, Christlikeness; Godliness—no one will see the Lord, regardless of how many times they’ve been to church or how often they’ve engaged in religious activities or how spiritual they believe themselves to be.

Related: Practice true spirituality

It’s crucial—crucial—to understand that it’s not our pursuit of holiness that qualifies us to see the Lord. Rather, we are qualified to see the Lord by the Lord, not by good things we do. We cannot produce enough righteousness to impress God and gain admittance into Heaven. Instead we can stand before God only in the righteousness that’s been earned by another, Jesus Christ. Only Jesus lived a life good enough to be accepted by God and worthy of entrance into Heaven. And He was able to do so because He was God in the flesh. Living a perfect life qualified Him to be a sacrifice that the Father would accept on behalf of others who by sin had disqualified themselves from Heaven and a relationship with God. As proof of God’s acceptance of Jesus’ life and sacrifice, God raised Him from the dead.

In other words, Jesus lived a perfectly righteous life in complete obedience to the commands of God, and He did so in order to give the credit for all that obedience and righteousness to those who had not kept all of God’s law, and He died for them on a Roman cross in order to receive the punishment they deserved for all their sins against God’s law.

As a result, all who come to God trusting in the person and work of Jesus to make them right with God are given the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14). The presence of the Holy Spirit causes all those in whom He resides to have new holy hungers they didn’t have before. They hunger, for example, for the holy word of God—the Bible—that they used to find boring or irrelevant. They have new holy longings, such as the longing to live in a body without sin and to have a mind no longer tempted by sin. They yearn to live in a holy and perfect world with holy and perfect people, and to see at last the One the angels perpetually praise as “Holy, holy, holy” (Revelation 4:8). These are some of the holy heartbeats in all those in whom the Holy Spirit resides.

Consequently, when the Holy Spirit indwells someone, that person begins to prize and pursue holiness. Thus, as we have seen in Hebrews 12:14, anyone who is not striving for holiness will not see the Lord. And the reason they will not see the Lord in eternity is because they do not know the Lord now, for those who know Him are given His Holy Spirit, and all those indwelled by the Holy Spirit are compelled to pursue holiness.

Related: Learn about our Master of Divinity with a concentration in Biblical Spirituality

And so, the urgent question every Christian should ask is, “How then shall I pursue holiness, the holiness without which I will not see the Lord? How can I become more like Jesus Christ?”

We find a clear answer in 1 Timothy 4:7: “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (NASB). In other words, if your purpose is Godliness—and godliness isyour purpose if you are indwelled by the Holy Spirit, for He makes godliness your purpose—then how do you pursue that purpose? According to this verse, you “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.”

This verse is the theme for Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. In it I attempt to unpack the meaning of 1 Timothy 4:7 and apply it, chapter-by-chapter, in practical ways. I will refer to the scriptural ways Christians discipline themselves in obedience to this verse as the Spiritual Disciplines. I maintain there that the only road to Christian maturity and Godliness (a biblical term synonymous with Christlikeness and holiness) passes through the practice of the Spiritual Disciplines. I emphasize that Godliness is the goal of the Disciplines, and when we remember this, the Spiritual Disciplines become a delight instead of drudgery.

___________
Donald S. Whitney serves as associate professor of biblical spirituality and also as senior associate dean of the School of Theology at Southern Seminary.  He is the author of six books, including Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian LifeYou can connect with Whitney on TwitterFacebook and through his website The Center for Biblical Spirituality. This article originally appeared at BiblicalSpirituality.org.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Why Religion Won’t Go Away

Southwestern Seminary - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 07:00

We are witnessing a shift away from the secularization (the diminishing influence of religion) of the 19th and 20th century. The 21st century is shaping up to be postsecular. As Jacobsen and Jacobsen say in their book, The American University in a Postsecular Age: “religion will likely exercise a significant role in human affairs for a long time to come. If secularization means that the world is getting a little less religious every day, then we live in a postsecular world.” (p.10)

Why won’t religion go away? Why, even as atheists such as Voltaire, Nietzsche, Dawkins and company proclaim the death of God, is God on a comeback? The Christian vision of reality offers a plausible explanation:

(1) Reality is, at rock bottom, spiritual.

The first five words in the Bible set the stage for all that comes after: “In the beginning God created” (Genesis 1:1). And what did God create? The answer is—all reality distinct from Himself. Everything that exists distinct from God owes its existence to God: God is Creator, everything else is creature. Thus, God is sovereign and (as theologians like to say) transcendent—everything depends on God and God doesn’t depend on anything. Further, we learn in Scripture that this Creator God is not absent from the world; rather his presence fills the universe. We live in a God-bathed universe (that is, God is immanent). As Paul proclaims in Acts, “For in him we live and move and having our being” (Acts 17:28).

This means that the most fundamental distinction in all of reality is that of Creator-creature. Everything that is, everything that exists owes its existence to God. And God is spirit. Thus, the most fundamental fact about reality, the fact that conditions all other facts, is spiritual in nature. We can’t scrub out our spirituality like we scrub out grease in a pan. This leads to a second reason:

(2) Man is inherently religious.

We have been created by God to respond to him, to love him, to worship him, to delight in him and to enjoy him. Thus, at its core, human life is inherently religious. All of human life is lived in response to God—either in communion or rebellion. In fact, as we read the great thinkers of the western world—from Homer to Plato, from Epictetus to Calvin—what we find is that man is inherently religious and must work really hard to be talked out of belief in God. Spirituality is the default position, not atheism.

(3) God is always at work in the world.

The Bible (from Genesis 12 to Revelation 20) reveals a God on a rescue mission to redeem that which is fallen, to save that which is lost. God has not abandoned his creation—He is at work. In fact, we can see this providential care and concern even in the creation event itself: Ask yourself, why did God create in the first place? Prior to creation, God existed in perfect delight and harmony in a triune dance of love and joy between the three members of the Godhead. God did not need anything. So, why did God create? The answer is not to get but to spread—his glory, his delight. And the fall of man does not change that. The gospel story can be likened to a three part play—tragedy, comedy, and fairy story—the tragedy is man’s sin, the divine comedy—the unexpected turn—is God sending his Son to pay for our sin, and the fairy story ending is that heaven and earth will one day we redeemed and restored as all of creation radiates with the glory and delight of God.

Secularism is a non-starter—it always existed parasitically on its host—theism. Secularism is only against something—religion—but it is not FOR anything, thus it cannot survive. Yes, there will be pockets of secularism, but the reality of God at work in the world ensures that God gets the last word.

______________

This article first appeared on the blog of Paul Gould, assistant professor of philosophy and Christian apologetics at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Follow him on Twitter at @paulmgould.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Book Club with Dr. Barry Creamer

Criswell College: For Christ and Culture - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 18:45

Criswell College is excited to announce an opportunity to join a book club with our own President and Professor of Humanities, Dr. Barry Creamer, from October 6 to November 17, 2014!

We will be reading The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, Hope by William Dean Howells, and The Open Boat and Other Stories by Stephen Crane.

Join the club by emailing your contact information to radiobookclub@criswell.edu, and you will receive weekly reading assignments, reading observations, and questions. After the reading assignments have been completed, the book club will meet at the college on Monday evening, November 17th to discuss the material with Dr. Creamer.

Join us!


Categories: Seminary Blog

Creation and American Christianity

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 16:15

 

The character of Christianity depends, in profound ways, on one’s beliefs concerning creation. For the first 250 years of the existence of the church in America, Christians assumed the truth of the doctrine of creation. It was revealed in the Bible and it made the most sense of the natural world. When large numbers of Christians rejected the doctrine in the 20th century, the results were astonishing.

The New England Puritans expressed their belief in creation in the confession of faith adopted in 1648 as part of the Cambridge Platform: “It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good.”

It was not an abstract doctrine, for creation displayed divine truth. All nature taught the wisdom of God. It evoked thanksgiving to God for its benefits. It warned of God’s judgment through its threatening aspects. Puritan minister Cotton Mather thus urged Christians to “fetch lessons of piety from the whole creation of God.”

The doctrine of creation also led Americans to view themselves as part of the same organic history as Adam and Eve. Genesis recorded the origins of nature and of humanity, and demonstrated that all persons were part of the same race and history by virtue of creation. It is unsurprising then that Thomas Prince began his Chronological History of New England (1736) from the creation of the world rather than from the migration of the Pilgrims.

The doctrine of creation also contributed directly to such fundamental truths as the doctrines of the fall and of redemption. If the just and perfect God created this world, why was it filled with evil, suffering, and imperfection? The Bible explained that human depravity and natural evil resulted from God’s judgment upon human sin, initiated in Adam’s rebellion against God’s rule. The Bible explained the cure also. Humans could be redeemed through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, who would justify and save all who would believe in Him, and inaugurate a new heavens and a new earth. Fallen creation would become new creation. These beliefs infused American culture with a profoundly biblical cast.

Evolution and Creation in America

Before the late nineteenth century most Americans understood the Bible’s account of human origins as genuine history. By 1900 however large numbers of educated Americans viewed the Genesis account as a primitive myth. It was largely the work of Charles Darwin, but geologist Charles Lyell prepared the way.

Lyell’s Principles of Geology (2 vols. 1830-33) argued persuasively that the geological features of the earth were better explained as the result of gradual processes than of catastrophic floods, volcanic activity and upheavals. Since it would take millions of years to produce the stratified layers of the earth’s crust by slow deposition, the earth was necessarily much older than the Genesis chronology indicated. And the occurrence of fossilized remains in deep strata suggested, therefore, that the earth was populated with living creatures long before Moses said they were created.

Darwin’s Origin of the Species (1859) played the primary role, however, in convincing many educated Americans to reject the Genesis account. Darwin’s aim was to prove that the classification of large groups of living things based on their similarities was “utterly inexplicable on the theory of creation” – only “the theory of the natural selection of successive slight modifications” provided a satisfactory explanation. The theory of natural selection is necessarily opposed to the creation of different types or species. Darwin entertained the possibility that a Creator breathed life into a few primordial organisms, but all subsequent living organisms in any case developed by the natural agency of natural selection acting upon naturally occurring slight modifications.

Many who accepted Darwin abandoned the Bible. John Draper’s History of the Conflict between Religion and Science (1874)and Andrew White’s History of the Warfare of Science with Theology (2 vols. 1896) pressed the claims of science against Christianity. They identified Christianity with superstition and persecution. No argument, Draper said, could “reconcile the statements of Genesis with the discoveries of science.” Evolution, geology, and astronomy proved that the universe was controlled by natural law, not by the miraculous interventions of God. “Creation implies an abrupt appearance,” Draper wrote, but the “resistless order of evolution” was a gradual unfolding. If evolution was true, creation was not.

Many Christians agreed. But they held that since creation was true, evolution must be false. Evolution was false because the Bible taught creation and because the natural evidence did not in fact prove evolution. In any case, creation and evolution were incompatible. Benjamin B. Warfield expressed the basic Christian response: “Evolution, it thus appears, is the precise contradictory of creation.” Evolution involved denial of creation, and vice versa.

Liberalism’s Third Way: Naturalistic Interpretation

Many professing Christians refused to accept this stark alternative. They were convinced that science proved evolution and the great antiquity of the earth. But they were convinced also of the profound power and truth of the Bible. But how could the Bible still be true?

The answer was a new view of inspiration that settled for the Bible’s partial truth: God inspired the Bible’s religious statements but not its historical statements. The account of creation then was inaccurate regarding its historical description, but taught truly that God was the ultimate originator of all things. The Bible could be false as history and science and at the same time true as religion. The Bible was true, but it was not inerrant. One could have evolution and the Bible.

The adoption of this view of inspiration established a new third way between scientific rejection of Christianity and traditionalist rejection of evolution. It produced Christian liberalism, a movement that attracted large numbers of Americans in the 20th century, including the clerical and academic leadership of most large American denominations.

It led however to a whole-cloth transformation of the Christian faith. The doctrine of creation, it turned out, could not be isolated to Genesis.

The Bible taught creation throughout its extent. Creation was also fundamental to other basic Bible truths: the presence of sin and corruption into the world, the necessity and nature of redemption, personal re-creation by faith in Christ, the consummation of redemption as new heavens and new earth.

No less damaging, the principle upon which liberalism adopted the new view of inspiration was the acceptance of naturalistic criteria for the evaluation of biblical statements. Not only the creation accounts, but accounts of miracles and prophecy could not pass the test.

And it meant rejecting Jesus’ own view of the Bible. Jesus quoted passages from the Old Testament with complete confidence in their historical reliability. His arguments in many instances rested on an appeal to historical events recorded in the Bible, including the creation of Adam and Eve. “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Matt 19:4-6).

The liberal view of inspiration left the Bible, and the Jesus revealed in the Bible, with little functional authority. Commitment to evolution produced such results because creation is not just three chapters in Genesis. It is fundamental to the Bible’s central message.

Liberalism in America began with the rejection of the Bible’s creation account. It culminated with a broad rejection of the beliefs of historic Christianity. Yet many Christians today wish to repeat the experiment. We should not expect different results.

_________

Gregory A. Wills serves as Dean of the School of Theology and professor of Church History at Southern Seminary. You can connect with Wills on Twitter at: @gwills11. This article was originally published in the Winter 2011 issue of Southern Seminary Magazine.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Is the Theistic Anti-Realist in a Predicament?

Talbot School of Theology - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 12:00

"First, even though I am an atheist, I have learned a lot from you by reading your responses in Q&A and watching your debates. Even though you sometimes make my blood boil with your views, there are several areas of agreement. One of these is your nominalist (or anti-realist) position concerning abstract objects, which you recently discussed in your Q & A on God and Infinity. My question, however, concerns the implications of your nominalist view, which I think leaves you in an uncomfortable position regarding your ontology of beauty and possibly your moral ontology ..."

Categories: Seminary Blog

Revisiting Common Grace

Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary - Wed, 09/24/2014 - 07:00

It’s mid-September here in Michigan. The much-anticipated, season-changing cold front has gone through, the mornings have become crisp and clear, and the first smells of Autumn have started to fill the air. And this week my son and I are observing a little-celebrated but highly anticipated local holiday: the start of small game season.

By coincidence I am also teaching this week on the topics of natural revelation (in Systematic Theology I) and natural law theory (in Ethics), so it seems that everything in my life this week is converging on God’s “general” or “common” activities in his universe. Hence my blog topic.

Scripture makes much of these general, divine activities and common graces, and though we are constantly reminded that these are not final or comprehensive vehicles of divine disclosure, they are still true and valid means to the knowledge of God and a necessary backdrop to the special revelation of God that has climaxed in the revelation of his Son (Heb 1:1–4 cf. Psa 19; Rom 1:18–2:16). We recognize the voice God who speaks because we have seen from infancy the hand of God who shows.

And so I invite all of you, at a time of year when the change of seasons causes the mind to drift to God’s common gifts, to revisit them for what they are—common graces that appear to all but can be fully appreciated only by those who have been recipients of God’s redemptive grace. And to facilitate that end, let me put a couple of verses of song into your mind to serve as pointers to the sometimes neglected but eminently praiseworthy common graces that we experience daily:

This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise, The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise. This is my Father’s world: he shines in all that’s fair; In the rustling grass I hear him pass; He speaks to me everywhere.

and

Heav’n above is softer blue, earth around is sweeter green! Something lives in every hue Christless eyes have never seen; Birds with gladder songs o’erflow, flowers with deeper beauties shine, Since I know, as now I know, I am his, and he is mine.
Categories: Seminary Blog

Lay your life down for your life | A guide for husbands

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Wed, 09/24/2014 - 06:00

 

This is the third post in a series from A Guide to Biblical Manhood. Download the whole guidebook as a free PDF here.

Lay your life down for your life

 

Regardless of any examples or influences you may see around you of marriages that seek to be 50/50 and fully equal, it’s your responsibility to lead and give 100 percent. Based on Ephesians 5:24, you’re the head of your marriage as Christ is the head of the church. You are responsible to lead. You carry the burden when decisions need to be made and God will hold you accountable to lead.

And regardless of any examples or influences you may see around you of men who are dominating in their marriages, you are responsible to be a servant leader. Based on Ephesians 5:25, you are to love your wife “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” In other words, you lovingly lead by laying down your life.

Just as we saw in the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet in John 13, Christian leadership is sacrificial. Your leadership as a husband is modeled on the example of Christ who demonstrated His love as head of the church by laying down His life.

That means your love and your leadership are not based on your emotions or on how your wife treats you, and they aren’t tied up in any kind of score - keeping in which you only give based on what you get in return.

Instead, you anchor your love and leadership in Christ.

When you come home from work exhausted and just want to crash in front of the TV, you lay your life down to engage with your wife in a meaningful way. When you’re eager to get back into a book you’ve been reading but see that your wife is troubled, you lay your life down to stop and help her process whatever is weighing her down.

When your wife is sick, you lay your life down to adjust your plans, give her the care she needs and pick up any house and family responsibilities she’s not able to cover.

This is the kind of sacrifice that lovingly serves your wife, but also brings glory to God as it steadily chips away at your self-centeredness and remakes you into His image.

Live in an understanding way with your wife

 

A primary way that you lead in your marriage is in becoming an active student of her. “[H]usbands, live with your wives in an understanding way,” the apostle Peter writes, “showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).

Living with your wife in an understanding way means you’re supposed to know her. You’re not supposed to treat her generically — you’re supposed to treat her uniquely. And in order to treat her uniquely, you have to work at knowing her.

People who know me [Randy], know that I’m not real keen on vegetables. Let’s just suppose my wife wants to honor me this evening for a hard-working day and she says, “Honey, I love you so much and I want to honor you and so I’ve made you the best vegetable souffle I could make.” Well, now I’m conflicted. She’s shown an act of appreciation and kindness, but the way to my heart is through beef. And what I want to say is, “I’m grateful for this, but you don’t even know me.”

Some of your wives are saying, “You don’t even know me — you’re treating me generically.” You can’t do that. You have to treat your wife uniquely. So, how can you live with your wife in an understanding way? Study her, make intentional efforts based on what you learn, examine your marriage regularly, and lead in planning dates and getaways in order to provide the means in which most of these things can happen in a natural and enjoyable setting. And here’s what all that looks like day to day:

 

Study her

You can’t just read a book to find out how to live with your wife in an understanding way, you have to read your wife. Does she like walks more than flowers, flowers more than candy? You have to study her and learn about the unique person God has joined you to. You should seek to know answers to questions like these:

  • What blesses her?
  • What energizes her?
  • What five things is she good at?
  • What three ways has she shaped you for the better (for which you can thank her)?
  • Where does she think she’s inadequate?
  • What’s weighing on her heart today?

 

Make intentional efforts based on what you learn

Living in an understanding way means not only discerning what your wife needs and what blesses her but then acting on it. That means going into your week committed to do something with the answers to the previous questions and being discerning about opportunities that come your way.

Where can I weave into this week something that will bless my wife? (One way to stay on top of this is to keep building a list of things you know bless your wife, hints she drops and even a list of her sizes in your wallet or on your mobile device and to check that list regularly.)

How can I bring her encouragement in the areas she feels inadequate?

Where can I carve out time to pray about the things on my wife’s heart today?

 

Examine your marriage regularly

How is your marriage doing? Where are you strong and where do you still need to grow? An important aspect of living with your wife in an understanding way is routinely setting aside time to review your marriage at a big-picture level. Some couples do a quick version of this once a week or as part of their date night once a month. This is a great time for you as a husband to ask, “What’s something I can work on over the next 30 days?” — and to then review at your next check up.

What can really pay off in this area is to do an annual or quarterly retreat where you can get away, have fun together and then spend time reviewing questions along the lines of the following:

What are the strengths and weaknesses of our home?

What are three ways we’re being sanctified by our marriage (for example, I pray more, I take better care of my body, I listen better because you’re in my life)?

What priceless things do we enjoy doing together that we need to protect on our calendar?

What one thing would we most like to see improve in the next 30 days, 90 days or year (based on when you plan to do a similar retreat)?

___________________

A Guide to Biblical Manhood

 

By Randy Stinson & Dan Dumas How to serve your wife, how to mold men through baseball, how to make men in the church and more practical theology for cultivating men of God who are doers of the Word for the sake of the Gospel.

Order Now:

Print Version | E-Book

Download the free PDF

 

 

- Randy Stinson serves as Senior vice president for academic administration and provost. He is also associate professor of leadership and family ministry. You can follow Dr. Stinson on Twitter at @RandyStinson.

-Dan Dumas is senior vice president for institutional administration at Southern Seminary. He is a church planter and pastor-teacher at Crossing Church in Louisville, Ky. You can connect with him on Twitter at @DanDumas, on Facebook or at DanDumas.com.

 

Categories: Seminary Blog

“Teaching Naked” in the Church?

Talbot School of Theology - Tue, 09/23/2014 - 13:45

Now there is a provocative title for a blog! But it’s probably not what you think. This past spring I attended a faculty development seminar at Biola University led by José Bowen, author of the book, Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning (Jossey-Bass, 2012). The main thrust of his sessions with us, and of his book, is that with information being so readily available through mass technology, we need to leverage that technology to maximize classroom interaction with students, shifting our roles from presenters of information (which students can get more readily online) to coaches who help students process that information, promoting deeper learning, critical thinking, and application of knowledge to life situations. As I reflected on Bowen’s ideas, I think we may need to start “teaching naked” in the church. Let me tell you what I mean.

 
Categories: Seminary Blog

John MacArthur Rebukes Joel Osteen

Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary - Mon, 09/22/2014 - 07:00

A few weeks ago there was an event here at Dodger Stadium with Joel Osteen, thirty-five thousand people at Dodger Stadium, something like that. He is now the largest, quote/unquote church…. I’m using the word loosely…in America down in Houston. You need to understand that he is a pagan religionist in every sense. He’s a quasi-pantheist. Jesus is a footnote that satisfies his critics and deceives his followers. The idea of this whole thing is that men have the power in themselves to change their lives. In his definitive book, Your Best Life Now, he says…and that ought to be a dead giveaway since the only way this could be your best life is if you’re going to hell. He says that anyone can create by faith and words the dreams he desires…health, wealth, happiness, success…the list is always the same.

Here’s some quotes from his book Your Best Life Now. “If you develop an image of success, health, abundance, joy, peace, happiness, nothing on earth will be able to hold those things from you,” end quote. See, that’s…that’s the law of attraction that’s a part of this kind of system.

Here’s another quote, “All of us are born for earthly greatness. You were born to win.” Win what? “God wants you to live in abundance, you were born to be a champion. He wants to give you the desires of your heart.” “Before we were formed, He prepared us to live abundant lives, to be happy, healthy and whole. But when our thinking becomes contaminated, it’s no longer in line with God’s Word,” end quote. By the way, “God’s Word is not the Bible, God’s Word is that Word that comes to us mystically, spiritually, that tells us what we should want.”

Here’s another quote, “Get your thinking positive and He will bring your desires to pass. He regards you as a strong, courageous, successful person. You’re on your way to a new level of glory.” Hum…how do you get there? “Believe…he says…visualize, and speak out loud.” Same exact approach. Words release your power. Words give life to your dreams.

Here’s another quote. “Friend, there’s a miracle in your mouth.” I think Isaiah might object to that. He said, “I’m a man of unclean lips and I dwell amidst a people of unclean lips.”

Here’s Joel Osteen’s prayer. “I thank You, Father, that I have Your favor.” Wow! Did he meet the Pharisee in Luke 18, or what? “I thank You that I’m not like other people.”

Here’s another quote. “I know these principles are true because they work, for me and my wife.” Oh, so that’s the test of truth. Are you kidding? I know these things are true because they work for me and my wife? Sure, you’re at the top of the Ponzi scheme.

And then he said, “Even finding a perfect parking spot at the mall.” And I ask, “What about the little old lady you cut off to get into that parking? What about her dreams?” Maybe she was born to lose. I mean, it’s so silly, so bizarre.

He says, “God has already done everything He’s going to do, the ball’s in your court.” You have to take that part of God which exists in you and create your own reality.

What is the source of this? Where does this come from? Answer: Satan, this is satanic. This is satanic. This is not just off-centered, this is satanic.

Why do I say that? Because health, wealth, prosperity, the fulfillment of all your dreams and your desires, that’s what Satan always offers. That’s called temptation, based on the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. That’s exactly what corrupt fallen unregenerate people want. That’s why it works so well, right? You can go right into Satan’s system, make everybody feel religious and turn their desires, their temptations into somehow honorable desires. I mean, what did Satan say to Jesus? Grab some satisfaction, why are You hungry? You need to eat. You need to be healthy, whole. Why would You let Yourself be unpopular? Dive off the temple corner, whew, everybody will be wowed. You’ll be the winner, You’ll be the champion. You’ll be the Messiah. They’ll hail You. And by the way, if You just look over the kingdoms of the world, I’ll give those to You, too.

That’s satanic. So the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life, 1 John 2:15 to 17, it’s all a part of the world and it’s all passing away. And why are these false teachers so successful at what they do? Because they’re in cahoots with the devil. Why is Satan successful? Because his temptations, although they might appear noble on the outside, are in perfect accord with all the fallen, corrupt, selfish, proud, evil desires of sinners. This is a false kind of Christianity and a false view of God. God is the one who reserves the right to make you well. “Have not I made the blind and the lame and the halt, He says? Or to allow you to be sick? God has the right to make you prosperous or to give you little. God reserves the right to control the circumstances and events and experiences of your life for His own ends and His own purpose.”

You can read the rest of it here.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Preaching Christ in Ezra and Nehemiah

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Mon, 09/22/2014 - 06:00

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Below, James M. Hamilton Jr., associate professor of biblical theology at Southern Seminary, discusses his new book, Exalting Jesus in Ezra and Nehemiah, with Towers editor S. Craig Sanders.

CS: What is your process for turning a sermon series into a book?

JH: I had been manuscripting my sermons to be published with the Revelation volume for the Preaching in the Word series, and I just kept doing that as I prepared with Ezra and Nehemiah. Essentially, I was writing the sermons as though they were going to be published.

I was also teaching an exegesis class on Ezra and Nehemiah here at the seminary, so it was sort of a three-fold process: I was working through it in the classroom, I was writing up the sermons, and then I was actually teaching the sermons.

During a mission trip to China, I would wake up at 2:30 a.m., jet-lagged, put my headphones in, hit play on the sermon audio, and start typing. I would pause it so that I could rethink something, reorganize, and reshape.

Coming at it from different angles for different purposes has, I hope, given me a well-rounded appreciation of both the academic and scholarly issues in the book, and I’ve been forced to think through the pastoral implications of the book.

CS: You say that you didn’t preach this for a building project. What role did this sermon series play in building “a church of seemingly insignificant people with normal lives and normal problems?”

JH: Some people regard Ezra and Nehemiah as relatively insignificant books in the big story of the Bible.  You’ve got two books of the Bible where a little city, an outpost of the Persian Empire, is repopulated and then has its walls reconstructed. How significant is that? You can almost look at this and say, “This is what God is doing in the world? This is God’s program? That little city of Jerusalem? That’s nowhere.”

Related: The hero story by James. M . Hamilton Jr. 

We could say this about any church, in any city, in any country in the world.  So, I find it tremendously encouraging to look at this from a worldly perspective: this insignificant thing that God does through these two men, Ezra and Nehemiah. This is where from a biblical and spiritual perspective, God is at work in the world. This is how God is advancing
his kingdom.

I think it’s encouraging for us because when we find ourselves in what seems to be out-of-the-way, insignificant places, we can be encouraged that we’re really in good company.

CS: In the book, you reference the inconsistencies regarding numbers recorded in Ezra as scribal errors. What challenges do you face when preaching that to a church?

JH: I think that people made in God’s image can handle difficult issues if you present it to them in terms that they can understand.

We’re dealing with a time where the system for writing numbers is the alphabet, so in Hebrew they don’t have a separate set of characters for their numbers; they used the letters of the alphabet to designate their numbers.

We simply affirm that the inspiration applies to the original biblical author, and God did not re-inspire every scribe who copied a passage of Scripture.

This does not threaten our understanding of inerrancy or inspiration because we trust that the original author had the correct information. Any time we find discrepancies, we look for explanations of these things and often they are very easy
to find.

CS: You demonstrate that the Word of God played a central role in helping Ezra and Nehemiah accomplish their task; it allows people to prosper. How do we lose sight of the Word in the midst of methods, programs, and initiatives?

JH: I think what happens is we slowly drift away from the Bible, and the world and its concerns slowly, incrementally, begin to eclipse the significance of the Bible in our own lives.

Related: Learn from James M. Hamilton  in our Master of Divinity program with a concentration in Biblical and Theological Studies

What’s remarkable about people like Ezra is that he set his heart to study, to follow, and to teach the Bible. Here’s this Persian diplomat whose priorities are not political networking, ladder-climbing, or diplomacy according to the world’s standards. His priorities are, “I’m going to study the Bible; I’m going to obey the Bible; and I’m going to teach
the Bible.”

That is profoundly encouraging because we can look at our own situation and say whatever my calling in life might be, I can adopt Ezra’s priorities and I can study and obey and teach the Scriptures just like Ezra did.

CS: What is your method for preaching a Christ-centered sermon from the Old
Testament?

JH: A holistic understanding of Old Testament theology, and ultimately biblical theology, enables us to see how the Messianic hope or the Christ-centeredness of the document is actually functioning.

From Genesis 3:15 forward, the people of God are looking for this seed of the woman that’s going to defeat evil by crushing the head of the serpent and thereby re-open the way to Eden.  Therefore, the concern to record the history of God’s people is a concern to keep track of what God has done in the outworking of that ultimate purpose of God: to overcome evil and reopen the way to Eden, reopen the way to God’s presence.  The concern for that figure is always lurking just under the surface, even if he isn’t being
discussed on the surface.

When preaching a Christ-centered sermon from the Old Testament,it’s not like a Gospel where they’re telling you the story of Jesus. However, it is giving you the history of people who are looking for a perspective of someone who’s looking for that future coming king from the line of David.

CS: What is it about the opposition Nehemiah faced specifically that you think is encouraging for Christians today?

JH: As Christians, we want to see ourselves as installments in this same pattern as God has put his favor upon us. In response to this, the seed of the serpent is enraged. They’re gathering together against us, and consciously or not, they are trying to overthrow the king of the universe and trying to usurp his kingdom and trying to defeat his people. And this is why Christians across the ages have been persecuted. This is why the people of God across the Old Testament and New Testament are persecuted, and it’s tremendously encouraging to identify yourself with the persecuted like Nehemiah.

CS: I know preachers have different methods for gathering illustrations. I’m curious how you develop a method for how you use illustrations since you use a wide variety of them.

JH: I heed the counsel of Doug Wilson who says try to read until your brain creaks and read knowing that you’re going to forget most of what you read.  And, I appreciate what J.R.R. Tolkien said when he said that his stories sprang from the leaf mold in his mind and the leaf mold in his mind was there from the layers and layers of reading and study that he had done.

I don’t keep a catalog of illustrations, but I’m always trying to listen to audiobooks. I’m always trying to read fiction; I’m always trying to read relevant, historical or obscure accounts that look like they might repay me with illustrative material.  So I feel like I’m trying to be a sponge and just soak things up.

I’ve talked to preachers who will arrive at what they think is the main point of the passage. They will have worked through the exposition, and then they go mow the lawn and something comes to them while they’re not thinking about it anymore. Or they are in the shower and they have a thought that’s a perfect illustration.

Usually, once I’ve worked through the exposition of the text, I’ll sit back and just sort of gaze off into the distance and open my mind to anything that I’ve read that makes what I see as the main point of the passage or that illustrates it somehow.  And it’s remarkable what the Lord will bring to mind. Usually it’s when I’m not sitting down working on a sermon that the illustrative material will be suggested to me from something I’ve read or something
I remember.

CS: What do you want this book to accomplish?

JH: I hope that people will be encouraged to see that even books that may seem not very exciting are tremendously relevant. I hope that they’ll be encouraged and stirred up to see God’s glory in these books.  I hope that they’ll be encouraged to put the whole Bible together and to think about how these books fit into this big unfolding story that we’re a part of. I hope that they’ll be provoked to love the Lord, to love the Word, to love God’s people, to read the Bible more, and to see how everything fits together.

____

James M. Hamilton Jr. is associate professor of biblical theology at Southern Seminary. He has written and contributed to a number of works including What Is Biblical Theology?: A Guide to the Bible's Story, Symbolism, and PatternsYou can read more by Hamilton at his blog Jimhamilton.info. Also, follow him on Twitter: @DrJimHamilton. This article originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of Towers.

 

Categories: Seminary Blog

On the Buying of Seminary Textbooks

Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary - Sat, 09/20/2014 - 07:00

In August 1998, I ordered some of my first seminary textbooks as a student. That particular semester, one item stood out above the rest. Philip Schaff’s 8-volume History of the Christian Church stood out primarily due to its price. At the time Schaff retailed for about $249. Most of us discovered that you could purchase the set for a little under $100 through CBD (and if you could find a free shipping code so much the better), but it still wasn’t a particularly cheap item. For a single guy living on a grocery budget of $10/week (yes, I did), it was a major purchase.

Fast forward some sixteen years. I still refer to Schaff from time to time. In fact, someone gave me a second set a few years ago and so now I keep one in my office and one at home for ease of reference. But I recently noticed that something significant has changed about the set. In printed form, it still costs eighty-something dollars at CBD and Amazon. The thing we couldn’t have imagined sixteen years ago is that one can now purchase Schaff’s entire 8-volume set on Kindle for just $1.99.

Budget-conscious students are sometimes loath to spend money on textbooks, but the book market has changed quite a bit in recent years. Many resources that would have cost hundreds of dollars just a decade or two ago, can be had for a few dollars or sometimes even for free. Here are a few more Kindle deals that may be of interest to students, pastors, and other Christian readers.

The Ante-Nicene Fathers and Nicene/Post-Nicene Church Fathers Collection (37 vols.) – $2.99

The Works of Augustine (50 books) – $1.99

The Martin Luther Collection: 15 Classic Works – $1.99

The John Calvin Collection: 12 Classic Works – $1.99

John Calvin’s Complete Bible Commentaries (22 vols.) – $2.99

The Essential Works of John Owen (22 books) – $2.99

The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Banner of Truth ed.) – $2.99

Charles Hodge’s Systematic Theology (3 vols.) – $2.99

W. G. T. Shedd’s Dogmatic Theology (3 vols.) – $4.99

J. P. Boyce’s Abstract of Systematic Theology – $.99

The Essential Works of Charles Spurgeon (14 books) – $2.99

Augustus Hopkins Strong’s Systematic Theology (3 vols. in 1) – $1.99

MacArthur Study Bible (ESV) – $6.00

Categories: Seminary Blog

If ISIS’s God Were Real, Would I Be Obliged to Follow Him?

Talbot School of Theology - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 12:00

Dear Dr Craig,

You may be aware that Frank Turek has a question he will sometimes ask atheists, "if Christianity were true, would you become a Christian"? Well, recently, an atheist flipped this question around and asked me "If the Islamic State were true (by which he means, if the specific type of Allah that IS believe in, existed) then likewise, would you become an IS member?" ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Race to repentance and forgiveness | A guide for husbands

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 06:00

 

*This is the second post in a series from A Guide to Biblical Manhood. Read the first post here

In a Genesis 3 world, your marriage depends on forgiveness and repentance. James says we all stumble in many ways (James 3:2) and that means you and your wife will stumble...in many ways. You can’t be surprised when your wife sins, you just have to be committed to live out the “or worse” part of your vows and be ready to forgive.

James adds later that we should confess our sins to one another and pray for one another (James 5:16). That means you can’t be defensive — you need to confess your sin and repent (turn away from it). As the leader in your marriage, you should, in fact, be the first to repent and the first to forgive. If someone needs to own something in the home, it should be you.

Related: Download the Free PDF of A Guide to Biblical Manhood by Randy Stinson & Dan Dumas

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul provides a general message for the body of Christ that you have the opportunity and obligation to live out every day in your marriage.

26. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,

27. and give no opportunity to the devil.

Avoid laying out a welcome mat for the enemy. Don’t allow long-term unforgiveness or long periods of awkwardness. 

29. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

30. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

31. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

If you are born again, the Holy Spirit is working in you to conform you into the image of God. Allow the Spirit to do His work of redeeming you from anger and bitterness. Don’t grieve the Spirit by giving in to anger or in saying corrupting words to your spouse in moments of frustration. Put away an attitude of anger by confessing it whenever it surfaces and then turning away from in in the power of the Spirit.

32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Eph 4:26-27, 29-32)

How you see your wife when she upsets you — and how you in turn respond — has everything to do with how you understand the way God sees you.

Jesus once told a parable about a servant who owed a significant amount of money to the king. When he was ordered to be sold along with his wife and children in order to pay the debt, the man fell on his knees and begged for mercy. Out of mercy, the king forgave the man his debt and released him. When that servant found someone who owed him only a small amount, however, he grabbed the man, began choking him, and demanded, “pay what you owe me.” When the man begged for mercy, the servant refused and had the man thrown in debtors prison.

The other servants were distressed when they saw this and reported it to the king. Jesus continues:

Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart. 

(Matthew 18:32-35)

When we are born again, we have a great debt of grace. We are forgiven a debt we could never repay. We are like the wicked servant if we don’t forgive our wives as generously as God forgave us.

In light of your debt to grace, lead in the race to repentance and forgiveness.
___________________

A Guide to Biblical Manhood

 

By Randy Stinson & Dan Dumas How to serve your wife, how to mold men through baseball, how to make men in the church and more practical theology for cultivating men of God who are doers of the Word for the sake of the Gospel.

Order Now:

Print Version | E-Book

Download the free PDF

 

 

- Randy Stinson serves as Senior vice president for academic administration and provost. He is also associate professor of leadership and family ministry. You can follow Dr. Stinson on Twitter at @RandyStinson.

-Dan Dumas is senior vice president for institutional administration at Southern Seminary. He is a church planter and pastor-teacher at Crossing Church in Louisville, Ky. You can connect with him on Twitter at @DanDumas, on Facebook or at DanDumas.com.

 

Categories: Seminary Blog

Giving Thanks: Spiritual Formation Assignment, Part One

Talbot School of Theology - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:00

Half of my teaching load each semester consists of teaching the required freshman class Biblical Interpretation and Spiritual Formation. Although I thought the combination of these two topics in one class was strange when I first read the job posting, the class has grown on me and I now love teaching it. I see the connection as leading from proper reading of the Bible to spiritual formation: the very structure of the class helps prevent us from merely reading the Bible in an academic fashion. We spend a large part of the semester looking at the different genres of the Bible (law, prophecy, etc.) and then we reflect on spiritual formation topics related to those genres (such as legalism and idolatry).

Categories: Seminary Blog

On Being a “Biblicist”: Why You Can’t Choose “None of the Above” on the Calvinism/Arminianism Question

Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 07:00

For my whole life I’ve been broadly a part of an ecclesiastical culture/movement that has been disinclined to commit either to Calvinism or Arminianism. A steady stream of articles, essays, and blog posts have kept this delicate balancing act alive for decades (for a recent and more-than-usually scholarly example, see the ongoing series here—I was going to wait for the conclusion, but I ran out of patience). I don’t believe, however, that this position is ultimately sustainable. And so my thesis in this post is simply this: the principal question in the Calvinism/Arminianism debate is a fundamentally binary one: you have to choose one or the other.

Of course, I am not so naïve as to imagine that variations and nuances of the two basic positions do not exist. I am, after all, editor of a soon-to-be-released book detailing THREE perspectives on the extent of the atonement (and in my introduction I suggest that there are others). So by saying that the principal issue is binary, I am not saying that it is simple. I recognize, for instance, that there are some Arminians who deny prevenient grace and affirm eternal security; likewise there are some Calvinists who deny particular redemption and assert the priority of faith to regeneration. IOW, there are some who are not historically pure Arminians or historically pure Calvinists. But while I concede the existence of variations of Arminianism and Calvinism, this is where my concession stops: there is ultimately no neutral ground here. There are Arminian-types and there are Calvinist-types, and a single, binary question distinguishes them.

The question is this: Do believers play any independent role in their own regeneration? This is the watershed issue and it is absolutely binary.

Note that the issue is not whether or not believers play any role in salvation—both sides agree that believers choose to believe. The question is not even whether or not believers have divine aid in choosing to believe—both sides believe in assisting grace of some sort (if you believe that the believer needs no help at all from God, you have embraced the Pelagian heresy and your very Christian identity is at stake). The issue is whether a believer is in any sense an independent arbiter of his own regeneration.

Arminian-types are ultimately obliged to admit that what ultimately distinguishes a believer from an unbeliever is not divine grace (which for the Arminian is always indiscriminate); rather it is the informed but autonomous choice by grace-assisted persons to either embrace or reject Christ. Calvinist-types on the other hand, necessarily affirm that while human faith is requisite to salvation, the ultimate efficiency of that faith is not human but divine.

“None of the above” is not a valid answer.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Let's Appreciate Our Pastors!

Talbot School of Theology - Wed, 09/17/2014 - 12:00

Whether you know it or not, pastors in the church work very hard. They do a lot of things publicly like preaching, teaching, visitation, and leading; but they also do quite a bit behind the scenes like counseling, studying, planning, and praying. Unfortunately, for many pastors, it has become a thankless job. For this reason alone, it would be important for you to celebrate this upcoming October because it is Clergy Appreciation month.

Categories: Seminary Blog

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